Day three into Comic Con and I started the day feeling like the firs two days, in my legs and back; all that walking and standing can really add up. I started the day at 9am(ish) following a hoard of costumed warriors roaring (quite literally) and ready to go. The excitement was palpable and the line was serious (stretching at least three city blocks from what I could see). I was meeting a friend and had his pass so I fought through the herd to meet up with him and get as close to the front of the traffic jam. I had a fancy press pass so I could have skipped the entrance for the proletariat and went in the much shorter VIP line but I couldn’t leave my buddy to fight through the horde by himself at his first Comic Con; especially since we were both desperate to get wristbands to get into the Firefly Reunion Panel.
The doors opened and a Braveheart-type army charged towards the single block of double doors (a mere 8-10 doors in all). Bottleneck fails to be an accurate description for the scene; it was more like a sink draining into a straw. Once inside, the true animalism of the people (myself included) kicked in and people took to sprinting, swerving and even jumping to get into lines to get wristbands for the Main-Stage panels. We were nervous because there were thousands in front of us but everytime we passed a line beginning to form at Starbucks and other vendors gave us hope. We got our wristbands and then the climactic beginning turned into a long wait.
Another Comic Con pro-tip, if you can come with a friend, or make one here and walk around with them, it will make life so much easier. We waited in the extremely long line that formed ninety minutes before the Firefly panel and did not want to lose our place just over half-way back from the front (the further up you are the closer you can get to the stage). So I held our places so my friend could go explore the convention for a while and he held the spot when I had to go relieve my bladder. You see, line cutting is a dick move and is severly frowned on (for good reason). But, having a friend hold your place while you step out and then later head back to that friend, reclaiming the space you left in the line, later is totally cool. In fact, Progressive Insurance had these people dressed up as unicorns (you can see a picture of them dancing together in yesterday’s coverage) that apparently would come stand in line for you would just tweet your location with the hashtag #LineInsurance. I say “apparently”, because I never saw those unicorn masked folks doing anything but hanging around looking creepy and waving at people.
The first Panel I attended was the much anticipated Firefly Reunion. As a rabid fan of the series (that was brutally stuck down in its prime) and the phenomenal film Serenity that followed it, I was ecstatic. It is the 10th anniversary of the release of the film Serenity (it also came to my attention that this is also the 10th NYCC, so this panel was just meant to be). The panel promised Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), Zoë Washburne (Gina Torres) and the loveable Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) in a fun-filled discussion about their time working together on Firefly and their lives since. What we got was all of that plus a special guest appearance by Hoban Washburne (Alan Tydyk). Tough he could only stay for a short time he brought all of the charm and hilarity he is famous for. Technically, there was another guest on the panel because Jewel Staite is seven months pregnant. The panel jumped right into a Q&A with two large lines of devout fans foaming at the mouths to ask their heroes questions.
The moderator began the question section by asking if the cast had any stories they loved to tell. There was a hard mental search for any new stories that hadn’t been told a thousand times but they couldn’t think of any. Nathan did however recall one of his favorites about Jewel (who was asked to put on some weight for her roll) was at the kraft food services table eating a jelly donut and Nathan asked her how she was doing and her reply was an exhausted “full”. The first audience question was about the use of Mandarin in the show and how the cast learned the words for their lines. Nathan answered that they would get the words written in the script accompanied by a cassette tape with somebody pronouncing it. This caused Alan to launch into a nostalgic remembrance of the use of cassette tapes which the whole crew jumped in on. Then when their joking died down, Jewel confessed that she had never listened to the tapes.
The next lengthily answered question was about their favorite dessert. Jewel jumped in with pumpkin pie and continued to list several more varieties of desserts over the course of the others’ answers. Gina loved everything apple (pie, crumble, cobbler) and Alan said he was happy with just bread pudding. Nathan said he would eat a cat turd if you dipped it in chocolate (which then launched into all of the other ways a cat turd could be prepared including deep fried). On that note Alan had to leave and comically got lost trying to find the stage exit. Nathan was then asked a geeky question “Malcolm Reynolds and Han Solo walk into a bar, who walks out of there?”. His answer was “Everyone Else” which sent the room into hysterics.
The remainder of the time was many questions related to the cult following of Firefly, the devastation of there being no more Firefly (unless you count the comic books), how the show has affected their careers, when and how to show Firefly to your kids and their experiences of going to conventions like this one all over the world. Overall the mood was light and jovial with quick-witted jokes being shot from the hip left and right. The tone was not a memorial for a fallen show but a celebration of a lively and growing fanbase who are keeping the spirit alive. The largest eruption of cheers came from Jewel stating “If the network tells you no one is watching your show, sometimes they are just wrong”.
In addition to questions for the cast, there were snippets of promotion for the projects they are working on currently such as Con Man (a crowdsourced show produced by Alan and featuring many of the crew of Firefly), Suits which Gina is one of the stars of and various movies coming out the actors had parts in. The panel was most definitely worth the long wait and every browncoat left with smiles of satisfaction on their faces.
After the Firefly panel, I walked around “The Block” which is a stand-alone portion of the show floor. It is just as crazy as the rest of the floor but with many more big exhibitors selling their wares and letting fans play games, win prizes and try out props and games. I managed to walk away with an amazing print of Boba Fett with Native American styled coloration and speakers coming out of him created by an artist from Art Whino who works out of a studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I could have walked into The Block alone and spent a year’s salary on beautiful art and other creations to decorate a geek mansion.
The next panel I went to was The Aniplex of America Industry Panel. Once again I waited in a long queue for quite a while to ensure a spot in the panel. Aniplex is a Japanese anime and music distribution company in Japan (formerly Sony Entertainment Japan). The line for this panel was more exciting than the others I have been in here, because there were a group of guys that were energetically trying to get people in the line with Nintendo 3DS systems to join a Mario Cart group race with them. They got eight people for a full group and raced, shouting all the while. It was quite an interesting social bonding experience with people spread out across the large line.
The panel really was more of a showcase than a panel and was hosted by a marketing rep from Aniplex America. He was energetic and got everyone excited about the series that were presented. Numerous trailers showing the anime series that were being released to Blu-Ray and dvd (mostly the box/collector sets), the series that are currently streaming on Crunchroll (an anime streaming site similar in format to Netflix) and the series that were currently in development. It was full people that are as ecstatic for numerous anime series as most people are for Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, if not more. Some of the sneak previews that were announced early exclusively for Comic Con guests were a reissue of Garden of Sinners, a new movie The Anthem of the Heart, a Sword Art Online video game and movie project and a new app for Aniplex that has a calendar of all of their content.
What made this panel extra great was the raffle they did. Upon entering the room, everyone was given a ticket with a number and at the end he gave out prizes to the nine people that had the winning numbers. The prize was a Sony Walkman, no not the cassette player that took America by storm decades ago, this is a MP3 player from Japan that has a 64 Gig hard drive that can be used as an external hard drive or just as the music player. The panel was a lot of fun and for a fan of many of the Anime that Aniplex distributes, I really enjoyed myself and learned of some new series to check out.
After the panel I spent some more time in The Block and parts of the main show floor. I saw many more great cosplayers, some models in costumes to pull people to booths, some great art and interesting books and other cool collectables. I scored a crazy screen printed t-shirt for $5, and got a free grab bag of random things for just joining a mailing list (though these bags seemed to be made up of the crap they had laying around their drawers including: an old used PS3 baseball game, a free Comic Book Day comic, some postcards and an old Village Voice). There were a handful of free comic books and short novels at booths and even a table selling customizable cosplay swords.
One of the best booths was Cyanide & Happiness where for buying $30 worth of their merch, they would make a sketch based on two words selected at random from a box with slips of paper with words on them. My buddy got some funny beer koozies and a book of their comics which came to $30 so he got a sketch. The words he picked were “stabbing” and “dick-pic” and they did a great job with those options. I also got to sit in a replica of Captain Kirk’s captain’s chair made out of Mega Blocks and even lit up and made sound; that closed out my night just perfectly.
All in all day 3 was more of a dive into the culture and consumer part of the convention. I am worn down but am very excited for the final day tomorrow!
Oh yeah, and on the way out I saw this guy wearing a Boba Fett mask playing the MacGyver theme song on an accordion which was just perfect.
This article is the third part in a four part series covering the 2015 New York Comic Con.