I attended the New York Comic Con yesterday, and now I’m so tired I feel like the walking dead. Hopefully that’s enough to justify (a) the ridiculous pun in this post’s title, and (b) a break from the Halloween-themed posts, which you might have noticed I haven’t been keeping up with as much as I planned to anyway.
My friend mc chris surprised me with a text on Friday, inviting me to attend the Comic Con with him on Sunday. I’d never attended any kind of big convention like this before, so naturally I was stoked. And because I am an idiot, I prepared for the big day by attending a midnight screening of Trick R Treat the night before. This ensured that I’d get about two hours of sleep before having to walk around a convention hall all day, but whatever, Trick R Treat rules, so it was worth it.
I should take this time to report with embarrassment that I didn’t bring a camera to the Con. I even asked my roommate to borrow one, but then forgot to take it along in my post-midnight-movie morning haziness. So all photos in this post are courtesy of mc’s camera phone, or Google Image Search.
We walked into the Jacob Javitz Center promptly at 10am, and my jaw dropped with excitement at the huge room of ridiculous shit before me. We were among the first people to enter, so for a half hour or so we had free reign to walk around without having to shove our way through crowds of people dressed as superheroes and anime characters.
The first thing we hit up was the DC Comics booth, one of the largest at the convention. You guys, DC Comics is so fucking cool. I’m almost sorry I visited this booth first, because they seriously set a precedent for awesome freebies that the rest of the con just couldn’t live up to. They had about ten tables set up with nothing but stacks of free comic books and other rad promo merch, which is how I’m now the proud owner of my very own Red Hood mask:
Since DC spoiled me, I was expecting all the publishers to do the same. So when I wandered over to the Archie Comics booth, I anticipated walking away with my arms full of Jughead’s Double Digest and The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. But to my dismay, their table of comic stacks had an accompanying price list. Throughout the day I learned that this was the case for most publishers, or that at best they’d have two or three freebie books. I thought this was really strange, because it seems to me that companies like Top Cow and Boom would benefit way more from giving out promo shit than DC would. Nobody at Comic Con needs to be reminded that Batman is awesome, but not everyone there knows what the hell IDW and Avatar are up to, yknow? Seems like a missed opportunity, but maybe I’m just bummed that I didn’t get more free shit.
Anyway, after my Christmas-morning-like experience at the DC booth, mc and I went a-video-gaming. First up was Rockstar’s booth for Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. I am a huge fan of Red Dead Redemption, and think it’s probably the best game Rockstar has ever made. Usually when I play games, especially open-world games like this, I play through just enough to achieve the minimum requirements necessary to “beat” it, not bothering with side quests or collecting shit or anything like that. But with Red Dead, I hungrily did everything. I picked every flower, raided every gang hideout, hunted down every bounty, and when I was done, I just rode around shooting rabbits and shit, sad that there wasn’t anything left to do. So I am chomping at the motherfucking bit for more single-player mission-based content from this game, and the zombie thing is just wonderful icing on a beautiful cake made out of magic. Yeah, I’m excited for this DLC, and my experience at ComiCon made me more stoked than ever.
The demo we played took place in a graveyard, where we were tasked with burning some coffins while at the same time fending off the hordes of hideous zombies who were attacking us. And just so you know, these are fast zombies. And they need to be shot in the head. Luckily, the game gives you cool big-ass new guns that blow their stupid zombie heads into splattering shit.
I, of course, played embarrassingly bad during my time with the demo. It was set up for X-Box 360, and I’m not used to that controller, so I spent most of my time getting bear-hugged by zombies while trying to figure out what button to push to make it stop. But guess what else I did? I rode a fucking zombie horse! This game needs to come out right the fuck now. After our playtime, Rockstar gave us free posters and a really nice free t-shirt. In what sounds like a joke from The Simpsons, Rockstar only had t-shirts in sizes XL and XXL, so poor mc chris didn’t get one, but my fat ass lucked out!
Next we headed to the Nintendo booth, where I briefly played Donkey Kong Country Returns co-op with a little girl. She was Donkey and I was Diddy, and we both sucked equally at the game. It looked and felt fantastic, but when my game-buddy and I both fell to our deaths in the same pit for the second time in a row, I decided to make better use of my time. Honestly, I’m only marginally looking forward to this game. I’m a big fan of Donkey Kong and his Country, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy this retread, but to be honest I’m pretty disappointed that this is what Retro have chosen to do with the Donkey Kong franchise. But that’s a rant I’ll save for another day.
Next we went to the Disney Interactive booth to play Epic Mickey, which is what I was most looking forward to. As a dedicated fanatic of both Disney and the Nintendo Wii, I have been freaking out over this game ever since that early concept art was leaked a while back, and now my anticipation is at an all-time high. mc chris and I are both big Disney fanboys, so we headed excitedly to the booth, but neither of us were expecting that Warren Spector himself would be standing there, casually watching people play! Like I said, I’ve never been to a ComicCon or an E3 or anything like this before, so maybe this is standard behavior for game developers at these things, but I sure didn’t see Miyamoto dicking around in the Nintendo booth or anything like that. I was pretty starstruck by Warren’s presence, but mc and I talked to him and the game’s other developers for a little while, and they were the nicest dudes you could ever hope to meet. Warren Spector seemed genuinely psyched to see what people thought of his game, and you could tell it was a project he was extremely passionate about. The developers kept excitedly talking about the game, big grins on their faces, as if they were little kids showing off an awesome picture they just drew to their parents. It was an honor to meet these guys, and wonderful to see fellow Disney fanboys beaming over getting to actually make a Mickey Mouse game. They are really hoping to help give Mickey a more dynamic role in the cultural landscape, beyond just being a corporate mascot, and I really hope this game does everything they want it to do.
And I think it will be a huge success because, well, it seems to fucking rule. I have been feverishly reading every scrap of information I could get on this game for months now, and getting more and more excited about it, but there was still this nagging voice in the back of my head that kept saying, “it’s a licensed game, it’s a licensed game, it’s a licensed game.” Because even Mickey Mouse, steampunk Disneyland and Warren Spector can’t stand up to the long history of mediocre-ass licensed video games. One thing I was particularly worried about was the play control, because this is the area where third-party licensed platforming games often suck the most – especially on the Wii. Well, I am pleased to say that the play control seems really, really good – almost a Nintendo-like level of quality when it comes to precision control. And the game itself? Oh it’s just so beautiful. The demo had me in a fucked up version of Fantasyland, where I had to smash teacups to find a power switch to start the Dumbo ride moving, so I could use the elephants as platforms to reach the entrance to It’s a Small World. Yeah, you read that right. If you are a Disney fanboy – and especially a Disney theme park fanboy like myself – I apologize for just making your fucking dick explode. I cannot fucking wait for Epic Mickey.
By this time, the convention hall was getting really crowded, so mc chris decided to go say hi to some artist friends and then bail out. We said our goodbyes, and then I continued walking around with my jaw on the ground. At this point, the Comic Con basically turned into a giant flea market, and I spent a couple of hours wandering around the vendor booths, scoring cheap-ass trade paperbacks and such. I found a decent amount of great stuff without having to drop too much money, and when my backpack could no longer handle having any more dumb shit crammed into it, I headed home, exhausted and stinky and happy.
Even without having attended any panels, the experience was amazing and overwhelming, kind of like a Warped Tour-type festival, mixed with a big flea market where every table is filled with stuff you want so badly, mixed with the greatest Halloween party of all time. One thing I wasn’t expecting for some reason was how many children would be there. It was heartwarming seeing a million little kids, many of them all dressed up like their favorite superheroes, sharing an awesome day with their geeky parents. I felt like a kid the minute I walked into the convention hall, so I can’t imagine how incredible it would have been to actually go to something like this when I was a kid.
All in all, despite the crowds and the stink and the exhaustion, this was a great experience! Thanks to mc chris for inviting me, to DC for all the free comic books, and to the Epic Mickey dudes for being my goddamn heroes. I wish I’d remembered that stupid camera.