I don’t have any grey hairs yet, so I’m marking the aging process by how tired I get when someone even MENTIONS Comic Con. Some people’s bodies show evidence of long-term damage from playing sports or running a marathon. I want to know about the long-term effects of standing on a cement floor in a pair of Toms for five hours straight.
But New York Comic Con is a tentpole event of our year and endure, we must. Once again, we headed back to the Javits for four full days of fandom fun. (I usually say “nights” too, but we left the after-parties to the kids this year. Your grandmas had to go home to watch their shows.) As ever, NYCC was a learning experience. And we’re here to pass those lessons along to you. –Sage
1. Tapping in Is the Way of the Future
The principle difference between New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con is the fact that they clear their mainstage hall between each panel. (Would that SDCC could figure out a way to clear Hall H between panels, honestly.) For the past two years, NYCC has had a wristband system for their mainstage panels, where each panel had a chute in the queue hall and you would have to pick one to wait in until 10 AM, at which time harried volunteers would then put wristbands on impatient nerds one by one until the panel was capped out. Then, if you wanted to do another panel, you would go into that chute to get another wristband if that panel had not capped out. This system worked because it FORCED you to prioritize your mainstage panels but at the same time it was a sloooooooow process and human error was a big factor. (Notoriously last year, the volunteers gave out wristbands for the Jessica Jones panel to the standby line first, cutting off people who had gotten there much earlier.)
For NYCC 2016, a new system was implemented. Instead of wristbands, volunteers tapped the RFID chip on the badges, which registered your spot on the panel. Then, when it came time to load people in for panels, you would have to tap your badge to gain admittance into the room. I had some doubts about how this system would work at first, but let me tell you…it worked BEAUTIFULLY. First of all, they started tapping our badges almost as soon as the initial rush got settled into the chutes, allowing the crowds to either go get in the line for the show floor or another mainstage line. Second, you got an email confirmation from the system as soon as your badge was tapped, leaving no room for doubt that you would indeed be attending that panel. Third, it allowed the NYCC app to give constant updates on the status of each panel and whether or not they had capped. (For example, we got buzzed that the Iron Fist panel had capped before we even made it into the queue hall on Saturday morning.) Fourth, it slowed the crush of humanity and the race for good seats when they were loading everyone into the room for the panels because every single person had to have their badge tapped. It was all dignified and organized and dare I say CALM which was refreshing as hell. Well done, NYCC. Four for you.
I also have to give a bonus shout-out to the staff of NYCC for choosing to allow the crowd to be loaded into the Javits Center on Sunday morning MUCH earlier than normal due to inclement weather. A little kindness goes a LONG way, especially on the last day of a long weekend. Snaps. –Kim
2. “Native Stories” Are Maybe Not Ethan Hawke’s Area of Expertise
Our first panel was our most problematic one. Well. Nice to get it out of the way.
For Reality Bites/Before trilogy/Dead Poets reasons, we checked out the panel Ethan Hawke was speaking on, along with artist Greg Ruth. They were talking about a black-and-white graphic novel they collaborated on called Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars. The panel was titled “Native Stories.” Guess how many Native people were sitting on the dais. Goose egg.
I haven’t read this book. And both Ruth and Hawke seemed to be passionate about presenting a quintessentially American story from a history that’s shamefully ignored. I won’t make a judgment about who can tell whose stories, though I have many, MANY thoughts about it. What I want to talk about is the collaborators’ responses to serious and frankly obvious questions about strapping on the ol’ cultural blinders. Moderator Abraham Reisman from Vulture introduced the elephant in the room, asking if Ruth and Hawke ever had any qualms about being two white men writing and framing a Native American narrative.
You guys. The mental and verbal gymnastics that these men did. It was almost inspiring. Tone-deaf and drowning in privilege, but inspiring. The answer pinged back and forth between Ruth and Hawke and lasted for nearly ten minutes. The conclusion Hawke came to was this: “We’ve given ourselves a harder time for this than anyone.” OH OKAY. Great news, y’all. An artist accused himself of cultural appropriation; thought about it long and hard; and then found himself not guilty. The justice of it all. The ability of white cis straight men to forgive themselves while outside criticism ricochets off them like bullets off Luke friggin’ Cage is truly amazing.
Oh, Hawke mentioned that he’d given the galleys of the book to two of his castmates on The Magnificent Seven: Martin Sensmeier, who grew up in a Tlingit community in Alaska, and Jonathan Joss, who was born in Texas and has Comanche and Apache blood. He told the audience that the actors “and their entire families” had a LOT of feedback for him. And he didn’t volunteer the nature of that feedback, so I’m guessing it wasn’t positive.
That conversation came about when an audience member asked the panelists if they’d spoken with any indigenous people while working on the book. Hawke went on and on about how “inviting too many” people into the creative process “dilutes” it. (???????) The whole first half of the panel was all about how these two poured blood and sweat into this book in their selfless effort to tell this story accurately, but a couple of notes from an ACTUAL Apache would have derailed the whole exercise? And how is handing over a finished copy to the only native folks in your immediate vicinity so they can tell you how great it is comparable to responsible cultural storytelling? I hope they recorded this and reviewed the game tapes of this one later, because GEEZ. –Sage
3. Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, and Alex Kingston Like Each Other A Whole Lot
NYCC 2016 was overflowing in riches when it came to Doctor Who. (About time, really. This is our fourth year going and other than a Big Finish panel in 2013 and a Q&A with Arthur Darvill in 2014, Doctor Who has been incredibly absent from NYCC.) Not only did we get a panel with the current TARDIS team (more on that later), we got a nostalgia panel with Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald, queen of our hearts), and Alex Kingston (River Song). We have had the pleasure of seeing Alex and Jenna on panels at other conventions but we’ve never had the pleasure hearing Matt Smith talk about his time in the TARDIS in person. All three of these cupcakes are great on their own but putting them together on one panel? That is something special, friends. It was such a delight to see the genuine affection they have for each other and the way they played off of each other. That hour FLEW by. –Kim
- Want a lesson on how tabloid reporting works? Matt quipped that he was on a panel with his wife and his girlfriend and MINUTES later there was an article on Radio Times proclaiming “Matt Smith calls Clara The Doctor’s Girlfriend!!” (They even pulled one of our tweets as proof of this statement, thanks guys!) Never mind that Matt totally said it tongue in cheek.
- Jenna is fresh off the success of Victoria and Matt made no bones about fawning over his former co-star? “You’re getting a Christmas Special? Bloody Hell!” HE’S SO PROUD OF HER.
- Matt also has done the math for the character he plays in Netflix’s The Crown and Jenna’s Victoria. “Great-great-great-son-in-law. So TECHNICALLY we could get it on.” Okay, we’re all agreed that everyone was a little bit in love with Jenna, yes? Yes. Moving on.
- There was a LOT of discussion about Arthur Darvill’s role on Legends of Tomorrow. “To me, he’s always Silly Old Rory with his strange face,” Matt quipped when asked if Arthur was better at playing a Time Lord-esque character than him. Alex added to the brain melting Whovian family tree by factoring in HER role as Sara Lance’s mother on Arrow. “My daughter on Arrow is now on Legends with my father. Technically, Rip is Sara’s grandfather?” THAT MAKES SHIPPING THEM PROBLEMATIC, WHOOPS.
- Not seen in any of these pictures: Alex’s IMPRESSIVE statement ring.
- Alex prefers Capaldi’s TARDIS to Matt’s. I also think she said this to rile Matt up because he was notoriously jealous that she went back to Doctor Who because he’s more than a little possessive of River as Eleven’s person. She also said that Ten’s TARDIS “felt a little like being inside a pumpkin.”
- Jenna originally auditioned for Mels. “They were never going to cast me as Karen Gillan’s best friend because I’m just too short for her!”
- Matt was asked when he would be following Karen and David’s lead by joining a Marvel franchise. “My question is…when will they ask me?” SOON PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
- As tends to be the norm on panels like these, there was a lot of love for Billie Piper and Rose Tyler. Matt picked her as the companion he would have liked to have worked with (“She’s my friend and I like her.”) and Alex told a story of getting smashed with Bills at a bar after they did a convention together. Add that tidbit to the tales John Hurt told of drinking with Billie while they were filming the 50th and you have the person WE most want to party with from the Doctor Who family.
- “It was amazing…I shit my pants though.” – Matt getting real about shooting the TARDIS arriving in Trafalgar Square for the 50th Anniversary.
- Matt commented that some of his favorite scenes he filmed with Jenna were the more domestic scenes between Clara and Eleven. He specifically pointed out the scene in “The Bells of St. John” where Eleven set out a platter of Jammy Dodgers for a sleeping Clara which OUCH. Clara and the Doctor is SO REAL.
- Drinking often proved the only way to battle the cold Welsh weather…or so Alex claimed when Matt called them out for drinking red wine all while filming “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone.”
- Alex is in complete favor of River Song joining forces with Torchwood if the reboot happens. YES PLEASE OH MY GOD.
- “He’s like a jazz musician. But in space.” – Matt perfectly summing up his interpretation of The Doctor.
- “I quite like that one with The Devil.” – Matt picking his favorite RTD episode and proving that his taste is exquisite because “The Satan Pit” is FLAWLESS. Fight us.
- The moderator dared to suggest that Clara was a bad teacher because she missed so much time on her adventures with The Doctor. Jenna shut that shit down IMMEDIATELY, reminding him that Clara’s agreement with The Doctor involved taking her back to the moment she left so she WOULDN’T miss anything in her normal life. Queen.
- “Doctor Who, at its core, is a show about love. In all forms. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.” – Alex Kingston, gloriously shutting down all the Noromo Whovians.
- When the panel was asked if anyone ever broke anything on set, both ladies turned and pointed at Matt. “I am Matt and I am clumsy,” he said ruefully. The Drunken Giraffe is a real thing, y’all.
- Jenna: “I broke the TARDIS on my first day. It was awful.” Matt: “You just broke my heart.” WHY IS HE LIKE THIS?
- Alex hopped to Matt’s defense when one fan accused him of leaving the show too soon. “Do you KNOW how hard they work the Doctors?” Then she recounted Capaldi’s exhausting schedule while they were filming “The Husbands of River Song” and it made me want to take a nap.
- “That’s one of my great regrets. That I didn’t get a full season with Jenna.” He also called her “Coleman” at one point, really we’re fine.
4. The Eleventh Doctor is an Excellent Cuddler
This is going to be very gushy and gross, so I’ll also make it brief.
It’s been so long since I’ve watched Matt or been in his presence. Our photo-op was scheduled for after the panel. And as soon as I saw his swoopy hair and day-old stubble, I knew we were toast. Eleven is such a squishy, childlike Doctor that it’s very easy to forget that the guy who plays him is a total babe.
We went in with a game plan, and I can say with total confidence that it resulted in my favorite HOF photo-op ever. My only regret is that you can’t see my jordandene “Hello Sweetie” tank because it’s pressed against Matt Smith. (Okay, like, half a regret.) Anyway, MATT noticed it and greeted us with a, “Hel-lo, sweeties.” (I added it to our Twitter bio two minutes later.) The rest went like so:
Head Over Feels: We’re going to hug you, if that’s okay.
Matt: Oh, hug away.
Head Over Feels: *dies*
He’s so tactile and he smelled so nice and he made good eye contact and I know these things are very, very short but they can also be very, very meaningful. So, Matt Smith: thank you for being completely lovely. Love, two of the girls who squeezed you (WITH PERMISSION) in New York. –Sage
5. We ARE the Crazy Whovians
There’s a great quote from How I Met Your Mother (may it burn in Hell) that goes “If you can’t spot the crazy person on the bus, it’s probably you.” Well, at 4:45 AM on Friday October 7th, in front of an empty Madison Square Garden, we realized the crazy Whovians were US.
Listen. We didn’t INTEND to be the first people in line for BBC America’s Takeover Panel at Madison Square Garden. All we knew was that Peter Capaldi was making his first NYCC appearance and that Pearl Mackie was making her first con appearance EVER and we weren’t going to underestimate Whovians. NYCC moving marquee panels to the Theater at Madison Square Garden was like the Wild Wild West and we had NO idea what time Whovians would start lining up, despite NYCC’s declaration that the queue would not be opening up until 8 AM and overnight camping was “discouraged”. After all, Whovians started lining up for SDCC’s Hall H panel a full 2 days before the con even started. We were certain that we would find a line of people when we got there at 5 AM, so imagine our surprise when (due to some train luck) we got there at 4:45 and we were the first ones there. That couldn’t be right. Michelle and I did a full lap around the block searching for a line before we realized that we were the ones who would be starting it. We picked up 4 more stray Whovians who were wandering around doing the same thing. Someone’s got to start the line and this time it happened to be us. We consider it a badge of honor.
Waiting in lines is the nature of the beast when it comes to cons and it can be miserable or it can be fun. It’s all what you choose to make of it. We always choose to make it fun and make friends with all the people around us. You all have something in common, after all, so you might as well share in the madness. We were able to take shifts for people to go get breakfast (Us wandering around trying to find a fast food joint open at 5 AM: THIS IS THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS WHY ARE THESE PLACES SLEEPING?) and we were able to share tales of Whovian adventures past. We shared photo ops and talked up Long Island Who to our fellow line goers. Yeah, we could have gotten there several hours later and still gotten in but then we would have missed the free donuts from BBC America and more importantly, we would have missed the Dirk Gently Corgi Parade. Puppies and Pastries…they are almost better than coffee for perking up your spirits when the wait seems interminable.
Once the doors were open, there was a sprint to the theatre. Thanks to a power we didn’t know Michelle possessed, we snagged front row center seats with only minimal fighting from one girl who tried to move my bag off our fourth seat. (Me: Excuse me, I got here at 4:45 and you certainly didn’t and I DEFINITELY saw you move my bag so BACK OFF.) What’s a lack of sleep when you end up being mere feet from Peter Capaldi and his tight trousers? NOTHING. (Also Michelle snagged a beer from the concession stand at 9:45 AM because after 5 hours, she deserved it.) –Kim
6. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is Batshit Fun
The BBC America very smartly kicked off their block with the new show that’s NOT related in any way to the Whoniverse. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is adapted from Douglas Adams’ kooky mystery novels; the premiere airs Saturday, Oct. 22 on BBCA.
- At the top of their hour, Dirk Gently aired a video sketch with stars Elijah Wood and Samuel Barnett (our Renfield from Penny Dreadful!), explaining why Elijah wouldn’t be there and apologizing him for his absence. Apparently, one of his “best friends” was getting married that weekend; that sent Kim straight to Twitter to see if any of the LOTR cast had nuptials scheduled. (Sorry, my man, you’re not allowed to have any other friends.)
- We watched the entire pilot episode. I won’t spoil, but man, is Dirk Gently BLOODY. It is also bizarre, loud, and very fun. It’s like an early Tarantino movie met a Wile E. Coyote cartoon, dropped acid, and went to a philosophy class. How’s that for a sales pitch?
- The cast and showrunners came on stage as I’d like all casts and showrunners to appear from now on: each with a happy corgi on a leash.
- On the quick-and-dirty panel: Barnett (Dirk), Hannah Marks (Amanda), Jade Eshete (Farah), Mpho Koaho (Ken), Fiona Dourif (Bart Curlish), creator Max Landis and EP Robert Cooper.
- Barnett plays the irrepressible detective, but didn’t think he had much of a chance. “I was a Brit putting myself on tape for an American project.” Meanwhile, Landis and Cooper said their choice was made as soon as they saw his audition.
- Fiona Dourif is the daughter of Brad Dourif and the family resemblance is STRONG. However, she was chic and unrecognizable on stage in comparison with her feral character. Fiona said she made herself “as disgusting as possible” before taping her audition.
- The actors shouted out the show for its commitment to diversity in casting.
- Landis talked about the difficulty in presenting Adams’ famous side tangents visually, but the few Dirk Gently fans who got up during the Q&A seemed to believe they nailed it.
- Jade spends the pilot somewhat indisposed but promised some big character moments for Farah as the season goes on.
- I will watch this under protest due to my distaste for Max Landis and his Twitter rants against audiences (no one liked American Ultra, get over it); remakes (this is an adaptation); and nepotism (his dad is literally John Landis). –Sage
7. The Class Cast Are Our Children
I have to admit that when Class was first announced, I was completely indifferent to it. Perhaps it was in the way BBC built up the announcement making it feel like a letdown when people were expecting an announcement about missing episodes or a new companion? Perhaps when I heard that it was taking place at Coal Hill School I thought “children” rather than “beautiful teenagers”? Whatever the reason, my feelings about Class were firmly in the “meh” realm for a long time. Now? I am ALL IN and I can’t wait to watch it
this fall when it airs in the UK this spring when it will surely air after Series 10 of Doctor Who on BBC America. It’s funny that Class is being considered a spin-off of Doctor Who when all I got from the extended trailer was major Torchwood vibes. There’s horror, there’s gore, and there’s SEX (and actual sex, not the longing looks of Whouffaldi). SIGN ME UP. –Kim
- On the Panel: EP Brian Minchin, Creator Patrick Ness, Greg Austin (Charlie), Fady Elsayed (Ram), Sophie Hopkins (April), and Vivan Oparah (Tanya)
- THESE CHILDREN ARE PRECIOUS. Yes, we realize that the cast is a bunch of young adults but their ENERGY was so completely and totally child-like that we immediately imprinted on all of them. When the extended trailer was screened, they all hopped out of their seats so they could watch on the big screen because they hadn’t even seen it themselves. When it finished, they had a massive group hug as they jumped up and down and cheered. They are SO excited about the show and it’s clear that they can’t wait to share it with the rest of the world.
- The whole conceit of Class will focus on the concept of what happens to people and worlds AFTER they’ve encountered The Doctor. I approve.
- Snap judgments of our heroes, from the people who play them: Ram is “a cool guy with a big heart,” (aka my kryptonite), Charlie is “a bit of a weird one,” Tanya is “defensive but loving,” and April is “a good girl with the ability to be bad”.
- When it comes to creating monsters in the Whoniverse, Patrick Ness compared it to the “best toy box in the world”. He was also insistent that he wanted to create his OWN monsters, rather than relying on the Who canon because he wanted to keep the audience on their TOES and carve out a unique spot for Class in this world. “Think about it…if you had the chance to create new Doctor Who monsters, wouldn’t you just run with it?”
- The cast was asked about which Pokemon populated Coal Hill School, to which Fady enthusiastically responded with “THERE ARE CHARMANDERS.” Side note, we can already tell that Fady’s attractiveness combined with his character is going to be a MAJOR problem for us. It’s okay because he’s 23 and therefore an acceptable if only mildly creepy age to thirst after. (Me to Sage: He’s older than Harry Styles. Sage: At least we have a bar.)
- A fan asked Patrick if there was potential for cameos for characters like Ian and Barbara. His response was CLASSIC. “I feel like cameo appearances are like penises. If you put one in a scene, it’s all people are going to look at.” Quite right too. Patrick DID assure us that there would be plenty of Easter Eggs even if he prefers to keep blatant cameos under wraps.
- Class is Vivan’s FIRST major acting gig and her castmates had nothing but praise for her. COULD YOU IMAGINE?
- Capaldi pops up early in the series and is at PEAK Twelve Curmudgeon level as the kids spout references to Buffy‘s Hellmouth and The Vampire Diaries
8. New Doctor Who is Too Far Away
Doctor Who is embedded into my life and my skin (like, for real), so it’s not like I’m ever NOT thinking about it. But this visit from the series 10 TARDIS team was a sad reminder that we’re still only halfway through the current hiatus. I don’t like it when you leave me, Doctor. I end up doing crazy things, like watching six seasons of Bones in a month. ANYHOO, the panel.
- On the stage: showrunner Steven Moffat, producer Brian Minchin, Matt Lucas (Nardole), Pearl Mackie (Bill), and *le sigh* Peter Capaldi.
- First thing’s first. PETER! AND! PEARL! LOOKED! SO! GOOD! Serving looks, both of them. And Pearl’s excitement at being there was infectious.
- How do the Doctor and Bill meet? Nobody’s telling, but Moffat teased that it’s “really quite different.”
- Nardole’s return came about when Moffat decided that the Doctor should have a sort-of valet. When Matt Lucas wanted to come back on more than a guest basis, they wrote that part for him. (Hopefully that character functions better than he did in the Christmas special.)
- “She has arrived and brought a great kind of energy and vigor and TALENT.” – Peter was all praise for Pearl. (And the way he says that name in his Scottish accent, lawdt.)
- Bill popped off the page for Pearl. “I think I know this girl.”
- Pearl thought she was auditioning for a project called “Mean Town.” That’s an anagram of sorts for “Woman Ten,” or the tenth companion of the modern series. On her callback, she read with Peter. Thoughts on that? “This is the MADDEST thing that has ever happened to me.”
- Matt on his admiration of Peter: “I was really excited at the prospect of tainting his career by being a part of it.”
- We saw the same footage and character design the internet did from the Christmas special, “The Return Of Doctor Mysterio.” Do you think he’s friends with Doctor Funkenstein?
- Peter compared the Christmas episode to the original Christopher Reeve Superman movie, which is strangely encouraging.
- Moffat jumped in to say that every hero since Superman has been “dispensable…except for the Doctor and Sherlock Holmes.” (Cue audience grown for Moffat dad joke.) He also extolled the virtues of Clark Kent, who he finds the more interesting identity.
- Our friend Amanda went up to the mic in her Bill cosplay to ask a question. Pearl, adorably: “You look like me!”
- When the diversity question came up, Pearl noted rightly that “In 2016, it’s frustrating that we’re still having this conversation.”
- It sounds as if the Doctor/Bill relationship will be a straightforward and sunny one to contrast from the great Doctor/Clara romantic co-dependency of series 9. Not that Moffat regrets writing it that way. “That relationship had gotten so tortured and dark, which made it my favorite series to work on.”
- Moffat also promised that Bill’s arrival would be a true entry point for baby Whovians.
- When a fan asked Pearl if she ever had to pinch herself on set, she answered like any of us would: “I mean, MOST days.”
- Matt enjoys pressing random TARDIS buttons to wind up Peter.
- Even so, Peter had nothing but compliments to dole out to his co-stars. And he likes the look of this new crew. “I saw some pictures of the three of us, and I thought: “Oh. I really want to watch that show.”
- A fan asked Peter if he’d ever like to direct an episode. He said that for anyone to direct THEMSELF as the Doctor would be physically impossible. The show is just too involved. Peter looks at the directors “in awe.” Moffat jumped in to add, “And he’s the only Oscar-winning director who’s ever been on the show!”
- Pearl killed us all a bit when she told us what Peter did for her on her first day of work. “If you’re ever overwhelmed, here’s my number. You’re not alone.”
- Fan: “As a new companion, you’re filling some big shoes…”
Peter, pointing to Pearl’s platform heels: “She’s brought the big shoes with her!”
- Pearl hardcore hyped the third episode of the series, which was penned by “Face the Raven” writer Sarah Dollard. Can. Not. Wait.
- “If anyone’s going to get a tattoo of me how I look on the show, it’s going to take up a lot of space. That’s a lot of hair!” – Pearl, when asked how she’d feel to find out a fan tattooed her faces onto themselves.
- The obligatory “which other character would you want to play” question brought out the standard Doctor answer. Peter would like to play the Master, who could come back disguised as Twelve. *looks at Moffat* “Get writing.”
- As the panel ended, a section of the front row collapsed and scared the shit out of all of us. Peter made sure everyone was fine and then came in clutch with the line: “Do you need a Doctor?” What a pro. –Sage
Part II of our New York Comic Con report is coming to you in a couple of days! Were you there? Tell us about your favorite panel, moment, or celeb in the comments.