Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NYCC vs Big Apple

When I was in High school, I used to frequent a comic shop in Flushing Queens. Back then it was a big deal going to one of those places. Normally I got my comics at the newsstand by my school. Cut to a few (well, many) years later and we had Michael Carbanaro (head of the Big Apple Con) as a guest on my radio show. Turns out that he was the owner of the very same comic book store I had gone to as a kid! During that show, I found out that b/c of the great convention debacle of (I believe) '96 he founded the Big Apple cons. The aforementioned debacle was a convention at the Javits center (in NYC) that was closed down by the Fire Marshal. Mike took it upon himself to get everyone there (seeing as how he had everything he needed to start a con, people, vendors, "celebs") to go to a Church and start his own convention company that very same day. For years it was a monthly con which was out of a church (actually the basement) near Columbus Circle. Once every year he held the "National" convention which was in November at a bigger location. I got to "know" Mike and we have a business relationship. As time went on, he moved to a bigger and better venue (across the street from Madison Square Garden) which is where all of his cons are held to this very day. He has had big cons, little cons and all types in between. If you may remember I have had tables at some of those conventions. It's where I have met quite a few contacts from the comic book industry.

Then along came the NYCC. Reed Exhibitions who did Book conventions said "Hey, Comics are books. Hell, part of the word comic book is book! Let's do a convention just on that." Of course at the time, they were unsure how things would go. The city was un-cooperative "Comics are for kids, there is no money the be had" and since the other "big name" in comics never held a con there (Wizard) they rented a small portion of the Javits center out. They only had two headliners (the Wrestler Kane and Milla Jovovich) but they promoted the hell out of it.

It sold out. Not only did it sell out, people who already had tickets to get in couldn't. It was a huge disaster and a huge success at the same time. The second year, the show was double the size and it still sold out. Same for the third. It keeps getting bigger and better each year. This year is to be the biggest yet, and it is being predicted that it will surpass the SDCC (which will celebrate 40 years in 2009) in just a few more years. The con has gotten so big that they are asking for $65.00 for a 3 day pass at the door (cheaper if you buy it online).

I "know" the Head of the NYCC (Lance Fensterman) too. He also has been a guest on our show. Once again, we have a professional relationship going. So I have no "sides".

But it seems that while Mike has been puttering along and getting headliners like George Lazenby (for his most recent con). Lance gets Stephen King, Neil Patrick Harris, Grace Park and Brenden Frasier just to name a few. Now yes, Lance only has one show a year, and Mike Still has many, but Lazenby?

I think there is place for both cons in NYC. but Mike has to set up to the plate, and Lance has to remember the roots of comic book conventions.

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