San Diego might have the history and the Hollywood hype, but New York Comic Con has long surpassed San Diego Comic Con as the biggest pop culture convention in North America. One could argue it’s even too big. It’s certainly not lacking for fun content, but you really need to be there at least two days to really get to see everything, and unfortunately, the con stopped selling full weekend passes to the public in 2017. Unlike SDCC, which is a nonprofit, NYCC’s organizer ReedPOP is a for-profit enterprise, and the increasingly grandiose attempts to keep growing profits can be frustrating for fans concerned about their wallets. This list will tell you some things to avoid to make the most of your time.
Of course, NYCC is still an amazing experience despite its occasional frustrations. There are so many great events at the con (not to mention top-notch cosplay and some incredible shopping opportunities on the show floor and Artist’s Alley) that it’s unlikely you could go a day there without being wowed by something. It’s also impossible to see everything you’ll want to see. This list might attempt to narrow down the “unmissable” events of the con, but unless you have a time-turner or a TARDIS, it’d be impossible to see everything on this list due to overlapping schedules (to say nothing of probable lines). Hopefully at least some of these exciting panels will be recorded for online viewing. If they aren’t, you can at least rely on Comic Book Resources to report on all the biggest news out of the Javits Center from October 4-7!
*Panel and events schedule subject to change. Check the NYCC website and CBR for all the latest information!
20. SEE: DC NATION
Where San Diego gets a bigger emphasis on movie announcements, New York Comic Con is a great convention for programming actually focusing on comics. DC will be hosting multiple worthwhile panels, including spotlights on writers Geoff Johns, Brian Michael Bendis and Tom King. For those who want the most general overview and the biggest news, however, go to the DC Nation panel.
Dan DiDio will moderate the panel featuring Adam Glass, Rob Venditti, Joshua Williamson, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emanuela Lupacchino. Details are being kept under wraps, but major announcements are promised. The panel is scheduled for Sunday, October 7 at 2:30 pm in Room 1A21.
19. SEE: MARVEL COMICS: NEXT BIG THING
Not to be overshadowed by DC, Marvel is hosting a whopping 15 panels scheduled throughout the weekend. That’s not even counting its show floor events! You have some idea what to expect for most of them (it’s not like season three of Daredevil is going to be that dramatically different from the previous two), but Marvel has surprises in store at the “Marvel Comics: Next Big Thing” panel.
Jason Aaron, Dan Slott, Donny Cates and Gerry Dugan all have new projects to announce. Marvel is also promising an exclusive giveaway comic. This panel will be held on Saturday, October 6 at 4:30 pm at the Main Stage 1D. Attendees can only sign up for one Main Stage panel per day, so choose wisely.
18. SEE: DC VERTIGO
DC is in the process of reviving its prestigious Vertigo imprint for edgier original comics. The first of its new Vertigo series, Bordertown, has already released its first issue, but New York Comic Con is here to get you hyped for the rest of Vertigo’s upcoming lineup this Fall.
Fans will get to meet the writers of exciting original series such as Hex Wives, Safe Sex, Goddess Mode, and High Level, as well as the revived Sandman spin-offs Books of Magic and Lucifer. Attendees will even get advanced copies of Hex Wives #1! This panel’s on Friday, October 5 at 11:15 am in Room 1A21.
17. SKIP: ANIME FEST
One could understand ReedPOP wanting to hold an anime convention in addition to Comic Con (it used to host the New York Anime Festival from 2007-2009). Hosting that convention the exact same weekend as Comic Con in a distant location and requiring separate tickets? That is not a good idea at all.
NYCC attendees worried about otaku segregation can rest with ease knowing that there will still be regular anime programming in the Javits Center. That only makes the Anime Fest convention even more redundant. Its schedule is downright bare. If you want to go to an anime-focused convention in the city, wait a month for Anime NYC, happening November 16-18.
16. SEE: SHE-RA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER
Noelle Stevenson and Dreamworks Animation’s upcoming reboot of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power unexpectedly became the center in a firestorm of controversy over nothing more than some still images and a brief teaser. But how is the actual show itself going to be? Fans will get a better look at NYCC.
Stevenson will be there, along with voice actresses Aimee Carrero and Karen Fukuhara and some surprise guests. With the release date approaching, might attendees be able to see a full premiere episode? This panel will be on Thursday, October 4 at 3 pm in the Hammerstein Ballroom. Fellow Dreamworks/Netflix series Voltron: Legendary Defender and the Trollhunters spin-off 3 Below will also hold panels over the weekend.
15. SEE: AMERICAN GODS/GOOD OMENS
It feels fitting to mention these two panels together as TV shows based on Neil Gaiman novels; Gaiman will also attend both. Good Omens is brand new, an Amazon Prime miniseries based on Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s classic apocalypse-comedy. In addition to the panel on Saturday at 10 am at Madison Square Garden, Amazon will have a “fan experience” on the convention floor.
American Gods, meanwhile, is entering its second season with an aura of uncertainty. Last year’s NYCC panel gave almost no information on the second season, which in retrospect seems to be due to delays caused by changing showrunners. Will the new season live up to the first? We’ll get a taste on Friday at 1:30 at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
14. SEE: DOCTOR WHO PREMIERE
The new season of Doctor Who premieres on October 7 at 1:45 pm. That’s prime Comic Con time. Many Whovians might be conflicted between watching the premiere and staying at NYCC. Thankfully, a last minute addition to the schedule allows you to do both!
At the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, fans will get to watch the new episode the same time it airs on TV worldwide. Those who stick around afterwards get to enjoy a panel discussion with executive producer Paul Stevens, new showrunner Chris Chibnall and, perhaps most excitingly, the 13th Doctor herself, Jodie Whittaker! Footage from the panel will air on BBC America later that night.
13. SKIP: TITANS
Last minute planners can’t get into the premiere screening for Titans anyway. Admittance for the screening, which happens on Wednesday, October 3, was by raffle only. Those still interested in seeing Titans stuff at NYCC can go to the cast interview on October 5 at 11:30 am on the Live Stage or the DC Universe panel (which could be worthwhile for Young Justice info) October 4th at 5:15 pm in Room 1A24.
But how many fans are still interested in this show? Every piece of promotional material for this dark and edgy Teen Titans reimagining has been downright savaged. Some might want to witness a train wreck, and others might have hope for a positive surprise. But other events have better satisfaction guarantees.
12. SEE: RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET
Wreck-It Ralph was one of the best Disney movies of the CGI era. The upcoming sequel, in which Ralph and Vanellope leave the arcade to explore the wide reaches of the internet, has received a lot of hype for its Disney crossover fan-service. But is the movie just internet jokes and Disney product placement, or will its story live up to the emotion of the original?
Curious fans will get a better sense of what to expect from the upcoming release at the NYCC panel, happening Friday, October 5 at 2:45 pm in Room 1A06 (expect lines for this space). Directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston will discuss the making of the film and show new footage.
11. SEE: SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
One of the year’s most exciting-looking animated films, the visually stunning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is gracing Saturday badge holders with an inside look at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The panel starts at 11:30 am, but interestingly lasts all the way until 1 pm.
Panels for a single film almost never exceed an hour in length. Panelists and other details have yet to be announced, but if this panel is getting a full 90 minutes, there has to be something special going on here. Expect a lot of new footage; they might even show the full first act!
10. SEE: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD
A trailer for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World released in June, but marketing has yet to really ramp up for the February 2019 release. Expect the New York Comic Con panel, scheduled for Sunday, October 7 at 12:30 pm at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, to be the start of that ramp-up.
Director Dean DuBois will be on the panel along with a number of surprise guests to discuss the film and reveal unseen footage. Given this is the final How to Train Your Dragon movie with themes of growing up and saying goodbye, expect things to get pretty emotional.
9. SKIP: HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD
Typically, there are two types of comic convention panels: promotional panels that reveal big news about upcoming projects, and more involved discussion panels (often fan-led). The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child panel, scheduled for Thursday, October 4 at 11 am in Room 1A06, seems a bit odd from the outset because it’s neither fish nor fowl.
The Cursed Child play is already out, playing just a few streets away at the Lyrice Theatre, so big news seems unlikely. Yet this is still a promotional panel, and in-depth spoiler discussion seems unlikely. It might still be fun, but in general seems like an eminently skippable panel.
8. SEE: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
A couple years ago, or even last year, it might have seemed unlikely the premiere of FX’s TV adaptation of the cult vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows would be deemed worthy of one of NYCC’s biggest rooms. What’s changed? Taika Waititi, director of the 2014 film and executive producer on the TV version, got a big profile boost from Thor: Ragnarok.
Waititi will be there, along with fellow producers Jemaine Clement and and Paul Simms, to answer questions following the premiere screening of the show’s first episode. This is well in advance of the show’s spring 2019 television premiere. The screening’s on Sunday, September 7 at noon in the Hammerstein Ballroom.
7. SEE: MORTAL ENGINES
One of the big question marks of the holiday movie season this year is Mortal Engines. Competing with the likes of Spider-Man, Bumblebee, Aquaman, and Mary Poppins, this relatively obscure YA novel adaptation seems like it could easily get lost in the shuffle. Yet with a $100 million budget and the screenwriters of Lord of the Rings behind it, Universal is going to make an effort to promote this potential blockbuster at NYCC.
Andy Serkis will moderate the panel about this futuristic cities-on-wheels adventure. Director Christian Rivers, as well as the film’s screenwriters and many of its actors, will be there. Expect to learn a lot about WETA Workshop’s special effects craft. The panel takes place on Friday, October 5 at noon at Madison Square Garden.
6. SEE: NETFLIX AND CHILLS
What’s better than a panel for one Netflix show? A panel for a bunch of Netflix shows! The Netflix & Chills panel Friday, October 5 on Main Stage 1-D might better be described as a collection of panels, given it lasts from 7:30 pm all the way until 10 pm. If you’re into horror and otherwise “spooky” shows, this panel should have something for you.
Comics nerds will be excited for first looks at the Umbrella Academy TV series and the new, darker Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The Haunting of Hill House, which is already receiving great reviews, will also be presenting. Finally, Netflix has new footage to show from The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance!
5. SKIP: PAID PANELS
The paid “Studio” panels on the NYCC schedule this year aren’t as egregious a rip-off as the Anime Fest. A lot of the panels do sound interesting (one panel, about the Adventure Zone graphic novels, is sold out already), and most of them attempt to provide some extra value to the cost by offering autographed books with admission.
These panels don’t require an NYCC badge, so for those who couldn’t get tickets, these might be worth going to. If you do have an NYCC badge, however, you already have access to so many events that charge extra to get into more events happening at the same time, as the regular convention generally doesn’t seem worth it.
4. SEE: GHOST IN THE SHELL: GLOBAL NEURAL NETWORK
In 2016, Kodansha released Attack on Titan Anthology, a collection wherein top international comics artists presented their own creative takes on the hit manga Attack on Titan. This year, Kodansha is releasing a similar project for an even more legendary manga: Ghost in the Shell.
The Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network anthology goes on sale October 21, but NYCC attendees can purchase it early at Kodansha’s booth #2109. Famed comics creators Alex DiCampi, Brenden Fletcher, David Lopez and Babs Tarr will be discussing their involvement at the anthology’s official panel on Saturday, October 6 at 4 pm in Room 1A24.
3. SEE: FANTASY FOOD AND FANDOM FEUD
One regular feature of the show floor for years has been the Fandom Fantasy Food Truck. It’s a genuinely neat concept, serving free recreations of fictional food concoctions. The lines do get overwhelming, however. Fandom’s bringing back the Food Truck, opening it multiple times each day to hopefully reduce lines, but there’s also a new fun event at Fandom’s booth #462.
Fandom Feud is a live game show where fans compete with each other to test their knowledge of various series and win prizes. Sign-ups start 15 minutes before the scheduled games, which each last an hour. The schedule for the weekend is here, if you feel you’re up to the challenge.
2. SEE: TWISTED TOONZ
Sometimes a panel doesn’t need big announcements or premieres or swag to make it stand out. Sometimes a panel just needs a bunch of voice actors reading classic movie scripts in their cartoon character voices. Twisted Toonz panels happen at numerous conventions, always with a different script and alternating between different voice actors as panelists.
The NYCC 2018 edition will feature Steve Blum, Grey DeLisle, Richard Horvitz, Phil LaMarr, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and Janet Varney. The screenplay this year is Clue. Will they perform all the alternate endings? Find out Saturday, October 6 at 12:45 pm at the Main Stage 1-D!
1. SKIP: WAITING IN LINE FOR FUNKO POPS
Spend a day at New York Comic Con and you’re inevitably going to spend some time in lines. Which lines are worth waiting in obviously depends on your own personal judgement. Most of them, at least, will give you an experience. A panel, a screening, a chance to meet a beloved artist, something you’ll remember.
In the Funko line, you’ll wait hours and hours and get a piece of plastic. Actually, you’re pretty unlikely to even get that. The lines for limited edition Funko POPs inevitably get clogged with people who don’t even care about the collectibles and are just getting them to sell for absurd prices on eBay.
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