Thursday, July 11, 2013

Up In The Sky! It's Your Friendly Neighborhood... The Long Awaited Recap of My NYCC 2012 Experience

Warning Gang!!!! This one's a doozie!

If 2011's one day was a culture shock (it was! but awesome!! ) Than the four days I committed to NYCC 2012 was full immersion -- and at one point when Kevin Bacon was at the DC Comics booth I WAS fully immersed in people gridlocking the aisle, with NYCC staff trying to yank me by the collar or sleeve in the opposite direction I was heading just to break up the human wall. Fortunately I won out after explaining I was the sole person they were trying to open the egress for!!

The shuttle busses, new last year, started AFTER the show, and for whatever reason MTA busses weren't cycling when I exited Grand Central Terminal to 42nd St. so I hooved it, until such a time I missed my turn and wound up an equal number of blocks in the opposite direction, so I arrived at the Jacob Javits Center 45 minutes later than I intended. No matter. I grabbed a sausage from a vending cart and after the last bite, went inside.

At the entrance were building block constructs of fantastical subjects:
World Of Warcraft

While I never got into them at the time, I recognize the significance of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Lego Hulk, while it stood as tall as many people, I think it's still scaled down ;)
Lego Hulk

For 2012, I was a lot more interactive with the show. I attended a slew of panels over the four days, beginning Thursday evening with a panel discussing power and sexuality in comics. The first half dealt with Mexican comics and class portrayal (each social class having been imbued with a level of power) the second half dealt with Marvel Comics' portrayal of its heroines and the inverse of power to sexuality: overly simplifying the wonderful essay sexy superheroines are shown to not be powerfully strong unless they become less feminine. Carol Danvers, in her skimpy black Ms. Marvel costume, while still quite powerful was portrayed as having less power than in her Binary phase. She-Hulk was another example. I'd love to provide a link, but I don't know if the essay has been published or if it's online.

After that panel, I finished my circuit around the show floor and branched off into other areas of the show before closing.

Friday morning I again got a slightly delayed start, and was overwhelmed by the amount of people funneling through the doors.

I had a mission on Friday. I wanted to attend six panels. I made it to the first panel room with fifteen minutes to spare, and saw a line waiting. I overheard someone complaining about the long wait for the IGN Theater presentations and rethought my strategy. I abandoned my plans for the first panel and headed right for Marvel's All New X-Men panel on the opposite end of the floor, getting a spot sixth in line. I only had to wait an hour and fifteen minutes for the doors to open. No problem, I've waited nine hours for a plane departure and thirteen for a train that never came. This wait was cake, and there were fellow fans to talk with. During that time, I bobbed over to the hot dog vendor fifteen feet away and ordered lunch.

"Can you break large bills?" I asked, realizing that's all I had left.

"Honey have you seen our prices?" the cashier joked, "Of course we can." Hey It's New York. I learned very young everything costs more, it's a way of life.

The panel was all I hoped and more. About halfway through Axel Alonso asks if anyone in the audience was wearing an X-Men costume, with no immediate answer, "Anyone wearing an X-Men t-shirt?" I jumped from my front row seat as someone far behind me yelled "Cyclops was right!" So Axel invited that dude to the stage to read a fresh off the press, not even bound proof of "All New X-Men #1" that arrived in the Marvel office just three days prior and then told me I would get to read it next. (I had to wait a whole month after for the issue to hit my local comic shop shelf) It was an awesome opportunity on what coincidentally was my birthday weekend. I can say I shared the stage with some of the X-Men scribes. There indeed was an X-Men costumed audience member, dressed as Emma Frost, who also got to preview the issue. She wasn't immediately seen behind one of the huge columns.

The next panel followed immediately after in the same room, another Marvel panel discussing the Re-evolution line of titles and Marvel NOW.

I spent most of Friday on the lower level of the Javits, as that's where the panels were held. the next panel I wanted to attend was the Marvel Prose Novel discussion. Beginning when I was in college, Byron Price began publishing paperbacks featuring Marvel's heroes & villains (which continued through BP books until the early 2000s). I enjoyed these novels as it broke the characters out of certain constraints. The length of a novel vs a comic allows for depth and a greater level of humanity to be added to the characters, so I was excited to hear more novels would be published, totaling four, all adaptations of popular arcs published in comic form. When it came time for questions from the audience I mentioned how I enjoyed the older paperbacks, to which Peter David expressed his gratitude with the well known arm movement and "Yes!" as if he'd just gotten a strike in bowling and I asked if there were plans for any others to follow. that of course depended upon the sales of these recent four.

Dinner came next and then the Friday night costume contest. Cosplay at NYCC ranges from simple budget to highly thought out, and cosplayers themselves come from all walks of life, even this Flash Labrador.
Flash Labrador
Friday Night's Costume Contest Winners

Even though it was getting late, there was still a lot to see. One of my favorite displays was the building blocks
The Justice League Building
X-Men Battle Sentinels
Hulk Smash!
Stronger Than  A Locomotive

At Nine PM was "The Psychology of Cosplay" panel. It was quite popular and its line wrapped around itself three times. I may have been close to the front but I still had difficulty finding a seat. Before long it was standing room only, and it ran over. I left before I wanted to because I was dictated by the Metro North train schedule and needed to make the last train home from Grand Central. (Four round trips on the train are still cheaper than one night in a Manhattan hotel.)

Saturday morning came all too quickly after such a late night Friday. Saturday is THE day if you can only make one of the four.
Ewok Attacks Stormtrooper
Obi Wan

I had a mission this day too. The Facebook cosplay group East Coast Avengers put out a general call for area cosplayers and photographers alike for a group shot. Once everyone had arrived and the agreed upon time reached their Captain America yelled "East Coast Avengers...ASSEMBLE!" in a voice which resonated throughout the building. My heart swelled with pride, I was an assembling photog, and imagined I was feeling what heroes like Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Falcon, Wasp, and so many others must feel.
East Coast Avengers Assemble!
All In Group Shot
From the group photo, and various related poses, we all went en masse to the Marvel booth for the Marvel Costume Contest. Lots of True Believers made wonderful costumes.
Ghost Rider
Hobgoblin vs War Machine
Everyone present figured this was the first time Hobgoblin and War Machine met up. (Wonder if Jameson at The Daily Bugle is interested in my photo...)

The Marvel NOW Avengers panel came next followed shortly after by the Writers Room, featuring well known scribes Grant Morrison, Brian K Vaughn and I think Jonathan Hickman (sorry memory fails! ). Now I wasn't found of Mr. Morrison for what he did in X-Men in 2001 but my opinion of him totally changed from the start of discussion. It was refreshing to learn as an amateur writer that they as professionals go through the same things I do during the writing process and they even shared a technique for me to use when the story isn't progressing forward.

Dinner followed and so did the shuttle bus back to Grand Central.

Sunday morning I discovered I was thoroughly exhausted but I still dragged my sore carcass to the train station for one last day once again arriving just in time to get in line for the panel I wanted to attend. (Cool thing here was my outlining one of my own tales in margins of my show souvenir book while waiting in line).

Following the "Women of Marvel" panel, also quite full I'll add -- one in the audience was dressed as Captain America with "Coulson Lives" written on the back of the helmet, foreshadowing long ahead of time Cheese's revival in the upcoming series "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." -- well after the panel was lunch and another cycle around the show floor before closing the place down in the early afternoon. Four very active days and I still didn't see the whole show, but that was my choice, I could have done so.

I'll leave this recount with pics of two of my faves from Sunday. Deadpool in the Uncanny X-Force costume and Harley Quinn as Bat Girl. One of the things I enjoy about the cons is when cosplayers mingle, creating unorthodox match-ups across publishing lines, genres or realities.
Harley Quinn as Bat Girl
Uncanny X-Force Deadpool

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Beauty Of Newtown

A lot has happened since my last entry and it's taken me some time to get my thoughts on this particular topic in order. The trouble is; I'm caught in the middle of both sides of the so-called gun issue. On the one side, I'm all about not allowing my nation's government to curb, abridge or even remove any of my civil liberties nor my inalienable rights. I also work for a law enforcement agency and was even taught some basic hand gun safety growing up. I know full-well guns in the hands of responsible people are safe.

But also, the tragedy of December 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, while geographically close to my home is also emotionally close to my home as well. In addition to an old school mate of mine's friends losing their beloved daughter, the son of a fellow train club member of mine lost three of his friends (the son is a student at a different Newtown elementary school and was not in physical danger that day). Additionally, another friend of mine, from when I used to be a railroad brakeman, lives within walking distance of Sandy Hook Elementary. So you see it's been rough for me to find my perspective and even as I write this, I don't have my thoughts firmed up, I'm certain I never will. It's a heartbreak and in my experience, heartbreak doesn't heal well -- it may never.

The tragic part of it is not being able to punish the wrong doer. He not only stole 26 lives, 20 of which never got the chance to experience the wonderament of life -- those little moments of awe one notices as they mature and progress through adulthood. They're denied the splendor of a rainbow, the unspoken bond between scion and parent over hunting or fishing or hiking, etc., and we're denied a culpable fall guy to avenge their lives.

But what's sadder is the lobbying that swelled out of control with the aim (no pun intended) to tighten gun control laws to be even stricter. The tragic fact of nearly every school and workplace shooting is the killer finds his or her way around the laws.

Lastly, Newtown affects me one other way:
P&W CT-2x at Newtown Station
Here's some of my favorite things in this image:
- a train (one I handled when it was being loaded at the stone quarry earlier that day)
- the red building is the former Newtown, CT, passenger station, now home to Cave Comics and Burgerittoville. At New York Comic Con in 2012 the person sitting next to me during the Marvel X-Men panel said it best "there's nothing better than going to Cave Comics and reading your new issues while eating a Burgeritto."

What's Burgerittoville? It's a restaurant that specializes in hamburgers wrapped in a soft tortilla shell instead of on a bun. A hamburger buritto if you will. (I'm overdue for another visit myself)

And finally, what you don't see in this picture are the seven friends also photographing this rare event of a train on this stretch of railroad in daylight.

Newtown, CT, is one of those quiet, unassuming stereotypical small towns everyone experiences nostalgia over, not to mention everything it holds dear for me.