|Fans crowd the Jacob Javits Center for New York Comic Con. Photo: Caitlin Dooley|
Taking place in the comic book, publishing, and media capital of the world, which is also home to some of our favorite superheroes including Spider-Man, Iron Man, DareDevil, and the Fantastic Four, it is not surprising that New York Comic Con (NYCC) has grown beyond its walls as fans tested its capacity. Around 167,000 fans packed into the Javits Center during the four-day pop-culture convention held on October 8–11, Forbes reported, topping last year's 151,000 attendees—an already huge record.
Attendance at NYCC began with only 12,000 at its inaugural event 10 years ago but reached six-digit attendance by 2011. It has since become the mecca of comics, video games, film, and television, bringing every fandom under one roof for a plethora of panels, screenings, and the Eastern Championship of Cosplay—the main event that tops off Saturday night.
"Ten years ago…we were in the basement of this lively building in one little hall," Lance Fensterman, ReedPOP's Global VP, told CNN. "We've kind of come out of the basement of the Javits Center just like our fans have come out of the basement…geek is mainstream."
NYCC's exponential growth forced ReedPOP to mimic San Diego and spiral its events out of the convention center and into nearby venues for the first time this year. Hammerstein Ballroom, located only a few blocks away, hosted a handful of large panels on Friday and Saturday, and The Walking Dead Fan Premiere—what used to be the largest panel on the Main Stage—was moved offsite to Madison Square Garden. Regular badges gave fans access to most offsite events, although special tickets were required for The Walking Dead premiere.
According to Fensterman, ticket demands for this year's convention quadrupled from 2014, far surpassing the number of VIP, 3-Day, 4-Day, and Saturday tickets available in the virtual queue when they went on sale in May. Once again, many fans were left disappointed and outraged when all passes sold out within hours and quickly popped up on third-party sites for over three times the price. As NYCC grows, ticket demand grows with it.
Major brands have also taken notice of the convention's growing popularity, taking full advantage of the demographic and marketing their products toward millennials. Six new brands were added to the list of sponsors this year, joining AT&T, who hosted the Main Stage panels that included Marvel's Jessica Jones premiere and Fox's X-Files revival. Progressive, which gave out storage lockers to attendees, had a team dressed as "Protector Girl" to hold fans' places in long lines. Pepsi offered their special "Pepsi Perfect" bottles from Back to the Future Part II to fans who dressed as Marty McFly or competed in a Wild Gunman contest.
Chevrolet, which has been a ReedPOP partner since 2011, collaborated with the American Cancer Society to create a special T-shirt designed by comic artist Amy Reeder for their Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign. Chevrolet donated $5 for each photo taken with their special Pink Camaro on the convention floor using the #IDRIVEFOR hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.
If you were unable to attend the convention, Courtyard by Marriott and Twitch sponsored a livestream via #NYCCLive and held a booth to film interviews with guests. General Mills' Honey Nut Cheerios also sponsored a morning recap livestream.
With easy access to a large crowd of young consumers, NYCC has become a major investment for companies to make a viral impact on the social media-savvy crowd, all the while creating a large economic impact for the city.
Though San Diego Comic Con has long since established itself as the front runner of some of the biggest pop culture announcements, NYCC has been persistent in becoming the new destination for film and television companies. Large banners hung throughout the TV-centric convention while panels for upcoming shows roared with excitement.
Earlier this summer, ReedPOP held its second annual Special Edition: NYC, a smaller comic-focused convention at Pier 94. Only a small fraction of the size of NYCC, Special Edition gave fans a close and intimate experience with the comics and their creators.
ReedPOP announced next year's New York Comic Con is scheduled for October 6–9, 2016 at the Javits Center. New York Super Week is set to begin on October 3rd.