Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New York Comic Con 2011


It was hot, smelly, claustrophobic, and exhausting. It was the New York Comic Con. Combined with the Anime Festival under one roof at the Javits Center, the Comc Con resulted in a record breaking attendance of 105,00 people. Literally a sea of people packed from wall to wall. Sounds intimidating? It was. It also had all the qualities I listed above but, what drew all those people to this place? The answer is one tiny word, FUN! The one thing that can supersede anything. When I was younger, I played basketball in 90 degree weather with 90 percent humidity for hours and not notice the heat because, it was FUN! There also was the time when I went skiing in subzero temperature, during hail conditions, when the snow was frozen and slippery. All that didn't matter because of the FUN! Such a small word for such an awesome vehicle for perseverance. The New York Comic Con was definitely an awesome experience. For the entire weekend of October 14th-16th I was overwhelmed by the convention. It was electrifying. I was thinking, if the Matrix needed energy, this would be the place to harness an unlimited supply. I had never experienced anything like it. Waves and waves of people flowing towards their fandom. There was something there for everyone. The vendors had a variety of interesting collectibles to offer. From food to toys to books to clothes, movies, posters, etc... The next neighborhood over from the Vendors Area was the Artist Alley where the artists were hard at work on fan commissioned sketches. It was nice to see a few familiar faces in there. Sarah Richard, Yuko Ota, J. Scott Campbell, and Adam Hughes were among the many talents in the Alley. In order to escape the hordes of people, I'd had to wait in line to get into the panels. Sometimes I was in queue for more than hr. They were worth the wait though.

This year's big draw was the Walking Dead and the upcoming Avengers movie. During The Avengers Panel, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth showed up to talk about the movie. Mark Hammill (Luke Skywalker) was also a guest for 2 separate panels. One dedicated to the Jedi Knight himself and the other was a promotion for the "New Gen" comic book (and soon to be movie). Mark Hamill was available for autographs as well. In order to get his autograph, I waited in line at the Autographing Area near the Hasbro Pavillion where the costume contest and some of the performances were held. Then there was the Anime Festival area. To get there, I banked a right at the giant balloon of Finn and Jake from Adventure Time to go up to the upper level of the Javits Center. A large number of Anime cosplayers were gathered there. I can't do the convention justice in this article. It's tough for me to put in words of being under one roof with thousands of creative cosplayers, hundreds of events, the many geek gods and goddesses promoting our favorite shows, movies, videogames and comics... and most importantly, to share a spot with a hundred thousand people whom are passionate about the same things I am. All those years of being made fun of for liking the things I like was washed away by this gigantic ocean of (my fellow) geeks. I belong! Even after a week I am still shocked and awed. I'm definitely going again next year and I recommend everyone to go, even at least for a day. It's a once in a life time experience to be in this ginormous assemblage of enthusiasm.

There's a lot more after the "JUMP!"
The Panels

Dark Horse Presents: 25 Years of Publishing and Beyond
I don't even know where to begin. I guess it's easier to start from the beginning. When I first arrived at NYCC, I was lost in the Vendors Area. That's not too interesting to report but, I did go to a panel after a couple of hours of just walking around and being overwhelmed. I sat in at the Dark Horse Presents: 25 Years of Publishing and Beyond panel. Dark Horse's Senior Managing Editor, Scott Allie and Director of Public Relations showed up. Along with a couple of Dark Horse's writers and artists.

  -Eric Powell promoted his story, "Isolation" which was given to us as a free comic. I had a chance to read "Isolation" when I was in line for Felicia Day's autograph. It's a thought provoking story about a robot being bored during an isolated deep space expedition. Because of its loneliness the robot finds porn, drugs, depression among other sentient "qualities." I'm not too familiar with Eric Powell but, "Isolation" convinced me to check out his other works. He was a writer for the "Conan" series.

"The Massive"
  -This looks amazing. Written by Brian Wood and penciled by Kristian Donaldson, the style reminds me of Katsuhiro Otomo's manga. The story is set after a huge environmental disaster. A group of surviving activists needs to decide on what to do while being stranded on an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. The oceanography details are painstakingly researched by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson's art is fantastic. "The Massive" is a three part serial which will be released in January 2012 in "Dark Horse Presents".

"The Strain"
  -Guillermo del Toro's vampire series is being adapted into the graphic novel format. Scott Allie (DH's Senior Managing Editor) assured us that there will be a lot of gore and creepiness because Guillermo loves hideous horror and especially ugly vampires.

Star Wars
  -Dark Horse is bringing back the "Crimson Empire" and the "Knights of the Old Republic" series. I am a fan of "KotOR" but I'd never read "Crimson Empire". I keep on being told that it's a must read. I guess I'll be reading Star Wars EU again soon.

"Buffy Season 9"
  -"Buffy Season 9" was touched upon. Season 9 is focused more personally on Buffy, Faith and Angel instead of the global story that was introduced in Season 8. I got to start reading "Buffy" and "Firefly".

  -Hmm... I can't really talk about "Hellboy" without spoiling anything. Well, there's more "Hellboy" and if you're a fan, it'll be very interesting.

  -This will be my first web comic. Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine Guitarist who also worked on the Iron Man soundtrack) is the writer of this 12 issue comic. The story is about class struggles in a post-apocalyptic world. The art is done by Scott Hepburn and the soundtrack is composed by Tom Morello himself. Yes, a soundtrack! The soundtrack version will only be available on the web. We got a sample of a few panels and it looks and sounds great. I believe the first issue is already available on Dark Horse's website:
Orchid Web Comic

For more on Dark Horse Comics:

New-Gen With Mark Hamill

"New-Gen" is a cross platformed 6 part comic series released by Marvel Comics. "New-Gen" as a comic introduces the story which will lead into a major motion picture directed by J.D. Matonti with a screenplay by Alison Wilgus. J.D. Matonti is one of the creators of "New-Gen" along with his brother Chris Matonti. The panel talked about the development of the movie which is close to being filmed and designs had been developed. Actors were dressed as "New-Gen" characters at the panel to show off the pre-production designs. "New-Gen" uses New York City as a back drop for its story where Nano-Tech is the key to ruling the world. The panelists, including Mark Hamill dropped a hint that he might make an appearance in the movie as a homage to the Obi-Wan Kenobi character in Star Wars. This all sounds really interesting but in truth, most of the audience, including myself, was drawn to the panel because of Mark Hamill. I also found it interesting that most of the audience knows Mark Hamill as the Joker opposed to Luke Skywalker. He gave us a sample of the Joker's voice when a fan requested it. Mark Hamill told us that he loves voice acting and loves to be anonymous; when no one recognizes his voice. He also promoted his son, Nathan Hamill's booth at the Artist Alley. After all these years, being a huge fan of Star Wars, it was pretty awesome to be able to see Mark Hamill.
For more info on "New-Gen":

Paranormal TV - Talk and Q&A With Ryan Buell
This was one of the last panels on Saturday night. Before getting in line for Paranormal TV we tried to get in line for MTV Presents Mike Judge's Beavis and Butt-Head. We got into that line 30 min before the start of the panel and ended up being in the back of the line and were cut off because the panel was full. Then we tried the Black Dynamite panel. That line snaked around 5 times and continued down the hall. Forget that! So, we walked around the Con a bit more to look for cosplays to take pictures of. Then about an hr and a half before the Paranormal TV panel we got in line and was in good position. When the panel started Ryan Buell was surprised to see the room full of people who are not an overflow from other panels. When Ryan Buell asked how many people in the room believes in the paranormal, more than half the room raised their hands. After that he asked how many of us had been on ghost hunts, a handful of us raised our hands. Which is pretty surprising as well. I thought my friends and I were the part of the few whom are foolishly curious enough to go on investigations. Frankly, I had never watched Paranormal State on A&E but, the panel got me interested in the show. Ryan Buell is a founder the paranormal team on the show. He is first and foremost a skeptic who is out to find practical answers rather than supernatural ones to the supposedly inexplicable phenomena. Richard Buell gave insight on two of the shows most notorious cases. Both cases involved demon possession. He showed us evidence that was caught on camera, photos and EVP. One of the demonic cases he talked was the "I Am Six" episode of Paranormal State. Ryan informed us that there is a "I Am Six" part 2 that wasn't aired on TV but can be found on youtube. He also pointed out that the Paranormal State team are investigators/researchers. With cases when exorcisms are needed, the team would need to contact the Vatican in order to get an official Exorcist. Ryan Buell believes theses attacks happen on a psychological level. Whether if a supernatural force is truly there or not, the attacks progress slowly and it always breaks down the person's mind. It is a lot like being in an abusive relationship. Ryan also talked about how paranormal investigations and data are still being rejected by the scientific community. Even with the current progress that investigators such as his team and the T.A.P.S. team had done. According to Ryan Buell, he knows a renown scientist who is black listed by his peers because he spoke in a forum about investigating paranormal activity. I don't know why this is a surprise to me. Just like Ryan Buell, a few years ago when we told people that we were ghost hunters they would give us weird looks. But recently, during an investigation (on Nantucket Island), while at dinner, a friend of mine told a waitress that we were on a ghost hunt and she got really interested. We even gotten a couple of high fives. At least, now a days, more and more people are open minded.

Paranormal State's official site:

(I can't find the second part to "I Am Six" on youtube or on the web.)

Adventure Time/Regular Show Panel and Q&A
On Saturday night, we already anticipated this panel being popular and the line up would be long. So, on Sunday morning we woke up extra earlier. After a quick breakfast we headed back to the Javits Center and got our place in line 2 hrs before the start of the panel. While being queued up, we saw a bunch of Finn hats and Adventure Time cosplays. Both Finn and Fiona were well presented. Even the Lumpy Space Princess showed up. There weren't any Jake or Cake though. I guess those cosplays are really tough to pull off. The line up was crazy. In a short time of 15min after we got there, the line snaked around 4 times and the rest of it trailed down the hall.

Adventure Time
  -Pendelton Ward (creator of Adventure Time), Jeremy Shada (Finn) and, Tom Kenny (Ice King) showed up to represent the show. Some general questions were asked by the moderator like, if we'll see more of Fiona and Cake and the other gender swapped characters of Ooo. Fiona and Cake was asked for at least twice again during the Q&A line up. I guess we'll more of them some time soon along with Marshall Lee. Shelby the worm was also mentioned. A fan wanted him to have a bigger role on the show and Pendelton Ward answered the question with a simple "sure" and started to jot down notes. He wrote a lot during the panel. Pendelton Ward also said that we'll see more of Gunther. We'll also learn about Peppermint Butler's shady past. He jokingly said that Peppermint Butler had a run in with the occult and Aleister Crowley during his younger days and maybe they can get Aleister Crowley to voice him. There were also news for two 2 parter episodes. One will feature Marceline's father and the other one is a Christmas Special featuring the Ice King's video blog. We'll get a chance to peek into his mind once more and see just how sick he is. The Adventure Time clip shown was another zombie episode. I believe it is intended to be released during Halloween. I can't wait. The whole room erupted with laughter during the clip. Especially, the parts involving the Lumpy Space Princess.

Regular Show
  -J.G. Quintel (creator and the voice of Mordecai), Sam Marin (Benson, Pops, Muscle Man) and Bill Salyers (Rigby) represented Regular Show. J.G. Quintel was asked why'd he named the show "Regular Show"? He answered that it'd be weird if he named it "Weird Show". "Regular Show had a better ring to it." A few times J.G. Quintel and Pendelton Ward were asked for a Regular Show and an Adventure Time cross over. Both of them exclaimed, "No way in Hell!" But Pendelton Ward was writing in his notebook... hmm... A clip of Regular Show was shown and there was much excitement. I haven't watched the show so, I couldn't relate to enthusiasm in the room. Regular Show is about Mordecai and Rigby performing menial tasks at their bad jobs? Someone asked J.G. Quintel which job was his worst. He said basically all of them until Regular Show. It's always amazing to hear stories of creators being fed up with their jobs and just decides to follow their heart. Even Mark Hamill at the New-Gen panel told the room that if they are truly passionate with something, the most important thing is to be fearless and persistent. Aside from fun, inspiration is another essence these conventions give off. It's especially potent when our heroes encourage us.

IGN Theater
All the bigger panels were held in the IGN Theater. After waiting in line for Felicia Day's autograph and the other panels, my timing for the IGN Theater panels were off and also, I didn't feel like waiting in line for the rest of the day. So, I ended up walking around the Convention to see what else it had to offer. RFBlues on the other hand was at the IGN Theater and was able to sit in on the bigger panels. Here's my vicarious account on:

The Walking Dead:
  -The host of the new Talking Dead show was the moderator.
  -Robert Kirkman, Laurie Holden (Andrea), Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes), Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon) and Greg Nicatero was at the panel.
  -A fan asked how much of an impact of Frank Darabont's departure will affect the quality of the show. Robert Kirkman assured the fans that the budget cut and Frank Darabont's departure will not have a negative impact. The media blew the whole story out of proportion.
  -Laurie Holden said that we'll see Andrea becoming the sharp shooter that she was in the comics during season 2.
  -Greg Nicatero will be directing a Walking Dead episode. He will also release more webisodes chronicling how some of the zombies we'd seen become the way they are.

The Avengers:
  -The panel had Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth.
  -Tom Hiddleston was clearly the favorite of the panel. He got the most questions and all those questions were asked by girls.
  -A clip of The Avengers was shown explaining the return of Loki.

Ghost Rider:
  -There was a sneak peek clip of the new Ghost Rider directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor who also worked on Crank: High Voltage. To say the least, RFBlues is pretty excited for the Ghost Rider's second installment.

Robot Chicken:
  -Seth Green was at the panel along with Macaulay Culkin.
  -Macaulay Culkin got a lot of flak from the fans. Seth Green defended Macaulay Culkin and then he licked Seth Green's face. This is out of context so it might sound much weirder than it actually was. Or is it?
  -A clip of Robot Chicken was shown involving Superman's time travel which sounds really funny. I can't wait until it's on TV.

Level Up:
  -Cartoon Network's live action movie about three high school MMO gamers which sounds pretty interesting. RFBlues didn't think he'd like it but he was pleasantly surprised.

The Sites

The Vendors Area was so packed that I didn't get much of a chance to shop. I also spent most of my money on Autographs. I did get a couple of pictures of the Kotobukiya collection and other figures. Definitely a lot of cool stuff to check out.

Beyblade Tournament

Costume Contest
The three finalists on Saturday were Bane, Optimus Prime and Jack Skellington. Jack Skellington the King of Halloween won 1st place and became King of the Costume Contest.

I am first and foremost a geek. I have geek qualities which unfortunately, includes social awkwardness. Throughout the weekend of the convention, when I got the chance to meet my idols, I gave off dorky fan reactions. Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh probably thinks I'm one of the weirder people they'd met. In any case, I was very glad to have met them and was ecstatic to able to get some of my stuff autographed.

Eliza Dushku (go Mass!) and Felicia Day (That's a picture of Eliza but Felicia is in the Season 2)

The ever so shiny Jewel Staite and the infinitely sexterious Sandeep Parikh

Peter Mayhew and Mark Hamill. Something to be crossed off of my bucket list. These cards are 20+ years old. Both survived a fire and a flood.

Rick Fox made an appearance with Eliza Dushku. I am also a huge NBA fan and a bigger Boston Celtics fan. Rick Fox was a Celtic in the 90's and was a pretty good player. I had a great time talking to him about the 90's Celtics and how Charles Barkley gained weight after he retired. I told Rick Fox that it seemed as though Charles went fishing after retirement and while he's at it, he ate all the fish in the ocean. Rick Fox seemed to like that a lot. I told him that a friend of is a huge fan of his and was upset when Rick went to the Lakers. Rick Fox said that he didn't want to leave the Celtics. It was Rick Pitino who traded him and a few of the other guys from the Celtics. We both agreed that Rick Pitino was one of the worst. It was a surprise to see Rick Fox at NYCC and it was a pleasure.

There were a ton of cosplayers and the quality of the costumes were pretty amazing and creative. The cosplays are always my favorite part at the Geeky conventions. It adds a lot more fun to the conventions and for the most part the cosplayers are really nice and fun people. Thank you to everyone for letting me take pictures of them:

"I pity the fool who doesn't appreciate my cosplay brothas and sistas! Grrr!"

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