ANALYSIS: Best of New York Comic Con 2017

Adam Savage, of MythBusters fame, signs posters promoting his 2018 book, Don’t Give Guns to Robots: Choosing Our Future Before It Chooses Us. Photo by John Soltes.

NEW YORK — The annual pop-culture festival that is New York Comic Con has come and gone, and it was another blast from the nostalgic past. Mark Hamill signed autographs and posed for photos, while William Shatner scribbled his name for hundreds of guests.

The Jack K. Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side was packed to the fanboy and fangirl gills with cosplayers and convention-goers who were dead set on having a good time, picking up some exclusive merch, scoring a bunch of swag and meeting celebrities from all branches of geekdom. The Oct. 5-8 festival was one to remember.

Hamill was the main draw in the autographing area; however, Doctor Who put in a good showing with visits from Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie and Billie Piper. The love for animation was well represented. Vic Mignogna (Fullmetal Alchemist) and Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) commanded long lines, as did Star Trek: Discovery’s Jason Isaacs and American Gods’ Ricky Whittle. For those without the money to shell over for an Isaacs autograph, there was a Star Trek: Discovery captain’s chair on display, and fans could take free photos and have them emailed.

Prices weren’t cheap. Hamill’s photo op was $250 plus tax, and his autograph was nearly $300. Shatner’s asking price ($80-$100) was more reasonable, while most others hovered in the $40-$60 range.

Off-site panels at The Theater at Madison Square Garden and Hammerstein Ballroom made the convention truly geographical in scope. A helpful phone app sent messages each time a panel was full or a celebrity started signing.

Upstairs, on the main convention floor, the big comic book companies gathered fans. Dark Horse welcomed Frank Miller for an exclusive signing, which included a scribble on a Xerxes print. Valiant had artists and writers signing all weekend on their many books, including Bloodshoot Reborn and X-O Manowar.

Image Comics hosted Todd McFarlane (Spawn) and Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), in addition to many other authors and artists. The Walking Dead fandom continues to grow, so much so that Image could get away with charging $10 for a franchise pen.

Marvel and DC, to be expected, amassed the largest crowds. During the busy afternoon hours, Marvel’s booth was inundated with fans trying to sneak a peek of The Black Eyed Peas (Masters of the Sun) and the cast of The Gifted.

VIZ Media had one of the most consistently long lines, and that’s because their exclusives are so awesome, year in and year out. They sold out of a Banpresto figure from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, The Legend of Zelda manga from guest of honor Akira Himekawa and a Naruto Shippuden sliding enamel pin.

BANDAI sold so many Power Rangers Fighting Spirit Legacy sets that they were completely sold out before 10 a.m. on Sunday. IDW went fast through tickets for John Byrne’s Star Trek: New Visions signing over the weekend as well.

Among book publishers, The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke was notably present, and there were quite a few people interested when the author showed up to sign advance copies. In fact, Lore was everywhere, including a museum in the entrance hall plugging the new Amazon Original Series. This little podcast has turned into a cultural phenomenon.

Star Wars was all over the book publishing tables. BB-8 on the Run by Drew Daywalt was given out free with an author signing, and Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View was prominently displayed with a special comic con exclusive edition.

One of the best Sunday deals had to be a signed copy of Bruce Campbell’s new book, Hail to the Chin, for only $10. Titan Entertainment had boxes of toys and books aplenty. Their exclusive Game of Thrones Night King and White Walker two-set was a sweet purchase, while Fan Sets sold out of many of their Star Trek pins.

Funko is the merchandise booth that beats all other merchandise booths. To purchase items, fanboys and fangirls needed to win a pre-show lottery, but there was some wiggle room later in the day for standby attendees. Most items sold out; however, the company is making many of the POP! and Dorbz figures available through select retailers. That does take the bite out of their “exclusivity.”

Loot Crate had exclusive figures from Ghostbusters and Stranger Things, while CultureFly was selling T-shirts and mystery boxes galore (their Nickelodeon products are the best). FYE sold out of their Pennywise POP! variant from Stephen King’s It (2017), but they had other exclusives, including a Norman Bates dressed as his mother from Psycho.

Other large displays included The Tick, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Crunchyroll, Funimation, Eaglemoss, GEICO, South Park, Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, Midtown Comics and so much more.

Cosplayers and fans came out in droves, and they walked away happy and with lighter wallets.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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