New York Comic Con…it’s BIG

by Martin Hafer

A couple months ago, I attended the largest Star Trek convention in the world — the annual Las Vegas convention. Imagine … 12,000 folks jammed into one convention center! Well, the thought of that many people scared me a bit, but I plunged in … and had a really nice time. So, now I thought I would be up for something bigger, right?! After all, once I hit 50 I thought it was time to try thing that had previously made me uncomfortable–such as jumping off 700-foot towers and swimming with Tiger Sharks! So, because of my new-found sense of adventure, I am now in the middle of doing a convention that is twelve times larger…in fact! New York Comic Con is the largest of all the pop culture conventions…even larger than the more famous Comic Con in San Diego! The purpose of this article now to try to let you know what you’re getting yourself into if you decide to try this out for yourself next year–and I do encourage you to take the plunge!
First, the most important thing is to get your tickets — as you can’t go without tickets bought months ahead of time. As soon as the tickets became available on the internet a few months ago (back in mid-May), the servers were instantly overwhelmed. Customers had to wait and often refresh their screens and HOPE that they didn’t get disconnected in order to get tickets. My daughter was one of the lucky ones, as after only a few hours, she scored two tickets–one for me and one for her. But unless you are hooked into social media, you won’t know when the tickets are going on sale as well as how to get them. So, a Facebook and Twitter accounts are a must. Watch them like a hawk…and pounce on the tickets the first chance you get…because you probably WON’T have a second chance. Tickets were sold out the first day. That means about 150,000 plus people all scrambled to get their tickets that day…and if you wait, you’re out of luck. If this sounds awful, it’s STILL easier than getting tickets to the San Diego Comic Con! And, incidentally, a four-day ticket was $105–a bargain compared to many other conventions (the Star Trek one was four times that price).

Second, you might think that you need to be a comic book fan but that doesn’t necessarily preclude you from attending. I saw folks cosplaying (dressing up as characters from their favorite shows, movies or books) practically EVERYTHING. And there were booths hawking practically EVERYTHING related to pop culture. For example, where is Waldo? Well, I saw about a dozen of them walking about during the four day event…as well as assorted anime characters, zombies, TV and movie stars, comic characters, video game heroes and villains, cartoon characters and even unicorns with magic wands! These, by the way, were the very helpful folks who worked for Progressive Insurance. What did they have to do with Comic Con….I don’t actually know! But it didn’t surprise me because there were just so many different sorts of folks dressed up for the giant party that is Comic Con! Basically, if there is something pop culture that you like, chances are you’ll find SOMEONE dressing up as that person…or even an inanimate object!! And, most importantly, if you just want to go as yourself, just go right ahead…you’ll be welcome.
Third, and this is VERY important, Comic Con is big. Really, really big. If you hate crowds, you might just want to stay home. Many times, particularly on the Saturday of Comic Con (the busiest day), the crowds are overwhelming and might just lead to someone having an anxiety attack! I am serious. It’s hard to imagine this many people crammed into the Javits Center in New York and sometimes and some places (such as at the entrance on the second floor) it is just plain nuts. At one point, I was trying to get in line for some freebies and almost got pushed down a flight of steps by a surging crowd. Frankly, it didn’t feel all that safe at this point. So, you’ve got to be comfortable in crowds…big crowds. REALLY big crowds. And, you need to learn where to go and where to avoid. So where should you go and what should you do? Well, stay tuned for my next article where I discuss some of the many things you could do if you decide to attend Comic Con yourself next year.

Images: © Martin Hafer 2015