NYCC 2014: Zombies Invade Comic Con In First Ever 'I'm A Midtown Zombie' Crawl From Midtown Comics; We Get Torn Apart By The Undead!!
If you look up at the ceiling of the main floor of the Javits Center, one of the most identifiable banners you'll notice is the Midtown Comics logo. The mini comics empire has been a mainstay at the NYCC for years now and, with three locations around the city, is one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable havens for comic aficionados in a town that has priced out far too many others.
Like all of us, the folks over at Midtown love zombies. Zombie comics, zombie movies, zombie television shows. If there's a zombie in it, odds are they will know about it. However, they are not simply content to sell the zombie wares; they are creating them, too in the form of special t-shirts. Thus was the 'I'm A Midtown Zombie' Crawl born.
The crawl is a special promotional event celebrating not only Midtown Comics, but their new t-shirt: a special zombie drawing by artist Chris Paulsen, with the words 'I'm A Midtown Zombie!' emblazoned on it. The shirt is quite a nice little collector piece. The first twenty people who signed up for the event were given a free t-shirt, and anyone else who stopped on by could purchase one and join in the fun.
We were there at the Midtown booth (#2036) where Andy, the event coordinator, was wrangling zombies whilst finishing the final logistical touches. He took some time out of running around to chat with us.
"We got about eight, nine, ten zombies," he said, glancing over the crowd slowly beginning to form of eager con attendees. "We got a lot of people here right now lining up. We're gonna pose for some pictures, gonna walk through the con, everyone's putting on makeup and we got zombie masks a couple of different things. And then the best looking zombies are going to win some additional prizes."
"I think it's gonna be a lot of fun, I'm excited for it." to which he added, "We'll see how far we can get through. You know we're going to walk at zombie pace, so we'll see how long it takes."
Huddled in a corner on a busy expressway in the Con, the zombie horde was growing. A few kids joined up. A Sackboy from Little Big Planet was now present; zombie face underneath a heavy, but impressive mask. A lone employee was applying zombie make-up as fast as she could. Many opted for a small latex mask, such as zombie clown, to complete their attire.
"We love zombies!" said Midtown Comics owner Gerry Gladston. "We love Walking Dead, the original George Romero zombie movies. You name it! Marvel Zombies! So we thought we should put a zombie on the shirt. I'm a Midtown Zombie, and then get a bunch of friends and crawl through the convention."
That group of friends was getting larger. There were about fifteen people total, a small but mighty number of the undead. At approximately 12:30 p.m., the crawl began.
There is a little uncertainty at first. Even the participants aren't entirely sure how to behave. The passersby take little notice; just a bunch of zombies. Trust me, they have seen weirder today. It takes about a block of con space (from one aisle to the next) for the zombies to perk up. The groans begin in earnest and folks stop walking, and start shambling. Sadly, there is little 'crawling' involved, I suspect only for you'd rather not touch the floor.
But it is missing something. An idea pops into my head and I break the cardinal rule of journalism: I make myself the story. With a quick go-ahead from Andy, who is leading the pack, I pull my pistol (I am dressed as Agent 47) and open fire. Several zombies fall, including Andy. But there are just too many and naturally, my gun jams. The remaining zombies descend upon me quickly. It's terrifying. The onlookers are horrified, but they cheer anyway. All I hear are the sounds of teeth gnashing and flesh ripping and - braaaaains.
But I get better, I promise. The crawl ends, a success! The con-goers notice the shambling horde and there are smiles on everyone's make-up stained faces. The group huddles around the Hawkeye figure from Madame Tussaud's, which is right around the corner from the Midtown Booth. One by one, they cheer for their favorite zombie; I was hoping for Sackboy zombie, personally. But it is clear who the winner is: Doctor zombie is his name.
"I'm feeling gooooood," the doctor zombie, whose real name is Jason, moans out. He is an older gentleman. It was hard not to see him in the crowd; he really got into character during the event. His make-up is the best around. "I'm having a great time. It's the best."
It's also a great story to tell the grandkids about one's first convention experience. "First! And I'm just a stand in, I wasn't supposed to do this. And I won! Go figure!"
The horde is beginning to disperse. Andy appears very content. "I think it went pretty well," he says, "We scared some people. We got swords cutting our heads off. Pretty crazy stuff. We ate somebody. We ate you."
"I remember that!" I enthuse.
One can already see the wheels turning in the young man's head. Would there be another next year? "We'd love to, definitely. Maybe we'll do something different next year. Zombies was a lot of fun, better than I could have hoped. I think it was great, everybody had a great time. It's a little hot though, wearing the masks and shirts."
Midtown Zombies. That seems appropriate. Folks come week after week to purchase their comics, like clockwork. I ask Gerry if that might be an appropriate moniker for their fanbase.
"I think so," he replies, and then quickly adds, "in a very affectionate way."
You can become a Midtown Zombie, too. Head on over to the online store here and purchase one, or you can pick one up at any of the three locations in Manhattan. Hopefully, they do a little event like this again. It will give me time to better prepare.