Whenever mention of NYCC comes around before the fact, I usually groan. This is because of bad memories: I've gotten extremely sick twice at that show; I have tabled a few times and it was always a struggle to get noticed and to make back costs, especially when you have to rent not only the booth space, but also a table and chairs! We tried to get around that once by bringing in our own table via borrowed van, and the van got into a car accident. Not worth it. And simply having to tolerate the Javits Center for 28 hours in a 3-day period pretty much sucks my soul.
The Javits: that's really my main problem. It's in the middle of nowhere, transportation is hard to come by so you walk the 8 blocks from the subway which is tough even in GOOD weather, there is nowhere to eat nearby, and it's just ugly. The roof leaks, so there are dismal black tarps all over the ceiling, attached to pipes that lead to drainage stations. Your only food options are inside, and they're expensive and mediocre. The whole place is super-confusing, and I have found myself lugging a dolly full of boxes on level one, only to realize that registration is on level 2, and am forced to carry the boxes up flights of stairs. Seriously, I walk into this building and I want to leave. But let's say I'm going to be there for several hours, I might as well make the most of it, right?
Well, that means packing a lunch, and bringing my own water because I don't want to pay $4 for a bottle of Poland Spring. Oh, but if I have to use the bathroom? If I can get to one (it would not hurt to have bathrooms on BOTH sides of the hall), I will probably have to stand in line for 20 minutes, because they have so few stalls. And this is a comic convention, so half the time there are people in there changing into their costumes, which takes much longer than your average bathroom trip. I focus on this because I have stomach issues, and the idea of having to hightail it to a bathroom with only a moment's notice, only to be faced with a situation like this, fills me with DREAD. It's never happened, but the idea fills me with anxiety, and makes me never want to spend more than a few hours at a con here.
But anyway, knowing it'll take 20 minutes just to use the bathroom, means I don't drink very much. And that means I get dehydrated. Which means I get a headache, and will probably be more susceptible to whatever viruses are floating around the hall. It's a lose-lose, if you ask me.
Then there is the con itself, which has clearly become a phenomenon, and is way too big for its own good. Every space gets overcrowded. It's hard to move through the aisles. I get hit with peoples' backpacks at ever turn. I'm a small person, but I can't imagine being a kid in the middle of all this. Any booth that features a sound element tends to be WAY too loud. If you're unlucky enough to have a booth next to these guys, you're out of luck.
The program books and the floor maps are useless. The con's website, which I checked Thursday to see where MoCCA's table was because I was signing there, was useless too--if you look for Artist Alley exhibitors, it's impossible to figure out which table is where. You'll have to figure it out when you get there.
So these days, I come in for panels, walk around a little bit, do my signings, and then leave, if I can. This year, I went for most of Friday, skipped Saturday, then went back for most of Sunday. That was the right thing to do. Sunday afternoon found me hiding under an escalator, because I had an hour to kill and did not want to be accosted by all the overwhelming stimuli any more. I could have easily skipped Sunday altogether, but I had a signing and wanted to watch the panels my husband was on, so I toughed it out.
I should mention that my publisher doesn't exhibits at this con. That's their choice, I have no say in the matter. I think if they did exhibit, I might be more willing to throw myself into the experience, because it would mean selling books, meeting kids, talking up kids' comics. But since they don't, I feel invisible at NYCC. I could remedy this by getting a table, but as I explained, I don't want to do that ever again.
Maybe I'm being unfair here, but I've been at every NYCC thus far, and maybe because I live in New York anyway, the city's charms are lost on me and I'm only seeing the con for the con. I don't know what can really be done to fix most of my problems, but barring a Javits renovation (adding twice as many restrooms!!), probably nothing. Oh, they could also do that 7-Train expansion project that takes the train as far as 11th Avenue, but the city seems pretty set against that one. Capping the attendance seems to defeat the purpose of putting on a show like this. The best advice is probably for me to just not go at all...but for someone who loves comics, and loves doing comic conventions, and loves New York, and loves seeing so many friends in one place...that seems like such a sad conclusion.
Edit to add: I don't want to give people the impression that the NYCC folks are all bad--Lance and Peter have done an amazing job promoting, organizing, and throwing an event that is safe and fun for most everyone. My issues lie mostly in factors that can't be controlled, and the people running the show try their hardest to compensate for those, the best they can.