A Tale of Two Comic Cons – Part II – NY Comic Con

Part 2 of a segment about two consecutive weekends where I got to met THREE of my childhood heroes, and have a lot of other cool things happen at a pair of conventions.  This is in addition to the weekend earlier where it was Superhero Nirvana down in Flemington, NJ– October is a great month to be a costumer!

Well, this one is about the big boy of conventions in the New York City area – NY Comic Con!  Last year there were 96,000 or so attendees – this year 105,000.  According to Wikipedia, its been going up steadily since its inception…It sold out both weekend days this year, so I dont know how much higher those numbers can get…

Year Attendees
NYCC 2006  33,000
NYCC 2007  49,000
NYCC 2008  60,000
NYCC 2009  77,000
NYCC 2010  96,000
NYCC 2011 105,000

Last year, Johnny Rox and I went to NYCC for a first time on the Saturday, and it was MOBBED (I’m not talking supermarket mobbed – I’m talking last train out of the apocalypse-mobbed!)…   We went in normal civilian clothes (as opposed to being costumed) and we had a great time.  Check out our experience last year here  (Lots of pix there too)

Anyhoo, so lets get on with the events of the individual 2011 days!

Friday Oct 14th, 2011 – Day #1 (for me)

Someone mentioned to me that since I was vacation on Friday, I should go to NYCC that day because it would be a LOT less crowded…  Nobody else was on vacation, so I had nobody else to go with, but I knew enough people there – so I headed into the city on Friday sans costume…

I got a call in the morning saying that the lines around the Javitz Center were insane but happily found out that these were people who had to pickup tickets.  Luckily I ordered my tix a few months ago and had them in hand, and didn’t need to wait in any lines..  But I got there after 2pm anyway to avoid the initial confusion that usually happen at these things.

I went in without any maps, or any idea what I wanted to do…  I said I wouldn’t do that again, and I actually created an agenda on the NYCC website, but I never printed it, nor did I remember anything on the list…   There’s a LOT to see, and there’s no way in hell I was gonna see 5% of what there was to see, so I just decided to let Fate be my guide…

So I walked… And walked…  And walked…  I zigged and zagged down aisles dodging human traffic looking for anything that would catch my eye…  And there were quite a few things…   So many great costumes and displays.  There was a giant Transformer statue, The Emperors Chair from Star Wars, and a really cool Spidey Display…. Look thru the pictures below and you’ll see a fraction of all the cool that were at NYCC 2011..

One thing I did miss was not having my beauitful wife Jackie Hannon or any of the RiffSurfer Squad (John, Jeff, Jimmy, Jenna, Leon, and now Andres – who was inducted earlier this month) with me that day…  Other than that I like having these people around in general, its a lot more fun experiencing this stuff with friends – not to mention not being able to jump into pictures with the costumers (as opposed to taking random costumed shots of just the costumer) which requires a two-person operation…  Sure I ran into a few of my costumed friends who I hung out shortly with, but they were all on their own solo missions that day.

Speaking of, after wandering aimlessly for a few hours, I found some guys in Vader, StormTrooper and Emperor costumes heading away from the action…  So I followed them figuring they would be heading towards the 501st & Rebel Legion tables.   And I was correct…  I only know one local Emperor costumer, so I ran up to the Emperor and said hello.   Luckily it was my friend Chris Feehan (an awesome costumer) and he led me to where the rest of my Star Wars friends were…

 

Happily, I got there just in time for the Star Wars Trivia event that Kevin Liell was running – You may remember Kevin from last weeks Garden State Comic Con adventure..  Watched the trivia (because I suck at it) and hung out there for a while, but its not very fun hanging with costumers while NOT in costume (yes, I like to be in random people’s pictures LOL), so I headed back into the crowds to look around some more and get some more pix… Eventually I got tired, and hopped on the ferry back to Jersey and went home..

 

Saturday Oct 15th, 2011 – Day #2 (for me)

I have to admit, I was a little worried about coming back on Saturday…  If Friday was supposedly half the people they would have on Saturday, it was looking to be a VERY crowded day since it was mobbed on Friday.   But I made some promises and I was actually looking forward to experiencing NY Comic Con IN COSTUME and with Jackie.  So off we went.

Jackie & I got there around 2pm and went straight to the 501st/Rebel Legion to find out where we were changing.  Headed slowly over to the changing rooms with my costume tupperware box (Its not easy getting thru the throngs of people by yourself, let alone rolling a huge plastic tub behind).  Got there and there were a lot of people already there and in various states of dressing – And I found a corner and Jackie & I started getting ready too.

I brought two costumes with me – My TIE pilot and my X-Wing Pilot.  I was originally going to just go with the TIE since I’m more comfortable in it, but there were a bunch of folks in X-Wing costumes, and there was a group picture at 3pm, so I wanted to jump in that one…   Afterwards my plan was to change into the TIE pilot.   Jackie had her Imperial Crew costume, and Johnny Rox had his SandTrooper.

 

 

We all got ready about 2:30pm and headed out into the public.  And within 15 minutes we probably didn’t go 50 feet…  Which leads me to this piece of wisdom

If you have to be somewhere at a certain time at NY Comic Con (Like an X-Wing photoshoot at 3pm), DON’T WALK WITH A STORMTROOPER!!!!

The requests for photos were staggering.   Its hard to say no to people, but in that 10 minute period, we probably took 200 photos (no exaggeration) – I eventually had to give up the ghost, and leaving Jackie to keep a watch on Johnny (being helmetted leaves you at a disadvantage in crowds), I split off and rushed down the halls to get to my photoshoot in time.   On my way over, I got a bunch of requests for photos, (and gave them), but nowhere near the amount that were requested white with Johnny’s StormTrooper (pardon me, SandTrooper LOL)…

I got to my photoshoot at 3pm, took it, and we had a great time over there – I haven’t been in any particular costume group shots before and it was pretty cool having 7 people in the same costume together in one picture – Especially one that gets photobombed by my TIE Pilot friend Bro Browning.

During the photoshoot, we got the idea to try to talk to Mark Hamill‘s (Luke Skywalker, but you really should have known that if you know me LOL) people to see if we could get a group shot with him.  So we all headed over there – They told us to try back at 4:30pm – which we agreed to – but kinda changed my plan of getting back into the TIE Pilot costume..

By the way, Mark Hamill was charging INSANE prices to have a picture taken with him.  If you wanted a photo with Mark, and a signed 8×10 photo, the cost was $175.00 (swear to God) – So if I could get a free shot with him and my X-Wing crew (Hawkbat Squadron), you know damn well, I’m gonna try…

Well, we had an hour to go, and Peter Mayhew was there too, so we tried to get a picture there as well, and Peter Mayhew being an outstandingly nice gentleman gladly took pictures with us and was just a classy guy about it.

We hung around a bit taking lots of photos with fans and goofing around.   Got a picture with Brian O’Halloran (Dante from Clerks), and Herb Jefferson who played Boomer in the original Battlestar Galactica came over to shake our hands for being so passionate about our favorite movies.  (I wish I had taken a picture with him, but things just happened too quickly)

 

4:30 came, and we went back over to the Mark Hamill booth, and they actually let us in to take the picture and meet him.   He was really nice and a lot more down to earth than the security surrounding him that day would lead me to believe.  He didn’t rush us out and shook our hands when we left and thanked us as we were thanking him.

Just want to say thanks to Mark (not that he’ll read this), his assistant who helped us get in, Gil Guemes – our Hawkbat Squadron leader  who gave up a precious Hawkbat coin to get the picture, Patrick Delieto who got his own picture with Mark, and opened the door for a group shot, and Ed O’Connell for schmoozing the assistant and taking our pix.  Luke Skywalker was definitely an icon from my childhood and meeting him and shaking his hand was really coo

After the pic, I was too tired to change into the TIE costume, so I just stayed in the X-wing and Jackie, John, my friend Joel Lutenberg, and I went to the opposite end of the Javitz Center to get pictures in that Star Wars Action Figure bubble…  And along the way, took a zillion more pictures and met the really cool Superman from the Superheroes for Hayley event two weeks ago, and helped the Man of Steel out a bit – which is always good for your soul…

Then we headed back to the changing room, BS-ed a bit more with the people there, and headed out.

 

 

On the way out, Jackie & I took pictures by the red carpet setup they had, and made a bunch of new friends who really wanted pictures of themselves in front of it, but didnt have someone to take the picture, so I took em… Including one guy who wanted a very intricate video of himself introducing “something” at NY Comic Con… It was fun, it was goofy, and it was costumers helping costumers…  Which is always nice…

Then we headed out to the Ferry back to NJ and home to rest our now weary bones…

 

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Now for the shameless plugs…   I let you read the blog without bugging you, so indulge me on this please?  :)

First off, I wrote a Book last year, called Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. It is about the real-life exploits of the Ducky Boys gang that was so terrifying in the 1979 movie The Wanderers.  They also happened to roam the Bronx neighborhood that I grew up in in the early 1960s.

Please check it out on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or get a signed copy directly from me (Its actually cheaper thru me and you get some free bonus stuff, but I understand you like the warm & fuzzy feeling of dealing with the big stores)

Secondly, I am currently writing a new book about the really cool people I have met doing this costuming thing.  There are a lot of interesting stories about how and why people got into this hobby.  Many people get into it for the nerdy and fun aspect of the hobby, but there is so much more to it – For example, The 501st and Rebel Legion devotes a LOT of time and energy into helping people (especially kids) who need it – Any given weekend, there are members of our group visiting hospitals, participating in charity walks and raising money and awareness for a variety of organizations (Make A Wish, FAAN, Autism Speaks, amongst many others) – So we’re not just geeks – we’re geeks that really try to make the world a better place…

Anyway, in this new book, I am looking for interesting stories of people who costume.  It could be Star Wars or Star Trek related; It could be Superhero costuming; It could be Renaissance Faire, SCA or even LARPing;  it could be Historical Re-Enacting; If you put a costume on outside of Halloween, I’d love to hear your story – so please drop me a line at JamesHannon@Lantern-Media.com – you could end up immortalized in a book.  But please hurry – before I finish writing it.

And the third and final advertisement… I’ve been writing this blog for a while now, and there’s a lot of variation in my topics…  There’s quite a few more costuming stories, some Bronx and Ducky Boys stories, reviews of movies, and concerts that I’ve been to, and tips for writers and/or procrastinators…  Take a look thru the rest of them at the main page of http://jameshannon.com/wp – I’m sure you’ll find something that interests you.

See, that wasn’t so bad was it?  Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

-=James

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