Recently, Comicon came to New York City and a group of us went to experience the event. None of us had been to a Comicon before, and although some of us have had experience with related trade shows and events, we did not really know what to expect. So many preconceptions jump out. As it turns out, many of them are accurate.
Our crew consisted of my sister, her daughter and her best friend as well as a close online friend and my oldest son and me. This is essentially our gaming “crew” as well. We had planned this trip months in advance and looked forward to it.
I think that what you get out of the experience depends greatly on what you are expecting. This is true in most cases and is the subject of my next post, but in this case, I believe that we did not have any specific expectations and therefore were not disappointed. That is not to say however, that the event was what I thought it would be. Comicon has a large open floor area as well as special panels and various side rooms where scheduled events occur. We were there for the floor experience. In my mind, Comicon is a bit like Burning Man, with unbelievably well-made costumes with an almost anarchistic bent. In actuality, a bit yes and a bit no. Costumed attendees are everywhere and in many cases the costumes are very impressive in terms of workmanship and detail but also in the wearer’s ability to embody what often is an exaggerated physique. Not all can make that claim unfortunately. The best image to explain Comicon is one in which a costumed attendee is taking a photo of another costumed attendee. This is a very common thing to see here.
The overall feeling of openness and inclusiveness is refreshing and almost makes fighting the crowds fun. The presence of large game and other software developers or even toy and accessory manufacturers was limited. There were many third party distributors of toys, clothing, accessories and various specialty items. If you like comic, Sci-fi and game related titles and characters, this is the place for you. I saw many items for sale that I have never seen anywhere else. Some collector’s items, others just fun trinkets.
Being there with family and friends definitely added to the experience and the difference in ages and perspectives also made for a wide variety of interests. None of us are very into comic books but all are avid gamers. We also like the same games and characters, many of whom were represented both as items for purchase as well as live in costume. Our favorites included various miniatures, weapons and items of clothing from Borderlands, Plants Vs Zombies and Minecraft. We purchased a few Borderlands related t-shirts from Glitch as well as a plush CL4P-TP (Clap Trap) that says twenty different phrases and from a different vendor, a plush turret from Portal 2 that not only also speaks, it is touch sensitive and says different things when “killed.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Comicon, unlike other shows of its kind, is not primarily represented by the creators of the various entities, but by third-party vendors. Very few game, film or television developers were present. Instead, a wide variety of companies and vendors promoting and selling items related to the characters, shows and games filled the aisles. But most all it seems that Comicon is about the fans and their identification with the characters. On the way out we ran into a couple that had come with their own life-size CL4P-TP. Made of cardboard and built atop a RC car, it was mobile and surprisingly stable. Best of all it completely captured the essence of the event – creativity, individualism and fun.