Without another convention on my radar for quite some time, I felt the need to get one more out of my system before going into hibernation for the winter. The newly rebranded Wizard World Big Apple Comic Con held at Pier 94 in New York City this past weekend was just what the doctor ordered. Kinda.
I never attended Big Apple Con when it was run by Michael Carbonaro and held in the basement of the Pennsylvania Hotel in NYC. I'd heard dreadful things. It was what it was and it had its supporters, but when Gareb Shamus of Wizard Entertainment announced earlier this year that he'd be acquiring the convention and re-launching it as BACC, it seemed like a smart idea. Having had so-so experiences at Wizard shows in the past I figured this new NY venture could go either way. In reality, it landed somewhere in the middle of my expectations.
Heading to NYC on a rainy Friday afternoon when I would have much rather been sleeping was miserable but, I thought to myself, "At least I'm going to a comic convention where I'm going to see lots of cool stuff." Upon entering Pier 94 my hope faded like a Blue Lantern without Hal Jordan. The show floor is a giant T-shaped hall you can see to each end of while standing in the middle. The room's atmosphere was dismal at best, abysmal at worst. Some of the exhibitors looked absolutely miserable sitting at their tables, jumping at the chance to lure someone in as they walked by. I realized it was still early and most people were probably still at work but the mood never seemed to lift. Even so, creators like Glenn Tippett from Scare Tactix Graphix and Everett Soares, creator of "Sky Pirates of Valendor," sitting in the claustrophobic artist's alley kept a positive and upbeat attitude.
For a comic con, there sure was a lack of comic companies at BACC. DC and Marvel had talent at the show but were non-existent as far booths. Avatar Press, Top Cow, and Archaia Comics were the most prominent companies in attendance and yet were tucked away in corners instead of sitting somewhere more prominent on the show floor. Of course, that made it all the easier for me to grab a sketch from "Mouseguard's" David Petersen while he was at the Archaia booth. I also picked up their preview of Chandra Free's "The God Machine" and a new book called "Titanium Rain" by Josh Finney and Kat Rocha.
Friday would have almost been a complete wash for me had I not interacted with a few of the celebrity guests who were signing that weekend. Granted, not everyone there had me geeking out but there was a nice range of celebrities. Some are a stretch for a comic convention, though--why sports stars are invited I'll never know. Model Adrianne Curry and her "Brady Bunch" hubby Chris Knight shared a table, but it was Curry who got most of the attention in her Slave Leia costume. We chatted for a while and she told me she purchased that one but would be wearing a Silk Spectre costume she made the next day. She also let me know she has a bit of a Rorschach fetish.
I had two very surprisingly heartfelt talks with Todd Bridges and Julie Newmar on Friday. Newmar, who has a form of Muscular Dystrophy like I do, is one tough cookie. Something tells me she could still go toe-to-toe with Batman and win. Aaron Douglas, who played Chief Tyrol, continued my tradition of friendly encounters with "Battlestar Galactica" cast members but my fanboy moment of the day came when I met Helen Slater. "Supergirl" was one of my favorite movies growing up (we pretty much wore out our library's copy of it) and her being cast on "Smallville" made the little girl in me extremely happy. She was enormously polite and sweet and absolutely beautiful. I got up the nerve to show her a picture of myself from Kindergarten when I dressed as Supergirl for Halloween and she got a big kick out of it.
Saturday at BACC was a different monster altogether. I threw on my Red Lantern costume once again and braved the show floor with my friend who dressed up as Wonder Woman. We were stopped more often for pictures here than I was at San Diego's Comic-Con International, which was extremely surprising. Programming was pretty underwhelming all three days, not to mention in an entirely different building, so we spent the majority of our time on the show floor. Artist Alley seemed the place to be on Saturday despite its warehouse feel and random hot spots. I got sketches from Keith Murphey, Eric Basaldua, Christopher Uminga, and Matthew J. Fletcher. Uminga and Fletcher drew me kickass Green Lantern Corps members Kilowog and Chaselon. I also chatted with Raven Gregory, who liked my costume but said his son would like it even more, and I picked up a print of Greg Horn's "Blackest Night: Wonder Woman" cover. I haven't been a big fan of his stuff in the past but these GL covers he's doing are spectacular.
There were a few more celebrity sightings that day as well. Adam West and William Shatner were signing but both were extremely untouchable. West had heavy security surrounding him at all times and Shatner apparently cut his line short. Thomas Jane looked punishingly handsome during his signing at the Wizard booth. Erick Avari and Aaron Douglas both told me my costume was scary and Mike Holman from "Jackass" liked it so much that he insisted I enter the costume contest being held later that night.
The contest was judged by Holman, actress Chanel Ryan and Larry from Wizard in Pier 92 next door. There were tons of photographers and even Toni Senecal from WPIX Channel 11 was there to interview the participants. Once everyone was gathered I realized there were a lot more costumers than I had seen during the day. There were a few "Watchmen" costumes and several other DC and Marvel characters, aliens, vampires, and even a Hellgirl! To my surprise I wound up winning first place in the comic book character portion of the contest. That was very cool, of course, but something of more frosty nature stole the show from everyone. A contestant with a rather outlandish personality who dressed as Iceman was asked to entertain the crowd as the scores were being tallied. He asked if anyone knew how to beatbox and Deathstroke the Terminator joined him on stage. Marvel and DC came together for a crossover of epic proportions. A freestyle rap.
By Saturday night, all anyone could talk about was what October of next year was going to look like. That's because it was revealed in the show program that BACC already had their date set for next year--October 7-10, the same weekend as the New York Comic Con just one mile down the road at the Jacob Javits Center. Fans, exhibitors, and creators alike are going to be hurt by this move. The majority of fans already have enough trouble affording one convention, let alone two. Exhibitors and creators are going to have a tough decision on their hands. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, or many others for that matter, but it's a business decision by a business-minded individual and who am I to question it? I will say this though: the Big Apple really isn't THAT big, you know. And 12th Avenue is getting mighty crowded.
in Artist Alley