<i>By <a href=http://twitter.com/LucasSiegel>Lucas Siegel, Newsarama Editor</a></i> <p>New York Comic Con 2011 is almost upon us! Behind the scenes here at Newsarama, we've been very NYCC-focused for a while now, and we're as excited as you are for a weekend of our favorite comics, TV, movies, and games. <p>But with pages and pages of panels, guests, and exhibits to navigate, a major convention like this can also be quite intimidating, especially for a first time attendee. <p>That's where this comes in. Here we've taken everything you can do and compiled a list of 10 essentials. This is by no means a 100% comprehensive list; we still recommend taking a look across the full program guide and making sure you don't miss your personal favorite. However, this should get you started in your planning, and help you figure out exactly what you can do at a convention. So click "start here" and see what we think you shouldn't miss at this year's New York Comic Con. And don't forget, if you can't attend this year, we'll be liveblogging <i>tons</i> of panels, plus broadcasting live video interview coverage all weekend long to bring the convention to your home! <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
We know we're starting things off a bit generically here, but the beauty of a convention as big as New York Comic Con has gotten is the sheer variety of people who make your favorite entertainment that you can meet. <p>There are guest stars from <i>Doctor Who</i> and stars of other genre movies (like <i>Avengers</i>, more on that later) and TV shows, voice actors from your favorite animated series both American and Japanese, thanks to the unification with AnimeFest and games, novelists, and, of course, comic book creators galore. <p>So bring your favorite comic, DVD, or poster, and say hello to the object of your fandom. Just try not to drool on yourself in front of Felicia Day that's just awkward.
If you follow the site, you know that we here at Newsarama <i>love</i> Archaia. The indie publisher focuses primarily on publishing graphic novels rather than single issues, though the books they serialize tend to be extremely high quality as well. <p>Whether you want to see the warrior mice of <b>Mouse Guard</b>, read the adventures of a clockwork world where time is lost in <b>Return of the Dapper Men</b>, or have your heart warmed and thumping from the love and excitement poured into <b>Rust</b>, there's no better time to try out some Archaia books than at conventions. The publisher regularly offers deals where buying a couple books gets you another for free, and you can never go to their booth without a handful of creators there ready to tell you about their stories and sign their work. <p>Plus, publicist Mel Caylo is one of the nicest guys in the whole dang business, and that's reason enough to stop by and say hello right there.
One of the most anticipated games of the year finally has a release date (December 20, 2011 if you've been living under a rock), and is showing off in a <i>big</i> way at this convention. <p>The game gets two Friday panels, where more information about the game will be revealed and many of the creative forces behind it will be on hand to answer questions (don't worry, we'll be liveblogging those if you can't make it). Writer Drew Karpyshyn will be on hand promoting his new novel set in the <b>Old Republic</b> era, <i>Revan</i>. Dark Horse will have the <b>SWTOR</b> comics in tow. <p>Oh, and of course, you can actually play the game two months early on the show floor! See if you have what it takes to wield a lightsaber or rain death from above with a jetpack and some thermal detonators.
Always one for putting on a show, Marvel's chief creative officer Joe Quesada makes his return to New York Comic Con with his signature panel, "Cup O' Joe" on Saturday night. This is Marvel's massive all-out excitement panel, routinely filled with announcements, a multitude of guests, and usually more than one surprise. This year, the publisher has teased <i>something</i> in the form of the two-word statement <a href= http://www.newsarama.com/comics/nycc-2011-marvel-its-coming-111005.html>"It's coming."</a> <p>If you want to know where the Marvel Universe is going in the next year, yes, there will be plenty of group-focused panels, from Spider-Man to the X-Men, but this is the one panel you just can't miss. Show up armed with your questions, your snark-meters fully charged, and your best "surprised" face all warmed up.
<b>The Walking Dead</b> is coming back to TV on October 16, 2011 the final day of the convention. Before it hits small screens once more for a bigger (and hopefully even better) second season (<a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/kirkman-the-walking-dead-comic-novel-show-111007.html>Click here for our recent interview with Robert Kirkman on all things <b>Walking Dead</b></a>), the cast and crew, led by creator Kirkman himself, will be at NYCC to tease the big return. <p>The show shocked critics and pleased fans of the long-running creator-owned series when it debuted last year, and is sure to be a hit when it returns. If you don't go to this panel Saturday night, you won't be prepared for the coming zombie apocalypse. And nobody wants that.
Archie's Q-rating has quite possibly never been higher than it is right at this very moment. In the last year or so, they've been blazing the trail for the entire comic book industry. They have a feature character in this wholesome suburban series who is openly gay. They have same-day digital. They are opening a digital subscription service. They are bringing back their superheroes. They are reaching out to fans of all stripes with crossovers from <i>Tiny Titans</i> to the rock band Kiss. It's an exciting time for Archie Comics, and it has us wondering what's coming next. Luckily, their Saturday early-afternoon panel should have plenty to talk about.
Hey, this show is called New York <i>Comic Con</i>, darn it! And there's no better place to get to the heart of comics than Artist Alley. This is where the people who make the comics, not just artists (like Amy Reeder, whose work is pictured) but writers too, gather to peddle their wares, talk to you about what you love about their work, sign books, do sketches and just generally hang out. <p>The real beauty of Artist Alley is in its execution. Yes, you can find your favorite artist from the latest big-name Marvel or DC book. However, right next to them might be someone you've never heard of, showing off a book they made and printed themselves. Bringing even just $20 that's set aside just for trying something new in Artist Alley is a can't-fail way to enjoy your Comic Con experience. <p>We assure you, if press didn't have to handle all of our other duties, this is where we'd be spending all our free time. In fact, it is anyway.
At Comic-Con International: San Diego, this panel became one of the most talked about of the entire massive convention thanks to the surprise announcement of writer Brian K. Vaughan's <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/brian-k-vaughan-catching-up-Saga-110906.html>return to comics</a> with <i>Saga</i>. <p>This is the big one for fans looking to find out what else is out there. Original ideas, big-name creators, and the best stories this side of Spider-Man and Superman are being told in creator-owned books, and this panel on Friday afternoon will surely have some surprises and announcements. It's also a prime opportunity to ask questions of Kirkman, himself a champion of creator-owned stories.
The "Sunday Conversation" panel of comic cons past may be gone, but this Sunday afternoon panel seems to be a fitting replacement. <p>Here, the engineers of "The New 52" relaunch, DC's new digital initiatives, and of course creators themselves, co-publishers Jim Lee (pictured) and Dan DiDio sit down for a chat with fans. This is where you can ask the heads of DC Comics all your burning questions and find out what makes these leaders tick. It can be eye-opening, it can be volatile, it can be reassuring, it can be surprising, but these sorts of panels are never dull. <p>Make sure you ask Dan about Wally West.
It's trending worldwide on twitter. Chances are if you're reading this, you've watched it yourself five or ten times today. <b>The Avengers</b> <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/php/video/player.php?aid=44494>first trailer is here</a>, and it has everyone talking. <p>The movie that brings together everything Marvel Studios has done so far, from <b>Iron Man</b> through to <b>Captain America: The First Avenger</b> will make its presence felt in earnest with the last major panel of Saturday night. There will be new footage, there will be stars (Chris Evans, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg and Cobie Smulders, among them), and you can bet there will be an incredibly high level of excitement. This is the only major comic book movie coming in 2012 that has its own spotlight panel at NYCC, riding high off the trailer release, and playing to their core fans. <p>Even if you aren't attending NYCC, if you're in the tri-state area, you'll probably hear the cheers for this one. You'll have to line up early, you'll have to miss a lot of other stuff on Saturday, but this will be the big one.