My first day of New York Comic-Con 2015 was Friday (October 9) and it was insane, but that’s the norm at the Javits Center every October. However, Friday this year was so crowded it felt like a typical Saturday. This was the fourth year I attended, and third year in a row I was able to secure a Press Pass because of the writing I do for here at SF Signal, SFFWorld, and Tor.com. A few years ago, Myke Cole suggested I apply for a Press Pass since I wrote book reviews and what not for these Websites. So…on to this year’s event.
I arrived shortly before noon and wanted to get one Funko Pop figure in particular, Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s IT. The actual booth for Funko Pop was insanely packed, ticketed, and had a very long line just to get into the booth. That’s because they were selling NYCC exclusive items, like an Iron Throne from Game of Thrones. But, as luck would have it, the comic shop owned by friends of the family had one (and I didn’t see good ol’ Pennywise anywhere else on Friday) at their booth so I snagged the clown. My wife actually helped staff their booth on Saturday. After that, I headed over to the Crown/Del Rey/Random House/Penguin booth.
One of my favorite SFF writers was doing a signing at Noon – Robert Jackson Bennett (everybody should be reading his books because they are brilliant and following him on twitter because he has a … unique twitter stream). The folks at Crown were giving out City of Stairs and arcs of the sequel, City of Blades, for people to get signed. It was tight in the row where the Random House Penguin books (which includes Crown) were stationed because the booth on the other side (Rooster Teeth) seemed to be giving away gold, puppies, kittens, and bacon throughout the duration of the convention. That said, the line for the signing went quite smoothly and Robert was kind enough to also sign the copy of The Troupe I brought as well as the books given out by the publisher. He left me with a very nice one word message on The Troupe. Robert was easily the best dressed person at the convention. I later saw Chuck Wendig and remarked on Robert’s classy attire and Chuck said well yes, that just means Robert is a serial killer.
I realized in the week leading up to NYCC that legendary fantasy and science fiction artist Michael Whelan was going to be doing a signing on Friday (and Saturday) at a small publisher’s booth. I headed over to the booth and was chatting with the owners for a while before wandering around a bit to kill time before the panel I wanted to attend began. I made my way over to the Image comics booth turned the corner and saw Scott Snyder was sitting at the table. Scott is best known for writing Batman for the past few years at DC Comics – and doing a very good job. When he isn’t writing about Batman, he’s often writing dark fantasy and horror. He had a signing from 12-12:45 for two graphic novels: Wytches and Severed but there was no line because the signing ended. I glanced at my watch, which said 12:43, so I asked if Scott would still sign if I purchased the books. Scott was kind enough to sign for me and he was very humble about the whole thing. I had long ago planned on reading Wytches (in part because of Patrick Hester’s great review of it, but more so simply because Scott is a great storyteller) so this worked out pretty well.
That panel I wanted to attend, “Making the Impossible Possible – Authors of Science Fiction & Fantasy” was next. Authors on the panel were (pictured from left to right in the photo below) Marko Kloos, Rysa Walker, J.D. Horn, Evan Currie, Jeff Wheeler, and Chuck Wendig. I bumped into the man known on twitter as SheckyX so we chummed it up together in the third (?) row. I’d wanted to read Mark Kloos for a while, this panel just reinforced that feeling.
The panel was pretty good, it introduced me to the work of these writers and I wound up getting Rysa Walker’s Timebound signed. Evan Currie’s Space Opera Heirs of Empire sounds fun and I’m very intrigued by Horn’s Shivaree which he described, in the 15-second elevator pitch competition at the start of the panel, as “Dracula meets The Dukes of Hazzard.” I’m guessing Boss Hogg is Dracula?
Next was the Michael Whelan signing. I brought two books with his covers, both of which have a lot of meaning for me: Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman and Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I’ve intimated on my blog that a Michael Whelan cover is a pretty solid indication that the book on the pages between his covers is good. I knew, and it was confirmed by Michael and the people running the booth, that Michael reads every book for which he provides a cover. Many years ago, I was very drawn to Black Sun Rising, the first in Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy and as I pointed out in my Completist Column featuring The Coldfire Trilogy, this trilogy accompanied me to Hawai’i during my honeymoon many years ago as something to read on the long plane ride. When I presented Black Sun Rising to Mr. Whelan, he asked, “So this book went all the way to Hawai’i and back with you?” I shook my head and he signed it Aloha! I have to admit to having a long fanboy moment chatting with Mr. Whelan, who wasso genuine and humble. At last year’s NYCC, Robin Hobb signed my copy of Assassin’s Apprentice so that seemed a pretty logical book to ask Michael to sign. After he signed the books, we were talking about Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings and it was just like talking to a fellow fan, the way Michael spoke of how Brandon’s writing/storytelling captured him.
I then strolled by the Warhammer booth where they were showing off their new Age of Sigmar game/campaign. I also learned there’s a Games Workshop store in NYC and I chatted with them a little bit about the new Age of the Beast storyline launching in December.
The remainder of the day was spent wandering the aisles, chatting with the various folks staffing the publisher booths, Tor, Orbit, Harper Voyager, Penguin Random House (Del Rey, Crown, Ace/Roc/Daw).
As is standard operation procedure at these events, the publishers were giving away books. Below is the the full pile of books I was graciously given: Arena by Holly Jennings (April 2016, Ace); The Dark Days Club: A Lady Helen Novel by Alison Goodman (Viking, January 2016), City of Blades (Divine Cities #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett; Made to Kill by Adam Christopher, and Timebound by Rysa Walker.
So, all told, day one was a lot of fun. Great to see the writers whose work I enjoy and it is always good to see the folks at the publishers who work so hard to tell us about the books they publish.