Saturday, October 22, 2016

(Belated) NY ComicCon Report

:Checks calendar in dismay: Yes, it has been two weeks since my single-day ComicCon visit, and I'm just now getting to write about it. It's been that kind of week. Make it two weeks. Anyhow...

This was my first visit to ComicCon, and it was pretty much as insane as I expected. The schedule was driven by two tween girls (my daughter and her friend), so we ended up spending the morning and early afternoon in two panels before moving on to the real fun on the floor.

First Panel: Gravity Falls.
My kids watched the show religiously, so my daughter insisted on attending the creators' panel. It was surprisingly interesting for me, even though I only heard of the show second hand. The writers and artists provided a lot of insight into the general creative process, both in storytelling and in bringing ideas to life in visual form. One of the longer discussions that stuck with me as a writer was the difficulty of ending a complex, emotionally charged story in a satisfying way. Do you tie up all the loose ends, or do you leave some of the answers to the fans' imagination? How much information is too much? One of the examples they gave was the ending of the Harry Potter series. On the one hand, it's good to know exactly how everything worked out for the characters, but did we really care about Harry's adult job, or how many children he had? Would we be better off filling the blanks with our own suppositions? Maybe, maybe not. I do remember agonizing over just this question when I settled on the ending to my own novel, choosing to leave the world and the characters before all the problems had been solved. To hear accomplished creators, working in a different medium, address a similar dilemma was fascinating, and frankly much more than I expected to find in a panel about a TV show I had never seen.

Second Panel: RWBY
This one was less a creative discussion and more of a combination of new season reveal and merchandise promotions. Also, although the audience was mostly underage, the panelists were too foul-mouthed even for my grown-up taste. However, the fans were ecstatic about the sneak peek trailer, and as someone completely unfamiliar with the show, I have to say it looks good. If I had more time, I might even consider watching. So from that point of view, I guess the panel achieved what it set out to do.

At that point, having decided not to spend an hour sitting on the floor to wait for another panel, we headed out in search of food. Long story short: next time, bring your own. $5 Snapples and $10 pre-packaged cold cut sandwiches were pathetic offerings for such an esteemed venue. They would've been better off with putting up a bunch of well-stocked vending machines. Fortunately for our wallets, the girls were too excited to eat so we grabbed some drinks and kept going.

The Floor:
Maybe it was a function of the event being in New York City, or maybe it's just how all cons work, but it was fairly impossible to find any information or directions from staff. So we ended up pestering random fans until we got the general idea of the setup. Yes, there are maps online, but they don't give a good representation of the architecture of the building. Nevertheless, we did somehow manage to find all we needed, which luckily wasn't that much. My daughter is now a proud owner of an autographed Gravity Falls Journal 3 (a huge deal to hardcore fans, and I was pretty shocked at the reasonable pricing of about $20 for a very elaborate hardcover) and some RWBY plushes. As for me... Yeah, it was a good day.

In case you're wondering, I was culturally appropriating Zoe from Firefly: brown coat, leather pants and a broken toy shotgun that I fixed up with masking tape. Hey, it's the thought that counts.

Conclusion: A fun experience that would've been better with preparation. You really need to plan it out if you want to hit more than just a couple of spots. I'm guessing repeat visits (or visits with a friend who had gone before) are more productive and less stressful, but anyone can enjoy spending at least a day there.

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