Monday, October 14, 2013

New York Comic Con - Lessons Learned

After my initial post on the topic, you may have been surprised at the radio silence on my part over the weekend of New York Comic Con.  Despite all appearances to the contrary (mostly the lack of actual content), I was down at the Javits Center running around the convention floor to cover it for The Weekly Crisis.  That content will be posted over the next week or so.  I can assure you that that was not how I intended the weekend to play out.  This post is to explain what happened and why I didn't make any posts during the actual convention itself.

So if you'd like a glimpse into the how of covering a comic book convention (or at least my version of that), please join me beyond the jump as I'll try to provide some insight into the process.  So if you want to get a look at how the sausage is made, feel free to click on through.  Otherwise, I appreciate your continue patience and New York Comic Con interviews, thoughts, and reactions will be forthcoming.

Still here?  Then let's do this.

As I briefly mentioned when announcing The Weekly Crisis coverage of NYCC, this was my first time covering a convention, and while I tried to prepare myself for it, there was something of a learning curve.

It just so happens that some parts were steeper than others.

Entrance to the Javits Center (it was rarely this empty)
The first lesson that I learned was that, much to my chagrin, the Javits Center's wifi doesn't really work all that well.  And by all that well, I really mean at all.  This was rather problematic, as I had intended to do a lot of preparation at the convention itself, which obviously wasn't going to happen.  Not to mention the difficulty it posed for, you know, posting things to that thing we call the internet.  While it's pretty popular everywhere else, the Javits Center apparently isn't much of a fan.

I heard from fellow attendees that it was something of a struggle to access cell phone networks to take advantage of data plans, but even if it was as easy as pie, that wouldn't have helped my situation because I'm Canadian.  I recognize that, on the surface that doesn't make any sense, but hear me out.  While the differences between Canada and the United States might at times seem minor, they are quite significant when it comes to cell phone coverage.  Without going into it too much, US cell phone service is both vastly superior and more affordable than its Canadian cousin.  For example, roaming coverage costs an arm and a leg.  I'd arranged to have (very) limited phone and text capabilities while in the US, but data was prohibitively expensive, so I was entirely reliant on wifi, which obviously didn't work out too well...

Indeed, I was only able to access the network once the entire weekend, but that instance brings us to lesson number 2: don't rely on technology (too much).  After conducting my first interview of the weekend, I realized that the recorder I was using to register interviews didn't seem to be working correctly.  Worried that I would lose the conversation I had finished mere minutes earlier, I proceeded to miraculously get onto the internet and attempt to trouble shoot the problem for two hours or so.  I was ultimately able to figure out a workable solution, but that ate a good chunk of my day and spelled the last time I would have access to the world wide web at NYCC.  Fortunately, that was the only issue with my recorder and I was able to conduct the rest of my interviews without difficulty.

The show floor (still relatively empty)
More generally, these instructive moments can be summarized by lesson number 3: no plan survives contact with the enemy.  That's not to say that I have an antagonistic relationship with New York Comic Con (despite what the above paragraphs might lead you to believe), but that one must remain ever flexible, changing and adapting plans as you go along.  I had some grand ideas of what all I'd do during the convention, and a good portion of that went out the window the minute I realized internet access was a no-no on site.  Even so, there were other ideas I had in mind that either weren't feasible or weren't fleshed out quite enough to actually do.  This was sometimes an unfortunate realization, but it also led to new ideas of how to approach the question.

Above all, this past weekend was a strong reminder that there is never enough time in the day.  New York Comic Con is enormous, and while I knew that I wouldn't be able to see and do everything that the convention has to offer, part of me still didn't understand how packed the whole thing is.  Once I started to get into something of a swing, it became evident that I would not have time to accomplish everything I had set out to do.  For example, I wasn't able to attend a single panel, as the ones I was most interested in conflicted with other things that I felt were more pressing.  I did my best to limit the impact of this, postponing interviews until after the convention or planning to finish opinion pieces at a later time, but there's still quite a bit that I didn't get to over those four days.

I will admit to being frustrated by these roadblocks and obstacles during the convention itself, but in retrospect, they are valuable lessons to have learned.  We only get better through experience, and while I am proud of what I managed at New York Comic Con, I'm eager to take this knowledge forward to future conventions to do even better.

If you've made it this far, I'd like to thank you for your time.  Hopefully you'll enjoy my NYCC coverage over the coming days.  After all, it's better late than never, right?


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