The Best NYCC ever: Highlights from 2014
New York Comic Con has come and gone again, and this year was better than ever!
The convention implemented badge scanning for all entering and exiting attendants in 2013, making it far more difficult for counterfeiters to make it inside the Javits Center, and this year was the most navigable the convention has been since I first started attending in 2010. Don’t get me wrong, there were still over 150,000 people there – meaning NYCC has surpassed SDCC in attendance once and for all – but there was room to move around and take in a lot of what the convention had to offer. Here are the five best things from NYCC 2014:
The final Hobbit movie may be coming out in a couple of months, but the Tolkien fandom lives on much as it has for the past sixty years. This year, Weta Workshop, the special effects designers behind Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit attended NYCC for the first time, bringing Smaug with them. Besides creating a captivating and beautiful display on the show floor, Weta also offered fans the chance to talk to their creative director and two head artists. A nicer group of Kiwis couldn’t be found than these people!
But the Tolkien experience didn’t stop there! Howard Shore, composer for all six Tolkien films, attended a panel on Sunday to discuss his work on the movies and to promote an upcoming NYC concert series in which the scores of all three Lord of the Rings movies will be played live along with the films.
Last but not least, the wonderful fansite TheOneRing.net, always a favorite of mine to visit at the convention, manned a booth on the show floor all weekend and hosted a really knock-out preview panel for The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies on Saturday night.
For a Tolkien fan, this year’s NYCC was absolutely paradise.
Issues of consent and diversity are vital issues that sometimes get lost amid convention fervor, but this year NYCC stepped it up a notch, prominently displaying “Cosplay is Not Consent” signs inside the Javits Center and making their harassment policy highly visible throughout the convention. ReedPOP, perhaps because of the uproar they caused when their Book Expo America programming last May failed to feature female authors or authors of color, went out of their way to include panels like “#WeNeedDiverse (Comic) Books – Diversity in Comics,” “Super Girls: Using Comics to Engage Female Students in the High School Classroom,” “New York TimesOUT and GeeksOUT Presents LGBT in Comics,” and more. These panels were a wonderful start to truly incorporating diversity within geek culture, though there’s still a long way to go—I sat in on more than one panel this year that was still hosted by all white men.
A Proper Sendoff for The Legend of Korra
The final season of the beloved fan favorite The Legend of Korra is currently airing, meaning that this was the last year that there would be new episodes to celebrate at NYCC. The festivities kicked off with a touching feature panel, with creators Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino and voice actors Janet Varney (Korra), David Faustino (Mako), and P.J. Byrne (Bolin), where guests got to pre-screen an episode from the final season.
Dark Horse, who publishes the Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender comics and art books, also hosted two coveted signings throughout the weekend, one with Konietzko, DiMartino, and Verney, and another with Jessie Flower, who voices Toph in both shows. Guests had to draw lucky red beads to be awarded wristbands for these signings, and a line of hopefuls was quick to form outside Dark Horse every morning.
Fans came out in full force on Sunday for the “Avatar: The Last Airbender: Legend and Legacy” fan panel, featuring Kevin Coppa, creator of Puppetbenders, Jessie Flowers, Monica McClain, a fan artist/cosplayer, and more. Cosplayers of the show got a chance to show off during the panel, and I saw some truly remarkable ones during the convention.
I know that technically this is a *comic* book convention, but a big draw for me are the stellar literary guests every year. This year I got the chance to meet a ton of great guests, including Garth Nix, Peter V. Brett, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and more, but the big event for me was meeting Robin Hobb, an author I’ve adored for over a decade. Even if I was only able to stammer about how much I love the Farseer trilogy, it’s a moment I’ll remember for a long time, and I have a feeling a lot of fans got to meet their heroes over the weekend.
What’s more is that this year all of NYCC’s publishing guests seem to have really wised up about how to handle crowds. In years past, these aisles would become impossible to navigate as bibliophiles lined up hours early for signings and giveaways. Ticketed signings, random book drops, and a variety of other creative techniques greatly helped congestion this year. Nice job, guys!
When you think of a comic convention, Bill Nye may not be the first name that comes to mind. He’s got nothing to do with comics or cosplay or fantastical worlds, but he is the reason why many fans of those things came to identify as nerds in the first place. As soon as I saw he was on the schedule, there was no way I was missing his signing, especially since my boyfriend counts Bill as one of his personal heroes. Luckily, my Saturday afternoon at the convention was pretty clear. Even though Bill wasn’t appearing until 5:00, I arrived in the autographing hall around 2:00, exhausted from exploring the show floor. And it’s a good thing I did – because that’s just about when the line for him started forming. Although this year the lines weren’t as crazy as they’ve been in years past, this was an exception. Hundreds of people hoping to meet their childhood idol showed up for the line, which was capped at 150 people. We stood (or in my case, sat) for three hours, just hoping to get scraps of paper or our badges signed, since no one really had anything that Bill Nye had written on hand. When it was finally time for him to come out, we were surprised with free copies of his new book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.
Were any of you at NYCC this year? What were your favorite parts? Be sure and check out our gallery for more pictures of the convention!
All photos taken by Matthew Adelman.