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The Awesome And Frustrating Artist’s Alley At New York Comic-Con [NYCC 2012]

The first time I attended New York Comic-Con back in 2010, the Javits Center was undergoing renovation. As a result, the Artist’s Alley section was walled off from the main convention floor, accessible only by a pair of weird little tunnels. There were plenty of convention-goers that year who told me they’d spent most of the con completely unaware that Artist’s Alley was even there.

This year, I was hoping that things would’ve changed, and they have — and they’ve somehow made the situation with Artist’s Alley way more awesome and way more frustrating at the same time.First, the bad news: It’s even more impossible to find Artist’s Alley this year, to the point where I’m going to officially upgrade the whole thing to a Rigamarole. If you want to go from the floor where the dealers and publishers are located to Artist’s Alley, you actually have to leave the convention, head out to the lobby, hang a left, and start walking. There’s a sign, but with the way it’s placed — seen above, in the shadow of a gigantic Walking Dead banner — you can’t really see it until you’re right next to it, which means you’re already past the screening theaters.

Once you can see the sign, you still have to walk through this weird hallway festooned with signs bearing slogans like “Have You Hugged A Stormtrooper Today?” Then, after all that, you’re finally in Artist’s Alley.

It’s a pretty major hassle, especially since you can wander around that area that was walled off a couple of years ago (and still requires a tunnel to get to, albeit one decked out in green lights and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ooze) and find plenty of neat stuff, but no creators. But the thing is — and this is the good news — once you actually get to Artist’s Alley, it’s amazing.

It dwarfs the two aisles in the corner that make up San Diego’s grudging acknowledgment that comic books still exist, and the reason it’s so far away from everything else is that it’s in a new addition to the Javits Center that’s more spacious and brightly lit. It’s smartly organized — our own Andy Khouri pointed out that art dealers, art supplies and cash machines are all bundled together right up front so that you can take care of all your impulse original page-buying needs in one spot — and the aisles are wide and lined with a truly amazing amount of great creators.

The only flaw is that it’s so inconvenient to the rest of the show, and that’s a pretty big issue. As much as it’s worth making the trek from one end of the convention center to the other to get to Artist’s Alley — and if you’re attending NYCC this weekend, that’s exactly what you should set aside a good amount of time to do — it’s easy to completely miss unless you’re actively hunting for it.

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