Comic cons are back. David Maddox braved the Javits Center to see how last weekend's New York Comic Con would deliver a safe celebration of comics and movies under the pandemic cloud.

After more than a year of absence, the famous New York Comic Con burst back as a live event at its regular home at the Javits Center in New York City from October 7-10. Many such live events are doing their best to return to live, public gatherings, and a lot of trial and error has been and will be seen as we navigate a new COVID-19 world and do our best to keep safe while still trying to get back to a sort of normalcy.

Precaution-wise, NYCC partnered with the Clear app for all attending guests, professionals, and exhibitors, requiring proof of vaccination before entering the convention center. This was on par with most things in New York, as almost all indoor venues from restaurants to shows are now requiring such proof. However, after the initial first day check-in at an off-site location, all attendees were given a green wristband which carried them through to the end of the event.  


Once inside the multi-level Javits Center, the atmosphere was as busy as one would imagine for a comic-book convention in this era of pop-culture renaissance. Although there were a few markers on some of the floors, social distancing did not seem to be to much of a worry, but  masks were still mandatory. However, there were some unique adaptations from the fans. Themed masks were prevalent, and clear, see-through face coverings that were designed to show off face make-up were well represented. But many cosplayers took it to another level by incorporated the masks into their outfits, or at the very least matching them to their chosen style. Being New York, Spider-Man in all his costumes, was well represented, but the keen eye noticed that Loki ‘Variant’ cosplayers gave some still competition. 

While vendors, comic-book sellers, grading companies, toy licensors and distributors were present, almost none of the major studios showed up to the event. This definitely affected the vibe as there was no rush to see some big ‘unveil’ on the floor. While panels did fill up, and there were dozens of teaser trailer and sneak peeks screened, the usual mad convention scurry to be the first inside a room was much more subdued. Artists took the center stage in several venues. For those unfamiliar, unlike the San Diego Comic Con which has only done virtual events these last two years and usually confines their artists to the last few rows of its convention center, the extensive Artists Alley at NYCC got the entire bottom floor and was never at a loss for fans commenting, complimenting, and buying signed prints and original pieces. From Joe Simko signing posters for the new Garbage Pail Kids Mad Mike: Fury Load event at the Topps booth, to established artists like MAD Magazine Tom Richmond and Marvel/DC penciller Humberto Ramos selling their wares and doing commissions on the floor, this collection of established and up-and-coming talent remained the true stars of the show. 

Above all, there was a true feeling of hopeful optimism. One fan, at the community charging station provided by the convention center (a MUST in this day of portable devices), said, “I’m so glad we’re all back here. We all have something in common. We’re all nerds.” 

2020 provided a lesson in how quickly things can change, but the true nature of fandom and gathering to celebrate is a testament to how adaptable we can all be. There’s no telling what the field of conventions will look like next year, but what was clear about the return of the NYCC is that fans will find a way, be respectful of each other, and do what they can to continue to enjoy and celebrate their love for the popular arts. Everyone had a deep release of breath (behind a mask, of course) that we were able to celebrate our fandom once again.