When I was going over everything I wanted to try to do at NYCC this year I wanted to keep separate notes on what I could improve on next year, seeing as how this was my first year with a press pass. I was going off my past experience as just a NYCC attendee, and knowing how every year there was always a few things I wanted to do but didn’t get the chance, or a few people I wanted to meet and ended with a missed opportunity. So one of my goals was to keep this in mind throughout so at the end of it all there wouldn’t be disappointment about anything, and instead there would be an understanding of how to make it happen next time. There are a few things I want to touch on here in NYCC Attendees Part 3, but it should be crystal clear that I love this. The NYCC Attendees series isn’t just about others who attended but also about my own enjoyment and reasons to attend, and so much of that sentiment is shared by other attendees.
I’m very open about my gaming. It’s a part of who I am and also played a huge role during tougher times, kept me out of trouble occasionally, so there’s no way I would turn from that. I see it as connected to the better part of me. I can reflect on how the strategy game, Civilization, a series I truly love, was so addictive to me when I was a teen that I started to think about it often during the day, planning strategies in order to win (in addition to other things teens think about). Conveying why it was so exciting to conquer the capital of a larger civilization you’re at war with, and as a result cause that civilization to split into two and create a civil war, and how that was one of the greatest comebacks ever, was not an easy task.
However my mentality was “people are missing out” and not that I have to curtail or hide anything about my gaming. Things are different now as an adult because I can surround myself with different people including gamers, and there are also a lot more gamers today, so the understanding is there. And it’s not the assumption that at NYCC there will be someone there who also had that same experience, and how I could STILL think that’s one of the top comebacks ever, but that there are others who are just as passionate about their own hobbies and interests.
One such story that reflects that was told to me by Sean Spring, a 2nd time attendee at NYCC. Last year he went only Friday, and like so many others, felt that wasn’t enough to be able to see all he wanted to see at NYCC so this year he went for 3 days. In his words, he wanted to attend because “it’s Comic-con, it’s going to be amazing.” He absolutely loved it because he won a VIP pass this year and plans on getting one next year too. He elaborated on the reasons he wanted to attend and specifically, he was “excited to meet Felicia Day and Seth Green, and see the Archer, Bob’s Burgers, Geek & Sundry, Walking Dead and John Barrowman panels.” Of course time was spent checking out the show floor and artist alley too. He also did a group cosplay with his friends where he was Bob from Bob’s Burgers, and his friends were the kids on Friday. On Saturday he was the 11th Doctor since he’s a “huge Doctor Who fan,” and of course there were many others who cosplayed as Doctor Who too. However he thinks he was “the only one there who had the iconic mop.” Even though he was running late and too tired to cosplay for Sunday, he told me, “overall I had more fun this weekend then I have in a long time. I managed to hit almost every panel I wanted to and the ones I missed, I missed because I was doing something else equally as fun. (My) highlights (were) meeting and getting a photo with Felicia Day, meeting the cast of Robot Chicken and getting a great photo with Seth Green. The John Barrowman Panel was so funny and fantastic. And maybe the biggest highlight was meeting the cast and creators of Bob’s Burgers, dressed as the characters from Bob’s Burgers and getting our photo taken with them for Fox.com.”
But there was another highlight, a story he told me about meeting Felicia Day. If you don’t know who Felicia Day is I’ll just say she’s as incredible as she is lovely and you should look her up. Well Sean describes himself as a nerd. He says that he doesn’t “hide my fandoms or nerdy ways. If someone has a problem with nerd culture in this day and age, they can go right to hell.” So he had no qualms about giving her a “present she flipped out over.” There’s a card game called Magic: The Gathering, which I don’t personally play now but I’m familiar with it, but he does and she does. So it’s best to hear it in his words. “Ok well, she is now partnered with Wizards of the Coast (WotC) and did a commercial for them as Chandra. So I made her an alternate art Chandra card with her as Chandra on it, then made a card for each of the 6 Guild characters. Actual cards on magic card stock. She loved them. Yeah, she said she was putting them in her ‘Cabinet of Awesome.'”
Yes, above are images of the cards that were made. I don’t know how others handle receiving items but the point here is that the level of passion and enjoyment of a hobby is understood from many angles and expressed at NYCC.
Or in the case of Erin Jackson, NYCC is her birthday gift to herself, and she has attended the past 3 years and will continue to attend for years to come. Everyone in her life knows that she’s into comic-con and loves graphic novels and supernatural shows. She cosplayed as a pirate and just in case you didn’t see the photo in my cosplay gallery, here it is again:
She attended about “75 percent of the panels that I wanted to see which was pretty much a record for me. In previous years, I attended may be 30 percent of the panels.” I’m sure being a VIP helped with that tremendously. Even though this wasn’t her first NYCC, this was “the first time that I stood up and asked a question at a panel. Normally, I just sit back and watch. My courage spurred a few other women to get up and ask questions at well.” Many panels have a Q&A portion where attendees can get in line and ask questions. And it’s one thing to have courage to get up and ask a question, it’s another when people feel as if NYCC, or other comic-cons, are their only outlet to express their passion for their hobbies. Unfortunately that is the case for some attendees.
“Kimberly” is one of those attendees and this was her first time at NYCC. She’s a wife and a mother and the only other convention she attended before this was ConnectiCon in Connecticut. She said NYCC exceeded her expectations and she “loved it. I thought it was great, pretty much what I expected. Lots of people, lots of cosplayers, great costumes, tons of people, (and) got to see and do alot of things. Got a lot of free stuff. My kids enjoyed it and my kids got a lot of free stuff as well.” Although it was a little disappointing to her that she couldn’t get into all the panels she wanted and some of the autograph lines were cut off. However she chalked that up to her “inexperience” and she “pretty much figured out I should be there a lot sooner than the allotted time but that comes with experience I guess.” She attended for 3 days, cosplayed as Velma from Scooby Doo for 2 days and on Sunday did a group cosplay with her kids as a Borderlands 2 family. She was Lilith, one of her sons was Zero, and her daughter was Tiny Tina. Her oldest son wanted to do his own thing and she built a Skyrim helmet for him. This wasn’t her first time cosplaying, but she was excited to cosplay at NYCC. She was excited “because I also spent months putting together all the costumes, and then at the last-minute building my son’s (costume). And it’s very exciting to go and finally show off the costume and then seeing everybody else’s because you know how much time and effort they put into it. I like it because so many people do it and it’s a nice comforting feeling that other people are doing the same thing you’re doing. And you get to see everyone else’s work and you know they’re looking at your work and appreciating it, as much as you’re appreciating their art. I got more compliments and pictures taken as Velma, believe it or not, then Lilith. And the Borderlands costume was more detailed and a lot more work went into it. For something as simple as Velma generated a lot more attention. But it’s fun getting the pictures taken because you know the people are a fan of that particular character or that game and they’re so excited to take that picture and be in that picture with you.” With so many cosplayers attending it’s always the case that there are some there that aren’t recognizable and that was the case with the Borderlands 2 characters, who I recognized because I played the game and I told her this. She agreed and related to me that “on Sunday, it was family day (NYCC promotion for parents and kids), and I remember going past a particular family and they didn’t know who or what we were. And I heard the mom actually say oh I think that’s a video game.”
Even though she thoroughly enjoyed herself, and so did her kids, and she plans on attending next year too, this is something she keeps separate from her everyday life. She says she doesn’t talk about it and aside from her husband, some family and a couple of friends, a lot of people in her town know nothing about this side of her. Why? “Well for one I’m older, I’m not a teenager or young adult. I feel that, I know for a fact that some of the people who are my age would not understand that I’m into videogames. Some women know that I do play video games and they come and laugh about it. They think it’s cute.” They equate video games with violence and despite her attempts to be an advocate for gaming she says “they just don’t relate to me and I can’t relate to them.” She said if they knew she dressed up for cons they would probably think she was “nuts,” unless it was close to Halloween. She gets away with playing games by telling people it’s because she’s “bonding with my sons because my sons are into gaming. And I become educated in these games so I can keep an eye on them.”
So these conventions are an outlet for her and gives her confidence and makes her “feel comfortable.” She encourages others to attend because she’s “very comfortable going there, I’m not judged there. People would expect me to be into gaming or dressing. Everybody goes to a comic-con, I think, to go see the cosplayers. It doesn’t have to be a perfect and detailed, something very simple and even if it’s your first time, definitely go.”
Jenn Morton would agree with this because she enjoys “going to conventions because when you are there, it very much just feels like a huge community of people.” And even with the few there who would try to make it a negative experience through their behavior, she wouldn’t let that ruin the entire experience for her. One of the “reasons why I enjoy going to conventions is to be able to be around people who I know share interests with me. I can go to comic conventions and tell people I’m a gamer, I read comic books, I watch super hero shows and movies, I enjoy cosplay. And they don’t look at me like I’m diseased. Additionally, I can spend time meeting people who ‘supported’ me as I grew up through the work they provided in my life. Specifically I am talking about authors and entertainers who provided me with things to fall back on when I need a break from life. I also enjoy conventions because of the art that can be found there. Some of the artists (in Artist Alley) that go to conventions and have stands set up are incredibly talented, and it always inspires me to go back to my creative outlets that I have always dabbled in to some extent.”
Cosplaying is just one of the many aspects of why she attends conventions. This was her second time cosplaying and cosplayed the first time at her ex-boyfriend’s request. She cosplayed as Harley Quinn, a character she loves, and since so many others would cosplay as that character she “wanted to do something unique and something that would stand out in a positive way.” She went on to say, “I do not like cosplayers that basically just turn themselves into sex objects, and knew because of that I wanted to find the thin line between sexy and a sex object. I feel my costume ended up being unique and modestly gorgeous which is basically what I was going for (at the comic-con in Philly). After my first cosplay, I fell in love with it. I spent the entire day feeling like a celebrity, and could barely walk 5-10 steps without people asking for a picture.” Her first NYCC experience was slightly different and she did another variation of Harley Quinn, a 1950s housewife Harley, but “I was only asked for a picture five or six times throughout the entire day. I still had fun with it, and am glad that I saw both sides of the costume, one that people get and one that people don’t get. It is something that I very much will keep in mind in the future.” The attendance numbers played a role in that but also the fact that she was my photographer for most of Saturday I’m sure played a role in that too.
She enjoys cosplaying because it “gives me a chance to put myself out there, but at the same time to be able to hide behind a costume. It allows me to be myself, without showing myself. It allows me to express myself without feeling vulnerable.” She cosplays as Harley because “(Harley) is very quirky and out of the box and yet also reserved in some ways. This is very much like who I am.” So the preparation is more than worth it. Her favorite part about cosplaying is “going through the process of doing my hair and makeup and putting clothes on and watching myself transform from the everyday me into this character that is so unlike me, and so like me, in many different ways.” Even though her first experience at NYCC was a bit “overwhelming” it did live up to her expectations. She feels that “in the future being a bit more organized would help because even with spending two days at the con, I missed a lot.” So she is definitely planning on attending next time.
There is a dark side in attending NYCC, or any comic-con for that matter, and that’s catching the nerd flu. It’s not as deadly as the virus in the Walking Dead but it can keep you under the weather for a week and hurt your productivity. Of course I’m being facetious but even with all the stories from the attendees in these articles, there are so many others with their own NYCC stories and reasons for attending. I hope this series was able to remove some of the mystique regarding NYCC and those who attend. It is one big community there and there is no test you have to pass in order to attend and enjoy yourself. I’m strongly against any sentiment that you have to be able to name all the Star Trek characters over the decades, or be able to quote Star Wars, etc in order to be welcome and have a great time. Even those who think they don’t have an outlet in their everyday lives can come to comic-con and have fun. I also hope this served as a way for those who did attend to see the experiences of others and maybe even learn something they didn’t know about NYCC too. I haven’t even mentioned the comedy show, or the NYCC-themed after parties taking place throughout NYC and sponsored by companies, or just attendees. NYCC is an annual event for me and this was without a doubt the best year for me. However I already believe that next year will be even better.