Field Guide to NYCC

Early morning at NYCC.

When attending a big grand stand comic convention, there are rules and situations to be aware of. What I mean by a “big grand stand comic convention” is this: an arena-sized hall with huge big name exhibitors. Plenty of small comic conventions happen in tiny stuffy conference halls of Holiday Inns and in other generic-like places, but nothing compares to the deafening roar of fanboys let loose under one roof. Held in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, New York Comic Con is of the former.

From Friday, twelve noon, to Sunday, five at night, people bombard the Javits Convention Center either in costume or in their regular Cheetos-stained vestments. Dressing up for conventions is more commonly known as “Cosplay,” short for costume play. From television shows, films, comics/books, or in some cases simply from imagination, these fans construct lavish costumes of the most desirable protagonists and antagonists. These costumes are like a bird’s plume. You, the simple observer, can learn a lot from watching your contemporaries in this ritual. The well-constructed costume relays the wearer’s time, efforts and prosperity. All these things are desirable in a mate. Never touch. Always ask before taking pictures, that’s just manners.

COSPAY! 1. Ramona Flowers & Gideon Gordon Graves. 2. Ramona & creator Bryan Lee O’malley at the Best American Comics talk.

At the entrance of the con floor, your senses can be overloaded if you’re unprepared. This is what I imagine Tokyo to be like on a slow night. The colors, the sounds, the smells, the feel of cheap polyester as a cosplayer brushes against your bare skin. Everything hits you like a ton of bricks. Before crossing the threshold from clear order into pure chaos take a moment to acclimate yourself. This is your last time to turn back before you dive into the fold. Be aware that at times the air on the con floor can get so heavy, you can taste the dandruff and wet dreams of the attendants. At its max, the floor can feel like a hive mind. Everyone is buzzing for stimulant, grasping for it at the next booth. The best bet for this situation is to just let the crowd take you like a giant wave. There is no use in fighting it.

The volunteers, or in this case “Heroes,” who helped set up the con, pass around buttons and flyers so fanboys and girls can fill their little pockets with pulp. Eventually these things litter the floor along with the wrappers from consumed candy bars. The trash overflows like waterfalls. There is no way to just walk; you trudge. Soon enough the smells from the concession blend with the odor of the clientele and you’ll get this miasma of cave rot, something like what a young Batman would have to deal with if it were not for Alfred Pennyworth. The trick is to breathe slowly, swill it around in your lungs, then exhale. You will get used to it.

If you get bored observing your contemporaries in this dance, there are plenty of things to take up your time: panels, signings and other events for our ADD Generation. For example this year, a speed dating event was held. At three minute intervals, con goers get the opportunity to talk to the opposite sex while praying to their respective deities for a spark. If speed dating isn’t your style, you can sit in on panels. Make sure to carry a recorder or notepad or you’ll miss gems like, “That was a piece of shit movie.” Darwyn Cooke’s exact thoughts on the Frank Miller movie adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

Cooke, unapologetic in his response, went on to ream Miller a new asshole. Just like everyone else, Cooke holds Will Eisner’s The Spirit in the highest of regard, noting its ability to straddle genres and draw in readers. He felt the property wasn’t handled respectfully and that the “shit movie” not only cheated him but also cheated the viewers.

Or you could hear the CCO of DC Comics, Geoff Johns, tell fans that, “DC Comics has much bigger and richer characters than Marvel.” Listen as fanboys gasp. A blunt edge to the ever long battle between the two mighty publishers. This is something we need more of. In a time when respectability has become ubiquitous we need more mud slinging. Make a commotion. The industries are starving for verbal fists to start flying.

The weekend eventually becomes circadian. You move from booth to booth then to events then pop into a panel, then you move from booth to booth. There are plenty of noticeably processed portable foods to consume as you move around the convention floor. This is the 21st Century traveling circus.

–Topher r. Scotton works as an editorial assistant at Electric Literature and is a nomenclature consultant. He is terminally handsome.

First photo by Dawson Schachter. Second & third by Zoë Gulliksen.

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