Last week, a reported 130,000 people attended New York Comic-Con. We were there and it was fantastic. I love NYCC. I love NYC. But this year I could not help comparing it to San Diego Comic-Con, since I was able to attend SDCC for the first time this year, and how the city embraces the event.
Having been to NYCC before, when going to SDCC this year I was most impressed by how the area of the city surrounding the San Diego Convention Center seemed to completely embrace the event. SDCC takes over the entire area, so much so that even if you don't get a badge to enter the convention center you could have a lot of fun in the surrounding area and truthfully say that you experienced SDCC. So that's San Diego Comic-Con.
NYCC on the other hand is at the Javits Center in Manhattan and the surrounding area seems like it couldn't care less about the events happening there. The Javits Center is not easily accessible by public transportation so almost everyone has to walk at least 3 (long) blocks, after public transportation, to reach the convention.
Let's be clear, 130,000 is about 1.5% of NYC's population so I don't actually expect New York to embrace NYCC like San Diego or Atlanta embrace their conventions but NYCC-goers don't know what they're missing. Sure, NYCC is awesome and we all get to feel comfortable and safe among our peers, but it's an even greater feeling to be able to feel comfortable and safe on the way to the con.
Instead, I witnessed New York bullying its con-goers.
To be fair, I witnessed this on 34th, 35th, and 36th streets between avenues 7 through 11, at different times and to different degrees. Sometimes it was employees at businesses along those streets, sometimes it was other pedestrians, and on occasions I heard drivers harassing people walking to the con. I saw some amazing cosplay during my walks to and from the con each day and most of it received the type of looks that would make anyone uncomfortable and at its worst it received ridicule and harassment. Perhaps it's the price of admission for going to New York Comic Con.
What I learned from this experience is that there are some very resilient Geeks in New York. That is something to be proud of. While it made me mad and sad all at once to see this harassment going on I couldn't help but smile every time I saw someone who shook it off and kept walking. I smiled a lot on my way to the Javits Center.
Keep it up NYCC-ers. It's not an ideal situation but you do a fantastic job handling it. And your con is amazing. See you next year!