The 2011 New York Comic Con has expanded to four days, a bold move from a convention that debuted in 2006, running from Thursday, Oct. 13 through Sunday, Oct. 16. Panels open to press and professionals began at 12 p.m. on Thursday and the show floor, including Artist Alley, opened to all with a limited 4-day badge, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Far from empty, the floor did not feel overwhelmingly crowded.
One fan was appreciative of the extra three hours to get shopping done and out of the way. Though the general vibe at this year’s con seemed a little off, perhaps colored by the tension gripping the city currently, people certainly seemed to have a good time. There was the usual crowd of costumed visitors, though not nearly as many as on Saturday, the con’s busiest day.
Indeed, Saturday saw crowds so thick it was difficult to maneuver on the show floor and in Artist Alley. Despite the dense crowds, however, this year also saw notable improvements in organization. Even lines that got especially long were not unwieldy or merging with lines for separate signings, as was the case last year when a few people ended up in the wrong lines and opportunists cut in easily.
DC, heavily promoting the New 52, saw their booth crowd with onlookers and people in line waiting for autographs from writers and artists and sketches from a few of the artists. Amy Reeder (Batwoman) was sketching for fans and was particularly gracious with one fan who got choked up upon watching her work and being able to talk to her.
Marvel, heavily promoting the upcoming movie, The Avengers, which releases May 2012, likewise saw its booth packed with people. Their lines were a little more chaotic, with lots of jostling and pushing; however, it was still an improvement from last year’s overall experience. They were giving out free posters and T-shirts, and artists and writers, including Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen and Stuart Immonen signing at one table, often at the same time. The Avengers cast members Cobie Smulders and Clark Gregg also signed posters at the Marvel booth on the show floor on Saturday afternoon.
Missing this year were Darwyn Cooke and Gail Simone, but returning were Garth Ennis (Crooked, The Boys), Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (Beasts of Burden), Jim Lee (the driving force behind the New 52 and the man responsible for erasing the Oracle), and David Lloyd (V for Vendetta). Also returning were Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer (Venture Bros.), who in addition to their usual panel did two signings, as did Seth Green and the Robot Chicken clan. A very hoarse Felicia Day was spotted in the vicinity of the Dark Horse booth.
The only hiccup that drove some fans a little nutty was the lack of signal at the Javits Center, which prevented them from using plastic to make their purchases. Not helping was the fact that of the few ATMs inside the center, many were out of order, so lines for the few that worked rivaled lines for Cyanide and Happiness and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, who shared a booth, which were pretty darn long, even on Sunday.
Overall this was a good, solid show, which focuses heavily on artists, a plus in this reporter’s opinion. Although it will be a few more years before it reaches San Diego-level status, this year puts organizers on the right track toward achieving their goal.