Saturday, October 2, 2010

Not-So-Big Apple Con

It's only the second year, but I can't help but feel it was a mistake to go head-to-head with the well-established NY ComicCon (which takes place next weekend at the Javitz Center.) (I don't know which was scheduled first, but if the BACC could have avoided the match-up, it would have been smart.)

On its own, the BACC is not a bad show. There's a decent dealers floor with solid deals on comics (and lots of bootlegs if that's your thing), and a healthy amount of celebrity guests, but when you compare it to the NYCC, it looks rinky dink. It wouldn't be hard to circle the floor in about 15 minutes, and there's only one panel happening at any time, so you will likely find yourself with a lot of down time.

The main issues are a lack of big-name exhibitors, as well as a lack of big-name guests. Almost all of the exhibitors on hand last year, including Nintendo, THQ and Troma Films, did not return, so the only companies on hand were the oddly out-of-place Scion, Verizon Wireless (pushing their awesome R2-D2 edition Droid phone,) and the Suicide Girls. Meanwhile, it's cool to see Burt Ward and Adam West or Lee Majors and Richard Hamilton (or even the three grown Brady boys,) but when you pair stars of the past like these with an assortment of D-listers including several wrestlers and supporting sci-fi cast members from the '80s, the whole thing takes on a very low-rent feel. The lack of lines for even well-known stars like West was telling, though the fact that Ward was charging $50 for an autographed picture didn't help. Everyone needs money, but charging for pictures with a fan just rubs me the wrong way.

The venue doesn't give the show a lot of help either. The piers last year were awful, and the Hotel Pennsylvania (despite a fantastic location opposite Madison Square Garden) is definitely better, but there are many issues. The floor is much improved, though there were many empty tables. This time, the signing areas were a problem. The "celeb" area, heavily reduced from last year's show, was crowded into the lobby, structured around the escalators, so it was cramped and confusing. The comic stars area was actually a nice sized room, with a good layout, but you had to go through an area reminiscent of The Shining to get there. The dim, barely maintained hallway was seriously creepy, and I wouldn't have been shocked to have found myself in some sort of Hostel situation, based on the surroundings. A coat of paint and some brighter bulbs would help a lot.

If there was no NYCC, the BACC would be something New Yorkers would look forward to each year, and when it returns in May all by itself, it will be certain to draw comics fans, but it's far overshadowed by the NYCC, to the point where comparisons are unfair.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

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