COMIC CON - NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
COMIC CON - NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
Like many people throughout the pandemic, I’ve been missing the in-person experience of all my favorite comic conventions. San Diego, Malta, London, Montenegro, Athens, Bedford, Lake Como, and, of course, this month’s long-awaited New York Comic Con … I’ve missed them all, and the friends I would see there! While Hero Collector won’t be attending this time around (don’t worry, we’ll be back) I wanted to share some of my favourite NYCC memories from recent years.
New York has always been a professional show for me. Compared to places like San Diego and Malta where I went first as a fan, I started going to New York when I was in comics retail and podcasting, then continued to go as I moved into comics publishing and finally into my current role within the collectibles industry. Nonetheless, it’s always been a very comics-focused show for me, and that’s largely thanks to their impressive (and frankly immersive) Artist Alley.
Friends and creators from all over the world would converge on the Javits Center to show off their wares, and it was the perfect time to catch up as well as see what they were up to next. It was also the perfect opportunity to see who I could get working with us, whether it be at Titan Comics or now at Hero Collector … I spoke with a lot of people on the con floor, and there’s a lot of projects that were born out of that, although it pales in comparison to the various people I spoke with in the bar after-hours.
One of my favorite places to hang out at the end of a long day was the iconic Foley’s, which labelled itself as ‘an Irish bar with a Baseball attitude’. Long known as the hangout of comics writer, Garth Ennis, it was the place he would hold court – and other creators would gather to talk shop and socialise away from the crowds. I spent so many good nights there, and you were always guaranteed to run into at least a few friends at any time of night.
One of my fondest memories was from late one night when my friend Will O’Mullane and I stopped in for a drink. We were waiting at the bar when one of the patrons (an older man who was nursing a beer) turned around and saw us. He said that I reminded him of his late husband, who also had lovely salt-and-pepper hair, then proceeded to stroke it gently. I know there’s various issues of consent around these things, and women have had such a bad time with men who have been drinking (or not), but this was very much a poignant reminiscence about someone who was now gone. We got our drinks and moved on, but not before he told Will he was lucky to have found love. It might not be the love he was thinking of, but I’m proud to say we’re still good friends (and working on side-projects together) today.
Sadly Foley’s was another victim of COVID-19’s impact on small businesses, and they closed their classic 33rd Street location in May last year. There’s talk of finding another home at some stage, and I really hope it happens, but I’ll miss that iconic (and well-situated) bar that folks in the know could always find – even on auto-pilot. I’m sure New York has changed a lot while we’ve been gone, but I also look forward to rediscovering it again when this is all over … Karaoke in Koreatown, finding new restaurants and old bars to haunt, and walking the High Line when the show is all over – I look forward to doing it all again soon.
As for the show itself, one of my personal highlights was at the last outing in 2019. IDW was there to launch an exclusive version of John Byrne’s Marvel Classics Artifact Edition (one of their oversized Artist’s Editions) and they’d managed to convince Byrne to join them for a very special signing session. Despite having sworn off buying any more of this giant books (I already have far too many and no space to put them) I couldn’t resist picking up this celebration of one of my sentimental favourites. Like so many, I had grown up reading John Byrne’s Fantastic Four, and I’d followed him from project to project – and company to company – over the years.
Our friends at IDW were incredibly understanding of the fact I was a fellow booth-jockey who had to work the show and couldn’t leave for great periods of time, but they managed to make sure I got a copy of the book – and got to meet John/get his autograph on my copy when the time came. It’s no secret that Byrne can be a little prickly with some of his fans, so I didn’t want to push my luck … I waited patiently then, when I got to the front of the line, passed my book across and (while he was signing) said “Thank you so much. This means a lot to me as I’ve been a fan of your work for so long.” He didn’t really say anything in response, but he looked at me genuinely, didn’t bite off my head, and I walked away with a good memory of meeting one of my heroes. I can’t wait for all the new memories I’ll get to build when we return.
For those who are at New York Comic Con this year, I wish you the best, and safest, time. I know capacity has been limited to account for the virus – and I’m sure there are various security measures in place – so be safe, be sensible, and we’ll see you again next year.
New York Comic Con is back but this time the Eaglemoss Booth will be virtual! From Oct 1st – Oct 15th 2021 we will have all the best deals so you can finally start that subscription you always wanted. We'll also have sweepstakes to give away prizes and more! Check out the US website for more info in the link above!