• Dax J Martin-Cheeves

NYCC REVIEW: MY FIRST TIME

Updated: Oct 19



CHECK OUT WHAT WENT DOWN AT THIS YEAR'S NYCC



One of my goals as a fan of all things Anime, Comics, Movies, and Games was to make it to the meccas of our favorite fandoms. That being San Diego Comic-Con in the west coast and New York Comic-Con in the east. I have been told for the course of eight years from many who've attended that New York Comic-Con was a direct rival to SDCC and that every year it grows exponentially in terms of star power, festivities, spectacle and in attendance. With me attending and enjoying SDCC twice (once in 2014 and 2017) I had to check this out eventually. As things developed with the TALK TIME LIVE podcast so did my relationships with people in various industries including that of ReedPOP which you all know I have worked alongside with since 2018 when they premiered their Philadelphia event known as Keystone Comic-Con which was in the beginning stages and gaining early momentum in 2019. I was a guest moderator for them during the 2019 event (hosting the Overwatch and Street Fighter panel) which was also the year that Tom Holland was the main attraction for that show (NOTE: this was also in the hills of Sony announcing they would be acquiring Holland back from Marvel Studios to create their own Spider-Man movies starring him which is what we are beginning to see now. After a successful run at moderating KSCC in Philly I was no doubt looking forward to finally attending NYCC in some form or fashion. We began talks about me attending NYCC but for some reason things just kept getting in the way. That thing being 2020. The year it all began. The year Covid hit the U.S., and everything was changing so rapidly. My wife and I were in New York in January of 2020 not only to celebrate my birthday but to plan to look out on what we will need to do to have a successful trip to our first ever NYCC event. But unfortunately, due to an upcoming pandemic everything was canceled and postponed as we all know. Keystone Comic-Con (which was supposed to have the appearance of Jim Lee making his very first appearance to Philadelphia) was canceled and still pending as to when it will return. 2020 hit everyone hard. Mentally, physically, economically, and emotionally. So much divide between politics, science, religion, along with moral and ethics and it was hard to believe we would ever get to a point where we would all once again enjoy our favorite fandoms together in harmony. But we did, and ReedPOP has more than proved it with their official comeback event.



Despite a vocal minority of people on social media who swore down this event would not succeed (because of the mandated rules of New York requesting that everyone who attends this event along with restaurants and other venues must have proof of vaccination with them to attend.) New York Comic-Con was a success to many who attended. Thousands of fans came ready and prepared to enjoy a safe space where they can enjoy all the fun, they experienced years past. Fans became heroes themselves and masked up to not only keep themselves safe but respect the rules to have the fun they once had pre-pandemic. To the many that I have encountered they were not disappointed in their experiences over the course of the four days. This being my first time coming to this major event I hoped that this would be as great as it was said to be in the past. ReedPOP was met with many challenges against them. Covid-19 and the pandemic being just one. The other is the lack of star power in the world of both Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner Bros. which has since gone on to do their own events. Marvel Studios decided to leave both con events in favor of their own known as D23 which now provide the star-studded actors and major announcements once enjoyed in HALL-H at SDCC. DC and Warner Bros have now developed their own virtual event known as DC FANDOME which debuted last year in the mist of the pandemic and features a virtual tour (created by Jim Lee) where you will be able to watch panels, announcements, and game releases pertaining to the world of DC Comics. Which this would be considered a major lost for both con events it is not the end by a long shot. Thankfully, there are more forms of fandom to focus on. The one form of fandom still left to be explored is Anime. With that genre on the rise, it is the perfect time to put more focus on that industry. The anime powerhouse known as FUNimation who recently just acquire their rival company Crunchyroll made their grand appearance as one of the marquee attractions for this event. From the minute you walk in the Javits Center you walk right into the DRAGON BALL Z Show room where you will be greeted by a giant scale model of Vegeta in Ape Form which was a remarkable sight. I was immediately drawn into the festivities.


DRAGON BALL Z/SUPER SHOW ROOM

Only the best from FUNimation as they celebrated all things DRAGON BALL Z/SUPER with life-size scale models of your favorite Z-Warriors and new awesome figures from Banpresto coming soon along with their reveal of the upcoming movie DRAGON BALL SUPER: SUPERHERO trailer which looks fantastic.

FUNimation also provided a display celebrated the ever-popular DEMON SLAYER show room which looked stunning with its traditional feudal Japan theme known for the anime series. It reminded me of the Sakura (Cherry Blossum) festival here in Philly. That area also showcased their line of figures coming soon.

One thing was for sure. Anime was a major focus in this year's NYCC and I for one was all for it. After all, anime is derivative of manga which is a comic-book no different than anything Marvel, DC, Image, or any other comic book industry has done.

But what about other popular anime series like My Hero Academia? Well, they got that covered too. In a big way.




Now I must admit. When it came to the panels at this event I wasn't as excited as I was with SDCC. But again, to be fair there were many challenges for the company to do what they did and in the event of the pandemic. I know how hard it was to try and acquire everyone and everything they wanted for this event. Trust me folks, it is far from easy to get the talent and attractions that they get for these events. I challenge anyone to take on events planning and tell me it is anyway simple. Along with that the ones that I did want to see were on a day that I wasn't able to be in during those times (such as the Supergirl and Dragon Ball Super panel which was on Thursday. A day that I thought would be a light day due to my experience with SDCC's Premiere night which wasn't worth booking an extra night a hotel. Not to mention I was attending AEW DYNAMITE the night before). With that said the panels they had more than sufficed as fans gathered to see some of their favorites in the world of Anime, Comics, Movies, and Games with panels from the cast of the BOYS, Legendary Comic book Artist and creator of Deadpool Rob Liefeld, BLACK WIDOW actor David Harbour, Chris Claremont and many more. One of the two panels I did not want to miss was The My Hero Academia World Missions panel (hosted/moderated by FUNimation's own Lauren Moore) which was in the Javits Center newly build EMPIRE STAGE which can be compared to HALL-H in the San Diego Convention Center. This hall was indeed huge, and it held a capacity of five thousand people packed in to watch the guest actors of the movie (NOTE: the main core cast was not in attendance for this).

MY HERO ACADEMIA WORLD HEROES MISSION PANEL

The fans were more than excited for this panel especially when they got a sneak peek at the first few minutes of the upcoming film (coming to select theaters on October 29th). All I can tell you is that fans will have a lot to look forward to with the premise of this new adventure that the 1-A students will have to take on. Get ready for "HUMARISE" and the QUIRK DOOMSDAY THEORY.



AEW PANEL:


Starting an epic weekend that kicked off with me attending a live taping of AEW (All Elite Wrestling) Dynamite in my hometown for the first since their appearance in 2019 which was their third episode ever, it was a no brainer that I would follow up with me attending the AEW PANEL as they invaded NYCC for their second time.

This panel would appear in their Main Stage which was considered at the time one of their largest halls in the Javits Center until they built the EMPIRE STAGE. Nonetheless, this more than compensated the hundreds of fans waiting to see their favorite AEW stars talk about their journey with the company.


This was also my wife's first live experience with a wrestling crowd. She is not a wrestling fan but knows how much I am especially when it comes to AEW. So, it was interesting to see how she would react to the rowdy wrestling community which can be a culture clash if you are not use to the environment of screaming excited fans who will be the first to tell you they know everything that needs to know about wrestling (NOTE: for some it may be far from the truth).

Watching her observe the crowd reminded me of her first experience at a Black church. With her being raised in a presbyterian church where they don't clap, get the holy ghost inhabiting their bodies, or shout out to their pastors she was at awe at the sight of what she experienced.

I'll never forget the question she asked as to why this church needed nurses.


But I digress, the crowd was a hot as what you would expect from an AEW crowd with someone shouting "ADAM COLE!!!" and the entire line would follow up with "BAY BAY!!!!" never missing a beat.

AEW PANEL HIGHLIGHT PICS

Speaking of never missing a beat, the panel itself left no one unhappy which is something fans have grown accustomed to with this company entering their successful sophomore year. This panel was hosted by the legendary AEW commentator Tony Schiavoni as he presented for of the hottest talents in the company in Thunder ROSA, Darby Allin, Orange Cassidy, and newly added member of the Super Elite/Clique Adam Cole who came into a roaring ovation follow by once again the crowd chanting "ADAM COLE BAY BAY!!!!" which has been one of the hottest catch phrases in years for wrestling. The panel was great as Tony asked questions regarding the talent's careers in AEW thus far and what they are looking forward to. One of the biggest standouts from this panel was Orange Cassidy who is always in character at virtually all times. Orange Cassidy (also known as "Freshly Squeezed") has a very laid-back persona where he puts in little to no effort in almost anything he does. Until he does. The misconception with him comes when out of nowhere he can burst into speed taking out his opponents before they know what hit them. There has been no wrestling like him ever especially when it comes to his in ring still which sometimes consist of him doing crazy acrobatic moves while he has his hands in his pockets. You must see it to believe it folks.

But in "OC fashion" he answered his questions with little to no detail. Sometimes a little bit speaks volumes. Seeing Thunder Rosa come back to her home city to talk about how honored and emotional she was to wrestle for nothing and now is considered a superstar and becoming a guest at NYCC where she once was a fan attendee was simply great to hear. Fans also got to as questions to the AEW wrestlers and every one of the responses were fun and entertaining. Overall, it was worth the price of admission and once again AEW had the fans leaving happy.



Venues in the convention were nothing sort of what you would expect from a major fan-based event like this complete with shops that provided items you will most likely won't see anywhere else or those hard-to-get items you have a challenging time acquiring online. Not to mention food not tasted or seen outside of the event. Like these delectable tasting fudge from "Chocolate FUSION" which creates a variety of flavors inspired by your favorite comic book characters. They made their appearance in Philly for Keystone Comic-Con and was a hot seller for a reason. I was thrilled to see this shop booth again and I immediate bought in. The wonderful thing about fudge is that it last quite a while so there is never a need to rush and eat it all. Not to mention it is extraordinarily rich and in the case of Chocolate FUSION it is powered 9000!!!! As a person who once made fudge in a shop called "The FUDGERY" in Atlantic City, NJ I humbly respect the number of craft that went into to creating these hybrid flavors. Chocolate Fusion wasn't the only booth or venue I was hoping to run into. I was full of excitement when I ran into one of my other favorite booths when it was in Philly and that is GinGee Girls Art which is a shop that sells mugs and other glassware etched with popular characters and themes from anime, comics, movies, and video games.

I managed to buy a few in Philly but was itching to get more so much to my delight it was here. This time around however I had the pleasure of meeting the lead artist herself who goes by the name of Sunshine Levy. She was a gracious and energetic spirit as she continuously promoted her wonderfully crafted items for all to check out and purchased. Since I had the chance to talk with her, I wanted to know more about how she put all of this together. Sunshine was more than willing to explain her craft.

SUNSHINE LEVY explains her sandblasting art techniques.



I also came across the Choice Fine Art booth where they sell framed art autographed by popular and legendary artist in the comic book industry. From Bruce Timm and Paul Dini (Batman TAS, Justice League/ JL Unlimited) to comic book legends like Alex Ross and Jim Lee.


I got to say I've there were some beautifully framed Gicleé prints, and I had my eye on one of the Jim Lee autographed works to hang in my home.

Ever since I first laid eyes on his work on X-Men in the 90's boom period I have been at awe with his art style. It is widely known by fans as one of the greatest if not the greatest comic book art of all time. So much so that it led Lee to basically running all of DC Comics. I had the pleasure of attending his panels four times and each time was like a concert event. Watching him do sketch work while answering fan questions was nothing short of rock star level. Cosplayers did not disappoint either. They came in full force and there were some great showings out there. Like this


NOTE: To see some of my favorite cosplay concepts I came across CLICK HERE.



My schedule was deep for the last for days of the event and I wanted to make sure I got to see as much as I could and see as many people as I could. Comic-book conventions is a fantastic way to meet with people in our A.C.M.G. group who may be attending. I was happy to see at least two in the massive event with thousands of people attending. I managed to bump into Jessica and James who were decked out in DIVISION cosplay. It was great to see Jessica as the last time we had the chance to hang out was back in 2018 when we (and a group of A.C.M.G. members) got together to see CAPTAIN MARVEL in theaters (pre-pandemic) and had a wonderful time at Movie Tavern. This was a testament of our journeys through 2020 and I was grateful to have a chance to see anyone from the group again.

More than anything I was hoping to come across the people who made it possible for me and my wife not only attending NYCC but also giving me the opportunity to host/moderate panels with my favorite artist and actors on their platform both live and virtual. Due to their hectic runaround schedules handling talent and more I didn't get to see or thank all of them in person. However, I did manage to bump into one especially important person who helped make my time in the METAVERSE ever so smooth. Carmilla DiPersia is content coordinator for ReedPOP and the person behind the virtual production of my Q&A Panels for the cast of Pokémon, My Hero Academia, Sailor Moon and more. My heart warmed with joy to see her and thank her for all that she has done with me and all the work her and the team have been doing. They don't get enough praise for their diligence and in my eyes, it will never be ignored.



My first experience with NYCC was nothing short of memorable if not magical. With everything that we went through in 2020, this was a much-needed break from all the trials and tribulations many of us endured during such dark times.


This was indeed a very telling year for ReedPOP and NYCC that left me feeling hopeful for the future. Not just because of how successful the event turned out but as to how many fans attended which is an important and significant factor in terms of the pandemic. To even be able to attend this event each attendee had to show proof of vaccinations which made the event feel more safer than any place I have been to this year. To see so many people attend this event meant that a lot of people not only wanted to come back to NYCC but also valued the event as well as themselves and others which speaks volumes when you see what has been going on with the senseless debate over our health and wellbeing. It brought me such hope and joy and I cannot thank everyone who attended enough for doing what they had to remain healthy and safe for everyone involved. To those who are reading this and have attended YOU ARE THE TRUE HEROES. THANK YOU, THANK REEDPOP, THANK ALL GUEST, EXHIBITORS, COSPLAYERS, SECURITY, and more. Let this be the beginning of good times again. This event lived up to anything I experienced in San Diego and more. Between what went on in the con to what I've experienced outside the event (Click HERE to find out what that was.) and more, this could not have been a better planned week. I look forward to seeing the follow up to this. I can only imagine better from here.






As you can see, I caved. I caved hard. So hard that THIS was the first thing I bought from the con DAY ONE of my attending. I could not stop looking at this stunning Giclee canvas of Jim Lee's "The Trinity." which I purchased from the great people of CHOICE FINE ART who had this limited edition autographed canvas ready to be taken home at their booth. I may not be a hardcore DC fan as I am Marvel but more than anything else, I am a Jim Lee fan, and it doesn't matter what side he is drawing and illustrating for the fact remains the same. His work is supreme, and I would follow him like many have followed the McRib from state to state. So, there it is. I finally have an autographed signed work of Jim Lee in my home. I now watch this on my wall the same way Wilson Fisk watched the art white framed canvas in the Netflix/Marvel Studios Daredevil series. It is a remarkable sight and the start to what was one of the best weekends ever. I will cherish it as well as my first experience at New York Comic-Con. Cheers!