New York Comic Con 2011

I wasn’t a big fan of last year’s New York Comic Con. With 70,000 people crammed in an under construction Javitz Center, it was more like being pulled along a river of people than strolling around a comic convention. You could hardly walk around anywhere other than Artist Alley. It was a three-day show, but I didn’t bother going back Sunday. Too stressful.

For that reason, I wasn’t planning on going this year, but after a few months, I get antsy and need that atmosphere. I called my boy Ronnie up and told him I was coming down.

I’m really glad I did.

Construction was finished, so despite a rumored 105,000 attendees filling three huge rooms, everything was very accessible. With the exception of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s ridiculous lines, I managed to get all the autographs I wanted. I got three great commissions. I met someone who has meant a lot to me since before I could speak.

Me and Oscar the GrouchAnd more than all that I had a once in a lifetime experience. But we’ll get there, first – the sketches.

One commission I wanted to get was a Batwoman by Amy Reeder. Sadly, she was only doing a couple a day, so I was too late to sign up. But Artist Alley is huge. There were plenty of other options.

Readers may know that my favorite book last year was Young Allies. So when I read that David Baldeon was going to be there, he shot up my list. And he drew a great Nomad for me.

Nomad by David BaldeonNext was Scott Kolins. Between recently finishing reading the Flash run he did with Geoff Johns and my love for villains, I was hoping he could do one of the rogues for me. He said Captain Cold was his favorite. Check this out.

Captain Cold by Scott KolinsLast was Dennis Calero. He had done a quick Multiple Man sketch for me back in 2009, but this was a full commission. He said Two-Face was a favorite of his. I didn’t have Two-Face in my book. It was destiny. And he killed it.

Two-Face by Dennis CaleroANYWAY. On Friday, after the show, I went to dinner with Marvel’s Vice President of Creator and Content Development, C. B. Cebulski, their Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada, and Editor in Chief, Axel Alonso.

Yeah.

The NYCC people offered a “Wanna Go on a Date with Marvel?” event. Ten fans had dinner with three of Marvel most visible employees at WD-50, a restaurant owned by Wylie Dufresne (yeah, the guy from Top Chef Masters). It was a nine-course meal with wine pairing in the wine cellar. It was the fanciest meal I’ve ever had. And so much fun.

Marvel MenuNot exactly the pulled pork tacos I had Thursday night, huh?

For five hours, the 13 of us (nine fans [one didn’t show up], three Marvel guys and the Marketing Director from NYCC) sat around, ate, drank and talked. About everything. Marvel being part of Disney. Great NYC restaurants. I talked to Alonso about the NBA. Joey Q talked about being on the set of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. We were mostly strangers, but the conversations just flowed. Some artists that were drinking upstairs stopped by. Joe (Mets fan) and I (from Boston) made fun of Alex Maleev for wearing a Yankees cap. It was just a fun night surrounded by people who all love comics. Aspiring writers. Aspiring artists. Readers. Bloggers. It was a great group of people. The ticket cost a few shekels, but I’m so glad I spent them.

After dinner, a few of us went dancing around the corner at a bar called Idle Hands. The Phonogram guys were spinning that night, but they had already finished. Nonetheless, the music was perfect:
Pulp – Disco 2000
The Smiths – This Charming Man
Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
Human League – Don’t You Want Me
The Clash – Train in Vain
It was like someone had borrowed my iPod. After a few songs, it was quickly 2:00 AM. And my drunk legs had a trek back to Jersey.

Saturday was spent mostly poking around the rest of the con, picking up my sketchbooks, and seeing Cobie Smulders at the Marvel booth. (Robin Sparkles for the win!) I do want to mention that I picked up a book created by a couple of the girls from the Marvel Dinner. Check out Meridien City, new from Alpha Girl Comics. I picked it up to support some new friends, but it really is a quality book. It follows a homicide cop on a foreign planet with only certain livable areas – the rest of the planet is too hot. When bodies pile up around the outskirts, it’s her job to find out why. There’s a deeper hook, but I’ll leave that to the reader.

Meridien CityAfter the show, I had some BBQ and met up with an old friend from my London days. ($6 for a High Life? Really New York?) And then I went Marvel’s Chesterfest 2011. Take your neighborhood bar. Fill it with comics pros. And give everyone X-Men coasters. Yeah, it was awesome. A few more drinks, a little deliberation about approaching Jason Aaron (I left him alone), and it was time to call it a weekend.

Yes, I skipped Sunday again, but when you’re good with your budget and time, two days is plenty for a convention. It was a great show and I have no question I’ll be there next year.