Geeking Ain't Easy #1: "The Con"
To say that I'm conflicted would be something of an understatement. If professional and college sports have taught me anything it's that tradition often trumps sound logic and reasoning. The annual trip (more like a bus ride) to New York Comic-Con was something I've looked forward to ever since that tumultuous inaugural outing in 2006. However, as we approach the 10th iteration of the convention, I'm having something of a change of heart.
For those of you who may not recall that first year, the organizers of NYCC underestimated the sheer geek power within the Tri-State area and beyond. The show floor was minuscule in comparison to later years, as the space was shared with other events. I don't remember the exact number of attendees--there were something around 33,000 according to an article on IGN. Had a friend at the time not forgot to pick me up from my home in NJ--which prompted me to take my own trip and meet him waiting on line--I would have never made it in. Attendance was massive, with many people getting turned away due to crowding.
NYCC 2006 was a hot mess, being my first ever comic book convention. I was ill-prepared for the crowds and I spent most of my money at the over-priced food court. Years later I'd learn to pack my own provisions and rely on the questionable street meat vendors off-grounds. Most of the items I procured were free comics and giveaways.
With each subsequent year I found more to love (and hate) about New York Comic-Con. I've met some amazing celebrities like my music idol Claudio Sanchez of Coheed And Cambria, my sister and I saved Stan Lee from tripping over electronic equipment in 2008 and I've even had my share of bizarre run-ins, which I talked about in a recent guest appearance on Comical Podcast. I could be all night describing my love of the convention and watching it grow with each year. I don't go on expensive, elaborate vacations and I don't travel nearly as much as I should, but NYCC was my yearly allowance to just geek out without judgement. For three whole days (or four in later years), I would bask in the glow of nerdiness. However, as the say goes, "what comes up, must come down."
The past 2-3 years of NYCC have been a lot of fun, but as the spectacle grows more into the east coast equivalent of San Diego Comic-Con I find myself not having nearly as much fun. At first I blamed long lines, ticket prices and the influx of celebrity that have graced the Jacob Javits Center. I soon realized that while the convention had changed, so did I. I spent the first few years as a plucky fan just happy to be in the same room with Kevin Smith or buying a bunch of comics I'd never read. Later on I'd become something of a champion of the small press booth. At the risk of sounding like a snob, I got bored of the eyesores which were Marvel and DC's booths. I had more fun engaging with the men and women at the other end of the hall who put together their comics by hand in their cramped living rooms. I found them less jaded by the entire process.
Since I began podcasting in 2013, NYCC became something else entirely. The days of being a regular attendee were over. I mean, sure, I still had a normal attendee badge (I don't have the juice for press passes to that show!) but my mentality was different. I didn't want to be just another consumer. I wanted to network. I wanted to mingle. I wanted to get into the minds of the people who created the books that may potentially change my life. It took me 10 years, but I've also discovered that there's a world of conventions out there. They're not all as expansive at NYCC, but my work with Adrian Has Issues has given me so many amazing opportunities to meet new people and visit new places.
I love NYCC, as it was my first ever exposure to the convention scene. However, the possibility of not being able attending this year's show doesn't sting as much as it once did. Granted I say that now, but watch me get depressed just as opening night approaches.
Geek on, my brothers and sisters!