The buzz from NYCC hasn’t died down yet, as many of us wish we could spend every weekend equally surrounded by pop-culture icons imagined and real and previews of upcoming hits and misses. CC2K has already celebrated some of the cool stuff, like the awesome self-stuffed animal maker and the cool stuff around the convention floor, but there was a lot to see–especially in gaming. As “comics” has come to be a stand-in for everything superhero, animated, sci-fi, fantasy or otherwise nerd-worthy, NYCC (and SDCC) has become a great place to check out what’s next across all media. Here are a few of my favorite things from NYCC that point to a bright future (and present) for pop culture, along with some of my pics from around the con.
1. Lots of Gaming!
It’s no secret that the “comic” part of comic con has become just part of a transmedia whirlwind, and gaming seems to take more headlines at conventions every year. NYCC did it up right with gaming tournaments throughout projected on a giant screen with live commentary putting the competition right in the middle of things—a great draw for the floor, and a nice reminder that at least in geek circles the seriousness with which we regard gaming is on the rise. And, of course, the gaming-related cosplay was impressive. It’s still early to say whether games like the new Star Wars MMO are going to break the World of Warcraft monopoly, but the line for the demo (and the cool new footage) points to an interesting new conception, particularly for leveling and grinding.
2. Respect for the Classics
With most booths dedicated to the latest installment in this or that franchise, it was great to see classic games taking their place around the floor. While classic comic collecting has a very visible community in cons like this one, classic gaming is often less recognized, and the preservation and extension of these systems and titles is a great sign both for archives and for an increased recognition of the history of games outside just the most-recognized classics. Libraries and museums are starting to collect these games seriously, but just as with comics, the fans have lead the way in preservation of original play experiences that emulators can’t quite recreate.
3. A Proper British Invasion
I love Doctor Who, and I was definitely impressed by the multi-generational costuming. I think I saw nearly every incarnation of Who represented, and plenty of side characters too. But there was one more old-school event I was thrilled to see that brought Monty Python to the stage in spirit, as some of the amazing directors and animators behind the “A Liar’s Autobiography” 3D “documentary” project shared footage and progress on their autobiography of Graham Chapman. You can learn more about the project here and get a glimpse of the whimsical, highly inventive spirit powering the film.
Steampunk has taken off almost unexpectedly, with an imagined evolution of steam-powered electronics offering a window into the many ways our technical world could be different. The gadgetry and spirit retains a decidedly Victorian bent, but it also offers an outlet for DIY, maker-powered culture that’s a refreshing alternative to gadgets that keep their innards where no-one can see or play with them. Cory Doctorow’s twitter feed during the event was a reminder that punk (like “hack” and “occupy” these days) is rather easy to apply to, well, anything–and perhaps we’ll seem some imaginative plays on poststeampunk next year.
5. More Cool Superhero Stuff
The resurgence of interest in superheroes powered by the seemingly unstoppable movie franchises was everywhere, as is only appropriate at Comic Con, and if the Avengers-frenzy and toy-buying is anything to go by our love affair isn’t over yet. And, with the masked hero playing a visible role as an icon in movements and as a reminder of individual power, this might be a good thing for more than “pop” culture. The political feel of the Avengers, particularly given the inclusion of Captain America and his emblematic heritage, will definitely be fascinating to watch as these franchises continue.