If panels are the brain of New York Comic Con, than the Show Room is the heart of the event, and Artist Alley is soul. The Show Room is the glitzy center of the convention that pumps life into the rest of the convention. It tends to be one of the biggest draws and where the casual attendees tend to spend most of their time. A New York Comic Con dealers room is filled with exclusive demos, sneak peaks, free swag, samples big and small, hidden signings, and tons of things to buy in every stripe of geekery. It is the clearly the most impressive part of the convention.
On the other hand a little off to the side is the equally impressive if a bit quieter (and only quieter in comparison) Artist Alley. If the roots of New York Comic Con are comics of all sorts than here is where they shine the most. A walk down the lanes lets you meet a wide variety of different artists whose mediums include traditional superheros, odd indy projects, popular webcomics, and even some manga artists. There you can converse about their work, trade tips on the trade, and buy exclusive pieces of art as well as more mass-produced pieces of merchandise. Artist Alley is probably the most intimate part of the convention and I’m including Sci-Fi Speed Dating in that assessment.
This year saw the Show Floor back to its full capacity as the last remnants of construction finished after 2012’s con. And while the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle alley way was a pretty awesome way of connecting one side of the floor to the other last year, “The Block” got much more traffic now that you could see it unobstructed.
On the reverse, Artist Alley saw no visible changes from last time around, but that was actually a good thing since the North Pavilion is easily the most inviting section in the entire Javits Center. And finally finally, people don’t seem to be missing the existence of the alley.
The Show Room floor was a big draw this year. Now that construction in the area was complete the area was a unified whole and not separate countries connected by two corridors like it was Legend of the Galactic Heroes. (I will leave it up to the reader to decide which hallway was the Phezzan and which was the Iserlohn corridor.) This helped ease up traffic on the show floor a bit, got a bit more business on the west side of the dealer’s room, and made the whole affair feel a bit more grand.
I did feel the biggest change was a distinct lack of cool trinkets being given away at the convention. Last year it was almost impossible to walk five feet without something being shoved into your hands. This year you would still have to be a ninja to spend an hour on the show floor and not go home with something everyone’s bag was a bit lighter this year. I also did not get any t-shirts but that was a combination of my misfortune and an increase in scarcity. (But do I really NEED any more shirts I get at cons?) The quality of the swag was nice but the quantity was less.
In the end the most useful free item I got was a Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies phone charm from trying out the demo. It let me make my otherwise dorky looking phone a little cooler and gave me a little card that reminded me when I should buy the game as a digital download.
On the plus side there was no huge dance or singing game at the main entrance. This was a boon from the gods like ambrosia or Excalibur. For one thing that considerably improved traffic. But more importantly it also removed one of the most annoying parts of the convention that was not ABC warfare levels of fanboy BO. If we never get a booth like that again it will be too soon. We still have wounded veterans from the Black Eyed Peas Experience in 2011. Some scars will never heal.
With that said there was some wonderful experiences. There were still a good number of dealers, publishers, and creators with so much to see.
Everyone I was with loved the The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds demo. It easily invoked a nostalgia for A Link to the Past without feeling like a carbon copy. The Bayonetta 2 demo looked amazing but for some crazy reason they only had one machine running it therefore there was a constant and undying line to play that. Even a second console would have made infinitely more sense. I know Bayonetta is a niche game BUT but that is only when it comes to the world at large. When you’re at NYCC a game like Bayonetta loses the title of niche status (if only temporarily.)
I was also able to play the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies demo. I have to give that demo some props. They made it so the puzzles in the demo are not the puzzle in the game. That is a major boon that gives a person who is playing a great sense of what the game is like without making anyone who later plays the full game feel like the are retreading what they already did. I know that is often worth far less than the large amount of effort it takes do to something like that but I always appreciate when they do it none the less.
The Show Floor, which sadly can’t get any bigger, seemed to be the best it could be with the allotted space. Some booths felt like they took up too much room like the cars, Intel, and some of the forward video game booths. The video game booths are understandable as they are at the front so not having them create a crush was good, especially when they were probably filled to capacity on Saturday. As for the cars and Intel, well they pay for the space so what can you really do. Marvel’s booth didn’t seem like as much of a hurrah and DC was absent on the main floor instead choosing to showcase Superman consumes in unused space near Hall E.
Apparently, the new go-to item for companies to give out are lanyards. I had fun trying to get different ones to show off on each day. There was a ridiculous abundance of buttons which I appreciated quite a lot. I also noticed that almost all the industry booths had things for sale now which is another improvement. And just smart on their end, too.
There was somewhat of a subdued atmosphere to the industry section as if they didn’t want to go all out. I can’t say I found this to be wholly bad though, it felt slightly more chill in a good way. I felt relaxed enough to just meander at times throughout the weekend.
After the amazing display from Artist Alley last year, I made it a point to spend more of my convention there this time around. I can never spend enough time though, I could easily spend the entire convention exploring just this one section! I was pleased to see a good mix of art styles, as well as focuses from the artists. I was surprised, and pleased, to see the number of anime- and manga-influenced creators were not diminished either.
If I could add one thing to the alley, it would be carpet like they have on the Show Floor. With my spending more time there, it would add a bit of comfort for all that walking.
I don’t have a lot of money to spend so unlike everyone else I have to be a good deal more conservative in my purchases. I was one of the first people to make a purchase on the showroom floor and the first person to tap out. The Good Smile booth had items with Saber on them. I got the Summer and Winter Fate/Zero cafe comics which are not impossible to find but hardly common at the same time. There was also a Fate/Zero travel kit but at 60 dollars it was bit too rich for my blood. They also had some Fate/Zero papercraft figures but since they were blind box I decided I would rather be safe than sorry. I would have been pretty salty if I had gotten a Kotomine figure. I mean at least if I got a Gilgamesh figure I could have given it to an eager Kate.
I know my roommate did not have the same amount of restraint. He came home with several items from Artist Alley. He also got a Survey Corps hoodie and a beanbag chair amoung many other purchases. Most of us came back home very day with a good deal satisfaction tinged with a whiff of regret after spending quite a bit.
This was the only time I actually got requests from other people to buy things when I offered. I got my dad some back issues of Batman, my mother a Doctor Who t-shirt, my youngest brother a signed copy of the Adventure Time Encyclopaedia, and my middle brother some exclusive Funko POP! Vinyl Figures for his kids. It was a little surprising, as when I usually go no one has any major requests, but this time I think the contents of the show are well-known enough that everyone had something they wanted.
I didn’t buy a lot on the Show Floor, just one major purchase of an irresistible silkscreened poster of Transformers. It was way too expensive, but Acid Free Prints are beautifully designed and printed.
Artist Alley was a different story, I couldn’t stop buying things!
Now that I’ve gotten wise to how to store and display prints, I ended up buying a couple more for my collection. I knew the uber talented Sean Murphy would be at the convention, but little did I know he would be selling prints of a Back to the Future piece he did! I also picked up a vibrant Runaways print by Russell Dauterman. I nearly bought him X-Men print as well.
Other purchases included the latest artbook from Ryu Moto and a bookplate from David Petersen of Mouse Guard fame. Oh, and a Corgi fan-zine, yes you read that right!
The best $3 spent at NYCC was hands down at creator Tim Chamberlain’s (creator of Our Valued Customers) table where you could buy a small book called The Worst Arcade in Town. Inside were a variety of laughter-inducing machines like my personal favorite “Get Slapped!” with a cartoony arm protruding from it. This ended up being the perfect book for standing in lines, too, as everyone would just dissolve into fits of the giggles each time we opened it.
Overall, the lack of free stuff is hardly a crime. I mean nine times out of ten you play with that stuff once or twice after the con and then it gets thrown in some dusty box in your closet or in the trash when you do some spring cleaning. I got some nice Type-Moon merchandise, played some great games, saw come cool books, had a good time overall.
More New York Comic Con 2013 posts:
New York Comic Con 2013: General Impressions
New York Comic Con 2013: Panels
New York Comic Con 2013: Masters of Animanga
New York Comic Con 2013: Our 7 Favorite Announcements
The Speakeasy #046: The Princess Bubble-tini, New York Comic Con 2013
New York Comic Con 2013: Podcasts