Big Apple Comic Con
|Big Apple Comic Con|
Artists Alley at the November 2008 Big Apple Con
|Venue||Church of St. Paul the Apostle (1996–2003)
Metropolitan Pavilion (2000–2003)
Penn Plaza Pavilion (2004–2012)
|Location(s)||New York, New York|
|Inaugurated||March 2, 1996|
|Organized by||Michael Carbonaro (1996–2009, 2014-present)
Wizard Entertainment (2009–2013)
The Big Apple Comic Con is a New York City comic book convention, the longest-running comic book/science fiction/fantasy/horror/pop culture convention in New York City. It was started by retailer Michael "Mike Carbo" Carbonaro in March 1996 in the basement of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. During its heyday from 2001–2008, the Big Apple Comic Con often featured multiple shows per year, with a large three-day "national" convention held in November, usually held at the Penn Plaza Pavilion. The show was owned by Wizard Entertainment from 2009 to 2013, but is now back in the hands of Carbonaro.
Over the course of its history, the convention has been known as the Big Apple Convention, the Big Apple Comic Book Art, and Toy Show, and the Big Apple Comic Book, Art, Toy & Sci-Fi Expo; with the November shows known as the National Comic Book, Art, Toy, and Sci-Fi Expo, the National Comic Book, Art, and Sci-Fi Expo, and the National Comic Book, Comic Art, and Fantasy Convention. After the show's acquisition by Wizard Entertainment, the convention was known as the Wizard World Big Apple Comic Con, and as the Wizard World New York City Experience. In 2014, the name "Big Apple Convention" was revived by Carbonaro for a show scheduled for March 7, 2015.
Though it primarily focuses on comic books, the convention features a large range of pop culture elements, such as professional wrestling, science fiction/fantasy, film/television, animation, anime, manga, toys, horror, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels. Along with panels, seminars, and workshops with comic book professionals, the Big Apple Comic Con often features previews of upcoming films, and such evening events as the costume contest overseen by "Captain Zorikh" Zorikh Lequidre. The convention features a large floorspace for exhibitors, including comic book dealers and collectibles merchants. The show includes an autograph area, as well as the Artists' Alley where comics artists can sign autographs and sell or do free sketches. (Despite the name, Artists' Alley can include writers and even glamour models.)
In 2009, Michael Carbonaro established his own independent one-day convention known as the New York Comic Book Marketplace which ran annually through 2014.
Major comic book conventions in New York City prior to the Big Apple Comic Con included Dave Kaler's Academy Con, which ran annually from 1965–1967; Phil Seuling's Comic Art Convention, which ran annually from 1968–1983 (Seuling died in 1984); and the large annual Creation conventions, usually taking place over the weekend following Thanksgiving from 1971–1987. (Creation sometimes put on as many as a half-dozen smaller New York City shows per year). From 1993-1995, promoter Frederic Greenberg began hosting Great Eastern Conventions shows annually at venues including the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. (Great Eastern also ran shows in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.) Other companies, including Dynamic Forces, held New York City conventions, but all were on a smaller scale than the Seuling shows. Changes in the industry, popular culture, and the resurgent city itself since the troubled 1960s and '70s made large-scale comic-book conventions difficult to hold profitably. Jonah Weiland of ComicBookResources.com also noted that "... dealing with the various convention unions made it difficult for most groups to get a show off the ground."
Birth of the show
On February 29, 1996, Greenberg cancelled what had been advertised as a larger-than-usual Great Eastern show, scheduled for March 2–3 at the New York Coliseum, which the fan press had suggested might herald a successor to the Comic Art Convention. As a substitute event, comic book retailers Carbonaro and Vincent Zurzuolo on the spur of the moment mounted the first Big Apple Convention (dubbed "Hallelujah Con" or "The Show Must Go On" Con) in the basement of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle. Their show attracted over 4,000 attendees, most of whom had been planning to attend the scheduled Great Eastern Show.
After the success of the initial 1996 show, Big Apple scheduled six separate conventions for 1997.
In 1998, Big Apple held two conventions, a two-day September show and a one-day affair in October. In 1999 there was a March show and the three-day "National" show held in November; 2000 followed the same pattern. (The National show had by this time moved to the Metropolitan Pavilion; other shows continued to be held at St. Paul's Church.) Over the years, these small shows attracted many comics creators and pop-culture figures, and by 2000 the convention had moved to the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street in Manhattan.
2001 was a big year for Big Apple, with five conventions spread throughout the year. In 2002 four shows were held, and in 2003 Big Apple put on six separate conventions. In 2003, "Captain Zorikh" Lequidre began running the costume contest, which became well known for its audience-participation judging.
By 2004 (which saw four separate shows), the convention had moved to the Penn Plaza Pavilion at the Hotel Pennsylvania. At this point, show organizers claimed to have attracted over 30,000 attendees throughout the year.
In 2005, Big Apple put on five shows, repeating that pattern in 2006. (From 2006–2009, the June shows were given the moniker "Summer Sizzler.") 2007 saw three shows; Captain Zorikh, who had previously been managing Internet promotions and other aspects of the convention (including the costume contest), was named general manager of the convention; he acted in this role through the 2008 shows.
By 2008, the frequency of Big Apple Conventions was slowing down, with just two shows, a Summer Sizzler and the usual three-day November National convention. The last show before Wizard's purchase of Big Apple was a June Summer Sizzler; 2009 was also the final year there were multiple Big Apple Conventions held.
Acquisition by Wizard Entertainment
In 2009, the Big Apple Comic Con was purchased by Wizard Entertainment; Michael Carbonaro was retained as a senior adviser. The first show under Wizard was held October 2009 at Pier 94 in Manhattan. At this point the new manager, Spat Oktan, who had hosted costume contests at other conventions, took over the costume contest and Captain Zorikh was put in charge of the children's costume contest, while continuing in other capacities.
By 2011, Reed Exhibitions' New York Comic Con, held annually at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, had become the dominant New York City-area comic convention, and was taking away from the appeal of the Big Apple Comic Con. Wizard sat out 2012 and held a new "Wizard World New York City Experience" show on June 28–30, 2013.
New York Comic Book Marketplace
Though not branded as a "Big Apple Convention" and not affiliated with Wizard World, some might consider the next iteration of the Big Apple Comic Con to have been held on March 31, 2012, at the Penn Plaza Pavilion. It was Michael Carbonaro's third New York Comic Book Marketplace, and announced as Carbonaro's final convention. The guest of honor was Stan Lee; other guests included George Pérez, Joe Sinnott, Dick Ayers, Carmine Infantino, Jim Steranko, Irwin Hasen, Mike Royer, Arthur Suydam, Bob McLeod, Rich Buckler, and Johnny Brennan, and Captain Zorikh's costume contest
Carbonaro held another NYCBM at the Hotel Pennsylvania on April 13, 2013.
Michael Carbonaro regained the Big Apple Comic Con brand in 2014 and held the "20th Anniversary Return of the Big Apple Convention" on March 7, 2015, at the Penn Plaza Pavilion. He has also scheduled a "NY Winter Comic & Sci-Fi Expo" for December 5–6, 2015, to be held at the Resort World Casino in Jamaica, New York.
Comics creator Evan Dorkin was a critic of the Big Apple Con. He singled out the November 2008 show in particular as "the worst convention I've ever had the displeasure to sit through", for the lackluster celebrity guests, the lack of floor plan guides for attendees, inconsistently-functioning restrooms, elevator and escalators, the poorly performing volunteer staff, and an overall seedy, flea market atmosphere of rude dealers, creators inattentive to fans, and attendees who were disproportionately male. Dorkin, who vowed never to return to the venue, also singled out the cramped space of the venue, in particular Artist's Alley, which he speculated may have constituted a fire hazard.
Dates and locations
|This section is missing information about dates, venues, and guests. (February 2013)|
- Pate, Brian "Mike Carbonaro Retiring From Convention Promoting with Final 2012 NYCBM Show," Convention Scene (Mar. 30, 2012).
- Grant, Steven. "Permanent Damage: Issue #43," Comic Book Resources (July 10, 2002).
- Butash, Titian. "Human conflicts make superheroes appeal to fans of all ages," Austin American Statesman (01 Jan 1989), p. E11.
- Weiland, Jonah (June 10, 2005). "Battling Conventions? Talking with the NY Comic Con and Megacon Organizers". ComicBookResources.com. Archived from the original on February 20, 2011. (Requires scroll down)
- "Newswatch: NYC Comics Convention Cancelled, Fans Irate," The Comics Journal #185 (Mar. 1996), pp. 18-19.
- Miller, John Jackson. "Capital Sale Tops Turbulent Year: The Top 10 Comics News Stories of 1996," Comics Buyer's Guide #1210 (Jan. 24, 1997).
- Six Big Apple Cons Set for '97," Comics Buyer's Guide (Jan. 31, 1997), p. 8.
- Frankenhoff, Brent. "Big Apple Blossoms into National Comic Book, Comic Art, and Toy Show," Comics Buyer's Guide (Oct. 22, 1999), p. 24.
- "Big Apple Comic Book, Art & Toy Show". BigAppleCon.com. November 10–12, 2000. Archived from the original on September 30, 2000.
- "The National Comic Book, Art & Sci-Fi Expo". BigAppleCon.com. November 19–21, 2004. Archived from the original on October 13, 2004.
- "Big Apple Comic Book, Art, Toy & Sci-Fi Expo". BigAppleCon.com. June 7–8, 2008. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008.
- "Big Apple Comic Book, Art, Toy & Sci-Fi Expo". BigAppleCon.com. November 14–16, 2008. Archived from the original on September 30, 2008.
- 1010 WINS. New York. October 16, 2009, broadcast.
- Guest page for the October 2009 Big Apple Convention at Wizard World Archived May 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- Wizard World New York City Experience show page. Accessed February 24, 2013.
- Calmixx (March 28, 2012). "Another Comic Book Era Comes to a Close...". GeekPropaganda.
- Romano, Lauren (March 27, 2012). "Stan Lee and the New York Comic Book Marketplace Come to NYC". Yahoo! News.
- "Mike Carbo's NYCBM". LiveJournal. Retrieved March 17, 2013.
- Dorkin, Evan (November 16, 2008). "National Tragedy". LiveJournal
- "Chaos! And the Crow Go to Church, 1997 Big Apple Comic Con Report," Comics Buyer's Guide (Mar. 21, 1997), p. 10.
- Patton, Marc. "Big Apple Deems Nov. 12–14 Con a Success," Comics Buyer's Guide (Dec. 31, 1999), pp. 8–9.
- King, Sharon. "Today In New York," Daily News (March 9, 2001).
- "Big Apple Holds Third Annual National Expo Nov. 9–11," Comics Buyer's Guide (Nov. 9, 2001), p. 56.
- "Weekend in New York," New York Daily News (Nov. 10, 2001), p. 31.
- Blumenfeld, Bruno. "Sunday In New York," Daily News (Nov. 10, 2002).
- "‘X-Men II’ release just in time for Queens comic guru’s show," Times Ledger (May 1, 2003).
- Hinckley, David. "Black Strides in Comics are no Fantasy," New York Daily News (Nov. 26, 2003), p. 46.
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