New York Comic Con 2019 is a wrap, and as per usual, it was a heck of a thing. It was four days of insanity and crowds at the increasingly taxed Javits Center, although with the ICv2 whitepaper on Monday and creators setting up/everyone getting together/HBO doing a Watchmen event on Wednesday, you could argue it almost stretched to six days in reality. That is, in my opinion, too much comic convention, which is why I ended up taking Sunday off from the con floor to eat some absurdly good food and go to the American Museum of Natural History.
But within all of that convention comes a considerable amount of discussion on the floor, at dinner tables and at the bar about what was working and what wasn’t. As much as I enjoyed spending time with some of the finest folks from the comic book world and acquiring their wares in the process, there were plusses and minuses throughout. So in lieu of a detailed essay about the ins and outs of the convention, I’m going to break down the winners and losers of NYCC 2019 from my perspective. It’s a way to touch on a bit of everything, but also to dig into everything from the big performance based things to nitty gritty con details.
But enough prelude! Let’s dig into everything that stood out, and we’ll start on the positive side of things in my favorite part of the convention floor.
Winner: Artist Alley
One of the strangest things about Saturday at the con – typically the busiest day of the whole experience – is during what traditionally are peak times, you could actually walk around the main show floor without people sandwiched between a thousand other people. Maybe that was because everyone was at one of the other locations NYCC set up shop at. Maybe it was because they were all at panels. Or maybe Saturday was just calmer this year. But I’ll tell you one thing: Artist Alley was as packed as ever.
In fact, Artist Alley was basically wall-to-wall from noon to five at a minimum each day I was there, loaded with excited fans and the massive lines they formed. But it wasn’t just smoke; there was fire as well. There wasn’t a single creator I talked to who was having a bad con, with every person sharing with me that there was a whole lot of interest in whatever they were selling: prints, commissions, pins, comics, trades. You name it and it was moving. There were creators who were cleaned out of everything they had by Saturday. That’s pretty sensational.
The general hubbub is while San Diego is still the biggest name, nothing can top what NYCC brings to the table in terms of sales for creators. That’s probably why it’s always such a hotly pursued table each year, but either way, it was wonderful to see Artist Alley thriving and creators seemingly finding all of that work worth it in the end.
Winner: The Kings and Queens of Artist Alley
Ask a different person who was walking the floor and you might get a different answer, but as I relentlessly toured Artist Alley, a few creators started to stand out in terms of popularity. This was perhaps unfortunate for their neighbors, as a long line for one creator largely results in a human barricade for another. Mercifully, most of these creators were placed into a corner spot, allowing for their respective lines to have a relatively limited impact on their neighbors. That wasn’t the case universally, but it was more often than not. Here’s who stood out to me, at least in the times I was at the con:
Daniel Warren Johnson: His Old Man Skywalker mini-comic was clearly a hot ticket item, and he probably could have sold it while charging basically whatever he wanted for it. Instead, he made it pay what you want, and he was out of all copies (of that and his other minis) by Saturday. At that point, all he could offer for sale were sketches, which, if you know anything about my guy DWJ, are outrageously great. That’s a pretty good consolation prize.
Jen Bartel: When I got to the con on Saturday, I noticed that there were several long lines forming in the center of one row between tables. When I saw them, I wondered to myself, “Wow, who are these different lines for?” Turns out it was all the same person: Jen Bartel! With hot ticket con exclusives and the usual deluge of exceptional pins and prints, there was no point during the con that Bartel’s table didn’t have a line at least ten deep, seemingly.
The creators of Deadpool: I only saw Fabian Nicieza there but from what I understand, Rob Liefeld was there as well, and both were doing quite well for themselves. In fact, Nicieza routinely had an absurdly long line – I’m going to say at least 20+ deep every time I walked by – which is at least one indicator that the Deadpool heat ain’t going away any time soon.
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo: This beloved creative team is typically popular, but with the two of them sharing a space, the whole thing was taken to an entirely different level. Their line was more a mosh pit than proper line, a sea of bodies that made it hard to discern where it began or ended but made it easy to see how popular these two giants are. Weird fact, though: I didn’t see either of them at their table once.
Tom King: Hilariously, the Comic Sketch Art management group put Snyder and Capullo basically directly across from Tom King, ensuring that the end of one row in Artist Alley was outrageously packed at all times. While King’s Strange Adventures (and previously Mister Miracle and Sheriff of Babylon, for one) partners Mitch Gerads and Doc Shaner had some area of effect when it came to King – Gerads was routinely slammed as well – King was a degree or two busier than them at all times. The guy may be moderately controversial on Comics Twitter, but he is hot hot hot at cons.