• Rock! Shock! Pop! At The Big Apple Comic Con, July 17th, 2021!

    Yesterday, July 17th, 2021, saw the first proper comic convention come to New York City since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. As anyone who watched the news in 2020 will recall, New York City, due to its density and massive population, got hit extremely hard early on and as such, things were shut down for quite a while to stop the spread and help get the positivity rate under control. Hospitals were filled up, people got sick and far too many people lost their lives. It was, in short, a horrible time to live in New York City, and while Covid is hardly gone, things have improved enough in more recent times that we can once again enjoy a lot of what makes living in New York worthwhile (it sure isn’t the cheap rent).

    One of those things, a mainstay in New York’s pop culture scene, has been comic book conventions and one of the longest running comic book conventions in the Tri-State area has been The Big Apple Comic Con, started by Mike Carbonaro in 1995, so it’s fitting that it was The Big Apple Comic Con that would be the first proper convention to come to Manhattan in well over a year. Carbonaro held a free outdoor show at the Greenpoint Terminal Market in May of this year, which was a fun event, but it was tacked on to the existing flea market that is setup in that space on weekends and it didn’t feel quite like a proper convention. The show that took place yesterday, which was a smaller ‘warm up’ show preceding the larger two-day convention happening on September 25th and 26th of this year, did.

    While ReedPOP’s New York Comic Con may be the bigger media draw, tickets for that event have become extremely expensive and sell out incredibly fast. That show also doesn’t feel like a comic book convention anymore, but more of a media/pop culture show instead. There’s nothing wrong with that, New York City is certainly big enough for multiple events each year, but for those more interested in hunting down back issues, digging through long boxes of old, expensive paper and talking comics and nothing but comics with likeminded fans, the old school flavor of The Big Apple Comic Con definitely hits the spot.

    Set up in the historic New Yorker Hotel, just across the street from Madison Square Garden, yesterday’s show was spread across multiple rooms in the hotel’s convention space. Attendees were (almost) all wearing masks, and hand sanitizer stations were set up around the space. Water coolers with individually wrapped cups were available and there were members of the hotel staff on duty cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day. It would seem that the organizers and hotel staff were still, rightly, taking the virus seriously, and that was definitely a good thing to see.

    The show also had a video gaming area set up off to the side of the main dealer area where fans could test out a few new titles free of charge, as well as a social media station where cosplayers or anyone else interested in posting BACC branded selfies or pictures on social media could take advantage of the backdrops provided. The show may have had an appreciably old school style to it, but it was still able to take advantage of modern day trends.

    A few dealers had collectible cards – Pokemon, Magic The Gathering and various sports cards – and there were one or two video game dealers in attendance, but by and large the vast majority of the people setup at the tables were simply selling comics, and there was a nice range of books to look at for any budget. There were dollar bins worth scouring for deals all the way of up CGC-graded golden age keys and everything in between. There were dealers more than willing to haggle with buyers and one or two that weren’t. Two original art dealers were set up in the largest of the dealer rooms, selling vintage pieces from hundreds of different artists.

    Although there wasn’t an ‘artists’ alley’ section at this show, there were a few guests in attendance signing for fans. Rob Liefeld was supposed to be in attendance and when he puzzlingly dropped out only seventy-two-hours before the doors were supposed to open, the convention scrambled to find a replacement. The legendary Jim Steranko, who wasn’t allowing photography, stepped up, charging a cool $40 per signature (which seems high, but it’s his right to charge what he wants). Al Milgrom was also at the show as were Keith Williams and Rodney Ramos (of Toxic Avenger and Transmetropolitan fame). Jim Starlin was in attendance and did a panel but I wasn’t able to attend that due to scheduling, which is a shame as he’s pretty much a legend. Also in attendance were Marat Mychaels, Joe Simon’s grandson, Jesse Simon (who gave a panel on the history of Captain America), Archie Comics artist Jeff Schultz along with a few non-comics related guests like Diane Salinger, Steve Cardenas and John O'Hurley. There was a CGC booth setup for anyone wanting to get signatures witnessed and put their signed comics in plastic.

    All in all, it was a fun show and a nice return to form for New York City’s comic book community. The vibe was very positive, everyone seemed to be having a good time and hopefully the city’s environment stays safe enough that we can have more events like this, once again, in the future.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      Excellent article, looks like it was a great time!