How a Pop Culture Convention Became My Personal Holiday
“ …I don’t have to chaperone these. There’s nobody here but a bunch of nerds.“ - My mom Oct. 5, 2018
When I was in middle school I always dreamed about going to comic con out in San Diego. Back then, New York Comic Con was still new and untested. Unfortunately, I was big into playing sports all year round, and anyone who is an athlete knows, games and practice can really cut into your free time. Now this was during the mid 2000s. Back then I was a total weeboo. I was obsessed with anything and everything Japanese. I watched all the anime early in the morning until late at night, I ate pocky almost 24 hours out of the day, and even got into a bunch of J-Drama’s. I wanted to look as unique and quirky as the models I saw in the Japanese fashion magazines. I’m almost ashamed to look at my pictures during those years.
It was by chance that I had no volleyball practice or a game one Saturday in 2007. It was my chance to go to New York Comic Con! My first comic convention ever! I was so excited to go that I didn’t sleep a wink that night! I pulled a costume together of an avatar from Gaia Online I created and the next day the whole family set out for merriment. Being there felt like I was on a magical journey! It was breathtaking! The fans, the merchandise, and the hustle and bustle were extraordinary! I still have some of my first convention exclusive manga’s to this day! For the first time I could meet other fans outside of my friends, see exclusives, and dance with a crowd to bands that played my favorite anime openings! It truly felt as though I found a community that could accept me for all my ‘nerdiness’ and reveled in it.
Fast forward more than a decade later it’s hard to believe I’ve been going to conventions regularly since I was thirteen. I still even ask the same questions when I prepare myself to go. Will I cosplay? Who will I cosplay as? What’s my budget? Am I bringing all my friends? Will I have time to catch up on my shows? New York Comic Con has gone through some changes since I’ve been going such as an increase in security, increased ticket prices, as well as a more stringent process to buy tickets. However it still remains the same nerdy convention I have loved to go since I was thirteen. It wasn’t long after that it would be a given that I would go to New York Comic Con. It had become my own little holiday and I couldn’t wait to celebrate it.
This was an interesting year for me. In my opinion there was too much to do and not enough time to get the most bang for my buck. New York Comic Con is so huge, it has to limit the number of day passes it can sell. Unless you bought your ticket months in advance it was nearly impossible for outsiders to purchase a ticket unless you were paying attention to your email. This was the case for some of my friends who missed the virtual queue and had trouble accessing ticket sales afterwards. I’m a person who loves to plan ahead and it helps me decide what panels to see and which actors to see. However this year there were no teasers or flyers for what to expect from panels and such until the last minute. The NYCC app had no updates or information until the week before the convention. It’s hard to plan for everything when you don’t know what days you really want to go. It forces a fan to buy four days worth of tickets just so they won’t have an excuse to miss anything. Even a lot of the side content nearly cost as much as a day pass, some events not even needing a NYCC badge for entry! It was like NYCC had become a money vacuum and we, as the fans had no choice but to throw our cash into it to give us that sweet fandom experience.
I scoped out the Javits Center with my sister on Friday, while dressed as Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure characters. It was so awesome to wear our costumes that we spent a couple months working on. All of the stress of trying to make our costumes functional melted away when people shouted at us with excitement in recognition of our characters. I went as Josuke Higashikata and my sister went as the ever-popular Jotaro Kujo. The only panel we hit that day was the Venture Bros. Panel. It was a jaw dropping experience to meet the brains behind one of my favorite shows on Adult Swim. Doc Hammer just riffed on the audience and his life and Jackson Publick was quick with the quips as well. It was less about talking about future episodes and more about seeing how the minds of the story worked. You could really get a feel of how they came up with each season and why it takes so long for them to push out a script for the show. It was interesting to see the creators bounce off each other and have fun bringing the audience in on the jokes.
Saturday was a long day. I was lucky a friend had bought an extra ticket so that I could bring my best friend Alex to his first comic convention. It was a challenge to convince him to come though. He felt as if he wasn’t a fan enough of movies or television to find anything interesting. The thing about having a gigantic nerd convention is that there is something for everyone! I was able to get him to dress up for his first convention with some leftover costume pieces I kept on hand. He was ecstatic to see all of the Naruto cosplayers and we stopped every time to take some pictures with them. We hit the panel “Reign of the Supermen” and got our first look at the upcoming DC animated movie. Up until then I took for granted the fact that I know the basic plot to most comic book films. It was different to see what this looked like to an outsider who didn’t know Superman lore and what intrigued him to watch it. We took a bunch of pictures of our costumes after our ramen run to Ivan Ramen down at the Gotham Market. We ended our day in the Artists Alley. I was able to get my copy of Lady Mechanika signed by artist Joe Benitez and Assassin’s Creed Origins comics signed by artist Anthony Del Col! It’s always a pleasure to meet the minds behind my favorite comics and games!
After the convention was over Alex and I went to an after party hosted by Sonic Boom Box. It was fun being able to dance to club music in costume and being surrounded by fellow fans. I will say I did miss having more of my friends there to help unwind. It was less about being at a club and more about being surrounded by like-minded adults without worrying about bumping into a kid or two. We got some party favors in the form of Funko Pops!, Bought some overpriced drinks, danced a while and then went home happy.
Sunday was the final stretch and I’ll be honest I was dead going in. It felt like the last two days were spent waiting in lines and shuffling around from one end of the con to the other. I was able to buy some more comics on discount and caught a live show of Drawfee Live! It’s one of my favorite YouTube channels and it was hilarious to see them live doing what they do best! They took audience suggestions and drew what the audience wanted. On the channel, the artists come up with challenges for one another and they have to complete them. They do it to keep up their skills and just because they love drawing! I was honestly surprised how many children loved the channel as well.
After being handed some more promo material it was time to head on home. My little holiday had come to an end and it was time to prepare for next year. I went to work the next day still buzzed from the pop culture overload I experienced. It was as if I was still on a nerd high and I didn’t want to come down. Looking back on the artists I’ve meet and the fans I geeked out with it still feels like a dream. I can’t wait to relive it next year.