Another New York Comic Con has come and gone all too quickly! This year was bigger than ever with over 150,000 attendants over the course of 4 days! The Con is a sink or swim moment for publishers. It grants them a fantastic chance to interact with their fans and drum up excitement for their books and characters for the coming year. The experience fans have will stay with them through the year and could go a long way towards increasing sales. So…how did the big three publishers: Marvel, DC, and Image do? Read on and find out!
Marvel - Marvel’s booth was a mess and easily the worst one of the year I experienced at the show. It was extraordinarily disorganized and often the people running the booth had no idea what was going on. The schedule hadn’t even been printed up until late Thursday afternoon, if you came to the booth before then, you could see a photograph…from one of the organizer’s phones. But it get’s worse…on Saturday at 11am shortly after the con opened it’s doors there was supposed to be a signing for “Death of Wolverine” where all 4 people who worked on the book were scheduled to appear. This is a comic book collector’s dream, all signatures in one fell swoop! However, only 1 showed up and of course, the people running the booth had no idea where the other 3 were. Being the compulsive person that I am, I tracked down the aforementioned missing people in Artist Alley. They all independently told me the same story. They hadn’t known about the signing in the first place, Marvel had never actually informed any of them that they were scheduled to appear at 11am! Other people who were scheduled to appear such as Jim Starlin were never even officially announced on the Con’s website, if you didn’t check in with Marvel you’d never know he was at the con. He was scheduled for two appearances (one sat and one sun) but only showed up once. On Sunday, after waiting for over an hour in line, fans were simply told to disperse with nothing to show for their patience.
The final straw to me was for Marvel’s raffle for their extremely popular signings such as Agents of Shield. Now the actual raffle is a great idea, you want to give as many fans a chance to participate in the signing and not just the ones who camped out overnight so they could be the first ones through the door. However, if you’re doing a raffle, give something to the people who weren’t lucky enough to draw a winning ticket! The signing was very limited so the majority of people were simply told to go stand at the back of the line for another chance to draw a ticket (Yay, I get to stand in line for another 30 min!) or drew a little pre-autographed card. This is an awful consolation prize. This would’ve been a great opportunity to foster a good experience with the company. Give the people who didn’t win a free comic book or a t-shirt! Something that doesn’t make them walk away from your booth feeling frustrated which is what happened to virtually everyone present. Marvel, I expect a lot more from you, way way more.
Final Grade: C
DC - Ever since last year, DC has had quite a reduced presence at NYCC. In fact, they technically didn’t have a booth. Rather, DC was set up at the tail end of the Jacob Javits Center where they were prominently displaying the various Batman costumes used throughout the years. While the costumes are undoubtedly cool to look at, I was hoping for more of a presence. The frustrating part is that the signing for DC were taking place literally at the other end of the Jacob Javits center in artist alley. I’m sure that most fans learned this the hard way when they went to the wrong place only to arrive in artist alley too late to get their comic book signed because the lines were capped. Having said that, DC largely kept to it’s scheduled (with the exception of Geoff Johns, shame on you Geoff!) which was prominently displayed in large font next to the signing area so it could easily be photographed. DC should also be praised for actually not giving out wristbands for ticketed signings to professionals. For those not in the know, people with pro passes get into the con earlier than people with regular tickets and as such can line up for ticketed signings faster. By not giving wristbands to the Pro passes’s DC made it very clear that the regular fans come first and it felt great to be appreciated!
Final Grade: B
Image - There are not enough nice things I can say about Image. Image was exceptionally organized from day one. They had their schedule printed up from the start of the con, gave out tickets in an organized fashion (props for creating a separate line just for Kirkman’s signature which is always in demand!), the people running the booth were polite, knowledgeable, and creative (when the line for Kirkman’s tickets got too long, going between different sections required a password to get through, that way people could not simply sneak onto the line). All their guests were present and were often kind enough to sign things for people who didn’t manage to get a ticket. I always walked away from Image feeling great and excited about their future plans, I hope all the other publishers follow their example in the future!
Final Grade: A+