On the night of Friday, October 6th, while attending New York City Comic Con, I was poisoned. Over the course of the next day, my condition progressively worsened. By Saturday night I felt as if at death’s door, and despite my disdain for doctors and hospitals very nearly checked myself in, ready to forgo the final day of the convention. That was certainly the lowlight of the trip. And yet, despite wrestling with my own mortality, I can say with confidence that this past Comic Con was not only among the best weeks of my own life, but that I had an overall better time in Manhattan than absolutely any other convention goer there.
My Comic Con experience began bright and early on Thursday morning, catching the six am train from Hub City to New York Penn Station, replete with my weekly Thursday morning hangover (though, having recently switched to clear alcohols only during karaoke night, such spirits rarely haunt me past mid-morning anymore, and by the time I checked in at my hotel, felt fine). My reservations were for three nights at the Paramount right in the heart of Midtown; when dropping my luggage off at the lobby, I was initially impressed by the décor, not realizing such to be a false façade until finally arriving at my room much later that night; thankfully a beauteous blonde invited me back to her hotel then next night, as I’d have been embarrassed for her to see my suite. Needless to say, I won’t be staying there again.
Upon first arriving at the Javits Center, I meandered about the show floor for a bit. I prefer to purchase experiences more than merchandise, as evidenced by the sparse and spartan décor of my own apartment, so I had little intent of buying any posters or statues or other such memorabilia. Likewise for t-shirts and other appeal. At my most casual I wore a blazer and dark dress jeans; other days at the convention I fully suited up. I’ve no interest in adverting my interests via a printed tee, per the hoi polloi. My aesthetic sensibilities are far too refined for such, and I took a quite pride in being the best dressed man at the Con (excepting certain cosplayers).
My first real highlight came just before noon when I attended a panel featuring current Black Panther scribe Ta-Nehisi Coates – whose been called the most influential intellectual in America today – whose new book “We Were Eight Years in Power” is the next up on my reading list. In speaking to Mr. Coates, I opined that Marvel’s decision to hire an industry outsider – particularly a journalist/essayist as widely renowned and recognized as himself – to be an inspired decision, and inquired is he could think of any of his colleagues at The Atlantic that he’d likewise want to see break into comics. While I was hoping he might namedrop Conor Friedersdorf – a real life Clark Kent if ever there was one – the response Mr. Coates offered was perhaps more intriguing. Evidently, numerous staff members for The Atlantic are comic book fans, and they maintain a Slack chat with one another in which they discuss individual issues and the industry trends. If any of The Atlantic writers happen upon this article, please add me to that group!
My next appointment proved a misnomer, as “Marvel Legacy: The Next Big Thing” did nothing to engender my hopes that Legacy would do for Marvel what Rebirth had done for DC. While the one shot was certainly strong and brimming with promise and potential, none of the series outlined in the panel stirred me with anticipation. For the vast majority of my life I was flabbergasted by the frequent question every other comic reader would pose regarding whether I preferred Marvel or DC. I wasn’t a fanboy in the camp of either, and enjoyed certain series by both publishers. But over the past several years the rough ratio of my pull box between the Big 2 has drifted from approximately 50/50 to nearly entirely DC, with only the occasional issue from the (former) House of Ideas. My hopes that Legacy would restore the equilibrium was all but shattered at the panel.
From there it was on to “Go Go Power Rangers Comics!” hosted by Boom Studios, featuring half of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers themselves. While most in attendance were excited primarily by the presence of Billy, Zack, and Tommy (the Blue, Black, and Green Rangers, respectively), for me the real star was writer Kyle Higgins, whose ongoing Power Rangers series is inarguably the definitive take on the characters (this coming from a diehard fan since the first airing of the pilot episode back in ’93). He sufficiently built up my anticipation for the upcoming 25th anniversary, appropriately coinciding with the 25th issue of the current comic series. I’m both rueful and relieved that Amy Jo Johnson, the actress who portrayed Kimberly the Pink Ranger, was not in attendance, as I’d have had no choice but to use the question and answer period of the panel to ask my earliest childhood crush out for drinks afterward, despite the inevitable awkwardness of such a situation and the fact that she’s married.
My Thursday formally ended with “The State of Censorship in 2017” hosted by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (my charity of choice, not including the scholarships I offer in the form of $20 bills to the college girls at the Go Go Rama). I inquired as to how we might meet the challenge of the rise of antiliberalism in society, including the increase in sentiments against freedom of speech as well as the chilling effect that occurs in ideological homogenous communities against dissenting views (cf. Bret Weinstein, James Damore, etc). While such challenges are by their very nature extralegal, it was heartening to hear that the CBLDF nevertheless considers the work of educating the general public on the philosophic principles underlying our First Amendment rights to be well within their mandate.
By this point starving and unable to get a table at the restaurant where I had originally planned to dine, I found myself in the District Tap House. My tendency is normally to avoid sports bars at all costs, especially when a game is playing, but this fortuitously proved one of my best meals in Manhattan last week. My tapas included goat cheese croquettes, bacon wrapped dates, and lamb sliders. After an Archer-esq “power blackout” I hit the town hard, first revving up my engines at the hotel bar where, after striking out with one, I decided to add “ballerina” to my bucket list.
Then off to the next watering hole, its name erased from memory by the amnesia-inducing effects of the libations I consumed there. I do recall, however, buying some shots for a pretty pair of potential paramours across the bar from me that turned out to be sisters, my conversation with whom took the same surprising turn as with the ballerina but an hour beforehand; without prompting, both the ballerina and the twins express their fondness for Rick & Morty and inquired if I felt the same. This proved part of an emerging pattern over the course of the weekend, and though my sample size was somewhat small, I can still say with confidence that, while not every single Rick & Morty fan is a gorgeous girl, every single gorgeous girl is a Rick & Morty fan. I’d not have anticipated that level of overlap in the Venn Diagram between those two demographics, but the universe is a crazy and chaotic place.
Later, I learned a different, less heartening fact: New York City gentlemen’s clubs suck. While I’m not a frequent coinsure of burlesque art (comparatively), I’ve a highly developed philosophy with regards to the aesthetic experience of such. The customer enters the establishment cynical, and rightfully so. By the very nature of the business he knows that these exotic dancers are no starving artists (though the sveltely figured among them probably do starve themselves); they are mercenaries, their performance not a passion for their art or an actual affection for their audience, but rather motivated merely by money. Thus the best at the craft are not, per se, the prettiest, or the shapeliest, or the most skillful dancer, or even the most sensual. Instead, it the woman who can make a man forget the fact that he ought not be taken in, who can deceive him, if only during her dance, that the attraction he feels in that moment is mutual. A truly exceptional erotic dancer will zero in on a man’s deepest insecurities and offer so seemingly sincere a compliment about them that he believes it himself. Like a great work of fantasy literature, the fiction is so enchanting that one’s disbelief is suspended. Such is an aesthetic experience that everyone, regardless of their moral intuitions and inclinations, should seek out at least once in their life.
But such not to be found in Midtown Manhattan, evidently.
Thus, Thursday night gave way to Friday morning as I ambled from some strip club back to my hotel room, hitting the sack at the responsible hour of 5 AM, not wanting to stay out too late since I knew I had another long day of covering the Convention ahead of me in the morning.
Next time on NYCC Reviewed: Poisoned!