It makes no sense that the biggest comics convention in the U.S. should be in San Diego, of all places. After all, New York City is home to most of the heavy hitters in the Marvel superhero stable: Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Luke Cage. Dr. Strange even has a townhouse in Greenwich Village.
And while, on the DC Comics side, one can argue that Batman’s Gotham is more Chicago than Manhattan, Richard Donner did choose NYC to play the role of Metropolis in his 1978 “Superman: The Movie.”
Even so, New York hasn’t had a long history of major, big-ticket comics conventions akin to San Diego’s Comic-Con International, which has been running since 1970. But since 2006, fans have flocked to New York Comic-Con at the Jacob Javits Center in Midtown in increasing numbers. More than 100,000 attendees packed the con in 2011, so if you’re attending this year, you should probably have a game plan in place ahead of time.
Here are a few highlights from a superheroic lineup of panels and signings that will be going on from Thursday to Sunday:
Thursday, Oct. 11
2:30-3:30 p.m., Room 1A04: “Pitching for Professionals”: Got a sweet comic script or portfolio drawings in a drawer just waiting to be snapped up by a publisher? Current and former editors from Marvel and IDW publishing will give tips on how to pitch comics projects.
3:45-4:45 p.m., Room 1A06: “Hasbro: Transformers”: What’s next for everyone’s favorite transforming robot cross-platform behemoth? Find out here!
5:15-6:15 p.m., Room 1A07: Comics Studies Conference: Power and Sexuality in Comics: Academics dissect Tom of Finland, Los Penitentes and ladies in the Marvel Universe.
6:15-7:15 p.m., Room 1A06: “My Little Pony”: Any ‘bronies’ in attendance will want to stampede over to this panel and Q&A session.
8-10 p.m., IGN Theater: NYCC Kick-Off Concert: Ben Folds Five will rock out for all VIP and 4-Day ticket holders who can make it in.
Friday, Oct. 12
11 a.m.-noon, Room 1A01: “Setting the Score: Composing for Film & Television”: Composers working in fantasy, sci-fi and horror will draw back the curtain on their work.
11 a.m.-noon, Room 1A08: “CBLDF: The History of Comics Censorship”: Charles Brownstein, director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, walks through the history of comics censorship, from the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s onward.
2:45-3:45 p.m., IGN Theater: “AMC Presents Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men”: Famed filmmaker and fanboy Kevin Smith and crew discuss the second season of their reality show, “Comic Book Men,” set in Smith’s comic book shop.
6:30-7:30 p.m., Variant Stage: Costume Contest: Show off your outfit and admire others’ hard work!
Saturday, Oct. 13
11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Activity Zone: The 501st Legion’s “Shoot-A-Trooper”: Star Wars fans can take some potshots at a squad of volunteer stormtroopers with Nerf guns.
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Room 1A21: “Once More With Feeling: 15 Years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: ‘Buffy’ may no longer be amongst the current crop of television shows, but she lives on in comics. Editor Scott Allie and some surprise guests look back at the Slayerverse and its enrvirons.
1:30-2:30 p.m., Room 1E07: “DC Comics – The New 52”: Writers and artists including Aaron Kuder (Green Lantern: New Guardians), Jeff Lemire (Animal Man), Adam Glass (Suicide Squad) talk about the latest news from DC’s universe-wide reboot.
4-5 p.m., Room 1A01: “Gay Marriage in Comics: Revolutionary or a Step Backwards?”: 2012 featured two major same-sex marriages in mainstream comics, with both Marvel superhero Northstar and Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics, marrying their respective partners. Writers from both series discuss the impact.
6:15-7:15 p.m., IGN Theater: “Firefly 10th Anniversary Special Event – First Look”: New York Comic Con gets a sneak peek at a retrospective of Joss Whedon’s cult hit that will be premiering in November. Featuring surprise guests and “shiny” giveaways!
Sunday, Oct. 14
Noon-12:30 p.m.: Sesame Street: Elmo and friend Gordon will be leading sing-alongs on the con’s kids day. It’s unclear whether or not Elmo will be available for questions on the political fallout from the most recent presidential debate.
Throughout the weekend, comics and entertainment luminaries like Adam West (Batman), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), and Gullermo Del Toro (director of the Hellboy movie), and many more, will be signing autographs. And what would a comic book convention be without an appearance by Stan Lee?
A complete listing of panels and guests is on New York Comic-Con’s website.