To the best that I can recall, the 2009 Comic Con only occupied one exhibition hall. This year, the booths took up every available inch of the third floor halls (except for one area blocked off for construction).
There were about 600 vendors and companies, plus independent artists, autograph stations and a small stage for live performances. There was more here to view than one could possibly see in a single weekend, but that did not quell the hoards of fans (many of them costumed) clamoring to sample as many promotions, demos and giveaways as they could.
Most of the usual Comic Con events took place over the weekend. Special guests populated the panels and autograph areas, with Bruce Campbell and guest of honor Stan Lee as the highlights. Some made their first Comic Con appearance of any kind, including M. Night Shyamalan (on hand to discuss the 10th anniversary of his comic book movie “Unbreakable”). On the floor and in the panels, guests saw previews for upcoming comic books (Lee’s new stories with Boom! Studios), movies (“Red” and “The Thing”), TV shows (“The Walking Dead” and “The Vampire Diaries”) and videogames (“Michael Jackson: The Experience” and “Tron: Evolution”). There was so much to absorb that the convention could have easily continued another day.
Comic Con has always included animation in their previews (this year’s lineup included new DC animated projects and the Irish Oscar-nominee “The Secret of Kells”), but now more projects were shown through the Anime Festival. Companies like 4Kids and Funimation showed their upcoming distribution slates, while panels compared Eastern and Western voice acting and discussed the themes of Hayao Miyazaki. Asian and Asian-themed acts performed onstage while studios showed their art throughout the exhibition (one memorable attraction was the chalk mural honoring “Yu-Gi-Oh!”s 10th anniversary). The merger offered fans the best of the Eastern market as well as the best of the Western market.
The combined efforts of Comic Con and Anime Festival provided fans with more things to be excited about than any previous NYCC. Despite being as busy and crowded as ever, the event was never shortchanged for fun and exhilaration. Be sure to look for next year’s convention, taking place Oct. 14-16, 2011.