Despite taking place at a new venue with some quirks, attendance for ReedPOP’s Special Edition: NYC was up 40% from 2014, its inaugural year, according to event director Mike Armstrong. The event was held June 6-7 at Pier 94 over the Hudson River, and is a sort of stripped down comics-only alternative to the louder, more chaotic New York Comic-Con, which features a mix of video games, movies and toys.
The focus for SE:NYC was on Artist Alley, the area where artists and small presses traditionally set up to sell their wares, with several hundred creators on hand. While a few publishers and dealers exhibited, most fans congregated to get books signed, or to buy sketches. Among the most popular: Jason LaTour and Robbi Rodriquez, the team on Marvel’s unexpected hit Spider-Gwen; and Annie Wu, the new artist on DC’s Black Canary. According to Armstrong, several well-known creators said that on Saturday they had their best sales day for any convention they've ever attended. “We’re really happy with the early returns from our exhibitors and creators,” he told PW.
Although neither Marvel nor DC set up, they both had prominent panels. Marvel’s most popular writer, Brian Michel Bendis, announced he’d be doing a new version of Iron Man for the All New, All Different relaunch of Marvel titles planned for the fall. And DC promoted some of their own new titles, including a younger John Constantine who is definitely bisexual and the Midnighter, a book featuring a gay superhero couple.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the show was the diverse array of creators, which included members of Portland’s Periscope Studios—Jeff Parker, Dylan Meconis and Natalie Nourigat—and creators best known for non-superhero work, such as Brandon Graham, Alex DeCampi and Kate Leth. It was a mix that was by design, according to Kennedy. “The response to the diverse lineup of talent both in Artist Alley and in panels was excellent, and we’re really proud of what we put together.”
While the event was a success, the raw space of Pier 94 was left something to be desired, with its damp cement floor and tubular air ducts throbbing overhead. The remote Manhattan location of the space and lack of amenities were also minuses. The show hopes to return to the Javits Center’s North Hall next year.
Although Special Edition held its own as an event, it was in some ways still overshadowed by its big brother, New York Comic Con. SE:NYC held an onsite sale for a few thousand remaining tickets to the sold out fall NYCC show, and that prompted some fans to camp out over night and then wait in a long line.