Thursday, December 1, 2011

NYCC 2011: Convention Evolution

Article by Chet Royer

Hey there everyone, this is Chet, a.k.a. Ninja101. Another comic con has come and gone. There was something special about this convention though. I never saw a con try so hard to evolve. Here are some interesting things I noticed and why I believe that this con was probably the best New York Comic Con to date.

Every year I would wonder how NYCC would fail this year. Every year there seemed to be some big mess. Then I noticed comic con making some interesting changes. One of the best changes was adding a fourth day. Well actually they only added 3 hours. If you were not a professional, you only got to check out the show floor for 3 hours. The fans who shelled out the extra cash shared the floor with the press. I felt like I was not going to be able to do any work since the fans were there, but I was delightfully surprised at how spacious it was even with the “rich” fans there.

Then there was the super organized website. You were able to plan out your panels on the website and chart out special events as well. Alas, even the website did not include some autograph sessions. Some panels with a guest in it would announce special places that would have autograph signings but you had to attend the panel to find out basically. Other than that, planning out your days seemed to be a breeze. Also, you had the usual paper schedules and the smart phone app…That smart phone app was gutter trash though. I don’t know why NYCC decided to be different from Otakon and Anime Boston, and use a horrible app other than the awesome Conventionist.

The actual lay out of the floor was kind of similar to last year with additional open spaces. There were so many extra sections available that were used very efficiently, kudos to you NYCC staff! But like every other NYCC, there were crowd issues. I am starting to believe that NYCC cannot solve this problem. I am not blaming them for this either, I don’t think anyone can solve this problem. You would simply have to have a much larger venue similar to Otakon (which also ran into space issues). Again, the floor planning was great it’s just that the masses are too great (and getting greater with every con) for this venue.

One thing that I found myself doing this year, which I rarely do at conventions, was that I went to panels. I even partook in some autograph signings (Drew Karpyshyn 4TW!). The events and panel line ups were, to me at least, more interesting than ever before. They had so many exclusive gaming panels, creator Q&A panels, and director panels available to the fans. It was almost like going to Six Flags in the summer, you have to wait on line after line to see what you want. On Friday night, I got 1 hour of sleep because I had to be at the con around 4-5am in the morning to guarantee myself a ticket to get an autograph from Hiro Mashima. I pretty much had to run through the show room floor because there was always a time constraint. I'm not sure if I even saw the whole show room floor!

I have not had this much fun at NYCC in a long time. But what about Anime Festival? Yes, they were there as well. They had a lot more space than last year but they still seem to be just an extra addition to comic con. It's almost like the Anime artist alley (which is what Anime Festival boils down to) is a safe haven for the not so professional artist who are afraid to venture into the Comic Con artist alley. I know I am completely wrong but that's just how I feel. Alas, it does help with crowd control and helps the anime fans find what they are looking for easily instead of navigating the large Comic Con artist alley. Thinking about it that way, Anime Festival will survive! The Anime panel will be there regardless. But that artist alley seems to be great decision in helping with the crowd.

It seems that NYCC has taken into account all of its previous conventions and other conventions and has come up with this new convention. A larger venue, efficient use of space, an extra day and even more interesting panels and events have made this, in my humble opinion, one of the best NYCC's to date. The only problems I see right now are just due to the mass of people that attend this event. But I honestly believe that one day, NYCC will over come that hump!
© 2011 Linda Thai

Photography by Linda Thai

For more pictures, check out the Something Deeper: Anime, Manga and Comics Page on Facebook

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