New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York Comic Con: An ode to pop-culture enthusiasts and cosplayers alike

This past weekend, the Javits Center showcased the vibrancy and creativity that New York Comic Con inspires.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Thousands descended upon the Javits Center in Manhattan for the four-day long 2023 New York Comic Con – many in full costume. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

From Oct. 12 to Oct. 15, the gray interior of the Jacob Javits Convention Center saw an uncharacteristic influx of vibrant clothing, animated costumes and fantastical art. This past Thursday, the 2023 New York Comic Con began in Midtown, attracting cosplayers, die-hard geeks and media fanatics alike.

Thousands of Comic Con attendees gather in the Javits Center, many dressed in full costume.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)
A wide photo of a crowd of people walking across the floor of the Javits Center from a high angle.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

NYCC is an annual convention dedicated to pop culture, ranging from Marvel comics to anime to video games. It spans a total of four days, and features an array of art vendors, authors, actor panels, meet-and-greets and more for attendees to enjoy. 

This year, over 200,000 attendees filled Javits Center, where a sprawling lineup of vendors and booths greeted them. Every year, NYCC allows pop-culture enthusiasts to indulge in their niche interests with events ranging from fan meetups with David Tennant to panels by the likes of Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. Members of every fandom had something to look forward to.

Darryl McDaniels (Run DMC) poses in front of a Run DMC booth filled with posters and merchandise.
Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC attended New York Comic Con to promote his comics company, Darryl Makes Comics. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)
Four people sit in a blueand red convertible dressed as characters from the television show “Good Burger”. Behind them is a wall painted to look like a fast food drive-thru window complete with “Good Burger” posters.
Actors Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell appeared on the floor of New York Comic Con on Sunday, Oct. 15. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Among the artists at NYCC was Scott Snyder, a writer best known for his work on Batman and other DC comics. Snyder, the author of “American Vampire,” previously taught comic writing at NYU, and wants to see more people familiarize themselves with the medium. 

“There’s never been a more vibrant landscape when it comes to comics,” Snyder said in an interview with WSN. “Right now, there are comics about everything. There’s comics about battles with mental illness, and cosmic Robot Wars. It is a genre that has expanded so much over the last 20 years. I just wish people knew that if you like anything, there is a comic for it, whether it’s My Little Pony or true crime. It is a wonderful, immersive, fantastic medium.”

The energy at NYCC was electric. As one of the largest cosplay conventions in the country, NYCC might be overwhelming for a rookie or first-time attendee, simply due to the sheer magnitude of the center and people’s dedication to costuming. For many, though, NYCC proves to be a transformative experience. For instance, dressing up as your favorite characters is a way to display fantastical self-expression and personal identity. NYCC offers fans a place to shift from living vicariously through fictional worlds to coming as close as they can to living in them.

Steinhardt first-year Rowan Cote attended NYCC for the first time on Thursday. Having grown up near Boston, Cote had never attended the convention before. Wearing his first full cosplay, Cote dressed as Lup from the podcast “The Adventure Zone.” 

“In Con, a lot of people are in cosplay, and a lot of people are in more elaborate and ridiculous cosplay than mine,” Cote said. “It made me feel like I belonged. I saw some people were cosplaying similar things as me and people whose cosplays I recognized. It’s definitely a very cosplay-heavy convention, which was really fun.”

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For veteran NYCC attendees, the convention is more than just an opportunity to engage in the larger pop culture phenomenon. It is a ritualistic celebration of artistry. 

NYU junior James Hallahan has been attending NYCC every year since 2017, save for 2020, when the pandemic forced the convention to go on hiatus. Over the years, NYCC has grown close to Hallahan’s heart. 

“It’s a little bit of tradition,” Hallahan said. “I’ve always done it. It’s like my holiday.”

Hallahan has been cosplaying for years, and shared that one his favorite parts of NYCC is the mutual understanding and love he gets to share with his fellow cosplayers. This year, Hallahan was dressed as the yellow wizard from Shadow Wizard Money Gang and ran into a young boy dressed as another wizard from the animated musical group. Upon seeing each other, the boy excitedly pointed Hallahan out to his mother. 

“He was so happy,” Hallahan said. “You get a smile on their face, and it makes your day. They understand the lines, and it’s like they’re a part of the story, and I’m a part of their story. It’s just that sense of community.”

Jason Alpert-Wisnia contributed reporting.

Contact Mikaylah Du at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Mikaylah Du
Mikaylah Du, Illustration Editor
Mikaylah Du is a first-year studying Media, Culture, and Communication. She's a fine art nerd and one of the few people that actually likes writing essays. Follow her art account on Instagram @mikaylahdoodles to see her post once in a blue moon.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Editor-at-Large
Jason Alpert-Wisnia is a junior majoring in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, primarily focused on photojournalism and documentary photography. His photography ranges from coverage of professional sports, to political protests and music festivals. When he is not pounding the pavement with a camera in his hands looking for the next story, you are likely to find Jason in a used bookstore looking for rare finds or in the park reading. You can find him on Instagram @jasonalpertwisnia and contact him at [email protected].

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