Family bonding, a little ‘Bliss’ and a Hulkbuster at the New York Comic Con

Family bonding, a little ‘Bliss’ and a Hulkbuster at the New York Comic Con

It was another fun, packed and crazy four days at the New York Comic Con for nerds, geeks and everyone in between as they all gathered for the 2015 New York Comic Con, the annual get-together of all things geeky.

The numbers are strong: more than 160,000 fans flocked to the Jacob Javits Convention Center for the comic con this year, where there are more than 850 companies showcasing their products and services. Through the years, big network and cable television companies and movie studios have tied up with the comic con to promote their upcoming shows and films.

The exposure ranges from autograph signing to panel discussions to sneak peeks and actual premiere screenings to a captive audience, giving fans a chance to interact with their favorite creators and characters.

This is the tenth year of the New York Comic Con and they made sure that this is their biggest and most exciting year so far.

Family Cosplay

Avid fans Lor Angela Nicolas and her husband Melvin have been going to the New York Comic Con since 2007 and consider the annual event as a mode of family bonding. Their son Kalel, who was born in 2013, has been joining them since, including their trip that year to the San Diego Comic Con.

The Olaes family doesn’t just go to the con as regular people though, they dress up in costumes.

“We usually make them two weeks before the con. We usually plan what we’ll go as the year before, right after Comic Con we’ll get ideas on what to do for next year,” Lora told the Asian Journal.

But before that, Lora visits thrift stores that they can use as components or props to their costumes for the day. Usually, there’s a theme they follow so that there’s a certain cohesive look.

“We always try to go with a theme even before our kid was born. People love it! First they would notice one of us (usually Kalel) then when it hits them that we’re altogether, they get super excited and even treat us sometimes as though we are really those characters,” she narrated. “We would get stopped all the time–fans of each different thing we’re geeky for are pretty appreciative of our efforts, especially because we’re a family of cosplayers. Our stuff never looks super polished and are clearly DIY and I think that adds to our charm as cosplayers.”

And every year they come back, for the fun and the camaraderie.

“[We keep coming back] because it is so much fun to be amongst fellow geeks! It’s fun to dress up and be recognized as the character you’re trying to emulate, go to panels, get the first scoop on things we are geeky for and be in the same room with its creators, authors and actors,” Lora, herself a theater actress, added.

The Olaes family is geeky for a lot of things – from comics to video games to anime to fantasy and sci-fi shows and movies so that the comic con is something that they really look forward to.

“Iit’s our family tradition to go to the one weekend where all of these things we love come together. It’s like Christmas for nerds!” Lora said.

Asked what her favorite costume was, Lora said it was their Saga cosplay (from the words costume and play, where cosplayers wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific fictional character). Saga is a fantasy comic book series about a husband and wife from long-warring extraterrestrial races who are fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to take care of their daughter Hazel.

“It was the easiest to wear and needs the least maintenance out of all 3. We do it every year since Kal was born but I feel like we make it better every year–like adding another prop or making it look even closer to the comic as much as we can,” she said.

“Our Attack on Titan cosplay was by far our most popular though, people would take pictures for like a couple of minutes at a time, but it was hard to go around without pockets to put essential things in, Kal’s straps were falling apart and, and well, Melv was practically naked,” Lora said laughing.

This year was particularly noteworthy for the family because their Saga and Attack on Titan costumes as a family made it to two online lists of most impressive and coolest cosplays.

They also ran into Robert Kirkman on the convention floor and he told them that their Saga costumes looked great.

“He asked to take a pic with us and told us to go as Walking Dead characters next year,” Lora said. Kirkman is the comic book creator of The Walking Dead, now a wildly popular show on AMC.

Because of their cosplay, they were also handpicked by roving behind the scenes comic con people to attend the premiere of The Walking Dead at the Madison Square Garden.

To cap it all off, Lora had a chance to ask a question at the X-files panel – speaking in front of his childhood idols David Duchovny, Mitch Pileggi and director  Chris Carter, an experience she said she won’t forget anytime soon.

Double Duty

While others were hopping from one booth to another or stalking their favorite superheroes on the convention floor, Filipino-Canadian actress Shay Mitchell was doing double duty at the Comic Con this year.

The 25-year-old Mitchell, along with her fellow cast members from the ABC Family hit show Pretty Little Liars – Ashley Benson, Troian Bellisario, Sasha Pieterse and Lucy Hale, talked on a panel about the show’s future season.

“Playing the role of Emily has been an amazing experience for me. I have gotten to meet a lot of people who told me that watching the show opened up conversations within their families,” Shay said, responding to a question about how her role on the show has affected her.

The show, a teen drama/mystery/thriller was adapted from a bestselling book series of the same title. It has gained a cult following since premiering back in 2010.

After the panel, Mitchell wore a different hat and went on to sign copies of her new book, Bliss, which she co-wrote with her best friend Michaela Blaney.

Mitchell was born as Shannon Ashley Mitchell in Mississauga, Ontario to a Filipino mom, Precious Garcia and an Irish/Scottish father, Mark Mitchell. Her mom, originally from Pampanga, left the Philippines when she was 19.

Pop Culture Art

Another avid comic con fan is Los Angeles-based graphic artist Tim Caballero.

Tim has been going to the San Diego Comic Con for 11 years now but this was his first NYC Comic Con. He was here as part of Hero Complex, an art gallery that specializes in contemporary and pop art-themed shows.

Earlier this year, Tim’s design was also selected by Marvel to be printed on shirts for the promotion of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

“Growing up as a Marvel fan, as a comic book fan, I’ve always wanted to do art for Marvel so this was a perfect opportunity to do so,” Tim said.

It was a technical diagram of the Hulkbuster, a blueprint where everything had to be detailed and symmetrical. It took Tim about 50 to 60 hours to complete the entire project.

Coming from a graphic design background, Tim’s artwork is “not as much illustration as it is design” so he approaches it “from a compositional standpoint rather than illustrative.”

“I do mostly digital art. I make a lot of mistakes so it’s a lot easier to correct digitally than with paint or pencil,” Tim, who has been doing graphic design for about eight years now, quipped.

Tim went to school at the Art Institute of California where he studied graphic design, a decision that was initially met with questions by his parents.

“It was a typical Filipino family reaction. ‘Why don’t you go into nursing instead? If you’re a nurse, there’s a job anywhere you go’,” they told him.

“I have family members who are nurses and I appreciate them but my heart is not into it. I’d rather not do something no matter how much it pays if I’m gonna be miserable doing it. I’d rather do something I enjoy and appreciate. That’s why I do what I do,” Tim said.

Then the Marvel thing happened.

“They kind of got it when I got my Marvel piece. They saw that it was something I didn’t do just for fun,” he said.

Another Filipino American whose work is represented by Hero Complex is New Jersey-based artist and illustrator JP Valderrama who debuted his work with them in San Francisco back in 2013.

Like Caballero, Valderrama is into digital art, creating his work through computers and tablets.

“I’ve been drawing ever since I was a kid,” Valderrama, who  attended College of St. Benilde for Multimedia Arts, said.

After his graduation in 2004, he started out as a graphic designer but also went into digital background arts (for animation) at Fil Cartoons only for a short time because he moved to the United States in 2005.

JP got a corporate job doing graphic design and then started picking up the pen in 2010 and started drawing again. He began getting projects and in 2012, he got his first gallery show in New Jersey.

As the curtains closed on the 2015 New York Comic Con, fans like the Olaes family, digital artists like JP and Tim and even stars/authors like Shay Mitchell look forward to another one next year and wait with bated breath on how the men and women behind it would make it as big or maybe even bigger than this year.

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