Last Sunday I went to the New York Comic Con held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. Even though the Comic Con was a four day-long event, I decided to just attend it the final day. Every year I do very much look forward to going to the show. Conversely, every year it gets bigger and bigger, and so the prospect of having to compete with a gigantic crowd of people is somewhat daunting. Because of that, and since I’m on a pretty slim budget, for the second year in a row I made the decision to just go on Sunday.
My main objective this time around was that I wanted to obtain a commission from artist Joe Staton. You see, one of my all time favorite Batman stories is “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne,” written by Alan Brennert and illustrated by Joe Staton & George Freeman. It featured the wedding of Batman and Catwoman on Earth Two, and appeared in The Brave and the Bold #197, published in 1983. I first had the opportunity to read the story in the early 1990s when it was collected in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told trade paperback. I must have read it at least a dozen times, probably more. Years later, I found a copy of the original issue, and got it autographed by Joe Staton. I think it has some of the finest artwork of his career.
In any case, for a long time now, because The Brave and the Bold #197 is such a favorite of mine, I’ve hoped to get an illustration of the Golden Age Catwoman from Staton. As I mentioned before, I was really on a limited budget this year, so this was going to be my one big purchase of the entire convention. So as soon as I got to the show on Sunday morning, I made my way right to Artist Alley and headed to Staton’s table. Turns out I was in the nick of time; his sketch list was almost completely filled up, and he had just one single spot left on it. I dropped off my sketchbook at Joe table, paid him for the sketch, and then headed out to explore the rest of the convention, since I knew it would be a few hours before he’d get up to my piece.
I mostly stuck to Artist Alley this year, since that was a relatively less crowded area than the main convention floor. I decided that since I wasn’t going to be able to buy too much, I’d bring along books that I already have to get autographed. Luckily, most of the creators I hoped to see were there, although a few had unfortunately decided to skip Sunday. I was bummed out to miss Erik Larsen, since I am a huge fan of Savage Dragon.
One of the few books I picked up was the Starstruck trade paperback by Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta. Starstruck began life as an Off-Off-Broadway play in 1980, a comedic space opera written by Lee, with costume & set designs by Kaluta. A few years later, Lee and Kaluta adapted Starstruck into a series of comic book stories which appeared through a number of publishers. The pair had the ambition to eventually compile the entirety of the comic book material into one massive volume, and after a couple of false starts, they were finally able to achieve that recently at IDW. Elaine Lee was at the NYCC this year, and so I purchased the collected edition from her. She also autographed my copy of the Starstruck stage play which I acquired via Amazon.Com many moons ago. I’m looking forward to reading this one.
An acquaintance of mine, artist Steve Ellis, had at table at NYCC. Steve’s a cool guy, so it was nice to see him again. We caught up on old times. He was generous enough to do a quick drawing for me in one of my sketchbooks. I asked him to sketch Stiletto, one of the characters from the superhero crime noir series The Silencers that he co-created with Fred Van Lente several years back. I always enjoyed that book, and I hope one day Steve & Fred have the opportunity to bring it back.
There were a number of actors at NYCC doing signings & panel discussions. I was very interested in meeting two of them. The first was Peter Davison, who portrayed the Fifth Doctor on Doctor Who in the early 1980s. As anyone who reads this blog will know, I am a huge Doctor Who fan. That and it is very rare that you get to meet someone who you literally grew up watching on television. So I was a bit tongue-tied when I got his autograph. I think Davison was pleasantly surprised when I mentioned that I had been in London back in 1999 and seen him perform in the musical Chicago. Currently he is appearing in Law & Order UK as Henry Sharpe, Director of the London Crown Prosecution Service (the equivalent of the District Attorney). The show is scheduled to begin filming a new season shortly.
The other actor I really wanted to meet was Ian McDiarmid, who so memorably played the diabolical Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films. It may sound strange, considering the Emperor is a figure of pure evil, but he is one of my favorite character from the series. He got so many great lines of dialogue, and McDiarmid brought him to vile life so wonderfully. Unfortunately, it turned out that McDiarmid was asking a whopping $125 for an autograph! Obviously I had to pass on that. But there apparently are a lot of people who are willing to fork over that kind of money, because I saw there was a very long line at his table (I wonder if some comic book and sci-fi fans eat Ramen noodles 365 days a year so they can save up their money for events like Comic Con). Fortunately, McDiarmid was doing an hour-long panel discussion that afternoon. It was quite entertaining, as McDiarmid really knows how to work a room & spin a yarn, so I’m glad I was at least able to attend that.
I only went up to the main floor of the show once. I was going to the Doctor Who Store table, because I wanted to purchase one of the Big Finish audio plays for Peter Davison to autograph. It was a total madhouse, wall-to-wall people, and it took me fifteen minutes just to get to where I wanted to go. When I finally arrived at the Doctor Who Store, it was packed. As someone who grew up watching the series in the 1980s, when it was very much a cult phenomenon here in the States, it still amazes me that now, with the revival of the show, it is now this huge hit, and millions of people watch it on BBC America. So seeing this gigantic crowd around the booth was unexpected, because I still half-expect people to give me a blank look when I tell them I watch Doctor Who. But, as one of the people working at the Who Store table responded when I told him that, “Those days are long gone.”
After the Ian McDiarmid panel, I headed back to Artist Alley. Walking up and down the aisles, I was somewhat disappointed that I was on such a tiny budget, because there were so many artists doing such amazing sketches, and selling some really nice published comic book pages. But once I got to Joe Staton’s table, my regrets vanished. Staton did an absolutely stunning drawing of Catwoman in my sketchbook. It has to be one of the best pieces I’ve gotten in the book. I decided it was better to have gotten one really outstanding sketch than a handful of average pieces. So I know I made the right choice.
As always, there were some fans wearing amazing costumes at the Comic Con. I took photographs of several of them. You can view them on Flickr:
All in all, it was a pretty fun convention. I enjoyed myself. Hopefully next year, though, I’ll have a bigger budget and be able to attend more than one day, because I’d like to be able to see more of the show, and also pace myself instead of rushing all over the place!