Is NYCC "equal" to SDCC?

13 OCTOBER 2015

New York Comic Con has come and gone. If your ear is at all tuned to the Comic Con world, you probably know the basics of this Con whether you've been to it or not; it's owned by ReedPOP, they've made a point of trumpeting its attendance numbers in relation to SDCC, and this year it had a painfully strangled badge sale that reminded many of old SDCC badge sales in its incessant tech glitches. In fact, this year was notable for the fact that the SDCC Open Registration sale went more smoothly (though more futilely) than the NYCC sale.

I've always made a point of telling people that New York Comic Con is not the SDCC of the East Coast. But I'm rethinking that after this weekend. Granted, I had to skip NYCC so all of my observations are filtered through media and other attendees. But I do perceive a subtle shift in NYCC's general standing.

Partly this is because the media knows any Con news is high traffic news, so of course they're crawling all over every announcement. But given that media coverage is exactly why many studios and companies have a Con presence to begin with, that alone ensures NYCC will feature big names in the future.

As for the events, several friends said they fostered more of the community feeling that's traditionally weak at NYCC (and that happens so naturally at SDCC.) It's not just Super Week (which is great in catering to a variety of interests) but the caliber of the events themselves. Obviously the Walking Dead premiere in Madison Square Garden was just epic. And New York's ability to stage grand scale events dwarfs San Diego's.

The panels themselves got a mixed review from my friends. This held true whether or not they were SDCC attendees. (Once you go to San Diego, you just naturally compare everything to their offerings; it's inevitable.) Some thought the selection was really good, others said there were more choices in San Diego but it didn't matter because you can still only attend so many panels, and others said the panel options were "so-so." But the actual quality of the panels mostly got high marks. As someone semi-obsessed with Pretty Little Liars (don't judge), I tracked reactions to this panel closely and 2 SDCC attendees said it felt more "personal" than a typical SDCC panel. I heard similar things about other panels. And let's just say it: the X-Files episode was everything a Comic Con experience should be.

The cosplay seemed to be killer but honestly where isn't it these days?

As for announcements, NYCC fed into what appears to be the Ouroboros of Comic Con life, where an announcement or hint dropped at one Con is then expounded on at the next big Con, leading to a casting announcement at the next Con and a trailer at the next, and so on. The Justice League premiere at SDCC electrified everyone with the news that The Killing Joke would be an animated feature; now at NYCC we found out it could have an R rating, which of course sparked a tidal wave of discussion on whether Barbara Gordon would be - gasp - naked. (Though of course, the real question is how the movie will handle the ending.)

Smart creators know how to keep the fan fires burning from Con to Con and NYCC demonstrated that in spades. Lots of announcements hit that sweet spot of precise fan interest like the news that Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) is playing the Penguin's father on Gotham or that Marceline from Adventure Time is getting a spin-off or that Captain Marvel is getting her own YA novel. Jessica Jones and Ash vs Evil Dead both got a huge boost in fan interest.

All in all, I think anyone who misses out on SDCC should consider New York Comic Con - not as a sub-par backup but as a Con that can deliver just as gratifying an experience. I know San Diego zealots will claim nothing can replicate the magic of SDCC which of course is a valid opinion. But I think NYCC proves that it's not just San Diego Comic Con sitting alone at the top of the food chain anymore. Other Cons are catching up not only in size but in appeal. And we know NYCC is going to keep growing, given the organizers said they will pursue a campus approach and host more events at other venues as they did with the Hammerstein Ballroom this year.

What did you think of New York Comic Con? Remember, I wasn't there, so I'm eager to hear your thoughts. And if you also weren't there, but want to see some of the panels, you can catch up via Twitch.

ETA: Catrina Dennis did a nice comparison of SDCC and NYCC that's worth reading.


  1. NYCC is certainly the closest thing I have found to SDCC, but there are differences. The most noticeable difference is the lack of 'spread' within the city. In San Diego, the entire Gaslamp (and even, arguably, the entire downtown area) is taken over by Comic Con. Retailers and citizens get into the spirit (or perhaps hide away) and there is no one in town who doesn't know what is going on. It is a warm, wonderful feeling to be surrounded by that environment. That feeling is almost non-existent in New York. I know why this is, but for me, it means something is missing. That being said, there were a surprising number of offsite evening events, more so than I expected, keeping me busy throughout the con, and Paleyfest is even like a more 'respectable' version of Nerd HQ, so there are things to do outside. But the atmosphere is a lot less welcoming, and you're definitely stepping out of the bubble.

    As for the quality of the panels, they were similar to SDCC, but there was far less variety.

    One thing I noticed is that the New York attendees seem to have a chip on their collective shoulder regarding SDCC. Mentions of 'San Diego' were actively booed! While at SDCC, people are aware that there is a New York con, but generally don't give much thought to it. I'm sure you could speculate as to this difference, but it was surprising to me.

    1. Yeah, some NYCC attendees definitely seem competitive with SDCC (as do the organizers.) Then again, New Yorkers in general can have that attitude. When I moved from NY to Boston, people acted as if I'd moved to a remote farm.

      The lack of community is probably the biggest drawback with NYCC. You step outside the Javits Center, and within minutes it's like "Comic Con? What Comic Con?"

  2. There is no doubt that SDCC is the best because of its magnitude around the convention. There is so much to do down there without setting a foot inside the convention center.
    Never been to NYCC, but maybe in the future it will match SDCC offsites.

    1. NYCC actually has Super Week, which offers all kinds of offsites. There were plenty of events this year.

  3. Does it matter when it's just as hard to get a badge either way?

  4. Yes it matters; one is an entire order of magnitude easier to obtain badges for, although it is getting trickier. Try to stick to the facts.

    I remember reading this after my first SDCC and meant to reply, got busy and forgot. Well here it is, nearly four years later.