So you managed to snag a pass to the New York Comic Con this year, Congratulations! NYCC is a massive convention that spans 4 days at the Jacob Javits Center. It regularly attracts crowds well in excess of twenty thousand on each day! Believe me when I tell you that going in blind is going to lead to a bad time. Luckily for you, I’m a 9 year vet of NYCC. Follow my advice and there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll enjoy the largest and most crazy comic con in America!
- Arrive early or late not in between. Let me explain, NYCC opens at 10am but I assure you that lines start queueing LONG before then. If you don’t show up by 8am, expect to wait until closer to 11am just to get in. If you’re not an early riser, you might as well sleep in and get there at 11am to begin with.
- Cash is king at NYCC. Most of the vendors have wisened up in the last few years and will take credit cards but then you are paying tax on items you’ve purchased. Cash gives you the ability to haggle with many vendors and also not worry about tax in many instances. use it
- Make a plan. Look up the layout in advance. Each day has unique panels and events so make sure you read up on events BEFORE you arrive. If there is a particular panel you wish to attend, make sure you get to the event EARLY. Did I mention that each day features 20,000+ visitors? Most panel rooms can’t accommodate 1/10th of that! Getting to an event early (at LEAST 45 min, 1 hour to be safe) insures you will make it into the panel.
- Expect to be waiting on a line, OFTEN. Bring your cell phone charger as most people will quickly drain their batteries. Don’t just rely on your phone, bring something else to do. Whether that’s a book, a 3DS, or some crochet needles, bring something to do.
- Bring a friend. It’s dangerous to go alone! Okay…it’s not really dangerous but it’s certainly inconvenient. Having at least 2 people lets you use teamwork to your advantage. Need to use a bathroom? A friend can watch your stuff and hold your place in line. Not to mention that having someone else to talk to makes time go much faster when you’re waiting in line!
- Want to snap a picture of a cosplayer? Feel free! Remember, to get the best possible shot, politely ask for permission and many Cosplayers will be happy to pose for you. It seems like common sense but, it’s very important to treat everyone with respect regardless of the outfit they may be wearing.
All Things Comics
It’s sad to say but despite the name, it gets a little harder each year to enjoy the “comics” portion of the convention. Here are some tips to make sure you truly get the most out of your day!
- Research who’s coming to the Con! Check the official website, decide which authors you’d like to meet. This will inform how much of your personal collection to take with you for signings.
- Artists are typically far easier to track down than writers. Most (but not all) mainstream artists will have a table within Artist Alley. Not only can you get your favorite book autographed but you can often purchase artwork or sketches directly from your favorite author!
- Speaking of artists, make sure you visit Artist Alley even if your favorite artist isn’t there! Take an hour to walk through, you’re guaranteed to find a plethora of amazing artists with beautiful prints you can buy!
- A very important note of caution to those who are new to the comic book world. If you even remotely see your comic books as an investment and plan to resell your collection in the future (ah nothing like naive optimism…) start to research CGC BEFORE you get to the con. Many collectors will not purchase an autographed comic book unless it’s been verified by CGC. In turn, CGC will not verify an signature unless a representative is present when the book is being signed.
- TL;DR If you plan to sell an autographed book down the road you MUST work with CGC.
- Authors and some very high profile Artists (like Jim Lee) are harder to track down for an autograph. Some publishers only release their autograph schedule day by day. Others will release their schedule for the entire con on Thursday. These schedules can often be checked on their respective websites. Additionally printed copies can often be picked up from each publisher’s booth. It’s not uncommon for an author to be at the con who is not listed on the website. For example, Robert Kirkman has been at the last 2 conventions yet has not been listed on the official site under comic guests. (He’s under entertainment!)
- Many autographing events are ticketed and capped around 100-200. Tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis in the morning. Meaning if you want to snag a signature, you’re going to have to arrive at the con bright and early.
- Many ticketed events have a maximum allowance of 2-5 comics being signed. Keep this in mind when you’re packing for the day before. Less prominent artists tend to not have a limit but don’t be that guy who comes with 20 books for someone to sign. You’re a jerk who’s making everyone wait that much longer and we all hate you.
Buying Comic Books
So you actually want to BUY comic books at the convention?! What a crazy idea! The con can be a great place to plug some holes in your collection but you can also get burned pretty badly. Read on for best practices:
- It should come as no surprise to anyone that prices at the Comic Con may be inflated for more than just food and drink. I have personally seen issues inflated in value 2,3 and even 4 times their value. Your best defense against getting cheated is to do your research. Plan ahead which books you plan to buy and look up their value ahead of time. The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is great for older books (generally anything more than a decade old). The other place to get a good idea for price is Ebay. When searching Ebay, make sure you search for completed listings. This gives you an idea of how much an item sold for and not how much was asked for it. Keep in mind that often times, dealers will not be able to quite match Ebay prices but go in with a ballpark figure and understand that you’re going to pay a little extra for the convenience of walking out of the convention with your dream book.
- If there’s a particular book that’s been eluding you for what seems like ages then you need to go to the convention on Thursday. This is when dealers will most likely have what you’re looking for.
- DO NOT BUY FROM THE FIRST DEALER THAT HAS THE BOOK YOU WANT. I cannot emphasize enough how many times I have gotten angry at myself for not following this one simple rule. Often times, dealers will have the same book listed for different prices. Shop around to see where you can get best the deal. Do not allow the fear of having the book bought out from under your nose cloud your judgment. I assure you, lots of dealers have what you’re looking for.
- Haggle. This can be done when all you have a credit card but cash works best. You can easily knock off 20% or more off the price a dealer is asking for by haggling. If you buy multiple items you’ll often get a bigger discount. This is where knowing the value of a particular book is crucial.
- Sunday is usually the best day for haggling. Many dealers want to take back as little stock with them as possible and will generally be willing to sell books for less.
- Some dealers refuse to haggle, don’t waste your time with them.
- Don’t bother haggling over $1 books, you’ll look stupid.
- Books at the con can be divided into 3 basic categories. Keep in mind I’m discussing “Key” books and not a random back issue:
- Classic “Age” books (Gold,Silver,Bronze) - Can be found in great abundance. They have a very fixed market price. Will easily be found on any day. Best day to haggle for these books: Sunday.
- Bronze Age Books/Modern Books - Price tends to fluctuate a little but not too much. Possibly will sell out. Best day to haggle: Sunday.
- Brand New Books (Within 6 months) - Prices generally very set. Very little haggling you can do since these just came out. Prices will often decrease in the long term. Will sell out the fastest. Best day to purchase: Thursday/Friday.
If you closely follow the tips outlined above, there’s no doubt in my mind that your experience will be improved. The last piece of advice I have to give is to not hesitate to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. Most people attending the con are passionate fans of something. Whether that’s comics books, manga, video games, or something else is entirely unimportant. By engaging with others you might be exposed to something new or find someone who might share your own passions. I know that I’ll be there for all 4 days, so feel free to say hello!