Day two at Comic Con started almost exactly like day one. I had to work a half day and got to the Javits center around 12:45 pm. Once again, since I had my pass already, I just walked right in and dove right into the beautiful madness. I had a few minutes to bumble around and take in the scene of the second day before going to stand in line for the first panel I wanted to see.
You would think spending a whole tiring afternoon standing in lines, bumping into people and having a somewhat constant sensory overload would be enough to make any further days futile. Really, how interesting and exciting can going to the same amusement park be right? Well the difference with Comic Con is that, though the vendors, exhibitors and attractions are there everyday with the same exact things to offer, the real heart of Comic Con is in a constant buzzing genesis.
There are new costumes, new panels and corners of the massive Convention Center that reveal themselves the longer you spend there. I walked back and forth in the underbelly of the center where most of the panels were held yesterday and just today noticed there is a Nuts4Nuts cart in one of the sections (its sweet, intoxicating ambrosia wafts through the air enticing people about to go stand in lengthy lines to get autographs). There is plenty here to see and do even if you thought you saw and did it all the day(s) before.
The first panel I attended was entitled The Next Big Thing: Indie Authors Creating Brave New Worlds. This was by far the most informative and inspiring panel I have ever attended. The panel was the first ever panel of indie authors at NYCC. The panelists consisted of Neil Gibson (Twisted Dark, Tabitha and Tortured Life), April Adams (The GwenSeven Saga, Moons of Jupiter Resurrection), Cerece Rennie Murphy (Order of the Seers Sci-Fi Trilogy and Ellis and The Magic Mirror), Greg Garay (JackB: Ride the Air) and Nilah Magruder (M.F.K., Princeless: Tales of the Family Ashe). Their works included comic books, sci-fi novels, children’s books and web comics and some had day jobs while others have been able to devote all of their time and resources into their art. Most all of them admitted that becoming an author was not their first career choice but they have all found a peaceful satisfaction getting their ideas on paper.
The mood of the panel was light and jovial, full of jokes and smiles plastered on the faces of the panelists as they answered questions and talked about themselves. Many were inspired by science fiction authors and films while others drew from manga, manhwa and anime. They have created new worlds and new storylines in worlds that have already existed, they find it important to stay true to their vision while working hard to create something that will touch people. Many of them said they like to focus on real-world themes mixed in with fantasy. Themes like technological advancements and evils, social issues and emotional trials are prevalent in the work that they do.
When asked what the current challenges are when getting into self-publishing, there was a unanimous acknowledgement that time and money along with a job/art/life balance can be the most intense struggle. In addition some spoke of deadlines, laziness, managing the production, distribution and advertising all at once, making the content “good” and self-doubt (which Cerece believes is the biggest hindrance and encompasses all of the other challenges). Despite all of the challenges, all of the authors very passionately said that now was the time to get into indie creation and publishing. They all agreed that though they personally prefer the touch and comfort of physical books, digital publishing can be an amazing way to get your work out there. They all seemed very sincere and ready to help out another generation of indie authors desperate to get their ideas out.
The next panel I attended was a real treat. It was entitled A Fireside Chat With Comedy’s First Couple Samantha Bee and Jason Jones. Though it did not really have anything to do with comics or superheroes, it was a great panel for a comic relief from the constant geek-centered fanfare. We were handed free tote bags upon walking in advertising Samantha Bee’s new show on TBS Full Frontal. After everyone was seated they showed a trailer for Jason’s new show on TBS called The Detour followed by a short trailer leading up to Sam’s work. Then it was time to bring the two out and right off the bat they brought the laughs. Jason decided it would be great fun to sit at the complete opposite end of the large six person panel table leaving four empty chairs and mics between he and his wife Samantha. From there the moderator asked them to talk about their respective shows and pointed out that Sam would be the only woman to have a late-night comedy show which is a great accomplishment.
Full Frontal is set to be a weekly, thirty minute, topical comedy show and will have a balance of field and studio time. Jason is an executive producer and Sam has been trying to get him involved doing what he did best on the Daily Show, field work. The Detour was written by Jason and he very deliberately labeled it a comedy show (making sure to draw a distinction between comedy show and sitcom). It is the story of a family that thinks they know each other but after a road trip find out that “they don’t know shit”. It will be rated TV-MA and will be aired on TBS (Jason joked that his show will now make TBS funny).
The rest of the time was a Q&A. Not to let this panel be a normal one, the four individuals that were selected by the moderator were asked to bypass the usual standing mic at the front of the isles and instead join Sam and Jason up at the panel table filling the four empty seats between them. Most of the questions revolved around their life and kids in balance with working on their own projects. Overall this panel was goofy and a perfect dive into absurdity.
The final panel I attended today was called Science in Fiction. I waited in a line that stretched along a wall and then into a small room that had dividers creating a snake of people around and around until it went back out the other door and then down the hall for an unknown length. This again was a perfect example of me underestimating the popularity of a panel. Luckily I got there early enough to be one of the 115 that filled the room to capacity.
This panel consisted of six science fiction authors that focus on integration of hard science in their work. The moderator showed up over thirty minutes late so we dove into a Q&A session right away which focused mostly on the research that each author does to ensure that there is real data backing up some of the science in their books. Research was described as a black hole that can suck you into in and many of them spoke of spending years conducting research for their work.
The second biggest question was from the moderator when he finally made it. He asked what the point was in their writing when they decide they need to use hard (real) science vs soft (more fantasy) science. There were two metaphors used to explain the balance. The first, slightly more disturbing, metaphor was that it was like using candy to lure kids to your van, the other was putting a foreign coin into your handful of local currency. Essentially what both were getting at was that you have to use enough real science to give credibility to any stretches you make.
This panel was dense at times but was definitely a great resource to anyone who is looking to try and include some real, hard science into their sci-fi works. Research can be time consuming but can mean the difference between losing people. At the same time a good balance of keeping the density of science jargon to a level that it flows in the story appeasing those who desire hard fact while not losing the general populous of readers.
In between the panels I got a chance to wander the show floor for a bit. It can only be described as a hive. There are hundreds-to-thousands of people buzzing around the numerous booths set up across the large show floor. There are numerous comic book vendors along with merch booths and independent artists and authors. In general, Comic Con is not the ideal place for a slightly claustrophobic person that does not handle large crowds well, but if any part of the convention were to really send someone into a panic attack, it would be the show floor. That said it is also the most beautiful place to be. Art and color swirl around everywhere you turn, bright booths with screens and prints are orbited by cosplayers creating something great. Just don’t plan on taking it all in at once, unless you plan to spend most of the day working your way around that room.
Day two is over and I borrowed a large trash bag from a very friendly janitor so that I would not get soaked in the pouring rain. I am a bit sore and quite tired but also am energized by the thought that I have two more days to geek out.
This article is the second part in a four part series covering the 2015 New York Comic Con.