Not so long ago, New York City opened it’s arms up to millions of immigrants in search of a better life. The tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free flooded the city.
Fast forward to 2010 and New York City again opened up its arms. But instead of immigrants from far off lands in search of freedom and opportunity, New York would be opening up its arms to comic book geeks dressed in full regalia looking for an opportunity to talk to Stan Lee.
This past weekend, the 2010 NY Comic Con took place. Reportedly, over one hundred thousand people, with more knowledge about the Golden Age of comics than who their Congressman is, descended to the Jacob M Javits Center. And as if the eternal light of Asgard had been watching over me, I found myself smack dab in the middle of it all.
This was my 2nd time at the event that turns the Jacob M Javits Center in to Ellis Island for geeks. Last year the event was filled with the socially awkward hungry for the opportunity to snag free buttons, test the latest in video games, and buy up all the semi-pornographic Anime the vendors had on their tables.
I had been told this year was going to be big for the ‘Con’ (geeks refer to the event as the ‘Con’…try to keep up with the lexicon). Much bigger, badder, and geekier than last year to be sure. So with this in mind, I hopped aboard a Bieber Bus in Kutztown, PA at 4:30 in the morning with a nerdy anticipation (Thankfully the bus only had 3 other people on it and they were asleep so I didn’t have to temper my excitement).
By 6:45am I was standing next to two heavily armed members of the Armed Forces in the NY Port Authority. I tried my best to suppress the geek in me and go for a much more grizzled, jaded, don’t mess with me look to avoid any undue attention. I hit 8th Avenue and made my way toward 11th and 38th towards the Javits Center, and to the weekend Mecca of Comic Geekiness.
I thought about calling my wife to let her know I arrived in one piece but I had left her that morning asleep with our two kids, dog, and cat to take care of when she woke up. Love only goes so far so I bagged the phone call and sent her a quiet text…if only for my own well being.
I had 6 New York city blocks to hike in order to get to the ‘Con’. To cheap for a taxi, I rolled my luggage across the six blocks. I had forgotten how long a city block in New York was (roughly equivalent to an airport tarmac) so by the time I had reached the ‘Con’ I was drenched with sweat.
But I had arrived. The Javits Center, even so early in the morning, was alive with activity. Vendors emptying their vans with all the wares they were hoping to sell over the weekend. Costumed fans wandering around the front waiting to be first in line. Security and Javits Center employees talking to each other via walkie talkies. It was quite a sight. The Jacob M Javits Center is a sight unto itself. The glass building stretches four city blocks and even though I couldn’t see the back of the building from where I had been standing, I’m sure it stretched to New Jersey.
I made my way to the front doors, luggage and sweat in tow. I flashed the ladies working security my ‘Exhibitor’ badge (I was there to help my cousin in his booth) and was allowed entrance to the main floor. I passed by masses of geeks huddled around the escalator waiting for the day to begin. They looked at me with a kind of envy as if I had gained access to the Anti-Life Equation (My apologies…more geek speak. Let’s just say they were jealous).
Now I am not afraid to admit, as I got to the 2nd floor and started down the main aisle to the convention floor, I was hit with a wave of geeky excitement. I was even happy to know that I am still able to appreciate something so socially awkward as adults in Manga outfits. It made me realize I’m not so jaded by life. That a part of me still is child like (I of course will deny any of this if asked about it now).
I hit the convention’s main floor with a hop to my step. The floor was just as alive as the sidewalk out front. Vendors were setting up for the weekend’s activity. UbiSoft had erected a stage for their new Michael Jackson game. Marvel and DC Comics had large areas on the floor which had been lined with 15 foot high banners. Boxes upon boxes of comics were being opened. Bizarre Japanese merchandise that had girls with Samurai swords and giant robots as logos. Stuff I had no idea of what it was, was being set up. Every where you turned, the ‘Con’ was prepping for the tsunami of costumed people waiting to crash through the doors.
100,000 people would make their way down the aisles of blue carpet in the Javits Center during the weekend. Nine foot tall Na’vis, Mandalorian bounty hunters, Narutos for as far as the eye could see, parents with their kids, men, women, all navigated their way around 4 city blocks of the Javits Center Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They grabbed anything not nailed down. They filled their backpacks. They stuffed their bags. They added another Green Lantern ring to their collections all while being able to comfortably wander around in X-Men spandex and Sailor Moon dresses (even the guys) without fear of being mocked.
And that is what I was able to experience this weekend. As we worked in booth 2953, we watched it all unfold. Aisles full of people. The constant din of comic geek speak. Anyone in full regalia ready, willing, and more than able to pose for pictures. It got to the point sometime on Sunday when my senses started to hurt. My eyes ached from everything. My ears started to ring but I soaked it all in. I enjoyed it all. I spoke geek with other geeks. In between our sales pitches, I talked to people about their favorite issues of The Incredible Hulk. I told them about my collection. Although I hadn’t sported a skin tight Daredevil costume for the weekend, it didn’t stop me from asking others about theirs. Because, sort of likewhen you are at a karaoke bar, if you want to laugh or make fun of those participating, its best you didn’t go at all.
For 72 hours, I got to be a kid again. To enjoy the sights, sounds, smells (okay…maybe not the smells) of the massive event. I obviously wasn’t around a hundred years ago when New York welcomed the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning for the air of freedom but fortunately I was there in 2010. I was there when New York opened her arms to welcome the diverse, the costumed, and the huddled masses of geek yearning for the 2010 Comic Con.