November 4, 2023
New York Comic Con (NYCC) has transformed from its inception 17 years ago. What started as a simple celebration of comics between creators and fans at Jacob Javits Center in October has become a cross-media cultural melting pot of diversity, with a vast itinerary of shows, booths and guests showcasing a number of different cultures.
Kayden Phoenix, creator of A La Brava, the first Latina superhero team, told The Click that there’s a need for more representation, referring to the largely white male-centric demographics being represented by comic publishers as well as cultural stereotypes in characters that appear to represent people of color. Phoenix subverts these stereotypes by writing from an authentic voice informed by her own experiences as a Latina writer.
“A big part of my life’s purpose is to give voice to stories as multifaceted, atypical, and diverse as the people we find in the real world,” Phoenix said.
In 2017, “geek culture” news website, ICv2, ran an analysis on consumer demographics at that year’s NYCC and found that 79% of American superhero comic book sales were skewed towards white audiences with 78% of that being male. In contrast, manga sales showed a little more diversity with its consumer-base being 56% male and 44% female.
Youneek Studios held a strong presence on the show floor, showcasing its library of African superhero comics. Ranked as the leading African comic publisher by Comic Book Curious, Youneek was founded by Nigerian filmmaker and author, Roye Okupe. They have made their NYCC debut and partnered with Dark Horse Comics to bring its African heroes to American readers with titles that include, “E.X.O: The Legend of Wale Williams” and “Malika, Warrior Queen.”
In addition to the various exhibitions on display, NYCC had a number of movie and television screenings, including the world premier of the new Godzilla show, “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.”
At a screening hosted by Apple TV+, fans saw the sprawling sci-fi epic that represents a cross-cultural collaboration with Toho Studios. With Monarch, the producers adapted the Japanese film icon, Godzilla, for American audiences.
According to Forbes, the event amassed an attendance of 200,000 in 2022. This year attendance rose to over 210,000 attendees from all over the world, according to statistics from Reedpop, the RX Global subsidiary that organizes NYCC. The data for the attendance demographics is not available yet, Reedpop’s Senior Talent Buyer Edwin Raymond told The Click.
A strong focus on Japanese film and television was apparent as attendees entered the third level of the Jacob Javits Center and were greeted by giant ornate balloons of classic anime characters such as Luffy from “One Piece” and Goku from the “Dragon Ball” series.
Merchant booths sold plushies and clothes adorned with characters from countless anime and manga such as “Hello Kitty” and “Chainsaw Man.”
This year marked the U.S. debut of Manga Dive since its first appearance in Tokyo at Jump Fest 2022. The exhibition is an immersive virtual reality experience provided by Shueisha XR.
Art from their manga library was put on a kaleidoscopic display through three surrounding screens. Shueisha is a Japanese manga publisher that prints and distributes a vast array of titles present at NYCC such as “Spy x Family” and “ The King of Fighters.”
Manga Dive was one of many attractions inspired by Japanese media. Others included Shueisha’s Manga Plus exhibit, along with others showcasing titles like “My Hero Academia,” “Digimon” and the superhero television series “Ultraman.”
“Our shows have very diverse audiences and I want to make sure that there’s something for everybody at one of these things,” Raymond said. “It’s also the way of how we [Reedpop] think as a company. We want to make sure as many people feel represented. We all share that value.”