I’d been looking forward to returning to the New York Comic Con. My last trip to the annual comic convention was in 2012 and this would be different than all my past trips there because my 3-year-old, Liam, would be coming along. This would be my first trip to NY Comic Con as a parent.
I went in knowing I’d never get to see everything I’d want to. In fact, there was a very good chance we might not be able to stay at all. Liam places on the spectrum for autism, and his meltdowns can be triggered by large crowds and loud noises. However, he’d been responding very well to nearly a year’s worth of exhaustive therapies and he loves superheroes, so there was good reason to believe he would do well this year.
We live in Hell’s Kitchen only blocks from the Javits Center where the NY Comic Con was held, so our neighborhood was already made extra awesome by the sudden influx of visiting superheroes, sci-fi and video game characters.
This ended up serving as an NY Comic Con preview for Liam. He responded very well to the various costumed characters we saw, waving and saying hello to them. This was a good sign.
I arrived at the Javits shortly after 9:30 a.m. Friday to see a line encircling the entire building, that entire avenue block, and doubling halfway back around on top of that. Knowing I would probably not get in for very long before having to go pick up Liam, if at all, I joined the line regardless.
One of the major draws to the NYCC is not actually the Comic Con itself, but the people who attend it. Waiting in line gave me the opportunity to see many of the fans I might have missed inside.
There were legions of Ghostbusters, in classic and modern outfits. The great thing about this particular mythology is how well it lends itself to the fans. Anyone can be a Ghostbuster.
Gender swapped characters were prevalent as well. This Wonder Warrior showed an imaginative flair with how his Golden Lasso was incorporated with his ensemble.
There were many variations of Marvel’s favorite God of Thunder, but this interpretation of his movie appearances was the most accurate one I saw.
Originally appearing in DC Comics’ spinoff imprint, Milestone Media, and originally conceived as simply “Static,” the character of Static Shock would eventually get his own animated series and would appear with the vaunted Justice League.
As expected however, by the time the line crawled to the entrance, it was time to leave and go pick up Liam from school. While it’s remarkable to note how well behaved and cheerful the fans were as they waited, Liam would never have tolerated a two and a half hour wait just to get into a crowded building, so it was for the best that he wasn’t along for the ride.
After lunch, however, it was time to suit up and try again. Waiting until mid-afternoon turned out to be a wise move. The line was long gone, and we glided the Bat-stroller right into the NY Comic Con to behold the wonders within.
Sort of. All those people from the morning’s line were still there inside the Javits and then some. Crowds were shoulder to shoulder and moving slowly. Still, the cheerfulness of the morning was very much present, and Liam was enjoying seeing some of his favorite characters.
In fact, one of the first pictures taken was of Superman and Supergirl, because Liam recognized them and started calling out to them.
It was also very cool to see different interpretations of beloved characters as well. There was gender swapping, different ethnic representations, Steampunk versions, what have you.
Video game characters were very well represented. While I’ll admit to being out of the loop on a lot of current games, there was no missing the classic royalty from Nintendo.
It was also interesting to see lesser known characters such as Black Bolt, here. While he’s well known amongst comic fans and one of the true power players of the Marvel Universe, the general public has no idea who he is, so seeing a costume of him there was a nice surprise.
Every Johnny Depp character represented in one costume. There’s some originality for you!
Finally, we made our way into the NY Comic Con proper. As I’d learned earlier this year at the Javits’ Playfair exhibition, if you’ve got a kid in tow, you better find something to occupy them with first. The LEGO sign beckoned from the middle of the floor, so that’s where we headed.
It was a wise move. The LEGO exhibition had tables of blocks available. Liam was ecstatic! He was given time to play to heart’s content. Hopefully LEGO was planning to give those blocks away, because when we left, Liam was taking some. I wasn’t dumb enough to try and take them away from him!
While there were plenty of attractions at the NY Comic Con, I knew ahead of time that we wouldn’t be seeing most of them. As much as I’d love to sit and try out new Playstation and X-Box games, there was no way for me to do that with a child this young. Resident Evil and Ash vs The Evil Dead had some excellent exhibits as well, but again, I couldn’t bring Liam through or leave him behind, so they were out too.
But the best part of the NY Comic Con was still the fans themselves.
Liam got excited every time he saw a character he knew, but Batman holds a special place of reverence for him. When he saw these two, he asked to get out of the stroller so he could go talk to them, which is pretty massive for a kid who was shrinking away from strangers not even a year ago!
Everywhere we went, we saw amazing costumes. I’d severely underestimated the crowd size, however, and moving through them with a stroller and a 3-year-old was extremely slow going. But once again, because everyone was so upbeat and cheerful, frustration levels remained low, and the toddler remained awestruck and cooperative.
Even the bad guys were, well, good guys. Here’s me with living Boba Fett tribute JC Fett. He may look mean, but JC was friendly and amicable, and Liam wasn’t at all scared of him.
All of this was well and good, but if I wasn’t going to be able to attend or even see all the bells and whistles of the NY Comic Con, then I wanted to make sure I touched base with what the Convention was supposed to be about: comic books.
It’s hard to believe how far comic books and the people who love them have come, just in my own lifetime. I grew up in rural areas in the 1980s, and if the wrong people saw me reading comics or collecting toys as a teenager back then, I was beat up for it.
It’s hard to believe now, with the overwhelming success of DC and Marvel movies and television shows; with superhero clothes and paraphernalia everywhere you look; with everyone knowing more comic book characters than ever before; that it wasn’t so long ago that people who liked comic books were considered social outcasts, nerds, dorks, and geeks all.
It wasn’t until I came to New York City that I learned there were others like myself, that it was OKto like superheroes, and that this passion could even get you a job!
It’s also important to remember just how long comic books have been around. Superman and Batman showed up prior to World War II, followed closely by Wonder Woman, Captain America, Captain Marvel (Shazam), Green Lantern, and everyone else. Comic books are not only an American art form, but a New York one. Without this city, there are no comic books, so it’s fitting that the NY Comic Con has become the largest Comic Convention of them all.
For me, the highlight of the NY Comic Con is Artist’s Alley. This is where you find all the writers, artists, and creators of comic books from today and yesterday. This is what I looked most forward to, even though I realized that I’d be pushing my limit, time-wise, with Liam.
Unfortunately, and as expected, Liam had indeed reached his limit. He’d given me more time than I’d hoped for, and even let me do a fly-by of several creators’ tables, but his patience was at an end, and he’d never wait around for me to chat with creators I’d admired.
And it would have been unfair of me to expect him to do so. So I regretfully passed on saying hello to Erik Larsen, Walt and Louise Simonson, and Danny Fingeroth in order to keep my 3-year-old happy.
And that was the wise choice. On the way out of NY Comic Con, Liam happily pointed out The Joker and Harley Quinn. He didn’t notice or care that they had swapped genders, he was just happy to be in a world where he could see characters he loved.
And that was good enough for the both of us.
All photos by Chad R. McDonald unless noted.