There is nothing in the world like New York Comic Con! NYCC 2022 that was held at the Jacob Javits Center Thursday through Sunday, had an amazing VIBE! You got the sense of going into a place where you were part of a community. It was so welcoming whether you were a video gamer, a sci-fi lover, a lover of manga, old-school shows, movies and cartoons and new school. The VIBE started before you reached Jacob Javits as there were so many people cosplaying in full costumes walking to the event. Once you stepped inside of Javits there were men, women, and children dressed in full costumes. You had too many characters/people adorned in cosplay to name walking about—but for a taste try Nezuko, Spiderman, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Ahsoka Tano, Sabine, Uzui, Ichiago, Mario, Black Panther, Spongebob with an attached painting of his pineapple home on his back, Bayoneta and Wolverine.

There was merchandise of all types everywhere you turned, including t-shirts, posters, artwork, paintings, sweatshirts, mugs, Funko Pops, video games, figurines, stuffed animals, dolls, collectible dolls, skateboards, lightsabers, jewelry, you name it, it was there. As I walked around my daughters I came upon a stunning, vibrant booth that sold pins, pins with so many different characters from shows like “Black Clover,” “Toyko Ghoul,” “Jujutsu Kaisen,” “Fairytail,” “My Hero Academia,” “Demon Slayer,” “Avatar,” “Ranking of Kings,” “JJK” and still more. Herds of people were in the booth thrilled to grab up their favorite characters, it was a delight to see their excitement. What was another delight for me was to find out that the man ringing the card purchases up was African American Raemon Speights, who was the creator of the pins and designer of the booth. An employee of the Pink Club, the booth held pins representing over 20 different anime licenses, with a variety of pins produced from 600 templates. The Pink Club creates and works with a manufacturer to produce the pins. Speights shared that this was his second year at NYCC. “I feel great! I love seeing and meeting all the fans and having cool conversations. Everybody is welcoming. That’s what I look forward to, it’s the community. Everyday you hear of things that divide us, pink collecting brings everyone together. People tell me stories of how they met their significant other and lifelong friends pink collecting,” Speights said. Speights possesses a degree in media arts and animation, was a tattoo artist for eight years and then got a job at Pink Club as a pin creator.

New York Comic Con Credit: Jasmine Armstrong photo

As everyone walked around it didn’t matter your age or ethnic background, this was a community of people that came together to experience a fabulous, memorable and moving time! That could mean going to the many booths with activities, doing gaming at hundreds of computers set up for people to play at or spinning wheels and winning prizes, or going to the displays of your favorite cartoons, anime, TV show or manga and taking pictures with the character in huge set backgrounds or getting autographs from comic book writers, video game creators, sci-fi actors and cartoon voice actors and other creatives. Marvel, Disney, Playbill, Funimation, Viz were just some of the groups represented at this mega event.

Did someone say panels? Panel abounded for everything you could think of connected to sci-fi, anime, cartoons and manga. You had panels on every single day. Depending on the status of the shows those panels delivered sneak peaks for the next season of a series whether it was animated or not and they also let you in on the shows in the pipeline for 2023, like Marvel’s animated series “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” which will premiere on Disney Channel and Disney+. An action comedy, this animation will star a female African American hero. Yes, you heard me right, Diamond White will play Lunella Lafayette/Moon Girl and she has a 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur. The panel had White and Fred Tatasciore (voice of Devil Dinosaur), and Gary Anthony Williams (Pops) who were joined by executive music producer Raphael Saadiq, executive producer Steve Loter, supervising producer Rodney Clouden and producer Pilar Flynn talking about the storyline that centers on an African American teenage girl! The theme song is done to hip hop music and Moon Girl is having fun. She’s on rollerskates and slapping her girlfriend five. The animation looks like a blast! The crowd was very enthusiastic to hear and see what this show will look like when it comes out on Disney on Feb. 10, 2023. The show has also already been picked up for a second season, prior to its debut. This is just a marvelous example of how Disney is inclusive in its programming.

New York Comic Con Credit: Jasmine Armstrong photo

One of my favorite panels was a mix of old and new school with “Star Trek,” which did three separate panels in the 90-minute time slot it had! Dressed in my Uhura costume to honor the memory of the late legacy-maker, Michele Nichols, I sat with my fellow Trekkies, many also dressed in full attire to represent the series they grew up with. These panels had the creatives and cast from “Star Trek Discovery,” “Star Trek Prodigy” (the animation) and “Star Trek Picard.” You almost felt like Scottie had beamed you up! It was GLORIOUS! Star Trek Discovery was already an inclusive series with people of various races and sexual orientations being aboard, but everyone was loving the Black female captain played by Senequa Martin-Green. Martin-Green joined the panel via Zoom. Other cast members were Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, along with executive producers Michelle Paradise, Alex Kurtzman, and Rod Roddenberry, son of the late Gene Roddenberry. Attendees got to see a sneak peak at Season 5 and hear what new characters will be coming to the series. Audience members were thrilled that the show has Rapp and Cruz to represent the gay community and one shared that they inspired her to come out to her family. “Star Trek Prodigy” gave us the creatives and voice actors. This series again stars an African American teen, a boy named Daal played by Brett Gray. Panelists included actors Kate Mulgrew, Gray, Jamella Jamil, executive producers Kevin and Dan Hageman, Alex Kurtzman, Rod Roddenberry, and director and executive producer Ben Hibon. People in the audience were visibly moved when the final panel came out because it had actors we know and love, including Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Jonathan Frakes, and Brent Spiner. Between “Star Trek Picard” and “Star Trek: Next Generation” fans couldn’t believe they were in the room where it happened. When audience members went to the microphone they tearfully shared that these shows saved them. These shows helped them to feel they were part of a community, instead of alone. Fans thanked the creators and cast for bringing to life such powerful shows, with such beautiful messages of humanity and acceptance.

There is absolutely NOTHING LIKE NYCC! I can’t wait until next year!

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