Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pre Comic-Con This N’ That

Well NYCC is less than a month away and it looks like, once again it is going to be a blast! Attendees who purchased their tickets prior to the mailing this week should be seeing heir passes in a few days. I myself am posting my ever watchful dog Scully at the mailbox just to make sure there are no mishaps! Of course she DOES sleep most of the day so the “ever watchful” part is probably more like the “occasional glance”…and now that I think of it, the only thing Scully ever really looks at is her supper dish. Oh well, she IS furry and often wags her tail so all is not lost.
This year the Show is going to be over FOUR days, Thursday-Sunday October 13-16. For those of you who are going for the first time, prepare yourselves!

Below is my tried and true , well not actually TRUE true…more like semi true in the sense of not being exactly false…NYCC Survival guide!
1) Make use of the tools and schedule posted on the New York Comic Con Official Website. ( ). They have everything from floor maps to panel and show schedules, a list do’s and don’ts, booth locations for every dealer and show exclusives. This is all tied into an online show planner tool so you can print out your master plan! Trust me, you will NOT be able to attend every event at the Con. If you go in blind you will likely miss that ONE event you want to see most. So spending a few hours with the Show Planner is time well spent.
2) Arrive EARLY on the day of the Con. It is an absolute madhouse and it is very easy to find yourself still waiting to get in a good hour after the convention starts. Get into Manhattan early, have a BIG breakfast (you are going to need it! But more on food in a bit), and be among the first on line. One of the best times at the Con, for me, is chatting to people who are waiting to get into the show. It is a great opportunity to make new friends who share your passion for comics.
3) Bring a shopping “kit”. Believe me you don’t want to be walking around the floor with your swag dropping behind you. My kit consists of a good sized back pack with the following: two or three very sturdy shopping bags, a poster tube, bags and boards for any loose comics, Comic Book Price Guide, Folder with my show plan print outs, camera and extra batteries, and some snacks.
4) Ok, let’s talk food. You do NOT want to buy food inside the Javits Center. It is not bad by any means but it IS expensive and if you are like me, you have a limited budget. I for one would rather spend my dough on collectibles and not a $6 hot dog. Eat before you come in, slide a bag lunch or snack into your kit, and go OUT for dinner. There are several reasonably priced eating options outside the Javits Center. Believe me you ARE going to need to eat and refuel as NYCC will severely test your endurance!
5) We all know that one of the main reasons we attend the Con in the first place is to satisfy our UNBRIDLED AVARICE! When I look around at all that swag and all those dealers I feel like an Orange Lantern! Larfleeze Lives! MINEMINEMINE!!! BUT you can’t have everything so you need to maximize your bucks. Take the time to make a shopping list. What items are you aggressively hunting? Which are “nice to have” and which are low priority? Set a drop dead price for your items. Don’t over spend on a collectible. You may not get it at the Con but it WILL come your way down the road at your price if you are realistic in your expectations. Don’t go ANYWHERE without your trusty price guide. A CBG or Overstreet guide is a must in your kit. Second, shop around! Chances are that several dealers have the items you want. Don’t be afraid to bargain (just be polite and reasonable) and do your buying at the END of the day, preferably the end of the day on Sunday. Why? Dealers always give their best prices at the end of a show. Also anything you buy early, you are going to have to carry around for the rest of the day (unless you have a VIP pass and access to the VIP lounge).
6) FREE STUFF! Even if you don’t spend a DIME on a single comic or collectible you can go home with BAGS of free swag, from comics, to tee shirts, toys, posters…you name it. This should be your first hunter/gatherer activity because the best swag always goes FIRST. Hit the smaller companies first because they generally run out of give a ways before the big guys like Marvel and DC.
7) PACE YOURSELF. Especially if you are attending all four days you are going to need to take some breaks just to get away from the crowds. Breaks are the best time to find a quiet place and organize your swag/purchases to make sure they are not being damaged or lost. It is also a good idea to use breaks as a way to hook up with people you are attending the show with. Over the course of the day you WILL get separated so having a set time and place for a break will cut down on the “OMG!! I lost my little brother” syndrome.
8) Secure your personal electronics and your money. You are going to be sharing space with 100,000 people and on Saturday in particular you won’t be able to MOVE on the main floor. It is easy to lose your I-Pod, Cell phone or money if you don’t keep them secured properly. Plus, as much as we don’t like to think so, not everyone is honest. People WILL try to take your stuff if you tempt them by leaving it within easy reach. Keep your money in a front pocket and not in a wallet or purse. Think about living without your I-Pod (LEAVE IT HOME!)for the day and make sure your cell phone is secure on your person. Also, most of the transactions you will make will be in cash. While it is rare to find a dealer who will try to cheat you with change and such, they ARE handling so much money at the same time that it is EASY to make a mistake. It is ultimately YOUR responsibility to make sure you account for all of your change on purchases. COUNT it right there in front of the dealer before you leave the booth. A little vigilance will keep your weekend from being ruined by loss or theft.
9) One of my personal pet peeves is people dominating an autograph line. Nothing is more inconsiderate than bringing a BOX of items for a creator to sign. They have a limited amount of time to sign and if they burn up ten minutes of the hour on one person then other fellow collectors are going to go away disappointed. Don’t be a part of that problem. Three items or less is plenty and will help the line move along!
10) FINALLY make sure to tell everyone you meet that YOU shop at the very best comic shop in the world. Comic Book Jones! (Ok it’s a shameless plug but then I am a shameless guy !)
By now I don’t have to tell anyone that I am a die hard DC Universe Online NUT! Well if a wide open world full of DC goodness did not draw you in. If the addition of Green Lantern power sets and content wasn’t enough to get you to take the plunge. If the opportunity to join a league with ME (Coldfire!) didn’t grab you (Though that SHOULD have sent you running!), then how does FREE TO PLAY grab you??!!

(That’s ME above. ICONIC huh? :) )

Yup, coming at the end of October the good folks at SOE are making DCUO (DC Universe Online to you noobs!) free to play. Of course there are Premium and Legendary tiers that you can pay for but you can get into the world of DCU, play all the in game content and even join a League for NO bucks! I look at it as a great introduction to the game. A chance to dip your feet in and see if you like it. THEN you might decide to opt for a full access LEGENDARY plan that (among other things) allows you to have unlimited in game cash, 16 characters or more, free updates and full voice chat options. Both the PC and PS3 versions of the game will be going F2P!
NOW is the time for you to suit up and take down Brainiac!... Storming the inner Batcave to defeat brother Eye alongside SEVEN other team mates never gets old…and who would NOT want to become a member of the Justice League (you get THAT opportunity when you hit level 30!)?
And THAT’S 30!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


It’s almost impossible o believe but it has been a decade since the Towers fell on 9/11. So much has changed since then. A generation has past and 9/11 has moved from “current events” to history. This week I am going to share a column I wrote a day or so after the attack. It was originally printed in The Staten Island Advance.
No pictures this week.

No videos.

Just a remembrance from those days:

I took the Staten Island Ferry to NY this morning, as I have countless days
from the time I was in High School, through my days at Hunter College and
for the past two decades working in the "city that never sleeps". In all
respects the trip was exactly the same as it has been every one of those
thousands of days...except it wasn't.

As I came through the turnstiles on the Staten Island side, I found myself
looking for faces. The familiar faces that we ignore every day, but are so
much part of the background of our lives. I didn't see many. Perhaps I will
see more tomorrow.

I stopped for my morning coffee at the Dunkin Doughnuts stand. The same
middle eastern man who always serves my coffee with a smile and a good
morning. Except he didn't smile today. He looked hurt. Maybe he'll smile
tomorrow. I hope so.

I took the very same seat on the boat as I always do. Usually I open my
coffee and bury my face in a book or read the sports pages. Today I didn't.
Today I took a minute to really taste my coffee. Funny...most days it has no
taste at all. This morning it was the best cup I ever had. I hope it tastes
this good tomorrow.

I continued to look for familiar faces. People who also take the same seats
every day. I did see one young lady that I "know". She usually travels with
her friend. She wasn't there today. Maybe tomorrow. I hope so.

I stood out on the foredeck as we passed the Statue of Liberty. Funny how I
never really noticed just how beautiful the old lady really is. Was she
standing just a bit straighter today? It must be my least I
think so.

The cloud reaches out over the water this morning and I could smell it while
we were still five minutes from the dock. Everyone was looking at the naked
skyline, now barren of it's grandest symbol. The eyes of my fellow
passengers became very hard. Not anger...not fear...something else.
Something that told me that I wouldn't want to get into a fight with us. As
for me, I glanced over to the Empire State Building. She dominates the
skyline once more. How lonely she looks.

Walking up past Battery Park to Bowling Green Station, every eye was turned
up Lower Broadway. The Towers and the shade she cast downtown now gone. The
acrid smoke brought coughs from many people. We wore the coughs somewhat
proudly I think. It was sort of like doing penance.
Perhaps the air will clear tomorrow.

On the train a pretty girl smiled and said good morning to me. Normally
suspicion or shyness would have prevented that. Will she smile tomorrow? I
hope so.

My shoes still have the dust that collected on them last Tuesday when I
walked along South Street to the Ferry.
I noticed the shoeshine stand in Grand Central was back to normal. Several men were having their shoes shined. I'm not quite ready to part with my dust just yet.

Maybe tomorrow.

Stay Safe...and always remember