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New York Comic-Con 2011

The amount of time spent planning and eagerly anticipating this event every year by jnerdalists (yes, I made up a word) like myself is no doubt rivaled only by the artists themselves. Seriously, my editor and I begin frantically e-mailing one another like six months before the show occurs, unwrapping each new announcement like a long-awaited Christmas present.

As it turns out, we were also frantically e-mailing one another the day of, as snooty press booth guy refused to accept my credentials, having much bigger fish to fry in the form of Good Morning America and such (no doubt their “coverage” included a two-second interview with one Cosplayer, a panorama of the Marvel booth and some clueless newscaster inserting commentary about the Spiderman pajamas her brother owned when they were kids, but I digress…)

Either way, he leaped all over himself to be much nicer to me once Derek verified that I do, in fact, exist and am not merely a stalker who pulled his name randomly off the internet and my friend and fellow journalist, Ludovica, and I were off to survey the lands on Press Day.

We immediately staked out every cool spot that we needed to take photos from in the a.m. and bought entirely too many tee shirts, not that that stopped us from buying entirely too many tee shirts on Friday either, but hey, if it ain’t broke…

We were also lucky enough to stumble upon a performance by Tom Morello, who we had just had sign our copies of “Orchid” mere hours before. Apparently, The Powers That Be kept rushing his performance along, because he continuously informed us that he planned to play as many songs as he felt like, which was fine by us.

We ended the night with some good ol’ New York pizza (trust me, this becomes a running theme here.)

Planning to get there early on Friday before the thundering hordes made it just about impossible to navigate the floor without a blowtorch turned out to be a bust, as the line situation was as poorly managed as ever. You would think that by the fifth year of hosting this thing, the Javits Center would get it together by now and organize their volunteers in a manner less frustrating for all, but what would be the fun in that?

We dutifully made our way to all of the sites we’d been stoked on hitting first, including the 10-minute “Beyond Planet Earth” exhibit run by Rose Center For Earth and Space (formerly known as the Hayden Planetarium,) which was hella cool. Planning to hit that up on my next available free Museum of Natural History admission Friday with the kiddos.

We located Bigfoot precisely nine seconds after we were told to, but never found out what we’d won. That appeared to be the running theme of the day, as we maniacally entered drawings which we promptly forgot the location of the second we’d vacated the booth. We posed as action figures, hapless victims, badass diesel chicks and child heroines and stopped every other Cosplayer we saw (for some reason, Friday turned out to be the best cosplay day of the four-day event.)

We also attended Stan Lee’s “Romeo and Juliet” unveiling and picked up some signed posters just so that we could see him smile. I’ve yet to meet a gushy nerd girl who doesn’t want to adopt this man as her grandfather.

Ludo had another event to rush off to, but I was lucky enough to pick up a “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” live podcast ticket from the husband of a friend who couldn’t use it. He poked fun at me for my line dodging grumblies as we were forced to stand in a cold basement for about eight hundred fifty million hours due to some sort of “technical difficulties.” We were convinced we were going to be abandoned as prisoners there, but they finally let us into the event about an hour and a half after it was scheduled to begin.

Giggling at Jay’s (Kevin Smith was, surprisingly, the straight man this go-round,) raunchy humor while seated solo next to a bestie’s husband was a bit awkward, but we got through it by refusing to make eye contact until the podcast ended, then sang her praises over pizza. Pizza, in fact, turned out to be the main consumption of the event. Ludo and I were so pizza’d out by event’s end that we gavoned burgers, salad, fries and pie the last day of as if we’d just spent a month in the jungle eating the moss off rocks.

Saturday is normally the busiest day of Con (and also the longest,) so we had decided that once the Todd MacFarlane signing that we both really wanted to attend had wrapped up, we would stagger our day with some panels…that is until Ludo announced that her event that night had been moved up to 1:30 in the afternoon.

We hit up Artist Alley instead, and I gotta say, this could’ve been the most impressive Artist Alley either one of us has seen to date. We took as many photos as we could. Everyone was sketching and everyone had elaborate pieces laid out on their tables which took our breath away. We didn’t even make it halfway through, as we found ourselves stopping to marvel at every other table there.

I figured I’d go line up for some panels after I’d taken a short doze in the cafeteria (trust me, it’s common – that’s why they provide couches.) My original plan had been to attend the “Walking Dead” and “Avengers” teasers, having already parked my ass in the IGN Theater for the long haul. I really enjoyed the “Graham Chapman: A Liar’s Autobiography” panel, but I couldn’t tolerate the “Nikita” one, I had to bail. The participants were perfectly charming, but I was such a fan of the original Canadian series, “La Femme Nikita,” that I simply cannot get into the revamped one, no matter how many times I try.

I had already decided that I wanted to hit up the Speed Dating event I’d been curious about since I’d seen the signs too late last year, so I bounced to go wait for that instead. 

Lightning Fast Speed Dating is a unique, Con-only event run by a genuinely funny Jedi by the name of Ryan Glitch, whose method of putting everyone at ease was by stopping the dates whenever someone looked uncomfortable to crack jokes, often at his own expense, share anecdotes or good-naturedly tease some of the thicker-skinned attendees.

Thrusting a bunch of awkward nerds at one another and ordering them to conduct a series of three-minute dates with people they’ve never seen before in their lives (and, in some cases, still couldn’t see as many were masked,) then asking them to locate and fill out hordes of numbered papers is every bit the recipe for disaster that it sounds like it could be, but it was also really, really fun – so much so that I vowed to bring Ludo with me the next day.

While waiting for Ludo to arrive on Sunday morning, (she was late due to her body’s severe lack of desire to pry itself out of bed after having stood about for six million hours in spiked heels for what turned out to be a four-second Harry Potter event,) I had my picture taken with the Justice League and admired the adorableness of the little superheroes rushing around me (Sunday is always Kids’ Day.)

Ludo had a family of friends with whom she wanted to meet up, so we adjusted our schedule accordingly. The little girl had a badass Fabulous Killjoys jacket on which she and her dad had made out of colored tape; I felt lazy just looking at it.

Nerd kids are the bomb – we could barely keep up with them as they zipped from one location to another, finishing in a record hour and a half. That left Ludo and I free to consume yet more pizza (we were reasonably certain that our blood had by then been replaced by tomato sauce) and wait for Speed Dating to start. Ludo was so nervous, but she had fun, and we both went home with some e-mail addresses. I wrote all of mine – we’ll see what happens.

By sheer well-roundedness, this year’s Con lost out as favorite only to the year that I got to volunteer for The Hero Initiative.

2012 dates have already been posted, by the way. See you October 11-14!

Deborah J. Draisin

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