NYCC Makes Smaller In-Person Return-By Nolan Cleary

Written by on December 8, 2021

After a year of delays, cancellations and virtual rearrangements following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Comic Con finally returned in person this October for the first time since 2019. While many comic conventions have been held throughout the country, allowing fans to meet famous guests, go to major panels and dress up as their favorite characters, NYCC has ranked as historically ranked the biggest in the nation, rivaled only by San Diego Comic Con, which cancelled its in-person convention earlier this year due to COVID. 

The pandemic, as well as the conversion of convention’s site, the Jacob Javits Center into a health facility, forced the con to go virtual last year, NYCC finally returned this year, albeit with reduced crowds. While COVID-19 concerns forced fans to continue wearing masks indoors, and show proof of vaccination upon entry, it also appears to have convinced some fans to stay home, as noticed by the lack of crowds at key events. Attendance rates were so low, that the convention didn’t sell out of Sunday tickets until two days into the con. 

Additionally, some of the bigger vendors opted not to make an appearance. Marvel and DC, both powerhouses in the superhero industry were noticeably absent from the event, as both companies instead chose to hold their own virtual conventions around the same time. Regardless, longtime fans of the convention still returned in costume for the much awaited event. Multiple cosplayers dressed up as some of their favorite characters. 

John Lopez dressed up as Spider-Man at the event. Lopez told The Xperience he felt a deep passion for the character. “I’ve been into Spider-Man for as long as I can remember. Like a lot of the people, I feel these characters inspire people for different reasons,” Lopez said. 

This year was Lopez’s first time at the convention. He said he was blown away by the size compared to other conventions. “It’s overwhelming. It’s definitely one of the bigger cons I’ve been to. Definitely a nice, spacious area, everything’s where it’s not too close together because a lot of the cons I’ve been to make you claustrophobic. So, it’s definitely a lot bigger, a lot more fun,” Lopez said. 

Additionally, multiple vendors throughout the convention floor also showed up to the convention. Graham Hoppe represents Jack Kirby Museum, which commemorates the works of artist Jack Kirby, who co-created characters like the Avengers, Captain America, the X-Men and others. Posters and t-shirts were sold by them as apart of Kirby’s legacy. Hoppe said he hopes people learn about Kirby’s legacy. 

“We hope they learn about what a powerful creative person he was. That he didn’t spend his career drawing other people’s ideas,” Hoppe said. Hoppe, who had been to NYCC before, said this year marked a welcomed return. 

“It’s great to be back, and we’ve changed our location here on the floor in the Javits Center. I can definitely see that the booths are more spread out and the aisles are wider. There’s occasionally clumps of too many people,” Hoppe said. 

Some comic creators hoped to get more people interested in their works. Benny Powell was introducing his new comic, White Widow, a part of his Absolute Universe line of books, which was previously unveiled for the first time at a previous NYCC event. Powell said he was most looking forward to seeing fan reactions to the event. 

“I used to live here, so it’s a nice comeback,” Powell said. Powell did say he wished however that more fans were vaccinated so that masks would no longer be required by the Javits Center. 

“I think they’ve taken as many precautions as they can. We have a vaccine and obviously if everyone took the vaccine we’d be much further along, and obviously we wouldn’t have to wear masks,” Powell said. 

Some major panels did appear at the convention this year. An exclusive panel for the Wheel of Time, the upcoming Amazon Prime series was held. The series, based on the best-selling series of books by Robert Jordan about a world where only women are able to wield magic. Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominated actress Rosamond Pike stars in the lead role. 

The panel itself was a pre-recorded Q&A, with Pike and other members of the cast taking questions. At the panel, an exclusive clip from the series was shown. “Historically I’m not a big fan of fantasy, but this changed my mind and traditionally any main character in a fantasy story is a man, so the fact that the mysterious person comes to town, and she’s a woman,” Pike said. 

Additionally, the cast of The Boys, the hit show on Amazon Prime now on its second season, and soon to come out with its third season, made an appearance. Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Jack Quaid, Karen Fukuhara and Chace Crawford appeared on stage respectively. 

“The first time we came to New York Comic Con, no one knew what this show was,” Quaid said to a crowded group of enthusiastic fans at the panel. 

Other guests at the convention included William Shatner, just one week before he became the oldest man to go into outer space. WWE superstar John Cena appeared for autographs, as did Hayden Christianson, who appeared as a young Darth Vader in the Star Wars prequels. 

George Takei appeared at a spotlight panel, and Stranger Things star David Harbor showed up to do autographs and photo opportunities. Other major movies made an appearance at the convention. 

On Friday night, during a panel for the upcoming film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, director Jason Reitman surprised an enthusiastic group of fans with a screening of the entire cut of the movie. The film is set to debut to the general public November 19. 

Another highly anticipated film, Dune was also screened at the convention. The upcoming sci-fi epic takes place in a distant future, where a young boy who is fit to take his father’s throne must fight armies of other worlds for the land he inhabits. The film is slated for wide release October 22. 

One key addition was the Empire stage, now the biggest stage at Comic Con, and meant to store hundreds of people. The addition opened early this year to the Javits Center, and became the go to area for major panels at 2021’s New York Comic Con. 

Some prominent artists were also featured at the convention like Marvel Comics artist Juan E. Ferreyra. Ferreyra talked to The Xperience exclusively. Ferreyra, who has been going to NYCC for seven years, said the con’s in person return is completely welcomed. 

“It’s amazing. I just couldn’t wait for it. Especially because artists are lonely all the time, they work alone, and seeing their faces, seeing their reactions is amazing,” Ferreyra said. 

Ferreyra said he hoped the convention served as an escape for fans from the pandemic. “Try to be out. Try to forget about COVID,” Ferreyra said. “Face to face is the best thing.”


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