Friday, October 18, 2013

new york comic-con 2013: the aisles less travelled

The day I'd been waiting patiently for all year had arrived. The glorious gates were almost within view. The gleaming glass fortress nestled within our mighty city shone with the reflection of a thousand suns. COMIC-CON 2013 was to be the biggest and baddest fantastifest of the year.

Upon entering the Javits Center, I came upon quite the sight. Not one, but two scantily-clad cosplaying Amazonians, bickering over which of them made the better Diana Prince. After a bit of high-pitched shrieking, and some wig-tossling for good measure, they were hastily escorted to the Security Office, flanked by two burly men in uniform, both of whom couldn't seem to get a grip, chuckling away. From the spot-on hunky Supermen, to the completely wacky Minecraft Creepers, I'm never tired at gawking at the gaggle of costumed creatures each year.

I knew that it was going to be a good day. I wasn't surprised to see most of the main arena filled to the brim with fans eagerly awaiting the newest trailer of Capcom's STRIDER video game instead of lining up for autographs at an important indie imprint label's fancy model-infested booth. Marvel made a huge announcement as well with the upcoming release of the next powerhouse in their LEGO franchise, MARVEL SUPER HEROES! They have tons of mobile titles in the works as well, such as X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM and THOR: THE DARK WORLD following soon after.

Between Rockstar Games record-breaking release of GRAND THEFT AUTO V last month, and Nintendo's monster megahit POKEMON XY last Friday, much game buzz could be felt throughout the crowd. There were tons of fans begging for free goodies, from cardboard visors, and collectible trading cards to tote bags and tees, I greedily got my paws on some choice swag, thanks to my quick shove-n-snatch techniques, I learned from the best. Gaming on all fronts is immensely popular now. The gaming industry brings it harder every year, and it's great to see two passions of mine tangle in the arena of geekdom. It should be quite a healthy competition between gaming giants and comic kingpins this holiday shopping season.

Moving along to more traditional convention fare, I came upon a huge line forming with a few hot-tempered security guards fuming. Lo and behold, I took a peek and found a very frail STAN LEE hunched over and signing autographs at lightning speed. The comic icon was happy to oblige his army of fans, all with a smile on his face. Fans were beaming at the chance to greet their idol and shower him with compliments and praise.

DC and MARVEL both had tremendous booths, spreading across the hall, and it looked like neither spared any expense. With the popularity of mobile devices and tablets being used for personal reading pleasure, both companies had plenty of consoles on hand where you were able to download Comic-Con exclusive titles. A really nice addition to the hard copies most other labels provided. VIZ MEDIA, a mega manga distributor also made their presence known. Translated Japanese comics have become increasingly popular, and the demand is high for new titles and their animated tie-in series as well. Whether it's the latest adventures of high-flying ninja NARUTO, or the supernatural swordplay battles of BLEACH, they are the number one publisher on the market right now. There's literally something for everyone, and I can highly recommend checking out their newest acquisition, GUN BLAZE WEST, for some old fashioned cowboy gun-slinging action, with a fresh modern edge.

COSPLAY (short for 'costume play') is huge, whichever way you slice it. Whether it's to become your favorite hero for a day, or just for the adrenaline rush of personal perfection in spandex, it's here to stay. Besides the requisite Marvel heroes and Power Rangers, there were some truly ingenious costumes that were so off-the-wall, yet so amazing. As I was between discussion panels, I came across a bearishly chunky MEGA MAN, complete with beer belly busting outta brightly-hued blue spandex. He was just drifting along and smiling at each and every passerby, so I went right up, shook his hand, and then poked him in the tummy for good measure. Anime fans would hardly bat their eyelashes at the gazillion HATSUNE MIKU clones en force, but one 'vocaloid' was so gorgeous that I had to give her a high-five. Flowing green ponytails encircled her futuristic cocktail dress, thigh-high pleather boots with 7" heels adorned her cute lil feet, and she even whipped out a mic and started singing at one point, nice! A male DAZZLER whizzed by me on a silver-encrusted ten-speed, circling the waiting area and tossing sparkles at cheering onlookers. I'll admit being quite smitten with a fantastically accurate and handsome MISTER SINISTER (please, call me!) and a pint-sized CLARK KENT via WB's Smallville, baring his muscled chest and stalking the aisles innocently. And let's not forget the handfuls of goggled steampunks, swathed in sandy suede couture, each vying for accuracy and adoration.

There were also some wildly oddball events, that might've gone right over your head though. For example, STAR WARS ORIGAMI. Yes, that's right. Fold your very own Death Star out of vibrantly colored paper. Origami Master CHRIS ALEXANDER takes this art very seriously, and gives fans exactly what they want. The workshop was quite crowded, and all materials were supplied free of charge. Some children next to me were having a tough time keeping up, as Alexander quickly went through a demonstration of crafting a cuddly Ewok, but I kept up the best I could. What I ended up with resembled more of a Chewbacca with a hangover. Fun stuff indeed.

I do love British science fiction dearly. Growing up on the likes of Blake's 7, and who can forget the enigmatic Dr. Who. The discussion panel, 50 YEARS OF DOCTOR WHO was a bit dry, but awfully entertaining. Spanning 50 years, it's the longest running science fiction show in television history. With the franchise's 50th anniversary looming around the corner in November, this was a real treat for fans. Actor BARNABY EDWARDS, known for his role as a Dalek, spoke about his early fascination with the series from childhood, and how he landed a role of the landmark series. Comic artist JK WOODWARD, noted for his smash hit crossover series Star Trek: The Next Generation/Dr. Who: Assimilation 2, spoke of his fondness for the series and how he felt it molded the science fiction television world in it's own unique ways.

And lastly, who in their right mind wouldn't want to spend a hard-earned $10 on a cheaply printed press photo of the RAINBOW BUBBLE GIRLS? Me, that's who. But with all respect due, the NY-based Jpop-inspired idol group consisting of 5 attractive multicultural fangirls, doesn't break any boundaries in the originality department. While not being a fan, they are quickly gaining recognition across the East Coast fan circle and performing regularly at conventions. Their mission? 'To bring people happiness and positive energy', of course! With squeaky vocals and average-at-best bubblegum beats, these girls make for a quite entertaining audio experience. Besides mostly covering anime theme songs, group lead, HITOMI HIMEKAWA, promised original output later this year. So keep your collective peepers peeled!
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