The streets of Manhattan get filled with geeks, nerds and cosplay fans in full costume for four days in October as they inch their way to the Jacob Javits Convention Center for the annual New York Comic Con.
One of the self-described nerds, Fil-Am Marq Romero is a veteran in this field. In fact, he has been going to the New York Comic Con since 2007 when it was still in its infancy and was held in a small hotel in Times Square.
And he doesn’t just attend the events or visit the booths, he makes it a point to dress up in character. Of the four-day geekfest, Marq says he usually puts on his costume on Saturday, considered as the busiest day of the convention and the day when most of the cosplayers come out to show off their costumes.
He has donned various costumes through the years as he dresses up into whatever he happens to be into at the moment or whatever is popular. This year, he dressed up as Doctor Strange.
Throwback: A Wedding Proposal
Back in 2011, Marq decided to propose to his girlfriend Chriselle and thought of proposing to her at the comic con.
It wasn’t quite a walk in the park.
Marq says it took him more than three months to plan the details of said proposal. He worked with the comic con as a volunteer that year and that was his way in – he got permission from the organizers to hold a flash mob in front of the main theater. With a little help from friends and family, Marq pulled off what he calls as “the geekiest marriage proposal of the year” at New York Comic Con ‘11.
“It took a lot of logistics and organization to pull it off, but with the help of friends and family, I was able to pull it off,” Marq recalls.
He was walking on pins and needles as the day arrived. Thankfully, everything went in order.
“I was so nervous! After she said “yes,” I was in shock how many people we were surrounded by. It was surreal,” he adds.
Just how did he pull it off?
The proposal won the grand prize in the 2011 Brides Proposal Awards and the prize was honeymoon in Fiji.
“I conducted a flash mob of costumed dancers to the song “Marry You” by Bruno Mars (the Glee version). We had Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, Buzz Lightyear and even a breakdancing Boba Fett. Towards the end, a red carpet was rolled out and all the dancers lined up as Chriselle walked down the aisle. She reached the end where four people were lined up. They separated, revealing me on one knee dressed as the main character, Ash from Pokémon. A girl dressed as Pikachu handed me a pokéball which I opened to reveal the engagement ring. After she said “yes” and the crowd cheered, both our families came out to surprise her. It took place at 2:22pm which symbolized our anniversary, 2/22.”
Now, every year, the couple celebrates their anniversary at the comic con by taking a picture in the same spot where he proposed to her.
Jeremiah Agojo is also a big comic con fan. He has been to four New York comic cons and lately, he started to get into smaller ones and so far, he has attended three of those.
He says he tries to dress up every year, but sometimes he only gets to go for one or two days, and for him, it’s not worth making a costume. Of the four years he has been to NYCC, he dressed up in three.
This year, he made a Captain Philippines costume.
“My inspiration behind my Captain Philippines was obviously Captain America. I love WWII movies as well as Captain America comics and films,” Jeremiah shares.
Coming from a military family, he believes it is also his chance to say thank you to them and to everyone who has been in service of the country.
“I also have my father, grandparents and great grandparents, all of whom are Veterans [and] I felt like this would be a nice tribute to their service, as well as a cool way to make a unique, but recognizable costume,” he adds.
Going to the comic con every year has become a tradition for Jeremiah one that he looks forward to every year because he gets to meet comic artists and writers and fellow fans.
The comic con has also become a huge marketplace for any comic or even pop culture-related merchandise. From dolls to comic books to shirts and keychains, from posters to original commissioned artworks to action figures and collectibles, the comic con is the place to be.
“There’s no judgment for what you enjoy at comic con. Everyone is a bit nerdy about something, and you can truly express yourself while you’re there. Whether you’re nerdy, artsy, geeky, or a mix of all three, you’re welcomed. That’s not something us nerds get in everyday society,” he explains.
We asked both self-described nerds about their favorites.
“My favorite superhero is Spider-Man without a doubt,” Marq says and went on to explain his choice.
“He is just more relatable as he deals with daily problems like us normal folk do. He’s also flawed like the rest of us, which is why I can’t really get into Superman who is just too perfect. Spider-Man was also the first Marvel comic I remember buying and I still have that comic. I just instantly fell in love with the way he was drawn in the most impossible poses.”
Jeremiah on the other hand enumerated his list.
“Some of my favorite media franchises are Marvel Comics, Walking Dead, Power Rangers, Batman, Fallout, Overwatch and almost anything released by BOOM! studios. This year I got to meet Humberto Ramos, Marjorie Liu, Jason David Frank, David Yost, Sarag Pichelli, Scott Snyder, Stephen Byrne, and plenty others. It was an awesome experience meeting some awesome artists and writers and getting tips on the business from them,” he shares.
Having seen it evolved into what it has become now, Marq says it has become harder to navigate it now, specially with the size and amount of people that go every day.
“We now live in a time where it’s more mainstream and “cool” to go to comic cons now. When I first went, you can just go to the venue the day of and buy a ticket. Now you have to be on the website the second tickets go on sale and pray they don’t sell out. There weren’t a lot of females at comic con back in the day. Now there are so many females that attend NYCC so it’s good to see the culture spread out among ages and gender,” he says.
It may take awhile before New York Comic Con gets on the same level as the San Diego Comic Con where fans from across the country attend.
As a big comic con fan, Marq flew to San Diego in 2014 to attend the SDCC.
If you think that four days at the Javits and multiple locations in the city is big, you might want to think again.
“It’s so much bigger than New York. All the big movie studios have a large presence and hold the most exciting movie panels. What makes it so big is that the entire downtown of San Diego is transformed into comic con,” Marq recalls. “The whole downtown is in the spirit of comic con with restaurants employees wearing costumes and having superhero themed menus.”
Marq couldn’t help but compare – the SDCC convention hall is bigger and that helps because “you’re not always getting hit by someone’s costume or sword trying to walk down the aisles on the show floor.”
As a fan, he’s really not complaining. He is happy to just see “amazing hand-crafted costumes, buying new comic books and toys, meeting my favorite comic book artists and writers, and just geeking out with my wife and friends.”
And as a last point, he hopes that organizers could find a bigger venue than the Javits Center although he is not sure there is one.
“But they are doing renovations to expand the Javits Center so I am hopeful,” Marq says. “And not to stereotype the typical nerd (because I am one!), but there are a lot of people that don’t practice good hygiene at these conventions, and sometimes the smells can be pretty bad. I think deodorant companies like Axe and Old Spice are missing an excellent marketing opportunity here!”