NYCC Better than SDCC for Indies and Small Press?


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I exhibited at this past weekend’s New York Comic Con, and it was a great experience but also very intense. “Perhaps it’s a little too big” was a sentiment I heard a lot at the show. I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for. Certainly for me, I do just as well if not better at the small shows like the MoCCA Art Festival or the Small Press Expo where my comics appeal more to the people looking specifically for new comics to read. I have less that appeals to the more “touristy” shoppers of the bigger shows.

But I do feel that NYCC maintains a good balance between offering a large event show for the general public and staying rooted in actual comic books, which is something that I feel SDCC has lost (and that’s why I won’t be exhibiting there next year for the first time in 4 years). 

This isn’t to say that NYCC didn’t have a certain amount of growth in other mediums. But it seemed more about the celebration of comics than the shift away from them. For evidence of this, I didn’t need to look any farther than my own experience. My first visit at the con was to the Epic Proportions booth, a t-shirt company that had three new exclusive shirts for NYCC featuring art by comic legends Walter Simonson, Geof Darrow and Larry Hama.

Then, at the booth next to me, an artist named Rob Crump was selling his work that he had put onto skateboard decks. These were enormously popular with a growing contingent of skaters who also like comics, or at least comic art. Even Rob was surprised at how well they sold.

In a similar vein, I noticed a new trend in putting art on technological devices. I visited American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque’s as he was drawing a sketch of Batman on someone’s Playstation box. And comiXology had a raffle to give away a new iPad the back of which Jim Lee had drawn a Green Lantern sketch with marker and white out.

But there were still a lot of actual comics and comic art on display at the show. Artist Alley was huge, with quite a lot of artists from around the world, making it a good place to see creators who are not normally at other shows. 

Something I noted about the set up for Artist’s Alley and Small Press was the fact that these two sections were placed together in their own room at the convention center. It was connected to the main section by a hallway, and passage in-between was fairly easy, but it was a separate room from the larger exhibit hall. 

I know some people were a bit apprehensive about this split. I suppose the concern was that the Artist Alley/Small Press room wouldn’t draw as much of a crowd, but I thought it worked well. I liked the idea that the people in our room knew that they were there to see creators and indie publishers. I also appreciated not being next to the really large booths blasting music or shouting through megaphones. The result was that it provided a little more organization that the large shows often lack.

I might still have been a small fish in a huge pond, but at least I was on the right end of this pond. In San Diego, I often feel that my table is just in the way of all the people rushing to a Twilight panel, or whatever happens to be the big media draw that year.

This doesn’t mean that NYCC is inherently better than SDCC. But they are a little different and both exhibitors and attendees should realize the differences and choose appropriately.

SDCC offers cheaper Small Press tables, costing about $500 less and the show is longer by an extra day and a half. And something I won’t let NYCC off the hook for is that their price doesn’t even include the table or chairs. You have to either bring your own or rent them from Reed Exhibits at the show (I don’t remember the cost, but it was pretty pricey).

This extra cost is still worth it for me because I live in New York and can bring my own table and chairs (which are much more comfortable than those usually provided at shows). I also don’t have to pay for flights or hotel rooms which more than makes up for the additional cost of the booth space.

I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed both cons, but based on what I see and what’s right for me, it’s time to move on from treating SDCC like a con that I have to attend and make room in my convention schedule for NYCC.


Tyler Chin-Tanner started his own publishing company, A Wave Blue World, where he wrote and drew layouts for Adrenaline, its flagship series, Adrenaline and wrote its latest graphic novel, American Terrorist.

© 2010 Tyler Chin-Tanner.  All rights reserved.


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