When I was but a wee little lad I would go to conventions. I went mostly to science fiction and comic conventions. I remember my mother taking me to the old Creation conventions in Manhattan most of all. They were small affairs that mostly took up a single floor of a Manhattan hotel. The main draw was the dealer’s room and the guest signings. There were occasionally a small smattering of panels and some screening rooms but I can’t recall ever doing much with that end of the convention. I mostly came to see whatever Star Trek and Dr.Who guests they had. Our main goal was getting an autograph of whichever celebrities we wanted. Then we would browse the Dealer’s Room a bit and maybe buy a trinket or two. After that we went home. They were mostly two-day affairs but we almost always went on Saturday or Sunday but rarely both days.
In the days before ubiquitous Internet these events were far more important. Getting news, merchandise, autographs was not that easy. There were newsletters, fanzines, and mail order catalogs but you had to do quite a bit of digging to find them and their selection could be very hit or miss. The smaller your fandom the more you had to hunt for anything you might have wanted. Also anything from overseas usually meant you had to search twice as hard and three times as much. The convenience of going to a convention and just being able to get so much of what you wanted, and instantly, all in one place was invaluable. Today you can just pop on the web and get any of that without a second thought but back then it was a very different story.
In lots of ways Special Edition reminds me of those old conventions. It is not a complete throwback. The panel selection seems a bit more robust and everything seems a bit more refined thanks to several decades of conventions teaching everyone some valuable lessons. As someone who is more used to the pomp and circumstances of more elaborate affairs like NYCC and Otakon there is a distinctly more laid back vibe. This is not a full on Relaxacon but the convention is clearly more humble than something like I-CON or AnimeNEXT. It is a professionally run Castle Point Anime Convention for comics.
(Actually I wonder if the panel selection is actually richer today or did I just ignore panels more as a tween and teen?)
Special Edition’s first year (2014) seemed like they overestimated their attendance and presence. This year, they’ve reinvented themselves in a difference space with more of a low-key vibe. Don’t get me wrong, the North Pavilion of the Javits was (is) a great space but this con is still a baby and this year felt more like the beginning. Continue reading