How an Extreme Introvert Can Survive A Day at NY Comic Con


Despite living in Manhattan and DC for 12 years of my life, crowds have always made me nervous. Specifically being trapped in giant crowds of shuffling people who are brushing up against me and stepping on me.

Which is pretty much a constant at NY Comic Con.

So how did I go and have a great time?

  1. Plan Ahead

I read the emails from NY Comic Con and followed their advice on prepping. I brought my own food to avoid the crazy food lines (which snaked all over and looked to be an hour each). I brought water to stay hydrated. I downloaded the NY Comic Con app and planned out a possible itinerary. I dressed in what was comfy for me. The temperature inside ranged from cool to warm so layers are key.

2. Bring a Friend


My buddy Ant met me on 10th and 38th and we walked in together. It’s always easier to face a crowd with a wingman. It’s also less overwhelming when you’ve got a buddy to consult with and help navigate three stories of crowds.

3. Select Panels That Fit Your Interests and Your Personality

To avoid constant crowds and long waits, I picked the writing panels which tend to be less crowded at comic cons and are also where my interests lie. Win-win. Sitting inside the panels is also a great break from the crowds.


Storytelling on the Page

This panel was about creating story in comic books. What was most fascinating was how much of it translated to novel writing (for me) and play writing (for Ant).

My favorite take aways?

*Start close on purpose to create unease.

*180 rule switch angle in comic is jarring to reader. Avoid interruption. Engage in stream of consciousness storytelling and don’t knock them out of it.

We even got a free comic book from Valiant and it’s gorgeous!


Let Me Hear You Scream

*I know that’s ghosts aren’t real, but the ghosts are in my brain.

*Horror confirms secret truths.


Wicked Reads

*I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of what’s in the dark.

*I have a fear of bad situation with no good choices.

4. Get The Lay of the Land

Give yourself time to figure out where the panels you want to get to are and where everything is. It’s a little disorienting at first. So arrive with an hour before anything you are dying to do. Keep in mind there are always lines for the ladies’ room, especially when people are in costume.

5. Budget Lots of Time to Get Around

Everyone shuffles around because there is so much to do and see. There are people in cosplay posing and taking pictures. There are lines and freebies. It’s like a casino on crack.

Between panels, we wandered around the exhibit hall area. It was amazing and intense and massive. I got a few free books from Del Rey. Woohoo!

IMG_0404 IMG_0406 IMG_0407

Exhibit Hall

IMG_0423 IMG_0425

Main Entry Level


Then we checked out Artist’s Alley.

6. Be Nice

I said excuse me and sorry more in one day than I do in a month. Why? Because it lets people know I had no intention of bumping or stepping on them and also reminds me that as many times as I get bumped I’m bumping someone else.  Being nice makes it easier on everyone.

I even gave a girl a tampon in the bathroom. Because no one should have to use those horrible machine ones.

7. Have an Exit Strategy That Fits You

I knew I couldn’t last more than 6-8 hours there, so I planned my arrival time accordingly and also had potential panels only for that time frame.

8. Schedule Time to Decompress Afterwards

All the people and noise get me really wound up. I needed time with close friends to decompress. Ant and I met up with Brett in Chinatown for dimsum. We’ve known each other decades so it was the perfect way to end the day.


Lychee martinis for all of us. Steamed pork buns, steamed shrimp dumplings, sticky rice in lotus leaf.


This is the hardest dish to get in Chinatown at dinner time. For years, Brett and I would order it and be told, “Sorry, we sold out.” We ordered two servings! It’s shrimp wrapped in a gelatinous rice noodle. Num num.

IMG_0005 IMG_0007

After dinner, we of course needed dessert.

IMG_0013 IMG_0017

So we headed to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. I got Pandan–my favorite. Ant got Chocolate Oreo. Brett tried Durian. It starts out tasting bitter and then the scent of garbage fills your mouth. I’m not kidding, I tried it.

Worst dessert ever!

After a few bites Brett gave up on it and tossed it.

Then we went in search of a palate cleanser. None of the Chinatown bakeries were open.  We ended up at Ferrara’s in Little Italy.


As Brett savored his cream puff, I decided I didn’t want our food crawl to end and we went in search of bubble tea something I hadn’t had in a decade!


Brett and I shared Taro Milk Tea at ChaTime. Ant just came along for the excitement.


Here’s all my goodies from NY Comic Con. So that book in the middle was the best surprise ever–Stephenie Meyer was there on Thursday and the bookstore was still selling signed copies of her 10th Anniversary Edition of Twilight. Squee! I got a signed copy.

Twilight was one of my favorite series and taught me so much about writing a compelling story. I never thought I’d have a signed copy of her book. Thanks NY Comic Con!

This entry was posted in conventions, manhattan, new york and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to How an Extreme Introvert Can Survive A Day at NY Comic Con

  1. Rhonda Lane says:

    Great post! So useful for big crowds like, oh, any festival anywhere including the exhibit floor at Book Expo America, except the folks doing cosplay at BEA have handlers to help them navigate the crowd. Hats off to you for trying Durian. I’m amazed the infamous smell didn’t get to you before you got it up to your mouth. 🙂 Anyway, thanks for sharing your day with us.

    • Thanks Rhonda! LOL. My friend said it tasted like grapefruit and encouraged me to try a taste. The ice cream didn’t have a bad scent like the fruit does. It was so weird because for a second it was tart and almost pleasant and then the aroma of garbage filled my mouth and nose. 🙂

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    Sounds like a wonderful experience. I never realized you were into that venue. Aside from having a great time, I bet you got some great fodder for your own writing too. Probably lots of interesting people there!

    • It was. I used to be a huge comic book fan in my teens and twenties. It evolved into an expensive manga habit in my late twenties. Now I tend to read novels, but it was so cool to be there. It definitely helped me think about some of the story issues I’ve been having with Six Train’s sequel. I bounced some of my anxieties off my writer friend and it helped to just tell someone what was going off the rails and driving me batty. 🙂 So many cool people there.

  3. Sounds like fun. The planning definitely sounds key, I was at a conference today and was chatting with someone about how these days we mostly don’t bother to plan when going somewhere because we can find all the answers, like directions, on our phones so we can just figure it all out at the time, but actually sometimes we can get caught out and wish we’d planned! I love how you went from one food place to another after! I love bubble tea and am now craving some 🙂

    • With Comic Con, there are lines for everything and limited seating. Their emails really scared me into planning 🙂

      The queue for the main stage panels sounded really intense and I wasn’t desperate to see any of those panels. But if I did want to see them, it would have been a lot of planning to get there early enough to get in. They had a massive 10 block line waiting to get into Comic Con at 10 am. I strolled in at 11 am. But that meant those main stage panels were likely all filled up.

      I’m guilty of relying on my phone and when I lose my service the Mapquest app becomes useless!

      One of my friends was like let’s have drinks and I was like um, we’re too old for a pub crawl, let’s do a food crawl. Turned out really fun. Taro is my favorite flavor. It’s the only bubble tea I’ve ever drank actually!

  4. EllaDee says:

    You’re certainly keen… these days we’re very selective about events where body to body contact and queuing is likely to be the order of the day. But I did like your decompressing strategy and we also love the shrimp rice noodles. Thanks for the heads up on Durian Icecream 🙂

    • There’s a part of me that absolutely dreads these kind of events and wishes I never ever attended them. But despite how nervous they make me, I usually have some fun. This was a really good one–mostly because of my moderate expectations and my awesome partner. I was surprised we made it that long. I think the 3 hours inside the panels helped. The decompressing was awesome. I was still wired that night though. I didn’t fall asleep until 2 am. And OMG that was a lesson in being less adventurous with food. 😉

  5. Ally Bean says:

    Your day sounds like so much fun– and I’m an introvert who, like you, is not thrilled with events like the one you attended. As for being nice, your gesture in #6 is the epitome of nice. Never had bubble tea, but must remember to look for it the next time I get to a larger sophisticated city. Doubt that I’ll find it around here.

    • Crowds are a special level of hell for me. The noise, the touching, the lack of control. I really hate those aspects of it. It takes a lot to make that remotely fun for me.

      LOL. I always prepare for everything and had a similar situation in Baltimore that led to a CVS run during the book festival. I truly felt for her since she was stuck inside for hours with no CVS on hand.

      Bubble tea is really cool. It’s got tapioca balls in it. They have a cool texture. It started in Taiwan and Hong Kong and was all the rage in NY in 2000. I was a bubble tea fanatic for a while. You’d be most apt to find it in a city with a Chinatown. That’s usually where I find them.

      • Ally Bean says:

        I’m going to find some bubble tea. Don’t know where yet, but I’ll do it. Forget that I’m 15 years behind the trend, it’s out there somewhere. Thanks for the info.

        • LOL. I love your spunk. 🙂 Being on trend isn’t all that. Besides isn’t it cool to have something new to try? As we get older there are fewer of those opportunities. Savor the bubble tea experiment.

  6. Wow! What a huge venue, Kourtney. I’ve never been good with large crowds. Bringing a friend, like you did, is a must for me. Thanks for sharing your experience and the good food! 🙂

    • Jill, everyone kept asking me are you excited for Comic Con and I was like um, yeah, but more nervous actually. That noise level can trigger migraines and that kind of constant stimulus gets me way too wired. But I wanted to experience all the awesome stuff they had to offer so I braved it. If I didn’t have Ant, I couldn’t have done it. The food was the reward for getting through the day!

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    I’ve never been to a big event like that, but I can imagine how difficult it would be for this introvert, too. Even professional conferences are sensory overload for me. I think my most overwhelming experience was when my husband and I spent the night in Las Vegas before flying home. That’s something I don’t need to repeat—prepared or not! 😀

    • I’ve done some big writing conferences but nothing like this before. It’s so much coming at you on all levels. Sounds, sights, smells, touches. It is very very overstimulating. Vegas is very much in the same vein. This is my second NY Comic Con. My first was back in 2008. I think I might try a regional one next year.

  8. Sounds as much fun as a kid in a Christmas Toyland (Had to come back and see pix on a big screen…glasses only help so much with phones HA HA) You are so smart: Always take a friend and know just how long you can hold up. (crowds are tiring and your brain gets into overload) What fun! (And yucky ice cream flavor…yech…wish I hadn’t read that part )

    • It was fun. Yes, bring a buddy and set a time limit really help. I get overstimulated. My heart was racing most of the day actually. Oh it was a new level of awfulness. Take it as a warning. Never ever touch durian. 🙂

  9. Pete Denton says:

    Sounds like a great day out. Always good to plan these things otherwise you can end up queueing or wandering about with no purpose for the entire event. I’ve done that before!

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?