We recently had the chance to attend two local comic cons to the New York City area. First New Jersey Comic Expo in Edison, New Jersey on November 19th and 20th. And more recently Winter Con New York in Resort World Casino, Queens, NY on December 3rd and 4th. Both while relatively new to the convention scene are run by veterans to the industry.
First with New Jersey Comic Expo. The best thing about this year's convention was hands down the comic creators. Their line up matched well against even the likes of New York Comic Con with creators like Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Mark Bagley, Mike Zeck, Neal Adams, Fabian Nicieza, and many many more. You have guys that don't often hit the New York area too often anymore like Rick Leonardi, Whilce Portacio and James Robinson. Second thing you would love about the con is the venue. Not so much the location, but the sheer size given the amount of vendors, is just the perfect formula for it not being overcrowded. Some of the other things you will love about the show include the pricing of the food, the amount of different panels and vendors including an area devoted for kids.
So what went wrong with New Jersey Comic Expo? Not too much aside from getting myself locked out of my car. But of course that's not the fault of the convention. What was New Jersey Comic Expo's only flaw and a glaring one at that was their incredibly weak media guest list. As good as their comic guest list was, their media guest list was that horrible. And it was quite evident from the lack of lines for any of the guests when I visited the show on Saturday. The year prior they did not have great guests as well but at least some of them had lines at times. Now of course, this is a comic convention, and die hard comic convention goers are probably glad to not see D list celebrities and wrestlers clogged up space. But there is a strong market for media guests and it would serve the convention well to bring in at least one strong media guest like a Ming-Na Wen or Norman Reedus level type celebrity.
Winter Con on the other hand, their biggest strength would have to be their balance in both comic creators and media guests. Not very big names on both parts but enough interesting names to draw out crowds and that it did. Some of the other pluses to the show included location, and that is Queens, New York. Not having to pay tolls and drive an hour and a half in traffic is a big plus. As part of the Resort World Casino there was plenty of parking space. The venue itself was spacious but probably may be too small if the show decides to grow more. Their main stage area was instead of in a separate area is in the middle of the elongated room.
The most annoying things about Winter Con would have to be the lack of signs and directions from the convention once you reach the casino. If I wasn't following a group of strangers who had gone previous years I would have probably wasted a good twenty minutes wandering around asking for directions. In addition, the line organization from the VIPs, to the prepaid to the ones wanting to buy at the door, was horrible. One line to start with only the VIPs getting called out later to leave the line and then the prepaid and cash sales being separated later. While they did have a variety of vendors, I would have love to see more comic book vendors selling back issues or discounted trades. Trying to hunt down blank covers was close to impossible which shouldn't be for a comic convention.
Overall, I enjoyed both cons for different reasons. I really don't see a reason why I would not return to either next year despite their flaws which can be fixed. For New Jersey Comic Expo, Jim Lee was their big draw last year, and it was great to see that they were able to compensate for the lack of his appearance this year. Winter Con New York, this was my first time, missing it the last two years and was impressed enough to want to go again.