My first con of the year!
I’d never heard of Big Apple Comic Con before, but it proudly boasts that it’s the longest-running comic/sci-fi/fantasy/pop culture convention in NYC. After doing some reading, I found out that it had gone by many names over the years but is now run by Wizard (more in my blog about Wizard World) and is still overseen by original founder Michael Carbonaro. Long story short, I didn’t know if this event would be big, small, organized, or a trainwreck. All I knew was that there was quite a list of comic book guests!
The convention itself was located at Penn Plaza Pavilion / Hotel Pennsylvania, just behind Penn Station in NYC. Entry was slow when doors opened because the space was so cramped. I don’t know how many attendees there were but it felt like trying to get to the other side of a small high school with only 1 minute between classes. The show floor itself had very little variety but I can tell that it was trying to be a very comic-centered show, which is good for people who are looking for specific issues (especially vintage). But as far as collectibles go, it was hit or miss.
Major guests and autographing/photos were located on the top floor of the hotel, about a couple minutes away of indoor walking from the show floor in the Pavilion. It wasn’t a very obvious route but if they hold it here every year, it’ll be easier to navigate in the future. But onto the guests:
My primary reason for going was for Spencer Wilding who played the new Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He was the first guest I tracked down for an autograph and it was easy because he stands at a mere 6’7″! Immediately, I was glad that I didn’t purchase the $200 Star Wars VIP pass which included: 2-Day 9:30 Early Admission Collectible Badge, 1 VIP Line Cut for Spencer Wilding, 1 Signed Vintage Star Wars Comic Book signed by Howard Chaykin, 1 Star Wars Print by Brian Kong, 1 Autograph from Spencer Wilding, 1 Photo Op with Spencer Wilding, and VIP Seating for Spencer’s Panel.
The reason I was glad was because I wasn’t able to attend the 2nd day in the end, and additionally I actually won an Instagram contest for the 2nd day which I ended up not being able to claim anyway! Plus his panel was on Sunday, the line cut to meet Spencer would have been a waste because there was no line… and Howard Chaykin was offering autographs for free. So instead of $200, I spent $30 for a standard pass. Meeting Spencer was a quick 2 minutes and I got my Rogue One figure signed for $40:
Next up was legendary voice actor Neil Kaplan! Neil had to last-minute cancel his appearance at Newark Comic Con last year, so I was very glad I was finally able to meet him. He’s worked on Voltron, Transformers Robots In Disguise, World Of Warcraft, League Of Legends, StarCraft II… And not only that, Star Wars The Old Republic, Knights Of The Old Republic, and Galactic Battlegrounds! Can’t say enough about this guy. He’s talented, hilarious, and sincerely cares about his fans (especially on Twitter)! Got my Grenade Battle Droids signed! Roger Roger!
And originally, that was it. I wasn’t very interested in the other guests attending but I didn’t mind if I got to meet them. Stan Lee was on the bill but two days before the event he cancelled due to a sudden illness. Fans were disappointed but, of course, wished him a speedy recovery and then were extremely surprised to see his quick replacement from the realm of DC Comics: Jim Lee (heavily responsible for Marvel’s X-Men’s classic blue suits in the early 90s, DC’s New 52 Justice League, as well as Gen13 & WildC.A.T.s)! Jim would fly into New York for 3 hours to sign FREE autographs for fans. Not only that, Frank Miller (creator of 300, Sin City, Daredevil’s Elektra, Dark Knight Returns…) who was originally scheduled only for Sunday also decided to appear during the same time slot! It was a Comic Con miracle!
I tried my best looking for a DK III comic for Jim Lee & Frank Miller to sign, but I was unsuccessful. This didn’t matter though, since Frank ended up signing only on Sunday. But I did manage to get 3 of my comics signed by Jim: Wolverine #24 (1990), X-Men Series 1 #1 (1992), and X-Men Annual Shattershot Part 1 (1992 – and a childhood comic I’ve had since then).
Not only that, I got him to sign my obscure replica of X-Men Series 1 #1 Magneto variant cover on a card by Toy Biz, which is super nostalgic & sentimental to me:
As Frank Miller was leaving, Jim asked him for a photo together. Scrambling to open his iPhone camera, I offered to take the photo for him. He hands me his phone and here’s the shot!
Posted on his Instagram, fans instantly started making jokes, pointing out the Grant Gustin (CW’s Flash) and Jerry Seinfeld lookalikes! Can you spot them??
We finished our con by standing on the CGC grading submission line, which took about 75 minutes to get through to submit my 3 comics. And then finally getting my micro comic recreation of Star Wars #1 signed by Howard Chaykin:
Remember how I got my original 1977 comic signed and then graded by CGC at New York Comic Con 2016? Wish I had thought to bring it here, have CGC crack it open, and get it signed additionally by Howard Chaykin & Roy Thomas… What a wasted opportunity!
What was interesting was that Howard Chaykin mocked me for even waiting to request an autograph, for wanting an autograph on this particular comic, and told me to expand my tastes past Star Wars and I’ll be better off… wow… But I still appreciate him!
And now I leave you with some fantastic work from a local artist I’ve met 3 times so far at conventions. I first met Creees HyunSung Lee at Newark Comic Con last year (outdoors) and again at WinterCon (indoors). This time, he was at Big Apple Comic Con with a big update: he had been contacted by Upper Deck for some Marvel sketch cards! Out of the 40 blanks, he got to keep 4 completed trading cards, which he had encased and on sale at his booth. Here’s the one I was able to snag. Can’t wait for Homecoming!