By Jason Borelli
Yesterday was the first annual In Store Convention Kickoff. Where was I? Taking my annual trip to Penn Pavilion for the Big Apple Con. What can I say? I'm used to shows based that aren't virtual.
Normally, I wouldn't be too preoccupied with Big Apple Con. However, it's the only New York-based show I know that I could get into, along with Society of Illustrators' MoCCA Arts Festival next month. I would like to attend New York Comic Con in October. I've been to every NYCC since it started ten years ago. However, I don't know if I can get access as readily this time [we'll try and get you in, Jason! – Rich]. Two years ago, I stood on line for over an hour at ReedExpo's comic-friendly show, Special Edition NYC, to get a four-day badge. Last year, I was working and the NYCC notice went over my head, and I wound up spending four hours on line at Special Edition to get NYCC access. This year, Special Edition isn't around, so I might be in the same situation I've been in with Comic-Con International, waiting online for a chance that will never come. It's okay if I miss CCI . . . it's three thousand miles away, and I don't know how to cover airfare and lodging. Missing out on a major convention that's in my backyard? That would not be fun.
I got my ticket for Big Apple Con (no acronyms or initials) in October. Despite taking the wrong train from the ferry station (R instead of the 1), I made it to Penn Pavilion early. While the Javits Center is easier to visit with the recent extension of the 7 line, it's nice to go to a show that's easily accessible, with Penn Station just across the street. I wound up getting on the show floor in under ten minutes thanks to my PayPal receipt.
While there are lots of dealers, artists and celebrities at Big Apple Con, I wouldn't recommend going out of the way to get there. The aisles at Penn Pavilion are always jam-packed with people. There is no show map. There are signs to the guests and artists, but you have to more-or-less memorize the layout of the floor. It's easy for me, since I go there every year, but it can be disorientating for a newbie. The panels took place in the basement of the Hotel Pennsylvania. I wound up going to a panel on comic culture of 1966. It was a nice way to kill 45 minutes.
The biggest reason I go to shows near me is to get sketches. I've been collecting since 1999, and it's a habit I won't be breaking anytime soon. While I don't have the disposable income to get the bigger names to draw in my book, I manage to find artists that are happy to oblige. And I've managed to make friends in artists and original art aficionados. As always, I came with references. If they're not printed out, I usually have material on hand. It's practically the only thing I'm anal about. Also, I keep getting ideas for intricate concepts . . . like having two of Adam Reed's finest creations (Xander Crews and Sterling Archer) fight it out, or Tin from Metal Men as Tintin. These days, I'm thinking of Finn and Jake from Adventure Time fused with Dean and Hank Venture. As in, "Ad-Venture Time." I'm saving that for a larger con.
I wound up getting four sketches. I reunited with Charles P. Wilson, whom I had not seen in some time, and who was a late addition to the Con. I got Living Nightmare from Astro City from him. I met Bun Leung for the first time, and he did Phantom Limb (The Venture Bros.) for me. There was Kristen Gudsnuk, who does Henchgirl. I met her at the same show two years ago, and I've gotten seven sketches from her. Number eight was Captain Cold/Leonard Snart from DC's Legends of Tomorrow, because I know she likes DC Comics-based CW shows. Finally, I got a blank copy of Spider-Gwen #1, and Dave Fox did an affordable head sketch for me.
I'm not much of a shopper at conventions. Usually, I am not in the mood to get anything. I have to resist the pull of blank covers; I think there are a half dozen copies lying around my home that will never get sketched. Spider-Gwen #1 was the only blank I got. I found a two-issue set of Elseworld's Finest for $6 (I got the follow-up, Supergirl/Batgirl, ages ago), and I got Convergence: Harley Quinn #2 for $3, since it has the five-page Section Eight preview. I would have gotten the first issue, but I could only find copies on sale for $10.
I bailed out around 4:30. The waiting on sketches wasn't too bad. This year, I only wandered away from the show to try a hot dog at Burger King. Yes, that's actually a thing, and it tasted good. I managed to browse through back issues and trade paperbacks, so the time didn't drag too much.
My next scheduled con is MoCCA, followed by Anime Fan Fest in Somerset, NJ, and a local show near me. And yes, I plan on hitting NYCC in October. Right now, I don't have a Plan B in case that falls through.