NYCC: Surviving The Javits Jungle
September 18th, 2016 | by Linda White
The New York Comic Con (NYCC) clock is quickly counting down to that “one week to bring them all and in its geek-dom bind them”. New York Comic Con baby! The bustling excitement of NYCC envelopes fans from all walks of life in a way that only New York City can offer. The Jacob Javits Center can’t even contain all the action brought on by NYCC. For an entire week, New York City is consumed by all things geek chic and nerd-tastic!
My mission here is ensure that you are well equipped on your quest to conquer New York Comic Con. I will assume you’ve begun gearing up by having navigated your way through the complex ticket buying process . Now armed with your badge, you have your sights set on invading and conquering the pop culture phenomenon known as NYCC! Before you enter this mystifying terrain, orders must be given and a plan must be made.
Let’s start with the NYCC basics…
Download the app: It is a useful tool to ensure you don’t miss anything. Take the time to go in and select your favorites and mark your events. From photo ops, panels, artists, events and even merchants, it’s easy to forget a favorite when faced with all the excitement and enormity of NYCC.
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Visit the NYCC website: All basic rules of engagement are found on the site. Ease your way through security by reviewing the policies in the Fan FAQ section. We all want to get in quickly and knowing the rules will greatly help expedite the process. Going over all sections of the website will go a long way towards knowing where to go, what to do, and how to do it before even entering the convention. Walking in blindly is a sure way to waste your precious time, especially if you have only one day.
Follow NYCC on Social Media: Twitter: @NY_Comic_Con or IG : newyorkcomiccon are great ways to stay updated on latest developments as they occur. I also noted that there is a Twitter account, @NYCCLines, specifically designed to keep you updated on space remaining for panels or events and when it has reached capacity. Handy indeed!
Bring cash: If you intend on obtaining any autographs, cash is the only form of payment accepted. Cash is king at any convention and is, in my experience, the preferred method of payment by most vendors, artists, and merchants. Additionally, you may avoid certain transaction fees associated with using a credit card. Some merchants may even give you a better deal if paying in cash. Try to avoid using on site ATMs though as there are more lines and most likely more fees. Grab your cash outside the Javits at one of the many ATMs throughout NYC.
Pre-purchase your photo-ops via the NYCC website! This will not only assure you have a spot with your favorite celebrity but, will save you from spending cash (only accepted payment on site), avoid line waits, and reduce anxiety by trying to rush into the convention before ops are sold out. Arrive a shortly before your purchased time slot; there are signs and friendly volunteers to let you know when line-up begins, there is no need to rush. Once the line starts moving, it moves quickly, be ready! Have your photo op ticket ready to hand over, you will then drop your belongings at a table (no worries, people are there to watch), do a quick check in the mirror and boom… face to face with your favorite celeb! Give them a friendly greeting and it is sure to be reciprocated. Some even like to enjoy some silly photo fun, be sure to ask first!
Autographs: Use the handy app you downloaded to find the time of your favorite celeb signing and get there early! Only a certain number of signings can be done within a given timeframe and lines will be capped by staff members as needed. Sadly, this happened to me. Lesson learned. (Remember: cash only)
Panels: Sure, you want to see every panel imaginable but realistically it will not be possible. Pick the ones that most peak your interest and arrive early, there will be lines. Use line waiting as a perfect opportunity to talk to your fellow fans, and a great way to pass the time and make new friends that I lovingly refer to as “line buddies”. A badge tapping system (rather than wristbands from 2015), for the Main Stage panels, is in place this year. The challenge is in obtaining the coveted spots in the Queue Hall line. A whiteboard at the front of the line area will indicate when panel capacity has been reached during the queuing process. Once you are ‘tapped’ though, you are free to move about and do as you wish until the start of the panel you selected, you may even queue up for another Main Stage panel if it has not reached capacity.
Artist Alley: A must see at ANY comic convention! Take the time to view the incredible work created by these passionate individuals. I can’t think of a better way to commemorate your time at NYCC than by finding a piece of art that speaks to you, and bringing it home. Most artists are also more than happy to arrange a commission. A treat indeed.
Cell Phones: Bring a back-up battery! I cannot stress this enough. Your phone is your lifeline; from keeping in touch with your group, to taking photos and checking schedules, your phone will become drained. Who wants to waste time running around looking for an outlet?! Also, keep in mind that connectivity can become spotty at best as you wander your way around with thousands of other fans attempting to find Wi-Fi. I will typically take a screenshot of my app schedule as a back-up source in the event I do lose connectivity. I don’t recall ever having lost it completely last year, the connection that is not my mind, but web browsing was definitely slower.
Navigating the Javits…
Get a lay of the land: If you are fortunate enough to have a 4-day pass, Thursday is the perfect day to walk in and just find your way around. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes! Peruse all the areas and make note of things that interest you most then go back to them. This is especially helpful in avoiding money spending regrets.
Check out the website and app maps: Before going near the Javits Center, be sure to check the website to locate your correct entrance, though there is plenty of helpful signage and staff to guide you along the way. Once inside the convention just know that panels, photo-ops, autographs and some tasty food are found on Level 1. Do keep in mind that some panels are held at the Hammerstein Ballroom located at 311 W 34th Street on the corner of 8th Ave. The Main Show Floor with all the amazing merchants as well as select celebrity/fandom promotions are found on Level 3. Level 2 is a walkway that will lead you to the amazing talent in Artist Alley.
Events: Is the day over? It doesn’t have to be! Check the app, visit NYCC Presents, talk to fellow fans because there are geek meet-ups all over the city and there is sure to be one suited to your favorite fandom interest. Last year I found myself at a Game of Thrones mixer DJ’d by Kristain Nairn (Hodor) when suddenly Finn Jones (Sir Loras Tyrell) and Keisha Castle-Hughes (Obara Sand) joined in on some beer drinking and podcast fun. What an unexpected treat! The following night curiosity got the best of me as I found myself at Rawr Nerd Burlesque show. This was one experience not to be soon forgotten. If you have an open, nerdy, freaky mind with a taste to be tantalized… this is the show for you. Hopefully there is another show this year and perhaps I’ll see you!
Final New York Comic Con-siderations…
Cosplay: While the incredibly creative costumes are an exciting element at NYCC, be sure to adhere to the weapons policy regarding what is allowed inside the convention center. This will not only save time in passing through security, it will save heartbreak if a crucial piece of your costume is taken away. Jon Snow without a sword? Nooooo! Generally speaking, if a costume weapon is determined to have the ability to cause true harm to another person, it will most likely not be allowed inside. Be creative though and your costume is sure to look amazing! Speaking of awesome cosplay, please remember that they are real people and they should be treated with dignity and respect. That being said, cosplayers want to have their photo taken, they want to interact with you, just be polite and ask permission.
Food and drink: My best advice here is to eat a big breakfast before going into the convention. Bring water and a couple of snacks to get you through the day. It is not only cheaper, but it will save you time in food lines that could be better spent catching more of your favourite panels. That being said, there is a nice selection of food and beverages on Level 1 should the munchies strike and morning is always the slowest time in the food court. If having a beer at 11 am is wrong then I don’t want to be right! Be prepared for a packed area during lunch hours though! The upside? Share a table with a fellow fan, a great way to meet and connect with new people from all over the country.
Other items to bring: A camera! That is if you are not using your cell phone for that purpose. A sharpie and notepad are handy in case you come across a random celebrity. Hand sanitizer wipes are perfect for reasons that should be obvious. Mints are imperative after a long day of chatting in close quarters, let’s try not to offend anyone. A comb is handy to touch up the hair for photo ops. Also, if you plan to buy some amazing artwork not already framed, it would behoove you to bring a shipping tube and gently roll up the pieces or bring an art case. You are investing in these pieces, why allow them to get destroyed?!
Hygiene: Let’s face it, there are thousands of people crammed together throughout the convention and things can get a bit “sticky” and “stinky”. If you have showered and applied deodorant prior to attending your day at NYCC then you have done your best and I thank you… many, many people thank you!
Have fun! If you get to see and experience all that you expected, awesome! If you do not, then perhaps you found great fun in the unexpected. Sometimes the best things happen when initial plans fail. Go with the flow! Also, if you see Scarlet Witch meandering through the crowd with her glowing red ball and eyes to match, please say “Hi”! I assure you, she poses no immediate threat. 😉
Keep in mind that changes occur every year and the tips I have given are mostly based on my experience from 2015. Always check the NYCC website for the most recent information and details. Hopefully your journey through New York Comic brings you many great memories . If using Social Media please feel free to tag me as I would love to see and share your photos (Twitter & IG below). Happy hunting, see you all there!
Keeping you Comic Con-nected!