Convention Report – NYCC 2011

 In conventions

So NYCC was last weekend, which was a total blast. But what else can you expect from the second largest comic convention in the country. This year, again, the Javits Center was completely filled with the show. And the layout felt a lot better than the previous year, where attendees had a lot more access to creators and artists in small press – where previously the artist alley was blocked by construction AND a giant Intel booth. This year, the construction is still there – but navigating through it is much easier and there’s more signage to navigate you through.

Thursday was preview day, so I had to be at the show early enough to set up. 3:30am I got up to hop a cab and get to O’Hare. At the airport, the baggage check people didn’t show up until almost 5am, which was a little obnoxious. Especially since they told me I didn’t need to check my luggage, as it would fit into a closet on the plane.

After an uneventful plane ride I arrived in NYC, and a buddy came to pick me up so we could go buy a table and chair for the booth. Small Press booths don’t come with tables or chairs (you can order them separately from the show, but they’re expensive), and also got some snack food for the weekend. Since I rarely leave the table during a show, it’s important to have something to munch on and drink during the day. Water fits the bill for beverages, and a boat-load of granola bars and Pringles fit the snack bill.

After food and table / chair were acquired, we picked up my table buddy and good friend Steve Wallace, and we headed off for the show.

Driving through NYC wasn’t so bad (mostly because I wasn’t driving), and unloading the car went quick. Steve and I set up fast and were just in time for the onslaught of professionals that attended the show for preview night.

Teachers, Librarians, press, comic pros, and many other filled the isles and attended panels geared towards them, and the booth saw some strong traffic. Steve and I were officially representing Reading with Pictures, but unfortunately many of these people who were interested in supporting the cause were less interested in purchasing copies of the book.

At the end of the show, we all piled into Phil’s car and headed to Jersey to stay with our good friend Joe Dunn. Joe and Phil run a website called The Digital Pimp, which features such great internet comics as Matriculated, Joe Loves Crappy Movies, and Turtle vs Bunny. We ordered food, relaxed and chatted the night away, and eventually we all passed out, gearing up for our first full day of the show open to the general public.

A shipping error had Phil running around to UPS stores in the morning, so Joe, Steve, and myself all hopped on a train and headed into the city. Set up was quick, as we arrived just as the doors were opening to the general public. The show was INSANE. Sold out. And people were EVERYWHERE.

I had a panel on the website scheduled for 12:15 at the Hasbro stage (located in the north hall, where all of the kids programming and autograph signing was taking place), but upon scoping out the location of the stage I saw the sign read the panel was Saturday. This was very strange, but I figured I had remembered wrong and went back to the table to sell.

Throughout the day people kept approaching the table, asking if we were supposed to have the 12:15 panel. They had saved the panel in their online schedule, but when they got to the stage there was another act on. Very strange, but hopefully the panel was still on for tomorrow.

A solid day of sales and lots of foot traffic made me feel pretty confident about the performance of the show, especially compared to last year.

At the end of the day we all took off back to Jersey to relax a bit. Tomorrow would be the big day, another sold out attendance, and would hopefully be our biggest sales day of the weekend.

We got up early and drove to the convention center, since Phil was dropping his car off at his cousins. Getting in early finally gave us a chance to walk the floor a little while vendors were still setting up. I snapped a photo of the Marvel booth, which was very impressive.

Marvel booth at NYCC, looking a lot like the set of The Avengers movie.

The DC booth was adorned with new posters, promoting the new DCnU 52 characters. The artwork looked good – but with Jim Lee designing the characters, that shouldn’t be a shock to anyone.

As soon as the show opened we were bombarded with menus from local Chinese food places. Some of the delivery guys had a look like they could give two shits about doing their jobs, others were way too excited to be handing out menus. We didn’t order from them, but we heard from neighbors that they delivered straight to your booth – which is pretty awesome. Between our neighbors (MOCCA) and us, we received over 30 menus in total!

So many Chinese food menus! At least they deliver straight to your booth.

At 12:15pm on Saturday, I grabbed Eisner winner Gabriel Bautista (Comic Book Tattoo, Elephant Man), and we headed over to the Hasbro stage for our panel. The place was packed, but not just with kids – lots of adults showed up. We didn’t have much in the way of programming, and I didn’t want to bore the audience to death, so we did a volunteer system to have people come up on stage and do a read-along with us. Volunteers entered into a drawing to win a hard cover copy of the book signed by all of the contributors at NYCC.

We read through some of my favorite stories in the book: Albert the Alien (which Gabe and I did), Mail Order Ninja (written by Josh Elder), and G-Man (written and illustrated by Chris Giarrusso). The audience loved the stories, and we had some stellar volunteers come up to help out.

After the reading, Gabe gave out free sketches and we both signed copies of the books to people who wanted to purchase – and also gave out the free copy of the hard cover. People loved it, and we had people follow us back to the table for additional sales.

After that panel, the hard covers started selling like mad. I had only brought a few of them, and while they did last until the end of the show on Sunday (I sold out of everything I brought by end of show), it was a pleasant surprise to see them move after the panel ended.

A steady day of traffic with good sales made for a satisfying Saturday at the show. Steve and I even got some time away from the table to walk the floor and see some people. I visited my friends at Image and Aspen comics, and also walked around artist alley a bit to say hi to friends and fellow comic pros.

After the show ended, we all headed to get some Korean BBQ. This has become a tradition for our group for NYCC, and it’s a fun one at that. Joining us were Phil’s cousin, Vicki, and RWP founder Josh Elder. After dinner, we tried to find an indie after-party, but they were charging cover at the door and I have a strict policy against paying cover anywhere I go. Instead, we went to a local pub and grabbed a few drinks.

That night Steve and I crashed with Josh in his posh hotel room, falling asleep while laughing our asses off watching hilarious youtube videos.

The final day of the show started off with arriving a little late to the show. We were all pretty exhausted from the 4-day weekend, but still energetic by the possibility of selling out of our stock.

Steve and I manned the booth, and sold until we ran out of books. Which was about 20 minutes before we had to pack up to make our flights out. I did some quick shopping before the end of the show, and then we hiked for several blocks before finding a cab that would take us to the airport (cabs in NYC hate to drive to the airports…and also hate to pick up people with luggage, apparently).

I arrived back home late that night, exhausted and starting to lose my voice. Waffles (my cat) was happy to see me, and I was happy to see my bed again.

Net net, it was a great weekend filled with amazing friends, fantastic fans, and good times. Thanks to everyone for making this NYCC the best one yet, and I’m really looking forward to next year.

Only two more conventions on my schedule this year:
Mid Ohio Con: Oct 22-23
Kollision Con: Nov 18-20

And now, it’s time to sleep…..

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