The Big Apple is ready to embrace its alter ego as Gotham City — home to superheroes, villains and the annual New York Comic Con.
The celebration of all things pop culture takes over the Javits Center for the next four days, filling it with artists, authors, celebrities and the most passionate fans on the planet.
Tom Hiddleston, Paul Rudd, Billy Dee Williams and Jennifer Connelly are some of the actors scheduled to make appearances. Comic luminaries include Chris Claremont, Dan Slott, Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Saladin Ahmed, Afua Richardson and Todd McFarlane. The packed schedule includes sneak-peeks into new television shows, films and books that appeal to lovers of the action, fantasy, sci-fi and horror genres.
“It’s almost like a homecoming,” said Akua Harris of Geek Girl Brunch New York, a group of women who share a love of “geek” culture. “You know a lot of your friends are going to be there. You’ll run into writers and illustrators you love.”
There’s plenty of shopping to do as well, with dealers offering comics, books, T-shirts and all kinds of collectibles. And sometimes the scenes in the convention’s crowd rival the action up on stage.
More than 200,000 people attended last year’s Comic Con, many dressed in elaborate costumes that pay homage to their favorite characters. These superfans are also known as cosplayers and often spend months making their outfits.
Some hotly-anticipated shows like HBO’s “Watchmen” and “Daybreak” from Netflix will bring their cast and crew to Comic Con along with returning favorites “Outlander” “The Walking Dead” and “Marvel’s Runaways.”
Having long outgrown available space at Javits, some of the larger panels are held at The Hammerstein Ballroom and Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
This year the Anime Fest @NYCC x Anime Expo is being held at nearby Hudson Mercantile, making it easier for fans to attend both. The separately-ticketed convention is designed for fans of Japanese animation and culture, but Comic Con badge holders can access activities on the first floor.
Kristina Rogers, event director for ReedPOP, which produces New York Comic Con and the Anime Fest, said anime favorites Charlet Chung and Veronica Taylor as well as former “Mythbuster” Adam Savage are some of the featured guests.
“We have some really cool panels,” Rogers said. “We wanted to make the upstairs a little more intimate, a little more premium for anime fans.”
Award-winning cosplayer Jacqui Collins, who helped judge last year’s competition, returns this year. But instead of vying for a title, she will tap into her cosplay experience and provide sewing tips during a special panel on Friday.
“I’m excited to go back and watch my friends compete,” said Collins, a Brooklyn resident who crafted her own costume based on Sophie Hatter, a character from the Japanese anime film “Howl’s Moving Castle.”
“It’s really inspiring to go to this convention and see what everyone comes up with,” she said. “
R.J. Palacio, author of the beloved book “Wonder’’ is coming to Comic Con on Thursday to introduce “White Bird,” a new graphic novel she wrote and illustrated.
The story focuses on the grandmother of Julian, a character in “Wonder,” and her harrowing experience as a young Jewish girl in France during World War II and the brave people who risked their own safety to help her survive.
Palacio is a proud, self-professed “geek” who grew up in Queens reading her brother’s stash of Marvel comic titles like “Daredevil” and “The Avengers.”
“I love the energy, I love everything about it,” Palacio said about New York Comic Con. “ ‘Wonder’ is filled with “Lord of the Rings” references and “The Hobbit” references and all sorts of references, not because I’ve come to like those things through my sons, but because I am a die-hard fan of fantasy, science fiction and comics.”
And getting access to the show was a little easier this year because, for the first time in several years, four-day passes were available.
“Fans have been asking for it and fans come first,” Rogers said.
She also had some advice for new attendees as well as veterans: wear or bring comfortable shoes, carry a water bottle and plan out your days in advance.
“And if you are in line and you are going to be in that line for an hour, remember everyone around you is into something you are into so make some friends,” she said.