Ed attended the New York Anime Festival (NYAF) earlier this month. This is part three of three describing his experiences there, covering Sunday, October 16, and his final thoughts. Part one and part two have been posted.
I starting out Sunday by running the CBLDF booth in Anime Artist Alley. We had a few people return to the booth to take part in the daily manga giveaway. I again enjoyed the experience. After the manga raffle, we closed the booth.
My only panel for the day was the CBLDF: History of Censorship. Charles Brownstein was the lone speaker at this panel. This was a much more detailed history of censorship and the CBLDF than given at the Defending Manga panel.
The CBLDF came into existence in 1986 when a comic retailer was arrested for selling adult comics to an undercover cop. Denis Kitchen started the fund to help the retailer. From there, the fund has helped retailers and readers defend their right to read what they want. A lot of the work goes unseen because the CBLDF helps to make sure cases don’t go to court but are dismissed during the investigation. They also help libraries fight challenges when someone wants to remove a comic from the collection.
This was an excellent lecture and a must-see for everyone. If the CBLDF is giving this panel at your convention, definitely go. Also, become a member of the CBLDF and make sure to protect your own First Amendment rights.
Overall Thoughts & Impressions
We’ll start with my complaints. First, NYCC/NYAF needs to do a better job at crowd control. I know they want to accommodate as many fans as possible, but when a room runs out of chairs, you should stop letting people in. It’s simply not safe to have people lined up against the walls of a room.
The convention really needs to reevaluate room sizes. When you have a convention of 105,000 people it’s ridiculous to have rooms that only seat 30 or 40 people. I would suggest the minimum room size be 200. Also, unless the room is a workshop, tables are a waste of space, so the only table in a room should be the one used by panelists.
Next, have a strict “no signs” policy and strictly enforce it. I saw lots of “Free Hugs” signs and a few “Hugs Free, Kisses $2″. Every anime convention in the country has banned these, and NYCC/NYAF needs to follow suit. The potential for problems is too great not to shut this down immediately. Let’s keep the cons as safe a place as possible.
This brings us to the problems of being press. My understanding is that 10,000 press badges were given out. That means 1 in 10 attendees were press. That’s ridiculous. Because of the high number of press, NYCC/NYAF didn’t have press seating at the panels. This made it difficult, if not impossible, for people who are serious about covering the convention to do so. It meant having to stand in line an hour before most industry panels if you wanted a seat, so you couldn’t cover back-to-back panels.
Let me propose three possible solutions. First, and simplest, limit the number of press badges given out to 1,000 or 2,000. If it means I get dropped from the press list, then so be it. I’d rather make sure the real journalists get the access they need to events and guests than let everyone with a blog in. This would allow you to either have press seating or give press front-of-the-line privileges to most of the events. I understand some panels are simply going to be too popular to accommodate everyone, but those will be very few in number.
If that’s not acceptable, then how about making the first row at every panel press seating. This way it guarantees some press are able to attend. This would be on a first come, first serve basis. Once the front row is filled, then any other press wanting to attend the panel simply have to wait in line with the rest of the attendees.
Finally, you could try a two-tier press pass system. There would be a regular press badge and a VIP press badge. VIP press would have front-of-the-line privileges and first access to guests. Regular press would simply be treated like regular attendees.
Overall, I was slightly dissatisfied this year. This is the first time I’ve attended such a large-scale event. Also, it was the first time I’ve been to a pop culture convention. I was a little overwhelmed by the sizes of the crowd and the variety of the booths. I like my conventions a little more focused. That said, I’d be willing to give NYCC one more try now that I know what to expect. I’d like to see if I could make such a convention an enjoyable experience or if it’s simply something not for me.