Natalie Barton, left, and Christian Blakesley strike poses in costume during New York Comic Con, held at the Javits Center, Oct. 12, 2012. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Link
Thousands of anime, video game, film, TV and comics fans gather to see the latest in pop culture at New York Comic Con, at the Javits Center on Oct. 12, 2012. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Link
Sam Forsythe, left, and Joe Lento attend New York Comic Con in costume on Oct. 12, 2012. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)Link
Eric Staller pretends to fly while arriving at New York Comic Con at the Javits Center in New York on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
Pat Covey, left, Patrick Lochelt and John St. Pierre arrive at New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
People in costume arrive for New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
A man in skeleton makeup waits to enter New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
Stuart Newman wears an elaborate costume while working the floor at New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
A display at New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images)Link
Brandy Parker stands on a wall outside New York Comic Con on Oct. 12, 2012. (Justin Lane / European Pressphoto Agency)Link
NEW YORK — There’s only one thing east of the Mississippi River that could bring together such disparate forces as the Joker, Princess Zelda and Pokémon — and that’s New York City’s Comic Con, which runs through this weekend.
Once a distant second to the fanboy Goliath held in San Diego each summer, Gotham is creeping on its more mature West Coast cousin, long considered the world’s largest gathering of comic book and pop culture fans. Last summer, the 42-year-old San Diego convention drew an estimated 125,000, but this weekend’s New York event is expected to attract 115,000 — up from last year’s 105,000.
The attendance figures for the New York event, which is being held at the cavernous Jacob Javits Center, are all the more impressive considering it’s only been around for six years. It’s quickly become one of the most important dates on the fanboy calendar and also become big business, netting the city between $60 million and $70 million.
“It’s about time that New York, the mecca for comic-book publishing, got a convention of this size,” says Axel Alonso, editor in chief of Marvel Comics. “It only makes sense.”
This being New York, home to the publishing world, there is more of an emphasis on the printed page than at its Hollywood-influenced West Coast counterpart. Over the years, comic-book publishers have turned to New York Comic Con as a place to make major announcements.
On Thursday night, for instance, DC Comics broke the news that it would be releasing a new Superman title next year from artist Jim Lee and writer Scott Snyder.
The event also allows fans to meet the minds behind their favorite titles, like “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman, whose Saturday afternoon panel is expected to be one of the weekend’s hottest tickets.
“I get to stand in a crowd of people who really understand and appreciate what me and my staff do on a daily basis, and where we’re reminded of why we do what we do,” Alonso explains.
But the gathering is hardly just for dead-tree purists. Like its (technically unaffiliated) San Diego relative, the New York confab is a multimedia celebration of geek culture in all its permutations, with exhibitors including Lego, whose rendering of Bilbo and Gandalf from “The Hobbit” was a big draw on Friday morning, and TriForce, makers of high-end scale replicas of video-game weaponry.
Though the major movie studios perhaps have a larger presence at San Diego’s Comic-Con International, a favorite venue for the promotion of tentpole releases, New York Comic Con is certainly not wanting for star power this year. This weekend’s lineup includes panels with the casts of “666 Park,” “Arrow,” “The Following,” and the upcoming “Carrie” remake, as well as appearances by filmmakers Guillermo Del Toro and Kevin Smith, author Anne Rice, and nostalgic favorites Carrie Fisher and Christopher Lloyd.
Brian Lambariello, 22, of Warren, N.J., was “freaking out” to hear that 1960s TV Batman actor Adam West would be making an appearance at the Javits Center. But for Lambariello, who came dressed as Steven Stone, a character from “Pokémon,” the main attraction at Comic Con isn’t the stars or the snazzy new video games.
“It’s about the social aspect,” he says. “It’s about meeting up with people you only get to see online that live three hours away.”
It’s also about meeting new people. Angela Clayton, a home-schooled 15-year-old anime fanatic from Long Island, was attracting a crowd of mostly male admirers, thanks in large part to the costume she spent the last two months making: an exacting re-creation of the long red hair, cropped military jacket and short crinoline worn by Napoleon, a character in the relatively obscure game “Eiyuu Senki.”
She even sported a pair of contact lenses, bought over the Internet, designed to make her eyes look bigger.
“I’m happy to be here with other fans and other strange people,” she said, in between posing for pictures with her many newfound fans.
In a surefire sign of the event’s success, the exhibition hall was also jammed with exhibitors there for no discernible reason other than the heavy foot traffic: Next to the Avengers Perfume booth was a Chevrolet exhibit, where conventioneers could peruse the 2013 Malibu and Silverado up close.
Too bad many of them can’t even drive yet — at least not in real life.
— Meredith Blake
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