The New York Comic Con has hulked out and grown into an absolute monster. What was once a two and a half day convention for comics industry fans and professionals has swollen to a 4 day carnival of brightly colored fantasy-made-flesh overflowing the 1,800.000 square feet of the Javits Center and meandering out into the streets of New York.
And I love it for all of its excess, perhaps because of the excess, for those moments of sublimely surreal humor interspersed with the chance to discover brilliant new works or talk with comics publishers and professional. I suspect it is the only place where you can have a conversation with publisher Mark Siegel of First Second press (purveyor of high quality literary comics like Gene Yang’s masterpiece Boxers and Saints) only to glance over your shoulder as a nine foot tall zombie staggers by supporting himself on the shoulders of two zombie nurses. A totally normal occurrence at the Comic Con.
In years past the Con had a day set aside for professionals and on those days it was easy to sweep the entire show floor to make a quick first pass and then cycle back to the exhibits you needed to stop by to get business done. With the swelling popularity of the Convention, that day is now gone. As of last year the Thursday professional day began selling one day tickets and now every day is a Tokyo-rush-hour crush of costumed lunacy, with every aisle packed with a bazaar of the fantastic and bizarre.
So okay it makes it tougher to get serious business done, shuffling along at the pace of a medicated madhouse patient, pausing every few seconds to gawp or to make room for people to take pictures of each other in costume, but once you get into the rhythm and allow things to take their time, you will still make great discoveries and get into interesting conversations with the people who make imagination their life. The trick then is to simply take your time, and let the con come to you. Or go every day all day for a few days in a row as I do. It took a determined effort but I did in fact manage to hit the whole show and to twice pass through Artists Alley (in another warehouse section separated from the show floor) and to chat with the folks who crank out the ideas and images that find expression (in costumes and movies and books and video games) throughout the rest of the building.
Which is the best part: meeting artists whose works I admire, or better yet find new works that are begging for a wider audience. Best of all, every year I come back loaded down with GREAT NEW BOOKS to share with you all. Both on our shelves at the Library and in reviews in these pages. (See after the jump), and watch this space for a preview of more new books added to the shelves of our collection.