Graced with a Press Badge which allowed me to attend all four days without cost, I can finally report on how the comeback of Comic Con was since COVID.
As soon as I was off the train, I was immediately met with people in costumes. It was easy to recognize who was headed to the same place. As I got closer to the Javitz Center, the streets were filled with hundreds of people with costumes galore. Police officers were working to guide the herds of Pokemon characters, Marvel heroes, anime fans, and regular attendees through the traffic.
Upon stepping foot into the convention center, I felt immersed in another world. The building was packed with colorful costumed attendees and giant posters hanging across the walls. As I walked inside, I overheard a couple next to me say, “I guess I just didn’t expect it to be this busy,” matching my exact thoughts.
Busy was an understatement. To walk anywhere, you had no choice but to push yourself through crowds. People were lined up everywhere, with lines seemingly never-ending— some didn’t even know what they were in line for. Sitting areas were a rare sight, with every edge of the convention’s walls and sides occupied by people sitting on the floor, trying to catch a break.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any busier, I took the escalator down to the Artist Alley. Hundreds of artists filled the entire floor, offering commissions, selling their work, and getting their name out there.
Events included celebrity panels and meetups, cosplay workshops taught by experts, comic book panels, Marvel trivia, video game tournaments, a cosplay contest, multiple anime meetups, and much more. Many panels were held in a new building connected within the Javits Center on the fourth floor, including the Chris Evans panel.
Luca, who attended the panel, mentioned how the Writer’s Guild effects were apparent when it felt like all Evans talked about was his pet before ending the event 30 minutes early. Other events, such as a cosplay workshop and guest panel I attended, were rushing to clean up since they ran over their schedule. Individuals were already lining up outside the door for the next event that was meant to be in the same room.
Apart from the events, Javitz also featured the Show Floor, filled with organizations and companies selling their products and hosting giveaways.
I interviewed one individual dressed in layers of clothes and a face fully made from prosthetics as HeiHachi from the Tekken series. He said, “I love the challenge of building stuff. So, every year, I come out and wear something crazy…. It’s like my second Halloween, so I love it.” He also mentioned how one of the greatest difficulties with cosplay during COVID was needing to find a way to mask up; thankfully attendees had more freedom this year.
This feeling of freedom was felt by organizations as well. This was Bethany Bonham’s second time at Comic Con, representing the Mehron makeup booth. Bonham commented, “I feel like people are definitely more excited this year than last year… People are able to really do fun makeup this year and not feel so constrained to just doing half of their face with it. We’re going all out this year!” Compared to last year, Mehron was allowed to offer makeup touch ups and face paint booths to attendees, filling into the enthusiasm of cosplay.
On the last day of Comic Con, all events ended early at around 5 p.m. As soon as the convention came to a close, lights began to dim throughout the convention center, and employees started ripping the carpets off to reveal the sticky rock floor underneath. They strategically removed the carpets, starting from the Show Floor, to guide the herds of people toward the main entrance area for their exit. Many individuals paused to take last-minute pictures, make final purchases, and engage in conversations with other attendees. One individual drew a crowd around him as he let others hold his trained pigeon.
Alongside the officers stationed outside, a row of bicycle taxis was ready for business, blaring music to catch the attention of everyone leaving the convention and in need of a ride. Once again, police worked to direct the herd of people through the streets. Four days of pushing through enthusiastic crowds while attending multiple booths and events was draining, but at the same time, enjoyable and memorable.
It’s safe to say that Comic Con has successfully made a full comeback from the challenges of COVID, and it looks like this is only the beginning. Next year, the convention returns on October 17-20, and tickets are bound to sell out fast. The question is: Will you be there?