Monday, April 21, 2008

The Changing Face Of New York Comic Con

Convention guests were greeted by a giant Ugly Doll display upon first entering

If the big theme of San Diego Comic Con last year was regarding its "Hollywoodification," this year it must have been its heavy Japanese/youth culture influence.

The Biggest Star At The Con
The biggest thing that struck me about this convention was the heavy manga/Japanese culture presence, and how successful it was. I remember seeing this gigantic line bisect the convention floor, and wondering who everybody was waiting for. Neil Gaiman? Jim Lee? Ron Perlman?

No, they were waiting for Japanese pop singer T.M. Revolution. A good portion of those in line were Japanese, but certainly not all.

The line for Japanese pop sensation T.M. Revolution

But think about it -- how many of those people were mainstream comic book fans? Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, but I would assume not a tremendous amount. They came to New York Comic Con to see T. M. Revolution, whose elaborate Sgt. Pepper/David Bowie-type outfits were on display in a booth at the show. They also came to see the Gothic Lolita fashion show, and purchase manga and related items from the exhibitors dedicated to just those products.

Designer Toys
Another phenomenon that struck the convention? Designer vinyl toys and stuffed animals. These are limited-edition artist toys, often very "cartoony" in design, that can run an upwards of 100+ dollars; a number of these toys are Japanese in origin or influence. I saw more exhibitors showing off their brightly-colored designer toys than I did standard action figures. And honestly, had I the money, I'd have bought tons of them. I absolutely love that s**t. But back when I was collecting this stuff hard-core, about 5 years ago, I could rarely find them at cons. That has completely changed.

Even the Christie's auction house booth had a glass case filled with ultra-expensive vinyls.

NYCC: Now With More Females!
This is all not to say that superheroes -- standard capes and cowls -- were outshone at New York Comic Con this year. Of course the Marvel & DC booths were mobbed. But I assume the big turnout for T.M. Revolution, Gothic Lolita, the Japanese toy importers, the American independent designer toy makers, and the humongous booths for manga producers like TokyoPop will not go unnoticed by the convention organizers.

Also not to go unnoticed -- the heavy influx of of young women at this convention. Far far more heavier than last year. Certainly a portion are interested in mainstream Marvel & DC. But probably not the legion dressed in Gothic Lolita dresses, manga cosplay outfits, or screaming Milo Ventimiglia's name at the Devil's Due booth.

(But to be fair, OS reader Red Stapler -- big mainstream comic fan -- did snap a picture of herself with Milo. sigh, lucky...)


  1. team us is winning!

    i have a couple ugly dolls, actually; aquired as gifts, but adorable TO THE MAX.

  2. A sad part of the otherwise fantastic increase in female con attendance -- long lines at all the ladies' rooms.

  3. I so heart the Uglys! And I'm big into designer vinyl. Heh. Wish I could have made it up for the day.

  4. is THAT was that line was for? every time i wandered my way near it, i had to walk approximately five miles out of my way to go around it to get where i wanted to go--from my experience, those in line weren't too keen on letting people cut through, for any reason.

  5. I noticed that at the con as well, and I have to say I kind of enjoy the diversity. And considering the massive amount of floorspace at the con, It was nice that it wasn't just covered with all the same dealers selling the same Marvel Legends and Star Wars toys. There were other things to keep the floor from getting monotonous. I noticed the Molly Hayes style cute animal hates seemed to be a big hit in particular.

  6. Hee!

    That lucky snap happened on Friday afternoon. I only stayed in his line on Saturday, keeping my friend Lisa Spodak company while she waited to get a bear with him.

    You can see my adventure from Friday here!