Ever since we started dating about 13 years ago, my husband Mike and I have wanted to go to a Comic Con. But every year, we inevitably either missed the ticket deadlines or had other events on con weekends and we didn’t get to go – until this year, when I made going to NYCC a top priority, and snagged us Friday and Saturday passes for our very first Comic Con ever!
I honestly had no idea of what to expect going into this weekend, except that it was going to be insane in the best way possible. I did some research and learned some tips and tricks about using cash and having your phone charger and bringing snacks, all of which came in handy. I also did research on the panels and signings and photo ops available, but nothing really jumped out as a “MUST DO”. I downloaded the NYCC App (highly recommended) and marked a handful of things as “would be nice” attractions, but wasn’t going to die if we missed anything. I’d heard about the long lines and didn’t want to waste our whole first day standing around, so we didn’t buy any experience tickets ahead of time. And to be honest I’m kind of glad I went in without a plan, because we had so much more fun just kind of wandering and discovering things as we did.
So we started the weekend on Friday with a train ride into the city – and I wore my specially-purchased Nien Nunb tee because honestly if anyone is going to get this shirt, it’s the crowd at Comic Con. Joke was on me though, because Mike and I were basically the ONLY people not in costume and no one cared about my shirt. BUT its bright yellow color did help Mike when he lost me in a crowd a few times, so, win.
After spotting my Rebel Legion friend Matteo in his Star Wars/Kingdom Hearts mashup cosplay on the steps in Penn Station getting off the train (hey, Matteo!), we followed the crowds to the Javits Center on a gorgeous, just warm enough NYC day. The line to get in wasn’t too crazy, and security was very efficient – we didn’t have to wait at all, even though the line looked insane from where we stood.
I won’t lie – walking into the Javits Center always gets me a little moon-eyed. I’ve gone there for race packet pickups before, most notably the NYC Marathon last year, but this time it just… took my breath away:
Once we were in, it was kind of non-stop insanity, in a good way. We kept pointing out amazing cosplays to each other like we were watching the coolest parade ever pass us by on either side. There was no way we could take everything in at once, even before we walked onto the Show Floor.
Eventually though, we made our way into the main Show Floor and promptly went into geek overload.
Our plan was to just pick a direction and start walking until one of us found something to stop and look at, or change directions when we hit a wall – kind of like a Roomba. This approach worked out for us and we managed to do a fair amount of shopping – and even randomly ran into a few friends! – within the first hour or so.
I was especially enamored with the Jurassic Park and Labyrinth statues you see up there. Don’t think I didn’t take their card and immediately set a reminder to start saving up for my very own topless Ian Malcolm to adorn my living room.
One funny story from our first hours at the con: As a kid, I was a HUGE fan of Greg Hildebrandt‘s artwork. A family friend who was into card collecting gifted me a full set of these beautifully illustrated trading cards of his art, featuring mermaids and fairies and dragons and all the things a 7 year old only child with an overactive imagination lives for. It’s only a coincidence that he and his brother also happen to be the artists who created the first iconic Star Wars poster!
Well, fast forward to 2018 when this 35 year old comes around a corner at Comic Con and walks face first into Mr. Hildebrandt himself, at his booth, where he was working on a painting in real time for all to watch.
Yes, that’s his back there. And no, I didn’t take a photo with him. Because folks, when I tell you he was knuckles deep in a plate of cheese fries, licking his fingers like a kid at a carnival, I am not exaggerating. My husband was like, “Maybe it’s better you don’t ask to shake his hand right now.” The woman at his booth even scolded him to wash his hands with Purell before touching his painting again, so I wasn’t about to interrupt that.
And that’s the story of how I “met” my childhood art idol Greg Hildebrandt at Comic Con.
After a few hours of wandering, we thought we’d go get some food, but got sidetracked by the Good Omens experience set up in one corner of the lobby, where you ride an “elevator” to heaven or hell and have your photo taken in a classic car (well, the Hell side had a car, not sure what Heaven had) and get a pin and journal to help hype up Neil Gaiman’s new series coming out in 2019. Being a huge American Gods fan, this was quite fun.
This was also fun because, while it was about a half hour line, it also gave us a chance to kind of decompress and talk about what we’d seen so far, while being relatively alone (aside from the friend I made ahead of me in line who excitedly told me his life story in the 20 minutes we had together). Its location on the upper level also made for PRIME people watching:
Afterwards, we opted to go outside to what I’ll call the “driveway” section of Javits Center, under the main lobby where you walk in kind of underground. Here, they had parked a handful of food trucks serving all kinds of delicious goodies like Ecto cooler, fresh empanadas, and the pulled pork mac and cheese our Good Omens Line Friend (TM) had tipped us off to.
The only problem with this was the hour long wait we had to endure for it. By the time we got our food it was 2pm and I was ravenous. But we found a quiet corner outside and enjoyed the fresh air while chowing down the most delicious mac and cheese I think I’ve had outside a family thanksgiving dinner table.
Since we were already outside – and it was an absolutely beautiful day – we opted to take a stroll outside and check out the cosplay and experiences they offered there.
There was a Rick and Morty merchandise tent, an American Gods popup restaurant, and a food truck giving out free donuts in exchange for your vote in the People’s Choice Awards. Naturally, we took part in this (you’re welcome, Deadpool 2):
After scarfing down our donuts and contemplating what our next adventure would be, a woman walked up to me with a full bottle of Venom-branded iced tea and a Brisk cup and asked, “Would you like some iced tea?” Not one to pass up free things, I said sure, but was left wondering if she was part of a branding thing or just wanted to offload this giant bottle of iced tea I was now left with.
Next, we wandered back into the Javits Center on the left side of the building, where we hadn’t ventured yet. When we came face to face with the Harry Potter Pensieve Experience, I looked at Mike hopefully and back onto another half hour long line we went.
Basically this was an experience selling the new Harry Potter audiobooks on Audible by letting you pick a pensieve memory bottle belonging to one of six characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Dumbledore, and Voldemort. You then go into this chamber where they have a handful of stations with screens playing psychedelic memory swirly images and headphones. You drop your bottle into the reader and put the headphones on, and then listen to a snippet of the audiobooks that pertains to your character. In my case, I picked Snape (my poor, misunderstood hopeless romantic sad sack), and got to relive the parts of the book where he remembers being bullied, barks at Harry for being just like his father, and yes… where he reveals to Dumbledore that he’s still in love with Lily Potter, “Always.”
After that gut punch to the feels, we went for a dive back into the Show Floor to explore some more. There were really endless rows and rows and corners and pockets of places to explore, and we missed probably 80% of it. But we were pretty psyched to stumble upon an actual school bus parked in the middle of the floor, promoting the Heathers reboot on the Paramount channel.
Because “What’s your damage, HEATHER?” is basically my life motto, this was a must do.
After a quick 10 minute wait, we were herded onto the bus by a Heather in yellow plaid with a, “Get on the bus and join the other bus trash.” Three other Heathers already on the bus were teasing the people ahead of us and taking photos FOR them, so I figured I’d get in on the action and pretend to be a Heather too.
They accepted me as one of their own and proved it by taking a selfie with me, and then sending me a thank you gift in the mail for sharing my photos on social media. Integrated Marketing for the win!
With our attitudes properly adjusted, we decided to walk around some more and discovered the Live Stage by the SyFy Channel, which was basically a small stage surrounded by chairs that anyone can sit down in and watch as celebrities and other presenters are brought on and interviewed in 15-minute segments.
You can imagine my surprise when I checked the NYCC app and discovered that the cast of American Gods was due next – and WE GOT TO SEE ALL OF THEM!
I damn near fell out of the chair when every single damn person from American Gods got on that stage, INCLUDING NEIL GAIMAN HIMSELF and Crispin effing Glover, too! I mean – you could have punched me in the face and I’d have thanked you at that point. It really was a dream come true.
With that, we knew the day couldn’t get much better – and it was a good thing because the Show Floor was closing! So we slowly made our way back out of the Javits Center and discovered that the driveway where the food trucks had parked basically turned into Photo Shoot Alley, filled with incredible cosplayers all wandering and lined up informally for photo ops, which we took advantage of in spades:
I honestly wish we could have stayed all night, but I was fading fast, it was after 7PM and we still had a train to catch to get home. So we dejectedly walked back to the train station, not wanting to end the day, but so stoked that we still had Day 2 to look forward to!