Comic con season returned in 2021, capped by the grand spectacle of this past weekend’s New York Comic Con. Here’s an inside look at the four-day con of cons, NYCC 2021.
With San Diego Comic-Con bowing out for the second straight year, NYCC was elevated to being the biggest comic and pop culture show in the country, and perhaps the world. It took place in the mecca of the comic industry, New York City. Fans were delighted to be back in the famed Javits Center, but it wasn’t quite back to normal.
It was only a year and a half ago that the Javits was a makeshift field hospital for COVID patients as the virus swept through New York. As the world waited for a vaccine against the coronavirus, NYCC followed virtually every other convention around the globe and canceled last year’s event. When the doors opened on Thursday morning, it was a welcome sight for many who weren’t sure con life would ever fully return.
This was my second time attending NYCC, and there were noticeable differences from 2017 to 2021. While security has always been at the forefront with a convention the size of NYCC, this year’s event required attendees to be fully vaccinated before entering the premises. Ahead of the event, all guests were asked to upload their vaccination cards onto the Clear health app.
Once at the Javits Center, Reed Pop’s staff verified through the Clear app and gave us all green wristbands that were required in order to be in the building. There also was a mask mandate in effect that was readily enforced upon setting foot in the convention center.
Along with the efforts to limit the spread of COVID or any other illness, there were fewer vendor booths than in years past. Surprisingly, this proved to be a boon for both the fans and exhibitors. Having fewer booths allowed for more aisle space, which made navigating the show floor much easier. In fact, it was probably the roomiest mega convention that I have ever attended.
That’s not to say the crowd was small. By Friday evening and into Saturday, the number of guests swelled, but it was not a pre-pandemic-sized crowd. As a huge fan of conventions, it actually made for the perfect size to allow mobility and give everyone a chance to stop and peruse the booths.
The celebrity guest list was not as stacked as normal. Still, there was plenty of glitz and glamor at this year’s event. Sony packed the brand new Empire Stage for a Ghostbusters: Afterlife panel with Ivan and Jason Reitman along with a surprise viewing of the entire movie ahead of its November theatrical release date.
Brian K. Vaughn thrilled his fan base when he announced that Saga would be returning in January after a five-year hiatus. There also was a Sandman panel featuring the cast of the audiobook and legendary author Neil Gaiman.
Funimation & Indie Brought Their A-Game
Any large-scale convention has a clear anime presence, but Funimation stole the show with their anime-themed booths and exhibits. Marvel and DC were missing from the vendor lineup. This left plenty of room for Funimation to draw in the anime and manga crowd for an impressive showing. From lifesize models of Dragon Ball Z and even Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure characters to a massive Vegeta in his Great Ape form, they had everything covered.
There was a silver lining to Marvel and DC’s absence from NYCC. In their places, the independent comic publishers rose to the challenge. Aftershock, Source Point, Scout Comics, and Stranger Comics helped fill the void. The heavy-hitters’ absence gave those publishers an opportunity to showcase the alternative to superhero comics.
A Step Toward Normal
Despite the added stress of pandemic life, NYCC did not disappoint. Sure, I heard some rumblings of celebrity autograph mishaps and ridiculously long waits. Still, the atmosphere was positive and Reed Pop sent the crowd home happy.
Will you be attending one or more cons this year? Did you attend NYCC 2021? Tell us all about it in the comments!