New York Comic Con 2011October 19th, 2011 |
The last time I went to a comic convention in New York City at the Jacob Javitz Center, the city got about a foot of snow dumped on it the night before it opened. With flights cancelled and roads only somewhat plowed, you don’t need me to tell you how well attended that con was. Oh, and also our ride back to Toronto bailed out on us, so we had to scramble to find an alternate means of transportation (which turned out to be a Greyhound bus). That was 1994. So 17 years later, I figured time enough had passed and I was ready to give it another go!
I made it to registration with a minimum number of aggravations (this being NYC, I fully expected to encounter challenges when trying to find a spot to unload our car). But then events turned a swift corner when the folks handing out the badges at the exhibitor counter said they had no record of me. Or my comic. Or even the Webcomics Pavilion, which is the area for which I’d purchased a table. Um… uh oh. Can you believe, I’d completely forgotten to bring a receipt? I’ve been doing conventions for years, I should know this simple rule! On the other hand, in all my years of conventions I’ve never actually needed to show a receipt before. However, technology came to the rescue– I was able to call up the relevant email on my iPhone and show it to the registration organizers, who accepted it right away. They gave me my badges and pointed me to Artists Alley. I was in!
Well… almost. I was in, but had no idea where my table might possibly be. Eventually I tracked down someone who at least had heard of the Webcomics Pavilion. It took two hours– right up until the doors opened to the public– but finally my table was identified and I could set up.
Not a terribly auspicious beginning to my triumphant return to New York!
(I feel obliged to add, though: all the people who I asked for help, from the red-shirted con staff to the green-shirted volunteers, were all very friendly and sympathetic and did all they could, including helping me to cart my too-many-boxes-and-bags around while we sorted out where I belonged. So kudos to the NYCC staff for their best efforts in the face of Very Little Information.)
Jacob Javitz was huge and confusing, especially with that blocked-off area-under-construction in the middle, and it took me two days to finally figure out the lay of the land (though to be fair, my husband had it figured out within about two minutes. Grr.). And that was without the throngs of people filling up all the aisles! Indeed, the place was packed to its figurative gunwales with attendees for the three main days of the show, and boy, was I glad to have a space to call my own behind my table in row “O” of Artists Alley. Yeah, and about that Webcomics Pavilion thing– see, when I put in my application lo these many months ago, I was told I hadn’t been granted a spot in it, but I could apply for a table in the Webcomics Pavilion. Turns out it was really all one big Artists Alley, with the exception of us in the last two rows not having our names on our tables.
Oh dear. Am I sounding grumpy about this show? Heh, I don’t want to give the impression I had a bad time. There are always stresses associated with the first time exhibiting at a new show, and this one in New York! I tell you, I had to get to the train to Grand Central Station and negotiate my way to the crosstown bus– and even occasionally navigate the subway system– all by myself. Each day. And I survived to tell the tale! I guess the city isn’t so scary after all.
So while the rest of my family did typical touristy things, I manned the table (and I am totally not grumpy about that). I had some brand new product to debut– prints! I decided I would create a fan-art nod to one of the biggest artistic influences of my youth, Leiji Matsumoto. I didn’t get the Captain Harlock piece done in time, but I had Matel from Galaxy Express 999 and Wildstar and Nova (which is how I knew them growing up) from Star Blazers, AKA Space Cruiser Yamato. They certainly attracted a lot of attention! Before this show, I’d figured these prints would probably only catch the eye of people from my generation, people old enough to remember anime from the 70s and 80s. I was wrong! It seems just like in the fashion industry, everything old is new again, and there are lots of younger folks who are, by various means, learning to appreciate the, er, “classics.” Could it really be that me and my old-fashioned style get to be cool again?
I met several regular readers, some people who remembered me from my floppy-comic days, and I got to introduce Galaxion to a whole bunch of new folk. It was great to see Ananth and Yuko of the webcomic Johnny Wander again, and Svetlana Chamkova dropped by which was a pleasant surprise. We chatted with Cory Doctorow about Makerbots, and I caught up with Zander Cannon, whose storytelling skills I’ve admired for years, but haven’t seen in over a decade. We picked up Evolution from his table (which is doubly exciting to me because it’s written by another old fave, Jay Hosler), and also a lot of his minis. The one about the Saga of the Master of Feng Shui had me snorting my breakfast cereal.
I’ve got one more part of our New York trip to share with you, probably the best part, and one for which I wasn’t even present (but I’m still not grumpy ).
On Thursday evening, my husband took the kids to a bookstore in lower Manhattan where the one and only Sir Terry Pratchett was in town to do a reading from his new Discworld book, Snuff. After the reading, the audience was told there was time for only three questions. My 11-yr-old son raised his hand each time, but didn’t get called on. After the three questions, the esteemed author said he was willing to answer one more. And this time, apparently much of the audience surrounding my son pointed to him with his raised hand. So he got to ask his question (which was something like, “what first inspired you to start writing?”).
Then, while the bookstore staff was setting up the table for the next part of the evening, Terry Pratchett called out to ask for the boy who had asked that last question to come over, so he could chat with him privately for a minute. Well, you can imagine how my husband’s jaw must have hit the floor! One of our most favourite authors, one who is so successful and so well respected that he was given a Knighthood, wanted to give my son some writing advice; a short master class in fantasy writing. Part of what he said to my son (I am told) was this: read some of the old, classic fantasy novels. He listed some authors: Tolkien, Fritz Leiber, and Jack Vance were among them. And then he said, think about what you like about them, and how you might tell those stories for today’s audiences.
As my husband tells it, he was struck by what good advice that was. Not that you should embrace the old tried-and-true ways, not that you should dismiss the old in favour of new innovations, but to learn from those past greats, and adapt to the present. That’s the kind of advice that will carry you through many parts of life.
In all, a most successful convention.