It’s not just the heroes that are super at New York Comic Con.
The annual convention of all things sci-fi, fantasy and animation, from screens to comics, returns to the Javits Center on Oct. 6-9. But that’s not the only place you’ll find it — from bar parties to costumed dances, and a new adjacent convention just for books, the event takes over the city a little more every year.
“It’s amazing to think that NYCC started in 2006 by taking one hall in the basement of the Javits Center,” says Michael Armstrong, event director at ReedPOP, which puts on NYCC. The convention began in 2006, but it wasn’t until five years ago that fan interest exploded. “Now we’ve completely taken over every square inch of the building and have been forced to expand to three other venues around the city.”
NYCC surpassed the flagship San Diego Comic Con in terms of attendance a couple years ago, with 180,000 fans set to attend this year’s event. Armstrong tells us how the convention is making room for more fans, and fandoms.
Popular franchises get more space
Where the fans go, so do the networks and producers. “We had a huge increase in interest from TV and film studios this year,” says Armstrong. That means the Hammerstein Ballroom, located just two-and-a-half blocks from the Javits Center, will expand to four days’ of events, featuring some of the biggest panels, including FX’s “Archer” and Nickelodeon’s upcoming TV movie adaptation of its hit ’90s game show “Legends of the Hidden Temple.”
NYCC is also taking over that hallmark of having made it in New York: Madison Square Garden. The Theater at MSG is hosting a roundtable with Marvel mogul Stan Lee, and the star-packed panel for “The Walking Dead,” the most-watched show of the 2015-16 season, among other events over two days.
Super Week is now NYCC Presents, with events leading up to and during the convention that bring fans together in a more social way. Expect to have some of your most memorable moments at events like a nostalgia-filled live podcast recording by the Petes from “The Adventures of Pete & Pete,” (Oct. 5, 7 p.m., Le Poisson Rouge Gallery), a “Doctor Who” costume and trivia contest at the home of NYC’s very own TARDIS (Oct. 5, 8 p.m., The Way Station) and the return of Crossplay Cosplay Contest & Celebration, where ladies dress up as Captain America and the gents are as pretty as Princess Peach (Oct. 5, 9 p.m., Le Poisson Rouge). Note that these events require their own tickets.
BookCon @ NYCC
The print side of fandom remains just as strong as when comics started the superhero genre, with nearly everything in the Young Adults section having some magical element and a whole library of spinoff novels for every popular franchise. This year, books get their own four-day event, BookCon, at Hudson Mercantile, free with your con ticket.
Besides offering classics, best-sellers and early releases, BookCon will host major authors like Timothy Zahn for talks and autograph sessions, as well as its own series of panels just a block away from the convention center in a less hectic setting. “Hudson Mercantile has a much different vibe than Javits — it feels more like a loft space or a coffeehouse than a convention center,” Armstrong says. “It will really allow that segment of the show to take on a very distinct feel.”
What does this mean for the Javits Center?
Without the books and blockbuster panels, the Javits Center is making room for “more comics, diversity and fan-generated content,” says Armstrong. Giving already-established fandoms with massive followings their own spaces off-site keeps them from crowding out smaller or newer ones from the programming schedule. “Events like ours are really important when trying to engage new fans,” says Armstrong. So while yes, we all love “Game of Thrones,” NYCC is also your chance to meet your new favorite show.
And the convention is not done growing yet. “The Javits will be starting some construction soon that will help to expand the building,” he says. “We’ll continue to take all of the space that’s available to us there, and then keep identifying interesting places in the surrounding area that could also be a part of the show.”