The 2017 New York Comic Con had 200,000 paid visitors over the course of four days earlier this month, beating out the previous year by 20,000 - and they're already planning for more with next year's from October 4 to 7, 2018.
With NYCC behind us (and ReedPOP having taken some time to recuperate), Newsarama spoke with the company's Event Director Mike Armstrong about this year's convention - which has soundly become the largest of its kind in North America.
Newsarama: Mike, how was 2017 New York Comic Con for you - professionally and personally?
Mike Armstrong: This was my eigth NYCC and it's amazing to think of how far the show has come since 2010. It wasn't that long ago that we were selling tickets on-site. Our show floor changed every year because of construction in our main hall. This year on Saturday I took a walk with our Event Manager, Kristina Rogers, and went to see Madison Square Garden and the Hammerstein. Seeing people in costume and wearing badges and making the same walk really put things into perspective. It wasn't that long ago that we could barely fill Javits and now we are really taking over the whole city.
Nrama: You’ve said elsewhere that 200,000 tickets were sold for this year’s event, but that isn't necessarily the attendance due to their only being one-day passes. Do you have any kind of judgement yet on the number of unique people who came to NYCC?
Armstrong: Sorry Chris I don't have those numbers just yet. We have always measured our attendance based on number of unique tickets sold.
Nrama: However you slice it, 200,000 tickets is up tremendously from 2016's reported 180,000 tickets. To what would you attribute that near 10% jump?
Armstrong: I think it speaks to our ability to program content for a diverse set of fans. We've also worked very hard to work with partners and sponsors to create immersive experiences on the show floor and our fan base has really responded to that.
Nrama: Talking with people who were there, and the number one issue seemed to be the continued construction at the Javits and the hope - someday - to use the entire center in a larger capacity. What do you know about the Javits construction timeline, and when NYCC might be able to do more at the center?
Armstrong: We expect to have the new Javits building in 2021. With that new space and the continued development of the Hudson Yards area, we are set up well for continued growth within the immediate Javits area.
Nrama: I'm also told of severe lines in the bathrooms, attributed by some to cosplayers using it to change rather than the cosplay room ReedPOP set aside. Can you address that situation at all?
Armstrong: We have a dedicated Cosplay changing room, but we either need to add another one or expand our current room. I love NYCC because of the incredible cosplay but we need to do a better job of accommodating them and everyone else around them.
Nrama: Next to the cosplay room this year was a Quiet Room - an excellent but possibly overlooked addition to the con. How did this go this year, and do you plan on bringing it back next year?
Armstrong: Yes, that will definitely be back. It's something that we saw at our PAX events and we thought it would be a great addition to NYCC. We already have them at Emerald City Comic Con and we will be looking to add to C2E2 and our new launch in Philadelphia, Keystone Comic Con.
Nrama: I was told the Artists Alley was exceptionally hot. Can you address that at all, and if it'll be in the same space next year?
Armstrong: Yes – the combination of a rare hot weekend in October plus the number of people experiencing Artist Alley led to some overworked A/C. We’re exploring a couple of different options for next year to make things a lot more comfortable in Artist Alley.
Nrama: Going back to tickets, this is the second year of doing fan-verification profiles. How is that working out now since it's no longer new?
Armstrong: It's definitely helped us keep down the number of professional resellers who have access to our tickets. We made some improvements to the process this year that made the fan experience much smoother.
Nrama: A common question is the decision not to do encompassing four-day passes. Any plans to revisit that decision, or things possibly being done to mitigate that - or is this just the way it is going forward?
Armstrong: I don't see us revisiting the decision in the immediate future. With the construction, we are forced to have fewer people in the building and the single day ticket structure gives more opportunity to fans to get tickets.
Nrama: This is the seventh year NYCC has been four days for the general public - has there been any talk at all of a fifth day, or a preview night like Comic-Con International: San Diego has done?
Armstrong: We're already talking about exploring new content and experiences that can be available on either Wednesday or Monday.
Nrama: I spoke with Lance the morning of the first day about security, in light of strengthened security with an outside security firm mentioning part of it was in light of the Las Vegas shooting. I know you don't normally speak too much about security, but can you talk about what goes into deciding what to do?
Armstrong: We work with local, state and national agencies to develop our security plans. We had planned on beefed up security even before the tragic events in Las Vegas. I'm really proud to work with the NYPD and the Javits security team on this event. They're both incredible partners and equally as committed to a safe and fun event as we are.
Nrama: New York Comic Con 2018 is a long way off - but what's the first step for you two in planning that?
Armstrong: We are already digging into our post show research to see what worked and what didn't. Our first step will be to make any changes we feel necessary (we already know of a few) and then start to build on that.
Nrama: Have you decided on guests, or anything at this point?
Armstrong: We've got ideas, sure, but we will spend the next few weeks reading or research, holding focus groups and talking to fans in an effort to create the event that they want. We'll be back in Columbus Day weekend as usual!