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The Inside Track on This Year’s NY Comic Con

Whether you want to pick up some tips on your Quidditch technique, meet a potential soulmate on a speed date co-hosted by Storm Troopers, or just drool over Rose McGowan all weekend, it’s likely the New York Comic Convention has something for you. I chatted with illustrator and seasoned Comic Con participant Steve Manale to get the lowdown on all things NYCC-related.

Can you tell us exactly what your role at Comic Con is?

At many comic conventions I’m set up at a table in ‘Artist Alley’ and do commissioned sketches for fans. When I’m prepared and relaxed, fans get fun, high-quality sketches like this.

When I’m hurried, stressed and possibly still hung over from the exclusive Comic Con parties that I crashed or snuck into, fans get sketches that look like this.

This year I don’t have a table set up, but I’ll be doing sketches at Art Baltazar’s booth part of the time. The rest of the time I’ll just be seeing old friends, walking around, taking pictures of cosplayers dressed up as their favorite video game and comic book characters, but I’ll also be casually pitching a few ideas to some publishers.
Hopefully they think ‘The Many Loves of Jimmy Olsen, Superman’s Pal’ sounds like a surefire hit!

What are you looking forward to the most?

I love so many things about comic conventions. Some of my favorite comic creators live and work in the New York area: Paul Pope, Evan Dorkin, Tara McPherson, Stephanie Buscema. It’s always great catching up with these guys and having discussions about the state of the comic industry, the movement towards digital comics, and who would win in a fight between, oh, say… Naked Captain America and Naked Batman. Naked Captain America wouldn’t have his shield, but Naked Batman wouldn’t have his utility belt. Every comic fan knows that if Batman had enough time to prepare he could take down anybody, but Captain America does have the Super-Soldier serum coursing through his veins…maybe I should save these points for the convention.

Will people who aren’t obsessed with comics be able to enjoy the event?

Everybody loves Comic Con! Advice for first-timers: As long as you have endless patience to wait in queues for panels or to meet all of your favorite cult, sci-fi, and comic heroes, and can tolerate the occasional gamey gamer, it’s always fun. Bring snacks and water, and soak in the nerdy chaos. Casual fans: give in and be a fan. Buy a comic, buy a sketch from an artist, and get some free giveaways. Aspiring comic pros: Be a peer, not a sycophant. If you want to talk to a pro about working in the industry, don’t bring up a copy of Strawberry Shortcake that he or she drew early on in their career when they were trying to make rent.

What are some of your favorite moments from past Comic Cons?

I have many great, nerdy Comic Con memories. Sneaking into the costume pageant when I was a youngster and doing a lame, half-hearted striptease, meeting my favorite comic creator, Bob Burden. One of my favorite Comic Con moments was when I met Marvel comics writing legend Stan Lee, who along with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, dialogued the adventures of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and every other thing you’ve ever seen anywhere in any medium. I was just walking out of the convention hall when I saw Stan “The Man” heading out of the bathroom. “What a perfect photo-op chance,” I thought, “and his hands may even be washed.” I walked over to Stan who, despite being over 200 years old, still seemed pretty spry. I said, “Stan! Can I get a picture?” Stan, who had a deep tan/sunburn from all of the flash photos that day, politely declined and headed off. I decided to appeal to his sense of pity by whining. I called out to him, “But Stan, I’m a huge Fantastic Four fan — look, I even just bought a figurine of The Thing!” To my amazement, Stan stopped, turned around and walked back to me and posed, saying, “I could never say no to a man with his THING in his hand!” The picture was snapped, and I stood there in shock that he was still the master of dialogue.

Any last words of wisdom?

Go to the Comic Con on Friday, if you can. Saturday is always insanely crowded, and by taking a day off work (you’ll need the whole day, trust me) you’ll get first crack at scoring incredible arcane and obscene comic book-themed treasures of yesteryear that executives haphazardly approved.

Have fun at Comic Con — and if the line for Mark Hamill is too long, just get me an autograph from character actor James Hong.

October 13-16 // 655 W. 34th St.(bet. 11th & 12th Aves.) // Comments Off on The Inside Track on This Year’s NY Comic Con