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NYCC Day 1: Thursday

Let’s start my NYCC experience with a story that’ll amuse you and perfectly demonstrates my ability to be extremely absent minded at times!

Rob Neumeyer set off a few hours before I did, as he was attending the Retailer’s Breakfast. So I was being picked up by Bobby Shortle and heading into the city on the train with him and Justin Townson.
The first day of the con doesn’t start until midday, so Rob arranged with Bobby (and relayed this information to me perfectly) that I would be picked up at 9:30am. Not too difficult to remember and organise myself accordingly, right?

WRONG!!! In my infinite wisdom, my brain decided it would interpret this as Bobby would pick me up at 8:30am. So I get up, get ready and merrily send Bobby a message at 8:25am saying that I was waiting outside for him. At 8:45am, after not hearing from Bobby and him being (according to my erroneous schedule) 15 minutes late, I get a sinking feeling that I’d got my wires crossed.

A few minutes later Bobby replies, “Dude, we agreed 9:30am. I’m only just out of the shower.” Well done, Huw, well bloody done! After a few messages back and forth to Rob, I end up sat on a bench on the decking in his back yard. Playing around with my phone to keep myself amused, after a few minutes the back door slides open and Rob’s mother (who is too lovely to even do justice to with words) is standing there. “How did you end up out there?” Looking up from my phone I burst out laughing and say “please, don’t even ask!” Then I get taken inside and treated to orange juice and waffles, which I couldn’t have been more grateful for and devoured.

Bobby then arrives, with a massive grin on his face as a result of my stupidity. Quite honestly, I can’t blame him at all for laughing at me. What a stupid thing to do.

So finally, we set off, head to Justin’s house and pick him up to head to Ronkonoma station. The journey is spent listening to Bobby and Justin discussing their interviews for the day, I just sat there in silence for the most part. Justin had never done any interviews and was understandably nervous; I know I would have been if I was in his shoes! Bobby is so obviously comfortable and experienced with those things, so it was an education sitting there and listening to him talk about how he goes about interviews and reassuring Justin that he’ll do just fine (which if you listen to the podcast, you’ll all know he did a stellar Job). The other reason that I was so quiet, was mainly due to my excitement levels hitting a ridiculous level and my mind racing thinking about what laid ahead for the next four days.

After a bit of hunting, we find Rob and I collect my passes for the con. The time has come, years of dreaming and months of waiting after booking my trip have finally come to this moment. It was NYCC time!!

I was already shocked by the sheer size of the Jacob Javits centre as we were walking up. We went in through the doors, tapped our passes and had our bags checked, then my jaw dropped. That place is ENORMOUS! My brain pretty much went into geek out overdrive, Rob was just stood there laughing at me and said “so, what shall we do,” and my ever so clever response was “uhhhh, I don’t know!” We didn’t have any panels we intended to go to or any firm plans, so today would be all about drinking in NYCC and just going with the flow.

My brain had finally dropped off the ceiling, I pointed in a direction and we hit the show floor. For the next few hours while Justin and Bobby were taking care of interviews, Rob and I walked the floor getting the lay of the land and doing what we’d made a habit during my trip, which is singing what we were seeing. Justin will testify to just how much we did that and he’ll also say how much he loved it. The impressions of Gotham’s take on Alfred were thrown around quite happily, too (listen to my appearance on the TC and TG podcasts for an example!).

The show floor at NYCC is a sight to behold. The middle of it is packed with the booths of all the big name comic publishers, from Marvel to Image and from Boom! to Valiant, they’re right there with massive stands covered in artwork from their books. Having only ever been to conventions where only feature tables that have the work of local, self published writers (which is something I love to see, I hasten to add), seeing these huge chunks of the floor dedicated to these companies was pretty cool. The only publisher missing from the show floor was DC, whose area was over to one side of the lobby, made obvious by a rather large Batman logo hanging from the wall, as you can see from my photo it was a pretty awesome sight!

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After a few hours, we start getting hungry, so we decide to hunt down a food cart that we were tipped off about by Steve Seigh. He assured us they sold good food and there was rarely a big line. The cart was just inside Artist Alley, which was perfect, we were yet to explore that area and I needed to pay a visit to Declan Shalvey to pick up a commission he’d done for me.

Steve was right, the cart was there and the empanadas they sold were bloody tasty. We’d found our go-to eatery for the next four days. Somewhat ironically, as we were stood eating, Steve trudged past, headphones on like a man on a mission off to get more content for his coverage of the convention for JoBlo.

We headed over to Declan Shalvey’s table. Even though we’d seen a photo of the commission, both Rob and I were pretty excited to see it up close and boy did it not disappoint! We stay and talk to Declan for a few minutes, he’s a really cool and affable guy and it was great to meet him, I’m a big fan of his work. I shake his hand and thank him for my piece. Here’s a scan of it:

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Artist Alley alone is a pretty big room, probably about the same size as the show floor of the biggest con I’d been to previously was held in. It’s amazing, row after row of fantastically talented people who are right there for you to walk up to and engage! Just doing a quick lap alone we saw Chris Claremont, Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, Dustin Nguyen, Jim Lee and Walt Simonson to name just a handful. It’s quite possibly the most fun room to be in if you’re a comic book fan, you just end up pointing and saying “hey theres…” and “wow it’s…” and basically just geeking out in a big way. This was the kind of thrill I was there for. We bumped into Steve and stop for a chat and share our stories for the day so far, before he has to run off to carry on in roving reporter mode.

We spend the next few hours wandering merrily around the show floor, before we decide it’s time to stop for a coffee. We head outside and find a little fortress of solitude between two huge pillars and set ourselves down to chill out. This would become a recurring theme for the weekend, because once you hit about 3pm after being on your feet since 10am, you need a rest break!

After our break, we headed back inside to scout out which retailers were selling Hot Toys figures. My one big purchase I wanted to make as a treat to myself at the con was a Captain America STRIKE Uniform Hot Toys figure. Sadly, it our hunt was fruitless as we quickly found out that it isn’t even released yet. At least finding that out would save me time and money for the rest of my time in NY.

That used up the rest of the time we had for the day, leaving a little early to beat the crowds, Rob, Justin, Bobby and myself headed to Penn station to catch the train back to Long Island. My very first day at NYCC was in the books!

NYCC Day 2: Friday

Thankfully, probably due to me having a responsible adult to watch over me in Rob, I managed to not make a fool of myself on Friday morning. Things were looking up already!

Today we needed to be at the Javits a little before the show floor opened. As part of attending the retailer’s breakfast on Thursday, Rob was given a ticket to the first ever Marvel Retailer’s Panel and it was due to start at 10am as the doors opened to the public. Rob, Justin and I were heading from Penn station to the con and Rob takes the ticket for the panel out, he’s walking along looking at it and suddenly says “huh, I didn’t notice that before.” It turns out that in fine print at the top of the ticket it said ‘admits one, plus guest.’ Obviously with there being three of us, this presented a problem in terms of numbers. After a bit of discussion, Justin generously insists that I take the spot (which I’ll always be thankful to him for. It was incredibly kind) and whilst feeling pretty guilty I take the spot and start to get excited about what we might see. We enter the building and we part ways with Justin, who heads off to get his morning coffee. Rob and I make our way to get in line for the panel.

Whilst standing in line, Rob and I talk about how we’ve no idea what to expect from this panel, as this was the very first of its kind. The doors opened and we headed in. I had my SLR camera in my hand, which a security guy spotted right away and stopped me, “sorry buddy, you’re going to have to put that in your bag and make sure you keep your phone in your pocket, too.” I tell him that I’ll be sure to put it away once I take my seat, as we walk away Rob whispers to me “dude, they’re bound to be showing footage with security being this tight.”

Now I start getting REALLY excited, Rob had hoped to take me into the retailer’s breakfast with me, but sadly it didn’t work out and for months beforehand I’d pretty much convinced myself that I’d be seeing cool footage there (lofty aspirations, I know!). No footage was shown at the breakfast, could we be about to get very lucky and have things fall into place?! I grin like a Cheshire Cat, “please show us some Age of Ultron footage!” Our eyes light up with expectation.

A pretty impressive panel line-up of Dan Buckley, David Gabriel, Axel Alonso, C.B. Cebulski, Tom Brevoort, Jeanine Schaefer, Nick Lowe, Mike Marts, Mick Paniccia and Sana Amanat took the stage and things kicked off. Marvel’s Communications Manager, Joe Taraborrelli was chair and got straight to business, giving us “a few little treats.”

The lights are dimmed and the screen goes black as we hear the voice of Michael Douglas, followed by Paul Rudd. They kicked things off in a big way by showing us some Ant-Man footage, albeit very rough and I doubt what we saw visually will even be in the movie. It was very cool to see and set the bar pretty high for this panel from the off. Next up they showed us a clip from the Disney XD Guardians of the Galaxy animated show that’s in the works, if what we saw was anything to go by it’ll be worth checking out. A quick trailer for the Marvel: From Pulp to Pop 75th anniversary celebration documentary was shown next. Then came what we’d hoped to see, what I had wanted to see for months before the convention and ever since it was shown at SDCC, Age of Ultron footage!!

The vast majority of what we saw, barring about 30 seconds in the scene that was shown on TV with Agents of SHIELD and a few other quick flashes has now been released. But as the four minutes of footage we saw unfolded, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, actual tears of joy formed and I sat there open mouthed gawping at how amazing what we were seeing was. The room absolutely erupted when the footage ended, being in a room full of people so overjoyed at what they had just seen felt amazing. All these people, including Rob and I (by then we were just staring at each other, smiling from ear to ear!) were elated at what they’d just been privy to, what a moment!

The panel then moved on to a Q&A session and we were given a few little snippets of big announcements to come. The biggest being the ongoing Spider-Gwen book, which was to be shared with the public at the Spider-Verse panel on the last day of the con. That news was met with almost as much joy as the footage we’d seen, this was a room full of retailers being told that their hard work in selling Edge of Spider-Verse 2 played a big part in getting this character to have her own ongoing. Above that, these people loved the news from the perspective of fans; it was another special moment to witness.

The panel ended with the room being thanked for their work, it was incredibly interesting to see a handful of big names from Marvel Comics being so genuinely grateful to the people in front of them and in my opinion those retailers deserve that gratitude. Being able to witness that panel was an immense privilege, I was incredibly lucky to have got the chance to be in there and I’ll always be incredibly grateful to Justin for being so kind as to encourage me to take that spot.

As we left we were given a handful of goodies, which in the rush to leave we didn’t get a real chance to look at. So we leave the room, head to one side to peruse our bounty and boy was it pretty sweet! We were each given a copy of the 3D variant for Deadpool 35, but that wasn’t all. After the con ended the day before, Marvel had announced a new Secret Wars event and we were given copies of four comics that combine to create the promotional image that was released. It turns out that these four comics were exclusive to that panel. They’re now selling at crazy prices on EBay, but I’ve no intention of selling mine, they have a lot of sentimental value. What an amazing memento of being in there!

Rob and I headed back to the lobby to join back up with Justin. I was feeling rather guilty for him missing out, he asked how the panel was, I just kind of stared at my feet and said “yeah, it was pretty awesome……….we saw Ultron footage.” Justin looked up at the ceiling and said “awww man, I knew it!! But that’s so cool you got to see it, I’m happy for you, guys.” Rob told Justin about the super secret (so secret it was all over the internet by then) Spider-Gwen announcement, I think it’s fair to say he was pretty stoked by that news.

We had about an hour and a half to kill before we needed to head to the DC booth for Justin’s first interview, so we hit the show floor to explore a little more. The three of us made a point of scouting out any potential booths to head to later in the con for good deals on trades. At this point I feel it is only fair to commend Justin and Rob on their patience, because we found a pocket of booths which had a lot of anime related figures and model kits and with me having a penchant for that stuff I couldn’t resist.

Gundam model kits, Godzilla figures, Attack on Titan busts among other things, all displayed in gorgeous glass cabinets. I’m surprised they didn’t need to call a cleanup crew to mop up my drool!

Justin’s interview was scheduled for 1pm, we headed to the DC booth a little early so he could get himself set up and composed. He was understandably nervous so Rob and I wanted to be there for moral support.
As you can see, I was pretty relaxed about the whole thing:

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Justin got called over by DC’s PR people and he took a seat ready to start the interview. I took a few quick photos as he got things going with Garry Brown (the new artist on Catwoman) and so we wouldn’t put him off by hovering around, Rob and I went to see what the DC booth was about.

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Pretty cool it was, too! Right in the middle was the massive Batman statue from the end of The Dark Knight Rises, behind were a series of Batsuits from the movies. Michael Keaton’s and Christian Bale’s suits had pretty large crowds around them, getting a shot of those took some patience. For reasons unknown, Clooney and Kilmer’s suits weren’t getting much attention at all, very strange. The main draw were the cape and cowl (no suit though, sadly) that we’ll be seeing Ben Affleck wearing in Batman Vs Superman and I really like it. It’s very reminiscent of The Dark Knight Returns cowl and that isn’t a bad thing by any means!

Whilst waiting for Justin to finish the interview, Rob and I strategically placed ourselves to make the most of any opportunities to score freebies that arose. And arise they did, we got a few cool posters and best of all a 75th anniversary Batman cape which I got a little overly excited about!

When the interview was done with, Justin reappeared and breathed a sigh of relief. That was the one interview he had scheduled for the day done (and as you no doubt heard) he did a fantastic job with all his interviews), we all agreed it was time to feed. So to the empanada stand in Artist Alley we went. As luck would have it, whilst we were there we got to meet a couple of people who are big contributors to TC.

Not long after we grabbed our grub, that finest of fine young men, Mr Ryan Carroll appeared with his father. I’d talked to Ryan many times in the past, not only on Twitter, but as part of the Talking Comics book club and it was a huge thrill to meet him in person. He’s one of the most likeable, intelligent and eloquent young people you could wish to meet and his dad was equally nice and so easy to strike up conversation with. Shortly after Ryan’s arrival, one of the stars of The Missfits podcast came to meet us, the legendary Melissa Megan! Yet another person I was so excited to meet and she’s every bit as cool as she appears to be if you know her from the podcast and Twitter. She got a huge hug and subjected to a deluge of questions from me. Between meeting her, Ryan and Mr Carroll, I was bouncing off the walls. THIS IS AWESOME!! Melissa stays for a short while and heads back off to help Steve with his work.

After having some food, we decided to take a wander around Artist Alley. Just before we did I got a message from Lauren Kolligs saying that she and her friend Grace were free to meet, I let them know where we were and got rather excited. Lauren is someone who I’ve been talking to for pushing 4 years now and is a friend to the whole TC crew. It’s fair to say that she was a massive link in what I kept referring to as “the circle” of people who I was in NY to finally meet in person. I was equally excited to meet Grace, too, another lady with whom I’d been speaking to via twitter for quite a while.

After about fifteen minutes, I spot Lauren at the top of the stairs the go down into artist alley and I left her in no doubt where I was. I shouted “LAUREN!!!!” at the top of my lungs and ran over to give her a big hug and say hello, what a moment getting to meet yet another lovely person and member of the TC family. I ask where Grace was and she appears out of nowhere at my side, “Hiya Grace!” and she gets a big hug too, at this point I was in excitement overload at getting to meet them both. This was why I came to NYCC, to spend time with these awesome folk. We chat for a little while and then Lauren and Grace shoot off to head to a panel (they were on VIP passes and got to see some very cool stuff throughout the con).

Lauren and Grace headed off and the rest of us, explore Artist Alley. I walk with Ryan and his father whilst the others go off to get a few things signed. Strolling around and catching up with Ryan was great fun, we talk about all sorts and it felt like we’d been friends for ages. We stop at tables for Ryan to get a few comics signed by Justin Ponsor, Jim Cheung, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder. After that, we caught back up with the rest of the crew before Ryan and his Dad part company with us.

We’d been walking Artist Alley for an hour or so at that point so Rob, Justin and I decide to go and see if we can’t buy some cheap trades. Just as we head off Justin says “I just got a message from Bobby asking if I can be at the Valiant booth soon, he’s organised an interview with Warren Simons.” So Rob and I say that we’ll head there with him and have a quick talk about what to ask him on the way. There was a little delay in getting started due to Warren Simons being busy when we arrived, so the pep talk continued and Justin went into it with some good questions to ask. This is a company whose books he reads so that stood him in good stead and again, he did a fantastic Job. I take a few pictures of Justin interviewing Warren as they get started, then move out of the way again so they can concentrate. During the interview I spot that Valiant were selling trades of their titles, 3 for $20, a pretty sweet deal. I started looked at what was on offer and I noticed ‘Archer and Armstrong’ volumes 1-3. Justin was praising this book on our way to the booth, so I decided to strike whilst the iron was hot and listen to his recommendation. I picked them up off the stack and paid just as Justin finished the interview and then head over to him, he was still stood with Warren and talking. I introduce myself and show Warren Simons my purchase and tell him “you just got a new reader” and he smiled, “that’s cool man, thanks for picking those up, hope you like them. Here’s my card, I’d love for you to let me know what you think.” Now, it’s not every day you buy your first books by a publisher and get to tell their Editor-in-Chief that this is the case seconds later! He seemed like an extremely affable guy and was all too happy to talk after the interview was done.

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Just before we headed to the Valiant booth I get a hilarious tweet from Kyle (@superbadlarry to most!) that was a picture of him, fingers pressed to his temple with the caption “mentally summoning @h_paz,” which cracked me up so I reply and tell him where we’re heading. He appears just after I’d introduced myself to Warren Simons, bobbing and weaving through people and pointing at me. What a guy, he grabs me and hugs the hell out of me, shakes my hand and says “hey Huw, how the hell are you doing?!” Here’s another member of the TC family who I’ve been talking to for years and was itching to meet and as I described him on twitter shortly after we met, he is a force of nature. This is a dude with more energy than twenty supernovas combined and is a joy to be around. We talk about how much I’m enjoying NY and I try to put into words (and words will never do justice to it) how much fun I’m having and how thrilling it is to meet everyone. Kyle spots Rob and says “dude, I didn’t recognise you then, you look like a Beatle!” and I collapse, I don’t think I could take a breath for about five minutes I laughed that hard. Kyle wishes us well and sadly that was the only time we got to see him, but the short time with him made for another memorable moment.

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Once we parted company with Kyle, it was time for our 4pm coffee and chill out session outside between the ‘pillars of solitude’ as they were now known. Even during those moments of relative serenity at NYCC, you see some brilliant things that stick in your mind for all manner of reasons. For example, that time when Jesus met Batman:

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When we went back inside, we had about an hour before it was time to head home. So we headed to the show floor and our route took us past the Image Comics booth. At one end of the booth I spot someone in the middle of a signing. If you know me, you’ll know of my love for Bruce Springsteen and there is one man who I refer to ask the Springsteen of comics, that man is Scott Snyder. I eyes lock on him sat there at the booth and I begin to have a fanboy moment. “Holy shit, there’s Scott Snyder!!!” and I make a B-line for him. Sadly, this turned out to be a ticketed signing so after 20 minutes of standing in the line, it ends in disappointment. I wanted so badly to meet him; he’s my comic book hero! I had a list of three main people I wanted to meet and they were Snyder, Greg Capullo and Kelly Sue DeConnick. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be scrubbing a name off that list today. I didn’t let it spoil what had been a fantastic day, there would be more chances. The three of us walk around some more and we happen across a booth selling a series called ‘Enormous’ that Rob had been telling me about, so I pick up all four issues of that as well as stopping at a booth selling some amazing video game and anime based prints. I spotted a GUNDAM print that I couldn’t resist but I didn’t have my art tube to keep it safe in. I’d be back for that on Saturday.

That brought an end to a wonderful day, meeting lovely people that I’d been looking forward to spending time with for years and further justifying my decision to make the trip. As well as getting to interact with a few very interesting people from the comic book industry. We head back to Long Island on the train and record a quick wrap-up for the podcast at Justin’s place. Then we fire up his PS4 and chill out for the rest of the evening (I also witness Jacqui Turner and Justin’s video game rivalry first hand…….FIERCE!).

 

NYCC Day 3: SATURDAY

Rob was unable to come with us on Saturday, sadly. He kindly dropped me off at Ronkonkoma station where I met up with Justin and we headed into the city together. Today we would also be joined by Jacqui Turner of Talking Games fame! This would be her very first experience of a con; I think it’s fair to say that experience being the Saturday of NYCC is definitely a baptism of fire! I’d already spent quite a bit of time with Jacqui before, between the podcast and hanging out at Justin’s place. As with everyone else whose homes I’d been welcomed into, she is an incredibly hospitable, fun and easy person to get on with. Also, a special mention goes to her partner, Jay, who is a great guy, we talked at length about Springsteen (me in my element!). I was excited to share our first NYCC Saturday with her.

My main aim for the day was to get to the Batman 75th anniversary panel, but we had a few hours to kill before that. Part of that time would be taken up by Justin interviewing Marguerite Bennett and Mike Johnson, the team that heads up DC’s ‘Earth 2’ book. We decided to dip into the main show floor for a short while before Justin needed to go to the DC booth for the interview. The image booth had already proved fruitful in terms of sightings of my big comic hero in Scott Snyder, now it would come up trumps again but cause the same frustration! We happened across Kelly Sue DeConnick in the middle of a signing; she’s someone who is right at the top of my heroes in comics. Not only due to the fact that she writes some fantastic comics (Captain Marvel is a book I absolutely, unabashedly love) but also because she’s such an inspiration. At the same time as Kelly Sue is signing, her husband Matt Fraction was causing chaos with a megaphone he’d stolen from one of the convention staff at the other end of the Image booth, it was hilarious.

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I’ve always heard stories about Kelly Sue’s personality, how giving of herself she is to her fans and how she is a massive voice in pushing for equality for women in the industry. Anyone who Bob Reyer thinks as highly of as he does Kelly Sue must be a great person! As I said, the frustration would happen again as with Scott Snyder, she was right there in front of me but this was a ticketed signing so I couldn’t meet her. I took a quick photo of her and commented on how she’s even cooler in my mind as a result of seeing her rocking a Ramones t-shirt. I was seriously worried that goal of meeting Kelly Sue, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo would go unfulfilled.

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We headed over to the DC booth ready for Justin to get himself set up. After a bit of a wait, the PR lady from DC opens the barrier and lets Justin through. True to form, I take a few quick photos once he starts the interview and then make myself scarce to go and scout out where the room where Batman panel was taking place.

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A huge line was already formed, the Marvel Cup o’ Joe panel is always a big draw at any con and this was no different. A long line of hundreds of people snaked through the room; this was what I’d have to contend with to get into the Batman panel! I rushed back to the table where I’d spotted the GUNDAM print I had my eye on and picked one up, it was too nice to resist and I was on holiday so I wasn’t about to force myself from not getting it.

People are only allowed ten minutes per interview, so by the time I’d found where the Batman panel would be and got the print, it was time to head back to the DC booth to meet back up with Justin. We kill some more time before we need to start lining up by hitting one end of the show floor that we hadn’t seen yet, which proved to be a fun walk. Where we went was full of booths selling action figures, model kits and other merchandise, a good amount of which was anime based. One booth was selling Godzilla action figures and being a big fan I couldn’t resist. They had some amazing products there, the SH Monster Arts figures are ones I always keep an eye out for as they’re usually awesome. I had to reconsider buying one of those as they were a little big to take back with me, but I did spot some very cool Attack on Titan figures, one of which I had my eye on for a while. They were much more reasonably sized, so I took the plunge and invested in an Erin Yeager figure.
After my frivolous purchase, it was time to get in line for the Batman panel. We got there an hour before the panel was due to start, early enough to be able to watch the Marvel Cup o’ Joe panel on the screen in the waiting room. During which some pretty cool announcements were made, as well as first public viewings of art from upcoming books. So figured I should start taking some pictures with my phone and share them on twitter, this started my adventure in live tweeting panels for the Talking Comics Twitter feed. Furious fingers were needed to keep up!

Quite a few people who were in line for the Batman panel were let in to the Cup o’ Joe, sadly we were a few people short of getting in ourselves, but it meant we were at the head of the queue. Not long before the Cup o’ Joe panel ended, Justin got a text from Jacqui saying she was a few minutes away. Justin told me to stay put, he would go and find Jacqui and explore with her for an hour and catch up with me after the panel.
The room cleared and they prepare to let people in for the Batman panel, I’d have to make for the front of the hall and hope I could get myself a prime seat. But alas! That wouldn’t be necessary; Lauren and Grace were in the Cup o’ Joe panel, Lauren contacted me via twitter and said they were keeping me a seat. Bless them! I was hugely thankful to them for doing that for me, such kind ladies. I managed to find them without too much problem and take my seat, thanking them many times over for helping me out. A guy, whose name I didn’t catch, appeared on stage to warm the audience up; he did a great job of it too. The room had a great energy by the time the panellists took their seats. It’s fair to say it was a panel packed with extraordinary talent; up on stage we had Geoff Johns, Kevin Conroy, Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Scott Snyder and Jim Lee.

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What followed was an hour of people who had shaped the recent history of Batman, discussing each era of the 75 years of Batman’s history. The panellists shared what each era meant to them, who their favourite villains are and teased a little of what the future might hold. There was even a vote, instigated by Neal Adams, as to how best to pronounce Ra’s Al Ghul. Neal’s preference (pronounced as it was in Batman Begins) lost out to the more phonetic method, he told the room that it was wrong with a massive grin on his face. Scott Snyder discussed how The Dark Knight Returns isn’t just his favourite comic, it’s his favourite book ever, and the room erupted when he said this! Other highlights were Kevin Conroy sharing his stories of how people have said to him that his work on Batman: The Animated Series got them through some really tough times in their childhoods. He touched upon one young boy telling him that the show had helped him get through a family tragedy; Kevin said he told the boy to remember that the spirit of Batman is to “never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up.” It’s always wonderful to hear stories like that from someone in his position, comics and their stories, whether their told on page or screen, can sometimes have a really positive impact!

For my first big panel at a major convention, that was a great place to start. It was fantastic to see such an array of talent talking passionately about a character I’ve loved for years. After the panel ended, I thanked Lauren and Grace about a thousand times more for being so thoughtful and promised I’d see them again before the show’s end, then shot off to catch up with Justin and Jacqui. On my way out I had a massive stroke of luck and bumped into none other than Geoff Johns as he was leaving the panel room. “Geoff! Can I just get a quick pic with you please, buddy?” he was more than happy to oblige and even took a moment to ask me where I’m from and wish me well for the rest of the show. What a nice dude!

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By the time I’d found them it was time for Justin’s last interview of the show, with a man who is somewhat of a legend in the industry, Len Wein. A label that’s justified when you take into account he co-created Swamp Thing, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus as well as acting as editor for The Watchmen series. The subject of the interview would be Len’s work on adapting a script from the Adam West Batman TV that never made it onto the screen. I did my best to take a few photos and again got out of the way once I’d done so. As you can see, it’s not the best photo ever, but it’s okay given how far away I was and the fact I wanted to get out of the way quickly!

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Justin seemed really happy with how the interview went and he wasn’t wrong, he did a great job, be sure to check it out if you haven’t already.

By the time the interview was done it was past 3pm and we hadn’t had any lunch. As Winnie the Pooh would say, there was one hell of a ‘rumbly in my tumbly’ (what? Don’t act like you don’t love Pooh!), what were we to do?! That’s right! We headed to the empanada stand to partake in more of their delights. I still wasn’t tired of them, they were mighty tasty. I got my usual bounty of one beef and one chicken empanada and stood rejoicing in their culinary genius, whilst telling Justin and Jacqui all about the Batman 75 panel. Jacqui said she was overwhelmed by the insanity of the convention, she wasn’t alone in feeling that way because she’s right, Saturday at NYCC is absolutely bonkers. Even Justin who’d experienced it before said it seemed even crazier than ever before.

Our merry trio was made a quartet when Melissa joined us. Steve was around and about doing his thing and didn’t need her assistance as much that day. I was looking forward to spending some more time with her as our meeting the day before was brief. First thing I did was compliment her on her dress, it was pretty damn cool! She also had a huge art book that she’d bought under her arm, which looked like it was a stunning find. Justin took a selfie of us all, as is the social convention these days to mark the occasion and then we set off for a few laps of Artist Alley.

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As we’re walking around, I spot Ryan Stegman and he has a sign saying he’s doing 5 minute sketches for $60, I was incredibly tempted but he had a few people around him. I had a black variant copy of Superior Spider-Man #1 that Rob had kindly gave me (kindness is a recurring theme with Rob!) which was perfect for him to draw on. I took note of the fact that he was there and doing that and we kept walking around.

Melissa and I walked around together, talking up a storm and keeping an eye out for her friend Menton from 44 Flood as she wanted to show him her new tattoo of Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan. He was nowhere to be seen every time we passed by the table, sadly. After a short while we found Jacqui and Justin again and I mentioned to Justin about Ryan Stegman doing sketches. He encouraged me to take the plunge at get one done, so I figured I do the smart thing and listen to him. Justin and I headed over to Ryan’s table and after a little wait it was my turn, I gave him my black variant and asked him if he could go a recreation of Spidey’s pose from the cover of Superior Spider-Man #1. He set a timer to count down the 5 minutes, we both stood there in awe as he proceeded to work his magic. Watching an artist at work like that is a sight to behold and it’s not like he was concentrating solely on sketching, either. He was talking to us the whole time, asking questions and making jokes as well as interacting with another guy who came to the table. Being someone who struggles to even draw a decent stick-man, watching that for me was equal to witnessing something like Gandalf fighting the Balrog, equally mind boggling and impossible to me! When Stegman was finished and the 5 minutes were up, he signed the bottom of his work and mentioned that the original colourist for that cover, Edgar Delgado, was at a table across the room and would do some colours on the sketch for $50. I thank Ryan and get my photo taken with him; he seemed like a really cool dude. Off to Edgar Delgado’s table we went!

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I dropped off the sketch with Edgar Delgado and he says to come back later to collect it. The four of us join back up and Melissa says there’s a few areas on the show floor she’d like to get to and we tell her to lead the way. That’s a job that’s pretty tricky on a Saturday at NYCC, because it’s wall to wall people, quite literally! We managed to squeeze our way onto the show floor and slowly make it to the booth that Melissa wanted to get to, she stopped to get something signed that she’d bought as a gift and then we carried on up the show floor.

The baffling thing about a convention on this scale is that after two days of walking it, you’d think you’d seen all of the booths, retailers and independent creators that the main floor has to offer. How wrong I was, as we walked around I constantly spotted things I hadn’t seen, this was a convention first for me. I have to admit that every other con I’d been to had become a little stale after a day and a half or so, and most of those were two-day events! It’s fair to say at this point, nearly at the end of the third day of NYCC, that I’d never once been anywhere near bored. That’s how much there is to see and do.

We stopped by the Image Comics booth quickly, so Melissa can say to her friend who was working it. Justin and Jacqui took the opportunity to run up to the press area for a rest stop. We head off to carry on our way, we spot Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky at one end of the booth, goofing around and generally being incredibly silly as you’d expect. Those guys are like a pair of mischievous kids when they’re together; it’s so funny to watch their rapport in action up-close. One of my favourite photos from the weekend captured them pretty well!

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Melissa and I walked around the tables at the top end of the show floor, cracking wise at things we see and had great fun. I took a photo of her with a Gollum statue and we discussed the finer points of some of the action figures we saw (important stuff!). I loved every second of being able to spend time with her. I can’t speak highly enough of Melissa; she’s great company, as were all the other people whose paths I crossed.
Justin and Jacqui joined back up with us and we decided to find a relatively quiet spot somewhere, which took a bit of doing! Eventually we found a nice, carpeted spot to sit down and record our wrap-up for the day. After being on the Talking Comics podcast (which was an honour) and also the Talking Games podcast (again with the honour) I was feeling a little more comfortable with speaking into a microphone now. I think we did a pretty damn fine job of our wrap-up for the day.

We wrapped up the wrap-up (all the wrapping) and the time came to say goodbye to Melissa, she was headed off to meet back up with Steve. But we’d be seeing her a little later for a drink at TGI Friday’s at Penn Station.
The last task for the day was to head back to Artist Alley to collect the coloured sketch from Edgar Delgado. Jacqui, Justin and I shuffled through the masses and it was a journey worth making. I was pretty damn pleased with how the coloured sketch turned out, see for yourselves:

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We left the Javits and headed to TGI Friday’s in Penn Station for a quick drink and some food. Whilst there we got to meet another member of the Talking Comics community Aaron Amos. He’s such a nice dude and I’m extremely glad I got chance to meet him, sadly only briefly. We had hoped to meet up on Sunday, but the chance never arose. Next time, as long as he’s there, I’ll make a point of getting to spend more time with him. Melissa, Steve and few others arrived shortly before we had to leave.

Jacqui, Justin and I said our goodbyes and got ready to catch the train back to Long Island. Sadly this would be the last time I got to be in Melissa’s company. I gave her a massive hug and encouraged her to head over to my side of the pond (turns out she has friends here in Cardiff as well as me!). As cheesy as it sounds, it was a bittersweet moment, I was sad to be saying goodbye to her but it was a privilege to get to be in her company and share the convention with her.

That brought another wonderful and mind blowing day at NYCC to a close. 3 down, 1 more to go!

NYCC Day 4: Sunday

Sunday would be just myself and Rob, the singingest duo of convention attendees ever. Justin was exhausted and wanted to spend some time with his son, who he’d barely seen that week. So him staying at home was totally understandable.

On the train to Manhattan, I said to Rob that the one thing my convention had been lacking, was meeting the three people in comics I had my heart set on. As I mentioned before, I badly wanted to meet Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Kelly Sue DeConnick, but chances to do so hadn’t arisen. Granted partly due to poor forward planning on my part!

We knew that Snyder and Capullo were doing a signing at 11am. Which was perfectly timed, if we could get tickets for that it would be done in time to attend the first of the two (we ended up seeing four, as you’ll find out later!) panels we hoped to attend, which was the Women of Marvel Panel. We get through the doors of the convention centre and charge as fast as we can over to Artist Alley where the DC signing booth, this was last chance saloon level stuff! It took us no time at all to get there and we ask the lady at the booth if there are any tickets left, “sorry, there aren’t, all 80 tickets went in like, two minutes.” Needless to say, we were both gutted, my last chance to meet two of the three people I’d wanted to more than any others had gone. We trudged off in the direction of the show floor and a brain wave hit me, Lauren had kindly said to me before that if there were any signings in the VIP area that I wanted to go to, to let her know and as long as she didn’t need her pass for a little while, I could make use of it. I sent her a DM on twitter and she replied saying that Scott and Greg were due to sign in the VIP area about 45 minutes from now, but her pass wasn’t free because she had a panel to attend, but she had an idea. This was it, a foot in the door that I’d previously thought had slammed shut. It was worth a shot, the VIP area was within the press area, which Rob and I just so happened to have passes for today. We rushed up to the press area and meet up with Lauren and Grace, I thank them from the bottom of my heart for coming up with this idea, not the first time they’d been incredibly kind to me during the convention. They explained that although nothing was guaranteed, if Rob and I stayed around in the press area, maybe Scott and Greg will pass through on their way to the VIP signing. Grace was even so kind as to give me one of her Sharpie pens, just in case they did appear and they didn’t have any. She also took the time to add some flair to our passes with some stick-on googly eyes! I thank them many times over for helping me with this and they head off. Now, Rob and I would have to wait.

There were twenty minutes left before the start of the VIP signing, Rob and I placed ourselves strategically so we could see both ends of the press area and the wait began, I was SO nervous. I sat at a table, with my copies of Batman issues #1 and# 35 and Wytches issue #1 at the ready, tapping my foot impatiently. Rob and I looked over at each other now and then across the room, shrugging our shoulders. Time went on and the start of the signing was only five minutes away and I started to lose hope. Maybe there was a guest entrance to the VIP area we didn’t know about so they wouldn’t pass us!

Two minutes to go until the signing and I look at Rob and shake my head. We’d pretty much resigned ourselves to this being a bust. I take another glance over to the stairs that lead up into the press area and see the top of a bald head, then black sunglasses, the the telltale sign that it was who I hoped it was, a Black Label Society hoody. GREG CAPULLO WAS COMING UP THE STAIRS!! I shouted across the room “Rob!!” and gesticulate towards the stairs with my head and his face lit up. “Go, dude!” he shouted back, I gathered up my stuff with the Sharpie at the ready and rushed over.

How I managed to get any words out is beyond me, Scott Snyder was a few feet behind Greg, but was speaking on his phone so I approached Greg. “Hi, Greg, I know you guys are on your way to a signing, but could I ask you to sign a couple of books and have a quick photo with me, please?” I had kind of prepared myself for him to say they didn’t have time, which would have been fair enough, I was stopping them on their way to a pre-arranged appearance after all. Greg smiled and said “Yeah man, sure we can, once this loser gets off the phone,” he nodded in Scott’s direction and Scott gave him a wry smile. Right now, inside I freaked the fuck out, my hands were shaking and my heart was pounding. As I mentioned earlier, these guys are the comic book equivalent of Bruce Springsteen in my eyes and here they were taking time out to stop for me!! Greg pulls a pen out and signs my Batman books and asks what the other book I had was in case I wanted it signed, I show him my copy of Wytches, he laughs and says “well, I could sign that, but I don’t think Scott would be too happy!” By that time Scott was done on the phone and he comes over “hey man, good to meet you” and he shook my hand. SCOTT SNYDER SHOOK MY HAND! He signed my books and they both talk to me for about two or three minutes, asking where I’m from and if this is the first time I’ve been to NYCC. Rob tells them that by stopping for me, they just elevated how good my convention experience is by an exponential amount. “He came here to meet you guys, you just made his whole trip,” and the best part was that Scott and Greg seemed genuinely humbled that me meeting them meant that much. You hear them referred to as the nicest people in comics, it’s not just words I assure you. The icing on the cherry on the cake comes when they have their photo taken with me, I still get goosebumps when I look at the picture now. I shake their hands again and thank them for their work and taking the time (by now I’d made them late for the signing!) to stop for me and they went on their way to the VIP area.

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What a moment! Rob took me to one side and I just stood there in a daze. He looked so happy for me and said “dude, that was so fucking cool!” My ever so eloquent response, still in fanboy heaven was “yeah, it was.” Rob was right, it was a moment I’ll savour and it was made all the more special by the fact that he was there to share it with me.

That was one hell of a way to start the day, and it the amazing moments would just keep on coming. Ready for more? You’re damn right you are!

I composed myself, put the comics back in their individual bags and then into my backpack. I said to Rob that scratching two of the big three people I wanted to meet off my list had me pretty happy. Especially seeing as how I’d lost all hope of meeting any of them. At that moment, I pretty much resigned myself to Kelly Sue being out of reach this time. We still had some great panels lined up for the rest of the day and we decided to walk the show floor for the hour so we had spare before we needed to get in line.

As a set-up for the next part, I’ll tell you about Bob and how it is trying to find him at a con. Being a man who doesn’t have a mobile (cell) phone, the only way you can catch him is when he’s at home on his landline or via email. We had no pre-arranged plans to catch him at the convention and we hadn’t even laid eyes on him the day before, so the odds of what happened next must have been pretty slim.

We get to the bottom of the stairs that lead into the press area and I stop, for no apparent reason and look to my right. It is no embellishment of how this occurred when I say that through the sunlight that was shining through that end of the building, came a figure. As it got closer, it became evermore familiar, I realise who it is and tap Rob on the arm, “dude, look, it’s Bob!” He was striding towards us with a purpose and smiles as he sees we’re there. It was great to see him, having not seen him at all the day before and not being sure we would today, happening across him like that was a great stroke of luck.
Bob was obviously on his way somewhere, given the purposeful way he was walking. He’s mentioned to me a few times in the past that he makes coffee runs at NYCC for Kelly Sue DeConnick and that he helps her out where he can (because Bob’s bloody wonderful like that). I spot that he has a coffee in his hand I get a flutter of excitement and ask “is that for who I think it’s for?!” Bob smiles and says “it is indeed,” I ask if it’s okay if Rob and I can come along, I hadn’t any notion of meeting her in my mind, even just saying hello would be a bonus. Bob smiles, “of course you can!” and we set off apace to the Image booth.

We get to the booth and Kelly Sue was there with a girl, maybe early twenties at the most and this girl is opening her heart to Kelly Sue. I could hear a little of what she said, but I won’t share it as isn’t my place to, she’d been through a tough time. The poor girl was in floods of tears and Kelly Sue clasped both of the girls hands in her own, looked her in the eye and said to her that no matter what happens, better times will come. I had to turn away, partly because I didn’t want to eavesdrop and also because I was welling up. I looked at Bob, put my hand on his shoulder and said “that’s amazing.” Kelly Sue even went as far as to give the young lady her personal email address and told her that if she ever feels that way again, to contact her and they’ll get her through it.

You hear stories of Kelly Sue, the things she does for her fans and how big a heart she has. They’re not just stories, she really is that wonderful and it was a hugely touching moment to witness. She gave the girl a hug and said goodbye to her, then she turns and spots Bob with her coffee. “Oh, Bob, you’re an angel, thank you so much. Could I just ask one more favour, please?” Bob duly obliges and agrees to head to Artist Alley to collect a stack of promotional posters for her ‘Bitch Planet’ comic that’s out soon. Bob gives me his bag to hold so he can get through the crowds with a bit more ease, “I’ll be back in five minutes,” and he shoots off at speed. Whilst he was gone, Rob spots that they have copies of the ‘Pretty Deadly’ trade paper back and suggests we buy one each just in case we were lucky enough to maybe get one thing signed quickly. A great idea and worth taking the chance, for sure. I already had both ‘Captain Marvel’ # 1’s from the two volumes in my bag that I’d been carrying with me all through the con as well.

How he managed to get to Artist Alley and back so quickly defies belief, I don’t even think he took five minutes, he was that fast! Kelly Sue finished signing for the person she was with and beams a big smile at Bob, “bless you, Bob, thank you!” Bob hands her the posters and says to her he has someone he’d like her to meet, “this is my friend Huw, he’s here from Wales and is a big fan of yours.” With that, Kelly Sue stands up and shouts to the people in line to for her signing “please bear with me, guys. My friend has just run a few errands for me and I’d like to repay his kindness.” SAY WHAT?! She was stopping a ticketed signing for us. I felt the same rush of excitement that I had not thirty minutes ago with Snyder and Capullo. I’m hoping the massive smile on my face didn’t make me look a bit crazy, “hi, Kelly Sue” I blurt out. Then I fumble around in my bag, with the shaky fanboy hands back with a vengeance, for my Captain Marvel comics. I hand them to Kelly Sue and she sets about signing them, whilst doing that she asks me where exactly I’m from, if I’m enjoying the con, how I know Bob and even comments on how my name is “cute” when she writes a personalised message in my copy of Pretty Deadly. She happily signs and personalises Rob’s copy for him as well and I stand there in awe, how lucky we were for that to be happening! I really was in a state of utter disbelief of how the day had managed to throw these events at us so quickly.

After she was done signing our books, a little voice in my head said ‘go on, be cheeky’ and I ask her if I could get a hug. Boy did I ever get a hug! Kelly Sue gave me a bear-like squeeze. Mid-hug I said “thank you so much, you are amazing. You’re the best of the industry and I love your work.” She thanked me for my support and believing in what she does and then the time came, “okay, Kelly Sue, duck face selfie time!” She laughed and shouted “oh, hell yes!” and I got another photo that captures a moment that’ll long live with me and one that is set myself the goal of getting quite some time ago.

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I couldn’t even begin to fathom my luck, I’d gone from all but losing any shred of hope of meeting the three comic book creators I had my heart set on, to meeting all three in the space of an hour of arriving at the building. What a crazy turn of events, even writing this just makes my mind boggle at how all this managed to happen.

I shook Kelly Sue’s hand and thanked her for being so incredibly kind. Bringing a ticketed signing to a halt for us like that was amazing of her, I said goodbye and walked away in a daze. I couldn’t stop smiling, I grabbed Bob and put both hands on his shoulders, “thank you so much, Bob!” Words couldn’t do justice to my gratitude for what he’d just made happen for me, I was truly humbled and grateful to him. Yet again, Rob was so happy for me, that man has the kindest of kind souls.

I can’t thank Lauren, Grace and Bob enough for playing such a huge part in making those events happen. I’ll take this opportunity to show them my gratitude once more, THANK YOU, GUYS!

Rob and I parted company with Bob for what would prove a short time, he’d be back with us soon enough. Then we headed down to get in line ready for another first for Marvel, the Axel-in-Charge panel. It was to be the first time a current Marvel Editor-in-Chief had chaired a panel, so it was sure to be interesting. Luckily enough, the next panel in that same room would be the second of the two big panels I really wanted to attend at the convention, the Women of Marvel panel. Now, I’ll admit we didn’t really have plans to catch the Axel-in-Charge panel, it just so happened that it was before the Women of Marvel panel and if we attended that it meant we were guaranteed seats. This is something a lot of people do at conventions; they’ll attend a panel with no intention of paying attention just to get seats for the next. It’s a broken system that gets abused and means many people miss panels they want to see. However, once we realised what we were about to sit in on, our interest was piqued and were genuinely looking forward to it.

Bob joined us in the room and we’d managed to save him a seat, the lights dimmed and on to the stage came the panellists. An impressive array of talent sat at the front of the room, as well as Axel Alonso we had James Robinson, Kieron Gillen, Gerry Duggan, Phil Noto, Nick Spencer, Ales Kot, Charles Soule and joining them a little late, to rapturous applause from the entire room was G. Willow Wilson. My phone was out at the ready, logged into the TC Twitter feed and the live tweeting began. Over the next hour we heard Axel Alonso speak about how it’s a very exciting time to be Editor-in-Chief at Marvel. He mentioned that he would never have even considered twelve months ago that Rocket Racoon would be one of the most revered superheroes in the world, Wolverine would be dead, Iron Man would be a bad guy, Captain America would be African American and Thor would be a woman. I found it interesting for Axel to say that he felt that Marvel has no in-house style; they just search for the best stories, and then find the best talent to make the best comics possible.

After his opening talk, Axel began showing us covers to upcoming issues of books that had already been announced, including Thor, S.H.I.E.L.D., Superior Iron Man, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers and Deathlok. After warming the room up with that, the announcements came. We were told that Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez would be the team on volume 2 of Hawkeye, which was incredibly well received. What would happen with that book post Matt Fraction was something people had been talking about for a while, you could tell there was relief that it would be in good hands!

We heard briefly from each of the other panellists. Charles Soule told the room how it was incredibly hard for him to write the last few pages for the Death of Wolverine and announced the weekly Wolverines series. Nick Spencer introduced his new Ant-Man book, which was warmly welcomed by the audience and it’ll definitely be one to look out for. When James Robinson spoke about the impending end of Fantastic Four I was a little worried that Bob might pull a pitch fork from somewhere and storm the stage, his restraint is to be commended though! I don’t know if it was me, but the atmosphere in the room felt somewhat uncomfortable when Robinson was speaking, I really think the decision to have FF “go away for awhile” isn’t very popular at all.

Then we came onto the lady I’d been waiting to hear from ever since she walked into the room, Ms Marvel’s G. Willow Wilson. I absolutely adore this book and it was wonderful to hear Axel Alonso praise the book so highly, he mentioned that in his mind this book is a direct descendant of Spider-Man (a point Bob brought up long ago!) and he said he sees the book as the flagship title of Marvel Now! The room erupted when Axel said “Ms Marvel is here to stay.” Too right Axel, she sure is! G. Willow Wilson spoke about how she feels this book captures the times perfectly and may not have hit some so well a decade ago, she went on to praise Adrian Alphona and thanked everyone for helping the book reach such a large audience.

All in all, a really enjoyable panel with some very interesting announcements, the odd uncomfortable moment and I think it’s fair to say the way Axel Alonso spoke in this panel shows that Marvel has some very positive times ahead. The room cleared, we stayed in place and reserved some seats for Lauren and Grace ready for the Women of Marvel panel. I was excited for this!

What followed will be a hard act to follow for panels for every convention I go to from now on. Kelly Sue kicked things off before the panel even began by asking all Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel cosplayers to come to the front of the room. We ushered Lauren up, she looked fantastic in her Ms Marvel cosplay! Kelly Sue enlisted the help of the cosplayers to hand out some freebies, including patches from the Carol Corps celebration, they were to be given to anyone cosplaying as Carol or Kamala and people who could show they have a Carol Corps t-shirt. Luckily, I had a photo on my phone of me wearing mine the day before, Grace called Lauren over and yet again the two of them made something cool happen, I got my very own patch!

The cosplayers took their seats, Kelly Sue wasn’t done yet. She asked all aspiring female writers to stand up and what she said to them made me want to get out of my seat and punch the air. Kelly Sue said “So we can now dispel with all questions about ‘How do we get women to read comics?’ and ‘Do women read comics?’ That’s history, ok? Women have always read comics.”

“How many of you are currently or are aspiring to work in our industry? “I want you to stand up. Before you sit down, take a moment and look around at each other. You need community to do this. You need the support of one another. Making a living in any creative endeavour is very difficult and the most important bit of advice that we can give you is that you need to start. You need to start now. “Your first comics are going to suck, that is okay. The only way to get to those second and third comics is to write the first ones. The only way out of the woods is through. Don’t put them off. Showing up and doing the work is the hard part. Be brave. Do it. We believe in you and we are here for each other. We need your voices.”

The audience exploded when she was finished! WOW! The applause when on for at least a few minutes, the energy in there was awe inspiring. Another wonderful Kelly Sue moment, what an inspirational, giving, driven lady she is.

Not a bad way to warm up an audience for a panel, I think you’ll agree. The room settled and moderator Jeanine Schaefer went on to introduce the rest of the panel, which included Sana Amanat, Katie Kubert, Ellie Pyle, Emily Shaw, Judy Stephens, Stacey Lee, Adri Cowan, Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson, Margaret Stohl, Erica Henderson, Stephanie Hans, Sara Pichelli, and Jen Grünwald.

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This was by the most fun and engrossing panel I’ve ever been to. If anyone can witness something like that and say that women don’t read and aren’t passionate about comics and the industry then I’ll happily eat my shoes, all my hats and maybe even my sofa.

We got treated to some very cool art for the upcoming Gamora ongoing (seriously, check the cover out, it’s gorgeous). A book I’m very much looking forward to seeing as how it’s written by the co-writer of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Nicole Perlman. Margaret Stohl announced that she’s writing a Black Widow young adult novel, which got a great reception. Stohl also mentioned about the sexism she encountered in her time working in the games industry, it’s incredibly frustrating to hear that things like that still happen. Sana Amanat spoke after that story and told the women in the room to picture that moment if they ever feel like she did in that situation, “screw that. Every single time, remember this.” Lastly, I think many people will be jumping onto X-men when G. Willow Wilson writes a four-part story for the title, I know I will be!

The Q&A at the end of the panel was extremely interesting. So many young ladies asking how best to get ahead and asking what the trick to improving as a writer is. The sense of community and willingness to pull each other along in the room was so evident at that point. I really hope we get to see more female creators and characters in comics, because quite frankly they’re up there with the best. Stone cold fact. That will take some topping as my favourite panel ever, but there was one left for the day and for the convention.
I said goodbye to Bob and made sure to give both Lauren and Grace a big hug each and thank them for the millionth time (still not enough!) for helping to make my convention so special. We weren’t sure we’d see them again, which sadly we didn’t. Rob and I then headed to the room where the Spider-Verse panel would take place, we got in early and sat though the Twitch Town Hall panel. Then it was Spider-Verse time! Or as Nick Lowe says “Spider-Veeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrse.”

I think it’s fair to say that most of the people who are involved in the Spider-Man books are the good kind of crazy. From the editor, Nick Lowe to Dan Slott, they’re mad as a box of frogs!

Nick Lowe introduced the panel of Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Mike Costa, Robbie Thompson, Peter David, Christos Gage and Co-Editor Ellie Pyle.

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What followed had my fingers working like crazy trying to live tweet. There were so many announcement and art reveals that I literally could not tweet fast enough. I’d take a photo, start composing a tweet, then something else would pop up so I’d have to stop and get a photo of that, then carry on. It was a hoot! Two new titles that got everyone pretty excited were the Silk and Spider-Gwen (the cat was already out of the bag on the latter) ongoing books. We got to see a lot of art and information for the Spider-Verse event, Dan Slott’s answer to why Ms Marvel was appearing in the event was brilliant, he said “because it’s my favourite book coming out at Marvel right now, and I love it so much.” Slott is obviously a huge Kamala fan, he told us that he felt that she is the closest thing to the core of Spider-Man we have right now (again, Bob called it!). Lots of other new titles were announced, from Spider-Verse tie-in titles Spider-Verse Team-Up to the Spider-Verse anthology style book. We also got shown some of the books that’ll spin out of the Axis event, Axis: Hobgoblin and Axis: Carnage will see radical new takes on those two villains. Oh and we’ll also get to see and Amazing Aunt May story in the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, no doubt that’ll be good fun.

This came in second in terms of my favourite panels for the con. Some exciting news and fun from start to finish, interesting times lie ahead for the Spidey books. It’s easy to see that Marvel are putting a lot of effort into his corner of the Marvel Universe. As the panel ended, a lot of people surged to the front to get things signed, Rob being one of them! He made his way to the front with a copy of the convention programme, opened to the page with an advert for Amazing Spider-Man #9 and got it signed by Dan Slott. I started to feel a little tinge of sadness at this point, this was the final thing I would be doing at the convention, then Rob made me forget that by walking over with the signed programme, “here, I’ve already got his autograph” and he put it into my back pack. Just another example of the selflessness of the man!

So, that was it. My first ever NYCC was over and as we headed to the exit I made sure to look around and take it all in one last time. This was everything I’d spent the best part of a year hoping for and so much more, it surpassed my expectations and then some. We headed to Penn Station one last time to make the journey back to Long Island, I suddenly realised just how I tired I was a few minutes after sitting down. Rob and I were both exhausted, but it was so worth it. I’d had the time of my life.

WARNING: Mushy part coming!

I’d to thank every single person who I got to share the convention with. Everyone I mentioned, whether I spent minutes or hours with you, made my time at the convention absolutely wonderful. To be able to finally meet everyone after years of speaking mostly over twitter was an honour, to each and every one of you I extend my heartfelt thanks. This was the Talking Comics community showing itself in all it’s glory. Lauren, Grace, Melissa, Steve, Kyle, Ryan and Aaron, it was a thrill to meet you all!

Special thanks go to the people who kindly let me into their homes, Bob Reyer, Justin Townson, Bobby Shortle and Jacqui Turner. Your kindness, generosity and hospitality are humbling and I hope I can repay you all one day.

Lastly, the biggest of special, super massive, really large, I’m talking universe spanning thanks to the man who made it all possible, Mr Rob Neumeyer. You took me into your home for ten days and made me feel totally at welcome from the moment I stepped through the door. Your kindness, generosity and company were truly humbling. I really cannot express my gratitude to you properly. Thank you so, much!

If you’ve read this far, well done! I know this piece far from erred on the side of brevity, but I wanted to share with you the experience as best I could and do credit to what I saw and the people I was lucky enough to spend time with. Every thing that happened to me was the result of my involvement with Talking Comics, surely no better way to demonstrate what the TC crew have created for us! If the opportunity every presents itself for you to get to NYCC, I cannot recommend it highly enough, you’ll be sure to meet some wonderful folk there.

2 Responses

  1. Melissa Megan

    Huw, you are such a sweet heart! I had tons of fun this year, it was a particularly amazing year thanks to meeting all the new Talking Comics contributors, readers, listeners and friends. I’m so glad you had such a marvelous time and it warms my cynical old heart that I contributed to that. See you again, soon, my friend!

    • Huw Parry

      Awww thank you Melissa! It was so good to meet you. I loved every second of NYCC, it was mind blowing. So glad you had such a good time.
      Hopefully it won’t be too long before we meet again!

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