I arrived at New York Comic Con wide-eyed and naive. I left hardened, my body battle-worn, my sanity only partially intact but somehow with new hope for the group people I have suddenly found myself a part of.
Longtime readers if this blog will know, I am not an experienced convention goer. I had, in fact, been to a grand total of 3 before I stepped into the Javits center on Friday morning and I was woefully unprepared for what I was about to put myself through. That morning I was under the impression that I could probably handle it; I had gel inserts in my already comfy shoes, I brought snacks and drinks, every electronic device I needed was fully charged, I had a bunch of different friends coming so I woudn’t need to wait in lines alone. Yes, I was confident in my ability to not only survive but thrive.
I had sort of forgotten what I had been told about the scale of this thing. See, I don’t do well in crowds or with loud noises; I don’t go to concerts, I get overwhelmed in malls, and I will take any route no matter how convoluted to avoid walking through Times Square. If I’m around a certain level of that kind of chaos for too long I start to shut down. It’s why a lot of people I meet are under the impression that I always look startled, because apparently when I hit my sensory limit I begin to wander, zombie-like, and basically lose control over the wideness of my own eyes. Without breaks I get almost motion sick. I’m really no fun to be around.
My first day of NYCC is a blur. Having failed to get into nearly all of the panels I wanted to get into I was forced to fight the chaos most of the day. The best parts of my day were when I got to sit on the floor with some friends in a large atrium near the food court and watch Cosplayers walk by, and when I got to sit in line for and then see the Cosplay Contest. I saw some really great artists, I saw some really cool stuff to buy, but I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about them now. I was a mess by the time I got home. I washed my face and fell asleep within an hour of walking in the door.
My second day of NYCC was a little more controlled. I scheduled my day a little better, arriving in time to participate in a Doctor Who photoshoot run by HSL Photography as Amy Pond and ducking out quickly enough to attend a special screening of the new NBC show Dracula. I also accidentally attended the panel before the Dracula screening, but I wasn’t at all upset. The show we got to preview, Futurescape, looks really great (it deals with the ethical questions new innovations in science and technology could bring up in the future and it’s airing on the Science Channel) and James Woods, the host of the show, was literally running around taking profile pics and selfies and joking around with people before the panel began. We also got the opportunity to see an Ekso Bionics exoskeleton suit in action (pictures in the gallery below) which was incredible.
Then it was Dracula time. Freak Geek and I rushed to the front and grabbed two seats in the front row. We were treated to a world premiere, I am now one of the few people who has seen this show’s first episode in its entirety, and it was actually quite good. It airs on NBC on October 25th at 10/9c and I would definitely say that if you’re a fan of shows like The Tudors and The Borgias this is right up your alley. The pacing of the first episode could have been a little slower, I think they might be a little afraid of taking their time with things as it’s airing after some fast paced action-y shows, but if it does get some time to really develop everything that’s going on it could become one of my favorites. Plus, I’ve missed hearing Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ charming sociopath laugh on my TV, it’s terrifying and wonderful all at once. Then NBC gave me a copy of the book Dracula and sent me on my way.
The unwinding of the second day was similar to the first, waiting in line, joking with friends, watching the cosplay contest, going home, washing my face, and immediately falling asleep upon laying down.
Day three dawned with a sharp pain in my hip and ankle, the products of years of dance and a clumsy adolescence. Long story short I took some painkillers and whispered, “For the con.” to myself in the mirror before throwing myself into the shower. Regrets be damned, I had a convention to figure out how to enjoy. After styling a friend’s wig and tracking down Freak Geek we headed over to the main stage and positioned ourselves for the Sleepy Hollow panel a few panels ahead of time. I got to enjoy the panel for The Following (because I do love that show) and Freak Geek got to nap a little (as it was comfortable and she was disinterested). The cast and production team of Sleepy Hollow seem like people you just want to be friends with, everyone was all smiles and they all have a wonderful sense of humor about the fandom (way to call out the Ichabbie shippers, you guys.). They were very gracious too, even giving a few autographs and letting people take pictures even though they were about to head over to an autographing session.
Post panel the convention began to wind down. I made the last minute decision to actually buy something, and Whimsic Alley happens to carry book accurate Ravenclaw gear so guess who has a new scarf and tie. Freak Geek and I sat in the lobby waiting for a friend of ours to pick up some pictures, and it was then that I realized what I actually enjoyed about the con.
It took me the whole weekend to find the right balance, to understand what I was actually there to do. What I really needed to see was the lobby at the end of the day. Watching people track down friends they’d made, cosplayers they just needed to get their picture with, it put this whole gargantuan experience into easy to digest tiny human perspective. “Oh my God,” I said to myself, “I’m here for the people.”. The reality is, people come to the con to shop and network and judge and compete and get attention but what they walk away with are real human connections. It’s not intended, most of the time I feel like conventions are there to exploit the enthusiasm of fans, and really so much is about buying it would almost be easy to walk away without ever having a meaningful conversation with anyone. It’s just that fans, fans of anything, when they know they’re around other fans it breaks down a wall. There’s no pressure to be anything other than enthusiastic and, yeah, that means there will be a lot of running and yelling and talking and obnoxious selfie taking and other things that can become overwhelming in large groups. I can’t blame anyone for it, they were just celebrating these new connections.
Seeing those people in the lobby, smiling and laughing and making plans, it made fighting the mob and having promotional material thrown at me all day worth it. It let me know that there’s more to this than just stuff, we’re not one giant group of Tom Haverfords, we’re not here to be exploited, we’re here to connect. I took a lot of pictures this weekend, but the last ones are my favorite. It’s just about people, all of it, don’t let the shopping distract you. I’ll be at NYCC next year, too, and thankfully I’ll finally understand how to enjoy it.