New York Comic-Con

New York Comic-Con was an unexpected blitz in the midst of February. I’d never even been to New York before, so I knew it would be an experience.

I think this near-exhausted/stunned look was locked on to my face all weekend.

A lot of those brutal clichés about New York seem quite true now that I’ve experienced them first hand. The taxi that picked us up from the airport sped through unbelievably busy streets with no regard for pedestrians or the speed limit, cutting off people at will and honking madly at anyone stupid enough to get too close. Gripping the ‘Holy Shit handle’ on the car door, I wondered if our dental records would be enough to identify us with.

Trying to curb the financial hit of having this extra con on our schedule, we booked a hotel in New Jersey. The hotel was right after the Lincoln Tunnel – a mere 10 minute drive from the convention centre. What we didn’t anticipate is that taxi drivers DO NOT want to go to Jersey. Manhattan is so packed that they pretty much always pick up a new fare each time they drop another off. Going to Jersey means driving back 10 minutes without a fare in the back. In turn, they demanded outrageous amounts for making the trip. After setting up our booth on Thursday, the whole crew was exhausted and we just wanted to rest. Finding out that a 10 minute cab ride to the hotel was going to cost us $60 was just the icing on the cake. Next time we book a place in Manhattan proper.

February weather there was brutal. The wind cuts into your flesh like a knife and the buildings create frozen gusts that practically push you sideways. Hustling amongst the crowded streets from spot to spot was tough because we didn’t know the neighborhood in the slightest.

The above makes it sound like everything was awful. It wasn’t actually. The weekend definitely started off rocky but it did get better.

The city speeds by as I cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

When the show started, it was quite good. Crowds were thick, sales were good and fan reaction to the Udon products was very strong. Having our artists sketching for people solidly throughout the weekend was like a tractor beam that kept peoples’ attention. There was almost always a mob in front of our booth compared to everything nearby us. On Saturday there was way more people than the convention staff had anticipated, causing the fire marshal to limit the amount of people allowed in the building. Although there were pissed off people with tickets waiting outside with tickets, it inadvertently became quite the advertising when people heard the show was filled to the brim and should make next year even more successful.

The crowds pile up and stretch down the street 3 hours before the show opens on Saturday.

Quite a few people recognized my name and complimented me on the column at Newsarama, which was pretty flattering. A few others asked for Makeshift Miracle sketches too. The steady con schedule from past years is paying off in recognition now, with lots of pros and exhibitors having a better sense of who I am. Here’s hoping that equates to more opportunities by summer’s end.

Friday night I ended up crashing on Chris Butcher’s hotel room floor because it was too late to grab the bus back to Jersey and I wasn’t willing to pay the taxi fare of doom. Walking to the convention the next morning in the same clothes, I stopped in to giant department store that opened at 6am to buy a t-shirt, pair of underwear and some socks, changing when I got to the convention centre. It was a bit surreal.

New York reminded me of LA. Amazing streets and areas where the tourists congregate surrounded by disgusting, destroyed areas of town. New Jersey is unbelievably filthy and smelly, at least all of it that I saw anyways. Time Square is an explosion of light and motion like I really haven’t seen anywhere else. Being there late, late into the night and realizing that visibility was practically the same as daylight from all the lit-up signs and gigantic screens was something else. The next time I have a chance to visit there I’d like for it to be in the Spring or Fall with milder temperatures and the ability to explore more.

City lights overload.

It was busy and exhausting. I never imagined con season would kick off so early.

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