New York Comic Con roars into the Big Apple Thursday, and unlike its San Diego counterpart, Comic-Con International, which has become a haven for film publicity, this event is still about the printed page.
“Hollywood has taken over San Diego,” says writer Fred Van Lente. “But comics and publishing still rule at New York Comic Con in no small part, I’m sure, because this is the publishing capital of the country.”
Van Lente, who has called New York his home since 1995, certainly embraces the city in his work as a comic writer. Three of the four comics he’s currently writing — “Archer & Armstrong,” “G.I. Joe” and “Brain Boy” — are set, at least in part, here in the Big Apple.
“I definitely try to go out and experience as much of New York as possible,” he says. “That in itself provides a lot of growth in stories. ... A lot of it is just that it’s in front of me, but what’s in front of me is so awesome and I love sharing it with my readers.”
Fans can meet Van Lente and get their books signed him. He will be signing at his own booth as well as at booths from companies including New York publisher Valiant Comics and Dark Horse Comics.
The convention is one of New York City's largest events. Last year drew more than 116,000 people, so it can be a daunting task for even a seasoned convention-goer.
But Van Lente, a con veteran, did have a few suggestions on how to have a better show.
“Bring a bag — like a tote bag — but a lot of times you don’t [get one],” he says, adding that “Purell is always a good choice.”
As for navigating the convention, Van Lente recommends that you get there early.
“About midday, it’s wall-to-wall humanity.”
Justin Aclin, who is debuting his new series “S.H.O.O.T. First” — about “a team of militant atheists trying to protect the world from supernatural creatures they don’t even believe in” — advises con-goers to look beyond the big panels and the big booths and spend some time in Artist Alley.
“Not only are there some familiar names there that you can get some great face time with, but you might discover something new and awesome, too,” according to Aclin.
New York Comic Con runs Thursday through Sunday at the Javits Center, 655 W. 34th St.; sold out.
Get the first issue of Justin Aclin and Nicolas Daniel Selma’s new comic FREE at the Dark Horse booth on Sunday, starting at noon. While supplies last.
For a full schedule of signings, panels and other information, go to newyorkcomiccon.com.
Fred Van Lente dishes on his comics:
‘Archer & Armstrong’
“‘Archer & Armstrong’ is this kind of insane buddy comedy about a fun-loving immortal and a cloistered assassin who team up to smash conspiracies together.”
“‘Brain Boy’ is a revival of a super-obscure ’60s character from Dell Comics back in the day. As in that series, he’s a psychic super agent, specifically for the United States Secret Service.”
“We’re in the middle of a story line called ‘Threat Matrix,’ in which Cobra directly attacks New York City.”
‘The Mocking Dead’
“‘The Mocking Dead’ is a parody of zombie stories in general.”
Fred Van Lente will be signing on Friday from 1-2 p.m., on Saturday from noon-1 p.m. and Sunday from 2-2:30 p.m. at Booth 2028.
Q&A with Tony Cliff
Tony Cliff brings high adventure and thrills with his new graphic novel, “Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.” amNY spoke with Cliff before his appearance at New York Comic Con:
What is “Delilah Dirk” about?
Delilah is a brash, adventurous English woman. She is captured and interrogated by an earnest Janissary officer. ... His report about her is so outlandish, though, that he is sent to be executed. Delilah saves him, though, and now he feels honor-bound to repay this life-debt. It ends up being a story about friendship and the joys and perils of adventuring.
What were your inspirations for the characters?
I wanted to make something that would make people feel the way I felt about Indiana Jones. Plus, I’d been reading a lot of [Horatio] Hornblower and Sharpe novels at the time, so those are in there, plus a whole bunch of other bits, all blended together.
Why do you think adventure tales are so underrepresented in comics?
I’m not sure — I’d only be guessing. Perhaps the genre is better represented in movies and games. Maybe Indiana Jones cast too long a shadow.
Tony Cliff will be signing copies of his graphic novel at the First Second booth on Saturday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at noon. He will be at autograph area No. 21 on Saturday at 4 p.m.