By David T. Valentin
With the pandemic still negatively impacting hospitals across the United States and vaccine records being a point of contention with a few, New York Comic Con went on with a successful hit.
This year I had the chance of going to New York Comic Thursday through Saturday, and while I had my doubts of what exactly was going to be there and what the vibe would be, I was completely surprised by the efficiency of the Javits Center and its goal to keep everybody feel safe.
Right off the bat, Thursday was a bit of a ghost town. That is, for New York Comic Con. When there would be people lined up at the first light of day, massive groups of cosplayers roaming about, and giddy fans taking pictures with them, there was instead of quietness to the center but not at all in a bad way.
As my friend exclaimed at one point, “You can actually see the floor!” Sure, Thursday is often the least crowded, that doesn’t necessarily mean things are tamed. But for this year, you could actually go from one booth to the next while even taking your time really looking through the art, talking to the artists and seeing what you want.
So Thursday made for a perfect day of browsing and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday a day of execution—buying and striking up deals for some really amazing stuff!
Of course, with people still exercising caution with the pandemic, there were many vendors who did not seem to attend. Where a group of booths would be, there were instead different ways to take up the space. Though most spaces were replaced by sitting arrangements (which anyone who has ever attended any large convention would tell seating is hard to come by), one massive area of the show floor was dedicated to gaming systems and a few games to try out—PS5s, Xboxs, PCs and Switches.
Panels did not go untouched by the many changes of NYCC, many of them actually being changed from in-person panels to virtual screenings. Considering that I frequent NYCC for its diverse amount of panels to attend, I was a bit upset to learn virtual tickets were sold for only 20$, granting the buyer access to every panel to be viewed online and viewable up to 30 days after the convention.
If I had known that, I could’ve skipped out on spending so much on art and merch, but I supposed that’s part of the experience, especially when you’re specifically looking for new art to decorate your room.
There was only one panel I attended that was a virtual screening (a panel on creating strong women characters in SciFi and Fantasy), and although I enjoyed the panel, I could tell with the fun personalities of the panelists and their enthusiasm, it would have really made for a much needed and very fun discussion.
Still, even the one panel I did attend, which was the most crowded (a panel for the Netflix series, The Dragon Prince) It seemed everyone was exercising some level of distance from one another, as each viewer and their group were separated by at least one or two chairs between the next. It was either that, or because of the social awkwardness of the types of people who frequent those kinds of panels (myself included).
Overall, the experience was one that I hope they replicate in the coming years. In a world where we’re trying to cram as many people in one building as possible, all feigning and rushing to panels and booths and meetups, and restrict viewings of panels to in person all for money, it was nice to have some space and a little breathing room.