King Kirby Over: New York Comic Con 2009

New York Comic Con 2009 came and went, and all I have to show for it is some good memories, some good friends, and an autographed copy of Crisis On Infinite Earths. Good times.

I got to the Jacob Javits Center Friday afternoon, and with the benefit of a professional pass was able to enter the con without too much waiting. It was in this early period that I managed to get an autograph from Marv Wolfman, one half of the creative duo for the first Crisis series. I also got a chance to meet Peter Laird, co-creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I then looked for the panel rooms, but could not find them in time and missed one of the panels I wanted to see. Instead, I got to sit in on a panel devoted to building manga collections for libraries. Apparently the answer is “Kazuo Koike.” Sage advice that I will not argue against. I also got an autographed sketch from Mike Krahulik (Gabe) of Penny Arcade. He drew a Witchalok.

At some point I met up with Sub and other friends, and Sub and I tried to get tickets for the Friday showing of the new Yatterman live-action movie, but a deadly wall of raving fangirls prevented us from getting tickets. Apparently the lead actor playing Yatter-1 was one Sho Sakurai, a super popular j-pop boy band singer, and the fangirls were willing to do anything to get close to him. The Yatterman booth attendants had planned on bringing Sho Sakurai down, but when they saw the fangirl mob they told them that Sho Sakurai cannot come down in that current situation, and if they all left the area he would arrive. Naturally, this caused them draw in closer to the booth, and ultimately led to Sho Sakurai canceling his appearance.

Sigh, fangirls.  And I bet they didn’t even appreciate the Yatterman movie they diligently lined up for, and then squealed whenever Sho Sakurai was on-screen. Please do not tell me if what I said was actually true, because I’m really afraid.

We then saw the new Futurama movie (funny, not really good as a movie), and then ate at a nearby diner and talked about a variety of topics, as we all ranged from super American Comics fans to Anime fans and Sci-fi and everything in between despite being a relatively small group. Good fun for all.

Saturday’s crowd was, as expected, much larger than the Friday one. The first Saturday highlight for me was the Penny Arcade panel, as I have never been to PAX and thus had never seen them in person prior to getting that sketch on Friday. It was really a hilarious panel, and I recommend that anyone who gets the opportunity to go see them, even if you’re not much of a fan of Penny Arcade, as they know how to make a panel enjoyable.

The real high-point of NYCC Saturday though was a blogger dinner with many fine individuals, though the way we ended up sitting at the Tick Tock Diner, I spent most of my time with Sub, Evan of Ani-Gamers and the Reverse Thieves, Narutaki and Hisui and also Kohaku. Missing the Rodeo Burger of Burger King, I decided to construct my own. Also, the fact that you can order just plain cereal at a diner never ceases to amaze me. The topics of conversation ranged from Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies, Segata Sanshiro, Gold Lightan, and uh…teachers from our youth who turned out to be pedophiles…

Anyway, it was really great.

After dinner, some of us joined another group consisting of the Ninja Consultants, Dave (minus Joel), the paranormal Ed Chavez, among others, and we sang most excellent karaoke. Sub joined with me on a number of anime songs that began with Yuushaoh Tanjou! and included Ai o Torimodose! and Chala Head-Chala, finally concluding with KING GAINER OVER. We’ve done it before, but I think every time we try (key word being try) to sing King Gainer Over, it leaves us with a newfound appreciation for the song.

Sunday was relatively uneventful con-wise, though I attended the Penny Arcade How to Make Comics panel which was intended for elementary school students and ended up being populated by mostly adults. Funny how that works. The best part was that the PA guys did not change their lesson in any way.

Jerry: How long have you been drawing?”

Mike: (speaking to audience) Why, I’ve been drawing since I was YOUR age!”

Sunday’s con ended pretty much with me getting the last autograph given out by George Pérez, the other half of the creative duo responsible for Crisis On Infinite Earths, making my copy now Perfect. I actually had been looking for him all weekend, but some misinformation on the part of the con made it so that I had to rely on a friend to tell me exactly where he was located.

This is probably a good time to talk about some of the issues I had with the con, some legitimate, some simply personal preference. First was that there was NO schedule chart for the con on the website or with the con guide, and it made scheduling for anything impossible. At some point I just decided to abandon the notion of having a well-constructed plan for the day and just did whatever, as you may have noticed. Also the con guide itself was horribly out of date, which just compounded the problems.

New York Comic Con is a professionally-run for-profit convention, and it shows in many ways, not least of which is the fact that the Dealer’s Room is the centerpiece of the whole thing. Being located in NYC, home of Marvel and DC Comics, it allows them to get a lot of professionals and to really play that part of it up. This is good in that it gives you access to a lot of pros you wouldn’t meet otherwise, but the overall result is that a lot of the panels have a pure PR-type of feel to it, and only guys such as the Penny Arcade dudes can bridge this gap. Compare this with the also-professionally-run New York Anime Fest, which had its share of problems too but also had a greater fan aspect to it, with panels run by non-professionals.

NYCC is also, at least for me, a commuter con, and commuter cons feel very different from cons for which you stay at a very nearby hotel. I prefer the latter. I also have this strange feeling that the con floor is not good for walking as my soles were aching all day.

But I criticize because I love. Or something.

The con was over, but the day was still young, so a group of us consisting of some common friends, the Reverse Thieves, and Sub traveled to Kinokuniya and Book-Off, where we claimed many wonderful prizes. The highlight for me was another volume of La Sommelière and a copy of the Matsumoto Leiji manga Big Metal III. Sub purchased many excellent things, and I’m expecting him to review them all. YOU’D BETTER, MAN.

Riding the train home, saying my farewells (until next time), it was overall an enjoyable con, though murder on my feet.

I leave you then with this realistic rendition of Sho Sakurai fangirls at NYCC.