New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2012

by Dani Aronson and Miss Caitlin AKA Hipster Wonder Woman and Hipster Supergirl

An army of sexy nerds, cos-players, geeks, heroes and heroines took over the New York Javits Center again this year for New York Comic Con. My cos-playing partner in crime, Hipster Supergirl, and I, Hipster Wonder Woman, were ready to use our obscure superpowers (you’ve probably never heard of them) for the sake of cos.

Hipster Supergirl: After a short meeting, in costume, at the Tik Tock Diner, we sat down for our first panel, which was led by Charles Brownstein, the director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Brownstein focused on the history of comics censorship, making a strong case that the growing American fandom in the 1980s helped legitimize comics as an art form. As we looked around the crowd of over 100 people, just in this one morning panel alone, it was almost impossible to picture the earliest gatherings of 400 or so fans in a dingy hotel that Brownstein described. As comics became more popular, more edgy and adult themed, work appeared in comic book stores, which led to crackdowns on “obscene” children’s literature. Authorities missed the point that these works were clearly intended for adult audiences, a stance that CBLDF has defended since its official formation in 1990. Brownstein cited several cases where the CBLDF had successfully advocated for both creators and consumers of comics. Most chillingly, Brownstein shared a recent story of a young client detained at the Canadian border under inhumane conditions. His crime? Possession of some racy manga comics—perfectly legal and protected under the first amendment. The CBLDF successfully fought the man’s charges and are currently working to raise money to pay for the hefty legal bills. You can show your support in their online store.

Hipster Wonder Woman: After the CBLDF panel, we tried to go see Christopher Lloyd to see if he could take us back in time to revisit my Bat Mitzvah. Sadly the line was insanely long, and we weren’t going to get in. This isn’t all that rare at Comic Con, and it’s not unusual for people to sit for hours through shitty panels to have a seat at their later desired panel… Jumping jigawatts!  Those Doc Brown fans are hardcore!

Hipster Wonder Woman: After our morning panels, we went to check out the main floor, and had a mission to find The Oatmeal! I have been a big fan of The Oatmeal for a while now, so I was super excited to hear he (Matthew Inman) would be at NYCC. His popularity reached new heights this year when he took on funnyjunk, and raised money for a Tesla museum, plus have you seen The Bobcats?? I purchased Cat book, which he signed, plus he signed a wedding card I got for my friends that has a hipster with a PBR can being thrown into a wood chipper – ‘we call this one the chipster’ the merch woman told me. As Mr. Oatmeal was signing my book, he sneezed on it, and apologized, but I told him it was fine, because now I could probably sell it on Ebay to one of his crazy fans for a small fortune.

Hipster Wonder Woman: Also while we were waiting on the Oatmeal line, which was long, we were talking to the Arcana booth – a company from Vancouver who has a new comic book out called Head Smash, and the cutest and nicest social media guy at NYCC – I told him to go to Beguiling and Honest Ed’s next time he’s in Toronto.

Hipster Supergirl: With our signed Oatmeal books in hand, we headed over to the Troma booth, I murmured something about needing to watch Toxic Avenger again, now that I’m officially a resident of the Garden State. We posed for a picture with Toxi (obvi), and one of the friendly Troma reps must have caught on: “Hey ladies,” he asked us, “You gals from New Jersey? I thought I detected some kind of accent.” Hmmm… Jersey Shore spinoff idea: The SuperHeroine edition? The ToxicHipster Shore?

Hipster Wonder Woman: Zombies always make up a good amount of the cos-players at the con, and this year was no exception. With Walking Dead banners dominating the main hall, people were definitely excited to channel their inner-dead side. There were all types of zombies, and some of them were pretty fucking scary. The nurses with bandaged faces were some of the more popular zombies on the floor, and everyone wanted to pose with them.

Hipster Wonder Woman: Artists Alley is a must see at NYCC. Some of the artists are legends, and you’ll be a mega fan for at least few new discoveries by the end of your visit to the Alley. Katie Cook and Allison Smith were two of my favorite discoveries this year. Katie Cook, who was so cool and so talented, did pet portraits for $5! Caitlin and I immortalized our cats; Gombotz is a bit of a Dorian Gray now that I think of it. I seriously want to get this portrait of Gombotz tattooed on me – I love it so hard. Allison Smith had some Joan (Mad Men) portraits that I had seen on Tumblr, and her work is beautiful, stylish and still playful; she has a Kickstarter to raise money for a Genghis Khan graphic novel she is working on. There were a ton of talented artists at the Alley, but I always have a soft spot for the ladies, because Comic Conventions are so male heavy, and women are often seen only as ‘booth babes,’ not as equal players. It seems like that culture is starting to shift a little bit, and with some of the amazing talent I saw from women (too many to mention) at the con this year, it’s very deserved.

Hipster Supergirl: While most of the artists we spoke to were pretty young, we noticed an older man in glasses and a hat, jauntily working on a sketch near some beautiful lithographs of Ren & Stimpy, the bizzare Nickolodeon dog and cat duo of the very early 1990s. We walked up slowly, checking out the placard on the booth. Bob Camp. The name rang a bell, and the style of his art was unmistakable. “Uh, excuse me,” I said. “I just want to thank you for giving me a really twisted imagination. I watched your show when I was probably way too young for it, and I absolutely loved it.” Bob Camp smiled his bug-eyed, slightly askew little smile. “You must have had cool parents! It was subversive! Very subversive! That was the idea!” I wanted an excuse to talk to him for a little longer, so I mentioned the Bjork’s “I Miss You” video, only to find my SuperFoot firmly planted in my SuperMouth. “That was my ex-partner,” said Camp. “I had nothing to do with it at all. But I love Bjork!” Turns out that Camp and Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi parted ways many years ago, a juicy bit of gossip that many diehard fans have devoted pages and pages of internet space to dissecting. Ah well. Animator drama is too mainstream for the likes of these SuperHipsters.

Towards the end of our meanderings through artist alley, we came across a booth manned by the folks from Trepidation Comics. Hipster Wonder Woman paused, wondering if we were stumbling into some rare corner of religious freakery disguised as comic fun. Upon closer look, it was clear we were witnessing some high satire: Jesus smoking a joint and riding a rainbow-winged unicorn graces the cover of their newest book, The Bible 2. Yep. Their other titles were equally ridiculous and controversial, and they told us that they tend to get hate mail from all sides of the aisle. Equal opportunity offenders responsible for drawing an image of Jesus on a Tyrannosaurus Rex? Good folks. We probably should have handed them a CBLDF card, just in case.

Hipster Supergirl: On our final pass through artist alley, a very eager fellow asked us each to take a magnet. Finally, some swag! Turns out the dude was one Tom King, the author of A Once Crowded Sky, a recently released novel about what happens to a group of superheroes when they give up their powers. Early reviews were positive enough to convince me to purchase a copy for myself, and curious readers can check out an excerpt online.

Hipster Wonder Woman: One of the most original costumes we saw was a girl who dressed as Katniss / The Girl on Fire. She told us she made the dress herself, and it was super impressive. As I was taking her picture, someone asked who she was, and I couldn’t help but answer with disdain for his idiocy ‘She’s KATNISS –THE GIRL ON FIRE!!!’

There was a Silent Hill sneak peek and Q&A on the NYCC schedule, but there was only one thing I saw when I read it — JON SNOW. Kitt Harrington AKA the hottest virgin on TV, Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow, was going to be there in the flesh, and I wanted to get a glimpse of that sexy crow. The line to get in was super long, so to pass the time we all played with a beach ball someone brought along; have you ever played catch with Spiderman and Ramona Flowers? We have. Silent Hill in 3D looks visually stunning, and it definitely channels many aspects of the game. Many of the questions people asked about the game were obscure, so I just gazed into Jon Snow’s eyes and pretended we were spooning at Winterfell.

Hipster Supergirl: After a cereal snack, I felt like a sleepy toddler with a belly full of chocolate, distracted by anything weird and shiny. This was probably the perfect state of mind to be in as we passed the Necomimi booth. A dozen or so people stood around wearing fuzzy cat ears. Ok, normal enough for this scene, but then we noticed that the cat ears were all moving around. What?! It was like a cat lady dream come true! Even better, the rep we talked to explained that the ears are supposed to read your brainwaves, moving forward when you’re alert, and wiggling around when you’re “in the zone.” Seriously. What crazy cat lady wouldn’t want a weird fuzzy mood ring in the shape of freaking CAT EARS?!

At this point in the day, I started scanning booths purely for free stuff. I had seen tons of amazing art, beautiful costumes, and amazing cat lady cosplay. Now all I needed was a Super free tote bag or something. Instead, we got a very earnest sales pitch from Omar Mroz, the young man behind Tales of Isolation, a YouTube channel offering “the most extreme zombie Claymation saga on the internet!” Well then. I was out of SuperCash by that point, my cat lady needs having burned a hole right in my SuperPocket, but the clips Mraz was looping on a small TV set looked promising. It reminded me of my own youthful Claymation attempts with Barbie dolls, a friend’s tabby cat, and ketchup, as well as that one awesome Ben-centric episode of Parks and Recreation. He’s wildly accomplished, ya’ll!

Hipster Wonder Woman: I was also on the lookout for free swag at this stage in the game. There was a Nerdist booth on the floor, and unfortunately Chris Hardwick wasn’t around, but I did get a T-shirt. Have you ever seen the Nerdist play the dudes of Mad Men at bowling? Best line, is when one of the Nerdist guys says to Vincent Kartheiser who plays Pete Campbell, ‘You look like the hobo that killed Pete Campbell.’ The Nerdist is good shit.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Redux) had what looked like a haunted hallway setup on the main floor. When we walked through, it turned out to be the lamest shit I have ever seen — middle school play productions are more impressive than this set they constructed. Did the Shredder build this shit to make the Turtle’s look bad? Needless to say, I was happy I opted out of my original idea of going as April O’Neil, because I would have been embarrassed to be associated with this production.

It was a great Comic Con this year! We saw lots of cool costumes, got our cats immortalized by Katie Cook, saw Jon Snow, made friends with some awesome cos players, got some fun swag, ate some delicious cereal, and learned a lot. The only question that remains is, what will we wear next year?!

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