The concept of the “mainstream” has been detested by die-hard fans for years; be it in music, with Top 40 songs on repeat every hour, or comics, with superheroes going blockbuster on the big screen. The fear of outside invaders encroaching on the very subjects that we ran to in order to avoid them is a common feeling, and the vast majority of conventions where we hold sanctuary are no exception to this perceived invasion. If a comic convention does well, it grows with the audience that flocks to it — so, roughly four or five years ago, local fans had no idea what was coming when New York Comic Con began to generate massive publicity, and numbers to match it.
This year, the convention is expected to total numbers that rival last year's 151,000 attendees. Masses of fans filled what seemed like every inch of the Javits center to capacity, and spurring quite a few worries that it was, in fact, too big of a convention to remain in the center. What’s more, the crowds were just difficult to navigate; in almost every corner of the convention center, an interesting display or interactive experience generated a mass of lines and confused crowds that often made it difficult to move through. So, for those of us willing to brave the crowds, but unwilling to steel ourselves and our patience in order to do so, how do we remedy the natural irritability deep within our New York hearts?
Remind Yourself Why You’re There
This is the first and foremost thought that should be in your mind as an attendee — honestly, it should make or break your choice to go in the first place. Events like New York Comic Con offer one-of-a-kind experiences, and whether it’s getting to chat with your favorite celebrity or watching an exclusive premiere of an upcoming show, it is up to you, the fan, to decide how much your experience means to you. If it means more than dealing with a few pauses as you navigate the crowds and find the best, most hidden restroom to repeat to during your weekend, then you should be there. For every moment you’re stopped behind cosplayers or ducking through a crowd surrounding a fake velociraptor, your reason to be there will keep you going.
Escape Every Once in a While
This particular idea plays well into conventions like NYCC: when the crowds get too frustrating, an urban playground of experiences awaits attendees just outside of the Javits Center's doors. It’s always smart to grab some fresh air regardless, but if you’re in a bustling area, take advantage of the city around you and download a map so that you can explore. With only NYCC in mind, fans can branch out to experience unique geek-centric destinations such as an array of comic book shops, iconic landmarks from their favorite Marvel movies, and a new kind of evening experience at a Barcade, where drinks and gaming mix with nostalgia for arcade cabinets of the past.
Walk into an Unplanned Panel
Beyond the Hammerstein Ballroom or the Empire and Main Stage, NYCC offered an array of fan-run panels from people just like you. If you’re curious about starting in comics, there’s a panel for that. If you want to talk fan fiction ideas, you’re covered on that as well. If, perhaps, you were looking to advance your career as a woman within the field of geek media — well, Moviepilot offers a panel just for that, as well. Whether you fall into a completely new fandom or learn something that you didn’t expect to find out, taking time away from the convention to relax and listen to your fellow fans geek out can provide a soothing pause from the bustle of the con floor.
Coast the Artist Alley
There is almost no way to be upset at beautiful artwork, especially when it features some of your favorite characters of all time. The artists alley not only gives fans a chance to decorate their walls with unique images of their heroes, but helps other fans generate a living doing something they absolutely love. NYCC’s particular artist alley, like many large-scale conventions, also gave fans a chance to meet some of the most legendary comic artists of all time; huge names like Cliff Chiang, known best for his amazing work on Wonder Woman, are ready and waiting to meet fans and take commissions as normally as anyone else in the hallway. This makes your journey through the artist alley more than just an opportunity to frame some new, gorgeous art — it’s also an exclusive chance to meet those who inspire you directly.
In the end, be proud — because you made this happen
One of the most contradictory things I hear my fellow geeks muse about often revolves around the popularity of their favorite subjects. We either feel like there’s no one to talk to, or we are spurred back and away from a new, strange crowd that we may have unintentionally invited in. Either way, for those faithful to their comic convention, the success of the show is based entirely on the fans. As a journalist, I could write hundreds of articles praising one convention or another; but as fans, you and I have a different kind of power called Word of Mouth. Whether it’s begging your friends to attend so that you can complete your awesome cosplay group, or bringing a loved one to their first convention, we are the guides that opened the doors and invited people like us (or soon to be like us) to share the incredible world of conventions with. So while it may feel irritating knowing that you might be responsible for the crowd, viewing it as your accomplishment is a wonderful way to realize just how much one attendee can make a difference.
It’s not easy to keep your head up when a convention that you adore goes from a fan-focused event to an industry titan, but let’s face it: once we’re through the front entrance, we’ve all paid enough of our money to be there. Why not make the most of it and create a magical experience of your own?