The NYCC Survival Guide

New York Comic Con is Manhattan’s ultimate fan convention. The Javits Center sees 116,000 people pass through its doors; and for the prepared fan, this is the place to soak up world premiere trailers; full-length movies; insights into the comic industry’s future; speaker panels from the entertainment world’s biggest names; video games and consoles still months from debut; and much more. The sensory overload can make it difficult to stay focused on the important things, like the new Archie – Zombie comic mashup. (Yup, the undead apocalypse is headed to Riverdale.)

With that in mind, here’s our survival guide to get you through the next four days:

Arrive Early, Grasshopper

After Thursday’s press/industry day, doors open to the public Friday through Sunday at 10 a.m. From midday onwards expect a sea of humanity. Saturday is the busiest day, with more people in one space than you’ll likely see anywhere else. Sunday is dubbed family day. Remarkably, everyone gets in without long waits — probably because security is perplexed as to how one searches someone carrying an arsenal of plastic cos-play weaponry.

Plan Your Attack

Other than cloning yourself 100 times over to see everything, you’ll need a plan to effectively browse the football field-sized trade floor housing the newest collectibles, comics, books, toys and more coming from the industry heavyweights, and have time to hit the panels you want to attend. Comic Con exhibitors debut exclusives that won’t hit stores for months and companies such as Kotobukiya debut stunning DC– and Marvel-themed statues that sell out early.

Pro-tip: Get your shopping in Friday and Saturday morning before the panels, then hit the trade floor again on Sunday afternoon for deals.

Get Smart With Panels and Screenings

Panels and screenings are easily NYCC"s main attraction. This is where entertainment giants will hold in-depth discussions and Q&As with fans that can last up to an hour and draw giant lines. Want to see the cast and makers of The Walking Dead this year? Expect to wait at least 2 hours in a line a mile long. No joke. The speakers scheduled this year number in the high hundreds, including David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, Kevin Smith, Sylvester Stallone, George A. Romero, Sigourney Weaver, Patrick Stewart, Neal Adams, Hulk Hogan, Darryl DMC McDaniels of Run DMC, Method Man, Lloyd Kaufman, BJ Novak, Chloe Grace Moretz, and the cast members of just about every show that you love and the the list goes on.

Pro-tip: Try venturing to the smaller panels. For instance, a brand-new documentary on the making of Return of The Jedi will be premiered, and you’ll get to see what the youngest and brightest are prepping for companies such as DC and Marvel. Keep in mind that organizers allow attendees to keep their seats between scheduled panels (it’s due to the fire code) so planning carefully might mean you’ll be able to hang out through a couple of talks while waiting for the one you’re most keen to see (the main theatre has food inside and re-entry after using the bathroom).

Check Out the Indies

If you’re interested, you can see spectacular art, comics and toys on display from companies and individuals a little left of the mainstream. Pro-tip: Visit "Artists Alley" — some of your favorites will be there, plus new comic talent. The caliber of work to be seen is truly inspirational.

Support Local Vendors

Many local NY businesses such as Toy Tokyo show at Comic Con, and some even bring in artists who design amongst the wealth of the popular adult collectible markets of vinyl toys, often creating work on the spot and signing merchandise. A personalized Bearbrick might look quite nice on your bookshelf.

Get Crazy for Costumes

Forget Halloween in NY. Attendees don some of the most creative costumes you will ever see from the world of comics, movie and popular culture, and cosplayers make up almost half the ticket sales. Almost everyone is happy to stop and pose, and eager snappers can form the same mob you’d see around celebrities.

Pro-tip: Keep in mind these guys are also sometimes trying to get to panels and shows. And things can get a little revealing with anime and superhero costumes usually revealing a lot of flesh. Don’t stare. It’s creepy.

Remember That Rent Is Due Soon

Whether you’re an avid comic collector, the young, hip professional type who decorates with vinyl statues and movie posters instead of Ikea products, or a casual toy enthusiast, you’re going to spend and you’re going to spend big: Action #1 – featuring the first appearance of Superman, or Amazing Fantasy #15 – first appearance of Spiderman – go for more than most make in a year. There is simply SO MUCH to see that it’s impossible to not to get carried away. Just remember that rent day is only a couple of weeks after the event.

Food Is Important For Survival

There is an abundance of food on site but it’ll be pricey. Pro-tip: Stock up at nearby sandwich shops and delis where you can down a massive sandwich at a local deli instead of a $5 slice of pizza. The lines won’t be too long, and it’s nice to get outside for half an hour and remember the real world still exists.

Autographs Aren’t (Always) Free

Grabbing an autograph from someone like Anthony Daniels (C3P0) or Spiderman creator Stan Lee will cost you two things – time and money. Like the panels, lines will be long depending who you’re after, and some do charge for an autograph. Be prepared!

But most of all, enjoy the experience. This is the second-largest event staged annually in New York, and even with four days of attendance there is more than you can possibly see; and the positivity and passion shown amongst attendees is an attraction unto itself.

*Photos by Andrew Boyle

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