NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER: Cosplayers at New York Comic Con at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Reedpop)
Comic Con returned to the Javits Center this fall, filling West Side Midtown Manhattan with adoring fans. This year was a 4-day weekend event, giving attendees plenty of options for which day to prioritize. I chose all 4 and it was a marathon.
As a comic, video game and anime fan in my youth, I decided Comic Con 2023 was the perfect opportunity to give something back to my inner child. And so did the rest of the crowd. When I say crowd, I mean sardine level, compactness. It was awesome.
Entering Comic Con – Technology Brings Efficiency
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 12: Javits Center on October 12, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Sophia Calderone)
In the past, my general experience with conventions during ticket pickup was waiting in extremely long lines combined with the threat of severe dehydration and hunger. Thanks to technology, the RFID badges attendees received made entry a much smoother process.
Line formations were cleverly arranged for entry, leading to will call and registration. They were still long upon entry and exit, but they at least moved consistently. And it was still faster than driving on the belt parkway.
Will Call was relatively painless and after a quick badge scan, you could immediately enact upon all your convention impulses.
Straight ahead was the showroom floor that contained all the vendors and exhibitors. Aside from that, from approximately left to right ( because there are levels ), attendees can go to the Gaming Zone presented by Meta Zoo, the Main Stage presented by DoorDash, Artist Alley and Writers Block, autograph signings, and then at the far right was panel rooms, and the Empire Stage presented by Tumblr.
The front area right immediately after Will Call is where a lot of cosplayers and photographers were snapping their best shots. Definitely felt like I was in a game of Frogger trying to reach the show floor room where the vendors and exhibitors were.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 14: Angewoman and Angemon Digimon cosplays at NYCC at Javits Center on October 12, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Sophia Calderone)
Vendors and Exhibitors in the Show Room at Comic Con
Comic Con can be overwhelming for someone who is visiting for the first time or someone who has not attended in awhile.
The Show Room floor contained with popular vendors such as Konami, Ebay, Crunchyroll, Marvel, and Toei Animation.
I made several stops admiring the amazing immersive shop setup for X-Men, adoring the historical figurines of Godzilla across time, and looking into the latest manga coming out.
There were also tons of lesser known vendors showcasing the absolute coolest fantasy and fiction merchandise.
Burgschneider brought their official Dungeons and Dragons ( D&D) licensed collection to the western audiences. The company prides themselves on historically accurate fantasy wear initially made for larping. The featured outfits were of the Wizard, Rogue, Cleric and Fighter. Upon speaking with Burgschneider’s representatives at the con, apparently the Rogue was the best seller so far, especially with it being a versatile outfit having a removable cape.
Attendees could also purchase swarovski crystal jewelry with Pokemon characters or Star Wars motifs at Rock Love Jewelry.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 14: New York Comic Con at Javits Center (Left) Burgschneider weapons stand and oufits. (Right) Rock Love Jewelry display case. (Photo by Sophia Calderone)
One of the best parts of Comic Con is also being able to find things you wouldn’t normally search for in all your popular fandoms. Fantasy apparel, t-shirts, mugs, keychains, wallpaper, rare prints, vintage comics – it’s all there. You just have to embrace the intense crowd to find it.
Events, Panels, Screenings, and Signings Oh My
This year was packed with panels for all ages and all interests. From educational talks to fandom gatherings, there was plenty to choose from. Major panels took place in the two far ends of the center, meaning it could be quite a walk to go in between places. Activities also ranged from morning to late night karaoke and after-parties.
Panels, Reveals and Horror
It’s a bit hard to prioritize when everything is just so cool.
Comic Con is where you go for the latest reveals, the most amazing collaborations, and exclusive opportunities to see your heroes in person.
Boldy Be with Kid Cudi, Star Trek and Fortnite
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 14: Kid Cudi and Alex Kurtzman at Star Trek Boldy Be Campaign Panel at New York Comic Con 2023 at Javits Center. (Photo by Catherine Powell/Getty Images for Paramount+)
Music producer Kid Cudi collaborated with Star Trek for their Boldly Be campaign at Comic Con. Cudi revealed his new song “Heaven’s Galaxy” inspired by his love for Star Trek. In a behind the scenes look, he mentions the record was meant to be an anthem for all of the Star Trek universe and one that also pays homage to his father who raised him on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
His collab extends to Star Trek apparel and a Fortnite collaboration where participants can partner with Captain Skyles, voiced by Cudi and named after his father, on a planet-saving mission.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 14: Kid Cudi attends New York Comic Con 2023 at Javits Center. (Photo by Catherine Powell/Getty Images for Paramount+)
Horror Happenings on Friday the 13th
There were also plenty of horror and thriller content panels considering that Comic Con fell upon the fateful October, Friday the 13th this year.
Several debuts occurred including the new Goosebumps series for Hulu and Disney+. The first episode of horror fairy-tale series Changeling for Apple TV+ was shown along with having its creators on an exclusive panel.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 12: A cosplayer poses during New York Comic Con 2023 – Day 1 at Javits Center on October 12, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for ReedPop)
For fans of the horror aesthetic, the Designing Worlds of Horror panel included costumes designers from oc-cult fan favorite shows such as Dajia Milan of Insidious: The Red Door, Vera Chow of The Walking Dead, Avery Plewes of Scream VI, Liz Vastola of Twisted Metal and the production designer of the new Netflix series The Fall of the House of User, Laurin Kelsey.
Audible Series Slayers: A Buffyverse Story Panel
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Audible Brings New Audible Original Series “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” to Life with “The Slayers Society” Activation at NYCC at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)
As a Buffy fan myself, I had to attend the Slayers: A Buffyverse Story panel on Friday afternoon. I waited for an hour on the stand-by line, eager to learn about the new Audible series. The panel consisted of original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” cast members Amber Benson, Charisma Carpenter, Emma Caufield, James Charles Leary, Juliet Landau and James Marsters along with newcomer Laya Deleon Hayes and co-creator and director Christopher Golden.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: (L-R) Christopher Golden, Laya DeLeon Hayes, Emma Caulfield Ford, Juliet Landau, James Charles Leary, James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter attend as “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” Stars And Creators Celebrate New Audible Original Series At NYCC With Panel And Visit To “The Slayers Society” Activation at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)
It’s a big challenge to bring such a well-loved universe to modern audiences. The panel talked about creating a series that added new life while keeping that classic “Buffy” feel.
Christopher Golden, co-writer and director for the new audio series with original cast member Amber Benson, spoke on how Amber was essential to getting people on board in order to make any of the series possible. It was clear why. Amber Benson was incredibly open about her love for the cast, tearfully calling them her “ride or dies” and being given tissues for support.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Audible Original “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” Series Stars (L-R) Christopher Golden and Amber Benson on Official New York Comic Con Panel at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)
New member Hayes, who voices the new slayer on the scene, Indira, talked about coming into the universe with already well-established characters and ensuring her character brought in something new that also fit within the Buffyverse. Marsters and Benson both praised her work ethic and amazing talent coming onto the set bringing her all.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Audible Original “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” Series Stars (L-R) Laya DeLeon Hayes and James Marsters on Official New York Comic Con Panel at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)
Fans were also given a little in-character improv between James Marsters and Juliet Landau as Spike and Drusilla. This sent the audiences raving and allowed a sneak peek into how wonderful the chemistry is between the actors. It was amazing to see how effortlessly Marsters withdrew into Spike-mode and how deliciously Landau became the unhinged yet seductive Drusilla.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Audible Original “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” Series Stars James Charles Leary on Official New York Comic Con Panel at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)
The series was also an opportunity to have cast members work together who may not have had a chance to do so in the original series. Leary talked about the wonderful experience of having everyone do their lines together and play off each other. Emma Caufield also had to “play off” herself sometimes, voicing multiple versions of her character, Anyanka, at the same time.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Audible Original “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” Series Stars Emma Caulfield Ford at “The Slayers Society” New York Comic Con Activation at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)
Probably, the most wonderful aspect of this panel was Charisma Carpenter commenting on how safe this experience was. It’s important that she brought up the unspoken elephant in the room about the series’ dark past. As a survivor, this one comment was all I needed to hear on how trustworthy this series is as no art is worth the abuse of its participants. It sounds like this series will be healing for both the cast and all Buffyverse fans as well.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 13: Audible Original “Slayers: A Buffyverse Story” Series Stars Charisma Carpenter on Official New York Comic Con Panel at Javits Center on October 13, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audible)
Getting those Autographs
With all the panels, it’s hard to see it all. But if you need Comic Con for one thing and one thing only, it’s the opportunity to meet the actors behind your heroes. This year Comic Con hosted autographing sessions from tons of big names such as Chris Evans, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tom Hiddleston.
You could also find your favorite voice actors in the Exhibitors section on the showroom floor. I caught a quick glimpse of the sweet, loveable Jim Cummings ( voice actor to Winnie the Pooh ) yet missed my chance to meet horror icon John Carpenter.
I also got to meet, hug and get a photo with Jonathan Todd Ross who voiced my favorite childhood villain from the anime series Yu-Gi-Oh. That autograph is going to get framed and put on a wall.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 14: Jonathan Todd Ross at Javits Center on October 14, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Sophia Calderone)
Artist Alley, Writer’s Block and the CGC
Major autograph signings were next door to one my favorite in conventions – Artist Alley.
Artist Alley is where artists get to display their work and connect with audiences. There were tons of well-known individuals within the comic illustration world ( and my favorites) such as Chip Zdarsky, Jorge Jiménez, Adam Huges, Paul Pope, David Mack and the Frank Miller in the mix.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 12: Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jiménez attend New York Comic Con 2023 – Day 1 at Javits Center on October 12, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for ReedPop)
Writer’s Block was situated between Artist Alley and the Autographing area. This section focused on authors and written works. Barnes and Nobles had a section with lots of literary works to peruse.
Attendees could get also get their work officially graded by the Certified Guaranty Company ( or CGC ) at Comic con.
The CGC is a third party grading service based in Sarasota, Florida, that can determine and rate the value of comic books, trading cards, posters and other collectibles. You can imagine at a place like Comic Con, full of vintage comics and autographing opportunities, it’s a collectors and sellers dream to have everything situated in the same space.
While I did not get any professionally graded works, I made sure to stop by as many tables as I could during my time perusing Artist Alley. I got to speak with the absolutely amazing Sedat Oezgen, who immediately drew me in with his hauntingly beautiful Batman ink work.
I also stopped to chat with Celia Calle, artist of Speed Pussy, on navigating social media as an artist. Before leaving Artist Alley, I snuck into my budget a sweet Mothra illustration by Ryan Miller, comic creator of all things dinosaur, mecha and kaiju.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 15: A view of the Penguin Random House booth during New York Comic Con 2023 – Day 4 at Javits Center on October 15, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for ReedPop)
And That’s A Wrap for Comic Con 2023
It was a fulfilling and exciting time at Comic Con. Four days was almost more than I bargained for with as much as it offered and I was exhausted by the end of it. Pacing yourself is so important as it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
For those looking to attend next year some quick tips:
1) Get a Weekend Pass ASAP
Weekend Passes are an insanely better deal but they go quickly so swipe one as soon as you can. You’ll want those extra days so you can spread out your activities and planning.
2) Plan in advance.
It’s helpful to go in with a slight game plan so you aren’t completely overwhelmed ( I use that word a lot in this article for a reason). Look up artists and vendors on the Comic Con website. Download the map of Javits Center for review. Plan 1-2 major panels or exhibits per day. The rest you can be flexible with in case you come across an amazing vendor or start chatting with an artist.
3) Use the first day as reconnaissance.
If you are at Comic Con for the weekend, I highly recommend using the first day to understand where everything is. Walk from one side to the other and see how long it takes you. This way if you have a panel in the main stage area or a room on the right side of the Javits Center, you can plan accordingly.
4) Arrive Early For Panels
If you aren’t a VIP pass holder, and want to attend a popular panel ( such as the Buffyverse panel that I did ), arrive at least 1 hour beforehand. Nothing guarantees entry, but even for the immense interest in the panel I went to, 1 hour is pretty good for making sure you get in that room.
5) Know Your Energy Levels
This is a part of the “planning in advance” stage. Midday and the weekends are going to have more people. Lines will be longer. The showroom with vendors and even Artist Alley can be severely packed to the point where you can barely move forward. If you get excessively drained from being around crowds, keep this in mind.
6) Stay Hydrated and Fed
This goes for any event, but keep yourself hydrated and remember to eat. It sounds silly, but it is so easy to forget amongst all the hustle and excitement that you are a living being that needs food and water. There are two Starbucks on site. One at the entrance and one near the main stage area. Lines are long midday so think about doing mobile pick-up.
There are also lots of food trucks and a food court, making it easier to find food without leaving the vicinity. Don’t wait until you are starving and hangry before grabbing a bite. It’ll ruin your experience and add to unnecessary stress. I’ve seen people fight because they were just hungry and tired. No need for that to be you or your group.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 14: Cosplayers posing as Ahsoka Tano and Aayla Secura from Star Wars during New York Comic Con 2023 – Day 3 at Javits Center on October 14, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for ReedPop)
I had an amazing time at Comic Con 2023. Talked to amazing, talented people. Went to an exciting panel reveal. Saw some incredible cosplays. And walked away with a signed autograph from a childhood favorite.
This is what Comic Con is all about. Keeping your inner child alive and healing what was broken.
If you get no other chance during the year to give back something to yourself, Comic Con is a way to do it.
So, that’s a wrap for this year’s Comic Con 2023.
Until next time ~