Narutaki and Hisui’s schedule
Pre-Con Party at Dave and Buster’s
NYCC Focus Group
News Flash Teen Girls Read Manga Panel
Teaching Comics Panel
MARVEL: X-Men Panel
The Business of Web Comics! LIVE!
MARVEL: Dark Reign Panel
Batman: The Brave and The Bold
Vertical Publishing Panel
Wonder Woman Premiere
How Not to Break into Comics
Del Rey Manga Panel
Gabe and Tycho Spotlight Panel
MARVEL: Cup o’ Joe Panel
Yen Press Panel
Robot Chicken Panel
Men Are From Kyrpton, Women Are From Paradise Island Panel
The Venture Bros. Panel
VIZ Media Panel
Scott Pilgrim vs. The Panel!
Mondo MARVEL: 70th Anniversary Special Panel
So with 18 guests of honor (J. Michael Straczynski and Grant Morrison had to drop out), 6 living legends, 7 special guests, 32 featured guests, 79 artists and writers, 31 literary guests, 7 anime and manga guests, and 8 performance guests, plus dozens of premieres and sneak peeks for movies, video games, books, comics, cartoons, and TV shows. There had to be something for any type of nerd at NYCC 2009. Narutaki and I practically attended two different cons for the amount that we crossed paths. And we didn’t cover half of what was offered at the convention. In many ways it is the clearest example you can find of how our taste may vary when it comes to things outside of anime and manga.
Good lord, NYCC you never cease to wonder a person. The guest list was insane as proven by the statics mentioned above. The amount of panels to go to was overwhelming creating endless schedule conflicts as you are pulled in three directions at once. This was made twice as difficult because no one seemed to have the chart/grid of all the panels. Apparently there was one, no one we met ever saw it. It was also amusing how other bloggers seemed to only see one of us each day. No one could find me on Friday, likewise Saturday Hisui was missing till the end. Not only was there a ton to see and do there was also a huge amount of bloggers and friends to pal around with for the entire length of the con and after!
So my co-worker and me practically ran out of work to get to the Pre-Con party because they were giving away swag if you were one of the first 200 in. This ended up being mostly nothing worth having. Though I did keep the Ultimate Spider-Man 100 Project which has a ton of pics drawn by lots of artists. I was hoping Dave and Buster’s would have more Comic Con related stuff and atleast a discount on game credits! But we made our own fun. I played 88 games of skeeball and gave all the tickets to kids randomly. We bailed pretty early and went to dinner. My co-worker did get to speak with Joe Quesada for a minute though!
I was barely at the Dave and Buster’s party. It was just a good place to meet up with people after the ICv2 conference. I met with Scott of Anime Almanac and Dave of Subatomic Brainfreeze. I didn’t really spend any money at the arcade but I guess I am one of the reasons they are dying in America. Then again the Deal or No Deal game is not something that particularly makes me want to spend my money anyway. From what I understand the food at D&B’s is hideously overpriced and merely okay so we went to the nearly empty Applebee’s downstairs. I finally learned of Dave’s opinion of Type-Moon which made the whole convention a success. It was a good warm up for the upcoming convention.
I started the convention proper by attending the News Flash Teen Girls Read Manga Panel. It was a well run and Brigid Alverson from the Manga Blog was part of it. I did not learn anything new but it was a panel for librarians and store owners to learn about manga and its appeal to girls. All the panelists were quite knowledgeable and the panel was well run. The Teaching Comics Panel was putting me to sleep. It was basically was a panel for teachers and how they could teach language and theory behind making comics in their class. The high point was an exercise at the end: they had everyone draw one panel and then tried to make a complete comic out of it. Being interactive it woke me up to participate.
I came to the convention after the professionals panels (I worked a half day). I was sad to miss those few special hours but I took advantage of the early entrance into the exhibitors hall when I got there. It was certainly the most calm time for the convention. I always look forward to Marvel panels, they are always a good time. Luckily my first panel of the con was X-Men. It was amazing seeing so many creators up there at once, not the least of which were Chris Claremont, living legend himself, and current Uncanny writer Matt Fraction. They talked quite a bit about the upcoming Messiah War. They also hinted around at a lot of things like the new mutant child named Hope. And she has red hair and green eyes, don’t draw conclusions. . . but draw conclusions! Looks to be an exciting time to be an X-Men reader. A couple of hilarious moments occurred, as per usual. A guy stood up and asked Matt Fraction why he refused his friend request on about Xbox Live. Everyone was cracking up till we realized the guy was actually serious! Also a guy asked about Scarlet Witch, Jim McCann told him to ask at the next panel where Dan Slott would be. This seemed reasonable enough but the guy walked out and yelled “coward!” This then became a running joke at all the Marvel panels for the con.
I decided to pop into The Business of Web Comics! LIVE! panel with Scott Kurtz and Robert Khoo. It was interesting to see under the hood of how big name web-comics make their money. It was a great panel if you wanted to draw your own web comic and hopefully make money off it one day. Robert Khoo lent the panel a serious and professional quality whereas Scott Kurtz make the panel entertaining and quite funny. Both had good insights for the audience. Scott Kurtz mentioned that most professional comic artists seem mystified by the concept of putting up their work for free then making money on merchandise only.
The Marvel fun just never stops! The Dark Reign panel was awesome. Probably my favorite comic writer now is Brain Michael Bendis so I was ready to here about all the coming plans for this crazy twist. Certainly keeping a lot under their hats but they love throwing out hints to get people all excited. One guy in the audience was going on and on about how Doctor Doom would never take a backseat to Norman Osborn. Doctor Doom then became the default answer for everything in the panel. Of course there is always one guy who stands up to say how much he DOESN’T like what is going on, as if the rest of us agree with him? Joe Quesada is really great at taking the wind out of their sails. He basically says, our sales are better when big events are going on, if people weren’t buying them believe me we wouldn’t be doing them. And that was that. In other great news, they are doing Dark Young Avengers!
I then went to the Batman: Brave and the Bold Panel. Since I don’t have cable at my apartment I was sadly unaware of this show which is a shame because it seems to be rather awesome. Batman teaming up with a variety of other superheros it seems to have a good amount of Batman style and action while retaining a tongue in cheek sense of humor. They really sold me on Aquaman. I think the line, “He thinks he is an awesome hero and does not realize you all think he is lame” really sold me. They then played a rather cool episode had Batman go to an alternate Earth where all the heroes were villains and all the villains where heroes. When the leader of this alternate Earth’s heroes is the Red Hood you know you have a Comic Con episode.
The Vertical panel and my first industry panel of the convention started off slightly depressing. They have very few books coming out in the next year and only four of which are manga, all Black Jack. They talked about some of their crafting series and about how the word “cute” in the title helps them sell better. I think proposed they start calling it Cute Black Jack. Luckily there was a bright spot, apparently they are getting new investment and teaming with a Japanese publisher who they have yet to reveal. I also asked about more Shinjuku Shark novels. They said they will at least do the third book but would like to do all ten. At the end they gave away signed copies of To Terra . . . by Keiko Takemiya! I didn’t win one and I was really jealous!
I attended the first half of the Vertical panel but I wanted to make sure I got to the Yatterman premiere on time. There I met up with Scott of Anime Almanac, Gia of Anime Vice, and John of Japanator. We had a nice conversation about various things including Kaiba. The audience that was not press seemed to be mostly made up of crazy Sho Sakurai fan-girls. This was made painfully obvious because anytime anything Sho related was mentioned or appeared on the screen the audience went nuts. The squeals when Yatterman No.1 kissed anyone was simply amazing. The movie itself felt like a Stephen Chow movie. It had that same mix of goofy comedy and over the top action that made it feel like a live action cartoon in every sense of the word. I think that Stephen Chow does it better but overall I enjoyed Yatterman. You just can’t go in expecting Ichi the Killer. It’s a dumb movie but it never wants to be anything else. I am sure Yatterman fans are going to get more out of it. There was some question and answer after the panel with Sho Sakurai and Takashi Miike.
My last excursion of the night was the Wonder Woman premiere. My friend and I also caught the last few minutes of the Futurama movie before it. It seemed reasonably funny. As we waiting, the IGN theater showed a bunch of looks at things on the screens like at a regular movie theater. We saw a first look at the G.I. Joe movie which will probably be awful. They also mention how they were really making it diverse but I saw about 80 white people in it and one black guy and one Korean guy so whatever. Apparently Cobra Commander won’t be in it?! We also saw some stuff about the upcoming Chun-li movie which looks worse than the G.I. Joe one. All the fights they showed where in the shadows probably because this girl playing Chun-li can’t fight worth a damn. Anyway, the Wonder Woman movie was really great! D.C. has really done some great animated productions over the years and this ranks up there with them. There was some adult humor and was more violent than I expected! Bruce Timm along with the director and writer did a Q & A after the showing. He said he thought this was the best yet, even better than Mask of the Phantasm. NO WAY, but it was still really good.
Saturday was my big day so there was quite a bit to do. I started with the How Not to Break into Comics panel. I was hoping it was going to have a lot of funny stories. It definitely had some good ones but it was mostly a very serious look at how to try to get a job in the comics industry. Apparently people constantly don’t put any contact information on their submission making getting back to them impossible. A very useful panel for anyone who is serious about doing their pitch right.
Bandai is going to be okay people! They are going to be doing a lot more online, including having Code Geass and Gundam 00 available. Also they picked up the Gundam 00 manga and novel! YAY! I am hoping they do similar packaging with Gundam 00 as they did with Code Geass with including manga in the awesome box. Looks like Hayate the Combat Butler will be released subbed only in 13 episode boxes. This seems like a smart move, plenty of fans wanting to pick that up but not enough to go through dubbing it. I’m sure they will have a few more announcements coming this year, all of them good.
Like many east coast residents I have never had to good fortune to get out to PAX so it was really awesome to be able to Tycho and Gabe at NYCC. You definitely see where the characters in the comics come from when they talk. I found it amusing that Gabe would constantly pick people from the audience to ask questions and Tycho would have to force Gabe to stop and let him pick someone from the audience on occasion. They were very personable and entertaining and had an excellent chemistry with each other and the crowd. It also started the trend for Saturday, every panel I attended was standing room only.
Attended Del Rey panel with a good portion of the anime/manga blogging crew. They mentioned doing some “manga” versions of X-Men at NYAF 2008. But what I saw was quite unexpected. Emo-boy/Bishonen Wolverine? Turning X-Men into a reverse harem romance comedy? It just seems like a strange way to approach things. Wolverine is rather beloved. Oh, and he is a totally crazy, deadly, bad-ass. It was really off putting. The same goes for the X-Men story. While I like Kitty Pryde, as do all, and am glad to see her staring, this wasn’t what I had in mind. One of the great things about X-Men is their strong female cast which was mentioned in this panel. I asked about the decision to then exclude most of them in favor of this school comedy bit. It was basically like “well this is just what we decided to do.” I am clearly bias and not the target audience but come on!
I barely got into the Robot Chicken panel due to a good deal of madness. It was the least organized of all the lines I saw. Staff pulled the press out of the line to get us in, then security refused to let us. I eventually got in but had to stand along the wall after one of the other press guys pulled out an class-A ability to complain politely but loudly. It was worth it. The main question and answer consisted of Seth Green talking about everything with backup from Robot Chicken crew and the Cartoon Network representative trying reign things in. Seth answered all the question (other than being super precise about their budget) but once he started talking there was almost no stopping him. He told a hysterical story about dressing up as Spider-Man at San Diego Comic Con. It turned out that he received just as much attention as Spider-Man as he did without the costume. There was also a amusing story about how they bought a vintage Batmobile off eBay and the woman who sold it to them wrote them a letter about how glad she was it was going to a good home. They tried their best to use the car without damaging it but wound up having to trash it beyond all recognition. I also loved the Star Wars joke they could not use for the show. After the Q&A it took about five minutes to get Seth to stop talking so they could play a ten minute clip. I only watch Robot Chicken on DVD so I am not sure how much of it was new stuff and how much of it has already been on TV. It was definitely worth the hassle of getting in.
One of the key things that has made Marvel a fan favorite in recent years is their off the cuff interactions with fans. So one of the highlights of every convention, for Marvel fans, is the Cup o’ Joe panel with head man himself, Joe Quesada (and usually a few guests along). It is essentially just a panel to ask questions to Joe about anything comics related. This time around he had Jim McCann, Brian Michael Bendis, C.B. Cebulski, and Marvel’s publishing director with him to help out. There were actually a lot of questions directed at Bendis which is no surprise with Dark Reign in effect. Some memorable moments included a woman dressed as Black Cat, very well done, asking when she will get her own comic; a semi lengthy discussion about the rising price of single issue comics; and me telling stories about other Marvel panels with the guys sitting next to me.
Men Are From Kyrpton, Women Are From Paradise Island Panel was packed which for some reason surprised me. There was hardly a free seat in the room. I was tempted to go to the Dr. Who panel because hey, it’s Dr. Who but I was curious to see an analysis of gender in comics. The discussion was lively and the panelist did broaden the discussion as race and homosexuality started to come up. It was all interesting and the moderator let people go off on related tangents while making sure that everyone got back to the topic at hand. I really wanted to state that it’s important to keep in mind you can’t force sensitivity or diversity into a story. If people want stories about females, minorities, or gay characters you can request that they do so and hope that someone listens. If you force people to do it then the stories will come out as disingenuous and be horrible. The best solution is for people who really care to go out and write those stories themselves but not everyone has the time or ability to do so. It can be frustrating to not see the topics you want addressed in a sensitive and entertaining manner. I am not sure what to say other than people have to be patient but politely vocal. Though I was unable to express this to the panelist because everyone was so engrossed.
So, so much anime and manga industry stuff on Saturday. Next up was Yen Press. Everyone was excited to see they grabbed Yotsuba&! People couldn’t be happier! Though the surprise was kind of spoiled by a flaky PowerPoint presentation. They gave books galore and it got a bit crazy. This also explained why when most industry panels and empty this one was packed. Soul Eater was clearly the crowd favorite, unfortunately for me and great for Yen Press. Funimation was right after that. I liked the new Funi media player plus they are getting a lot more series online for free. I am yet to check it out since but I plan to. They showed a lot of trailers and two dudes behind us were so annoying and loud yelling DBZ and Afro Samurai the entire time. I had a major headache after that. I also found it amusing that when people realized there would be no free stuff the room emptied fast before the panel was over.
I finished of Saturday with the Venture Brothers panel. It did not have as many panelists as last year but it was still fun. I came in just before it started so I had to sit all the way in the back. It was actually great because everyone just sat on top on their chairs to get a better view. Since they did not yet have a trailer for the fourth season, they played some deleted scenes from the third. The rest of the panel was Q&A. They kept bringing up that they killed number 24 but in their defense so did the audience. I enjoyed Doc Hammer and Jackson Public saying they were going to make sure to keep the murderous moppets around just because they were universally hated. The same Triana cosplayer that made such a big splash last year showed up again and invited the cast to have coffee with her. This of course set everyone on the panel and the audience off like nobodies business. And speaking of Triana the inevitable topic of the inexplicably popular friend Kim came up. The panelist all but said they would make sure she never came back just because people keep asking for her. I really hope they do the panel again next year because it is always one of the highlights.
My last panel was industry related, as a lot of Saturday was given to. CMX did a great job. I love this company anyway and they are truly one of the under appreciated manga publishers out there. They do a lot of good smaller manga, more obscure stuff. They did announce anything new but we got to see covers and interiors for upcoming releases. One was a mecha series that looked cool called Broken Blade! I asked them about the marketing strategy of releasing different series by the same author simultaneously rather than one after the other. It was as I hoped, they are trying to build a fan-base for the manga-ka. Also they hope you don’t feel like there is too long a break between titles if you are reading my series by the same manga-ka. I like this a lot and it does seem to help name recognition. They also seemed receptive to my and Kohaku’s opinion on some licenses, like Yoroshiku Master (which was my manga of the month recently!). This panel also became the unofficial gathering place for all the bloggers going to dinner.
I met up with everyone after the Venture Brother Panel. It took a bit of herding but we got everyone to go to dinner. At final count we had a group of 15 and had to be separated into three groups. I was seated with Gia and John along with my old friend Eric. Gia and John were nice conversation. I was interested to find that John liked Diebuster more than Gunbuster despite seeing Gunbuster first. That is almost never the case although he made a convincing argument about the themes of Diebuster being more relevant to him. After dinner I went with Dave from Colony Drop and Carl from Ogiue Maniax to karaoke with some anime podcasters. It was awesome seeing Erin and Noah again and no one can ever get too much David Riley. Ed Chavez did an awesome rendition of Metamorphoze by Gackt. Seeing Dave and Carl back to back singing giant robot openings was quite awe inspiring especially King Gainer Over!. I was also quite happy that Carl did Century Color from Turn A Gundam. Mike Toole showed up later on to kick it up a notch. I was happy finally be able to sing karaoke with people who were not all gods but merely mortal men. It made me much more comfortable. I myself got home around 5 in the morning.
The bloggers dinner, as we are calling it, was definitely a highlight of the convention. Some of the people in attendance I had only just met at the con. There were also a few that I have hung out with before, and of course good friends too. After we split into our booths all after each other, I was with Kohaku, Carl, Dave, and Evan of Ani-Gamers. This led to many amusing discussions (and the showing of video clips when Dave’s phone felt like working). On the menu for talking was creepy teachers, never drinking Snapple again, giant robots, and Segata Sanshiro. At one point we heard what sounded like a intelligent conversation going on behind us but then we promptly put it out of our minds. I had a blast, laughed a lot, and ate a yummy cheeseburger. I took part of it home but then forgot to refrigerate it, I was rather sad about that. I went home early with Kohaku and Eric in toe.
I really only went to two panels on Sunday. I went to the VIZ panel with everyone else. The there were two big topics and several smaller announcements. First they talked more about Japanese science-fiction line. It seems to have a wide variety in the first four titles upcoming. This could open up new avenues for VIZ and anime fans if these do well. The big announcement was the licensing of Rumiko Takahashi’s new manga. As far as I can tell they licensed her new manga sight unseen. Rumiko Takahashi equals money no matter what she does. I am very curious what it is going to be about. Also it seems that this will be an almost simultaneous U.S.-Japanese release if they want it to be. I am curious how simultaneous the release will be.
What most excited me at the VIZ panel was the announcement for the Natsume Yuujinchou manga. If you have been keeping up with my ongoing investigations, I have a gushed about this series a few times. After this, Evan corralled a few of us and we headed to the press room to do a podcast for Ani-Gamers about the convention. On the way there we must have been yelled at five times for allegedly trying to cut the Joss Whedon line. Podcasting ensued with the likes of yours truly, Hisui, Scott of Anime Almanac, his friend Greg, Brigid of Manga Blog, and of course Evan himself. The conversation was lively and fluid covering topics like crowds, licenses, Yatterman and state of the industry. Go take a listen!
I then went to the Scott Pilgrim panel. I have heard quite a few good reviews of the series so I was interested to hear the author speak. Most of the audience wanted to hear about the upcoming movie but Bryan Lee O’Malley could not really say anything more than what was on the Internet. I have to say comics like Scott Pilgrim are OEL done right. American artists should take their interest in manga and let it influence their art and their storytelling but not try to adapt the “manga style” wholesale. I can’t say the panel made me want to rush out and buy Scott Pilgrim but I will probably pick it up the next time I see it.
My final Marvel panel of the con was Mondo Marvel. It had a good number of writers and artists there. About 14 in all plus Seth Meyers and Bill Hader from SNL showed up much to the surprise of the audience. They are doing a one shot Spider-Man story called the Short Halloween. The crowd chuckled at the name in a knowing fashion which lead to Seth and Bill making the comment that this was the only crowd that would get that joke (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, there is a famous Batman story called the Long Halloween). They kind of stole the spotlight, unsurprisingly. One other cool announcement was The Marvels, it is will be taking us back to the origin of origins, the Marvel universe itself. We know certain characters came from experiments, accidents, etc. but we are going to get a look at how those organizations that caused these things came to be. Sounds like a really interesting project.
Sunday I finally got to spending some cash in the dealer’s room. I bought five Revoltech figures since it was buy three, get two free and there were only 20 dollars each. I got an Ingram, King Gainer, Gurren Lagann, Yotsuba, and Dark Saber. I was a little sad they did not have Revy but that was not unexpected. I almost got the two Valkyries but decided to have some restraint. I also went to the Yen Press both as they were giving away manga but it had been mostly picked clean. I got a copy of Black God three but not one or two.
The Exhibitors hall as always was giving away some free stuff, but seemed like less than last year. I did get a copy of the first issue and a poster of Watchmen which was cool. Sunday was the first time I set foot in artist alley and it was great! Comic cons version of this is a little different because there are actually famous comic artists and writers sitting right there! There are also amateurs, too. We saw Ryu Moto (who we have interviewed) and talked with him for a few minutes. He seemed really impressed with the convention as well. I happened by the Jim Lee booth and he was actually there! The line was also fairly short, what luck! If I had come by ten minutes later he would have been gone. I got two signatures plus he took a photo with me! This man started my love for American comics, it was a really amazing way to top of the convention.
After the con we met up with some friends. We went down to Kinokuniya and Book Off. I did not spend any money but I came very close to buying the new Kido Senshi Gundam-san manga. Mostly because it has Sayla on the cover but also because it looks funny. I learned about Blaster Knuckle and Jesus manga from Dave. Both of them seem like epically horrible, but therefore enjoyable, manga. Blaster Knuckle is about a African American in the south who has to fight flesh-eating KKK members with magical brass knuckles. I can’t casually find anything about the Jesus manga I saw at Bookoff but it was about an assassin codenamed Jesus. There is a manga called Jesus about the biblical Jesus, a romantic comedy called Jesus!, as well as another romantic comedy called Jesus Christ that was in Bessatsu Friend. I was dead tired by the end of it.
I think many of us were reluctant to have the convention end! So meeting up right after we were being kicked out seemed like a way to prolong the inevitable. And a good number of us spent even more money that we didn’t have! But really, Bookoff was having a sale, how could I resist? I was also lucky to make it out of Kinokuniya with any money at all considering Gackt was in three magazine this month. I only bought one, sigh. At about seven or so we parted ways and the magic was over. Leaving a con is like having been in another dimension for three days then coming back to reality. I came out of this con with great deals, hilarious stories, and some new friends. Overall it was one of the best, and best run, conventions I have ever been to. Next year I expect great things but I have to wonder if they can top my experience this year.
I don’t think I have ever been to a convention that was so jam packed with stuff to do. I really regret not being able to go to more anime and manga panels but that is what anime conventions are for. I wish I had been able to see Joss Whedon but I did not feel like hacking through the crowd to hear him talk on Sunday. I also regret not being able to see the Dr. Who panel but such is life. There were just so many to events attend! There were dozens of minor problems but overall I had a blast. My greatest criticism is that next year it may be almost impossible for them to duplicate the sheer amount of things as they did this time around. NYCC is clearly become a force to rival San Diego. I am curious how the date change for NYCC 2010 will effect things but we shall cross that bridge when we get to it.
Top 5 Anime songs that must be sung at karaoke
5. Tobe! Gundam by Koh Ikeda
4. Cha-La Head-Cha-La by Hironobu Kageyama
3. Rinbu Revolution by Masami Okui
2. Yuusha-oh Tanjou! by Masaaki Endo
1. Ai wo Torimodose by Crystal King