Off the Beat with Louis Otero: Why I Won’t Be Returning to Comic Con

By: Louis Otero

I suppose there was an air of naivety about me when I attended New York Comic Con for the first time last year. The only other convention I had been to was Special Edition NYC, which was held earlier that Summer. Special Edition was small, but it was everything I could have hoped for. There were booths everywhere containing obscure back issues, some of which I had been hunting down for quite some time. Every time I approached the sales people we engaged in lengthy conversations about the books, discussed our respective pull lists, and just utterly geeked out. On top of that some of my favorite creators of all time were there, and while I was too star-struck to talk to them, they were very open and friendly with their fans. So, having such a great experience there, I was ecstatic to be attending NYCC for the first time that October. Sadly, I was disappointed.

I’ve loved comic books since I was about six. The first issue I ever read was “Spider-Man” 2099 #1, a book I still have to this day. Once I opened up those pages I was hooked. There were no shops out by me, but my uncle was kind enough to pick them up from a store by his job. I’d spend days reading these things. Admittedly, my interests waned as I got older and discovered girls, most of whom did not enjoy debating whether Batman can beat Superman in a fight (he totally could, and he has). Every few years my interest would reignite, but there was one small problem- no one I knew liked comics. So, for the most part, I kept it to myself. For this reason, the idea of a comic book convention has always appealed to me. I wanted to be in a community of people that shared this unhealthy obsession with superhumans, people who would actually recognize the Robin logo tattooed on my wrist. I got that in spades from Special Edition. I got nothing from NYCC.

Comics have just about nothing to with this convention anymore. Sure, some panels that are impossible to get into may discuss them. There are one or two big booths with back issues, but NYCC is more of a stage for people to sell you things. The worst part is that it works. I dropped 50 bucks on a Damian Wayne statue. My problem with this is that most of the memorabilia, along with the rest of the convention, doesn’t have much to do with comics. Most of the people in attendance don’t read entirely too much. They’re more into anime or Doctor Who. When I bought things I was sort of just rushed along so that they could service more customers. All of the creative talent were charging for autographs. There was something deeply disingenuous about the whole experience. I respect NYCC as a place for fandoms to unite, but to call itself a comic convention is just false advertising. There is absolutely fun to be had, but it’s not the place for someone like me. To an extent, I did enjoy myself, but the commercialization of it all left  a bad taste in my mouth.