By D. Anthony Thomas

Clutter Magazine and Midtown Comics deliver on their promise to present a worthy alternative to the predictable Con scene.

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The challenge for organizers attempting to put together a successful geek-centric event in New York City is separation and distinction.  There is a well-established giant that appears at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center every October that appears to be almost impossible to dethrone.  Directly competing with it would be suicide.  Putting together a “lite” version of it would be pointless.  As a result, the five boroughs traditionally turned into a geek desert for an absurdly long time, and then erupted into three days of organized chaos in the Fall.

With this past weekend’s Five Points Festival, Clutter Magazine and Midtown Comics delivered a satisfying alternative that local fandom desperately needed.  For two days at Pier 36 in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, admirers of designer toys, comics, and related art had the opportunity to indulge in their hobbies in an atmosphere that had all of the passion associated with that October con, but few of its absurdities.

The solution to the separation and distinction problem was a subtle shift in phrasing and focus.  Five Points is a festival, not a convention.  Clutter and Midtown didn’t just want a large gathering.  They wanted a celebration.  This savvy shift accounting for the feeling that they wanted attendees to have while present at the event, helped make Five Points more refreshing than draining as the weekend progressed.

Secondly, the organizers kept the focus on the artists and the hobbies, not the associated entertainment or even the fans themselves.  No fan favorite actors, no premiere movie trailers, no cosplay competitions, no ultra exclusive panel discussions, and thus, almost no madness.  You really could just stroll through Artist Alley, talk to your favorite creator, and purchase something that catches your eye, without a mob bowling you over as they sprint towards a Lord of the Rings statue giveaway.  Those crazed moments of fandom are entertaining in their own way, but they’re not for everyone.

This is not to say that the Five Points Festival was some demure event that was devoid of the enthusiasm that makes these gatherings great.  Japanese vinyl toy fans lined up sometime between two and six AM for a chance to score some ultra-limited collectibles.

The arrival of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the writer and artist team behind a fan favorite run on Batman, was a rock star moment straight from that other con.  Geek passion was in full display.  Luckily, the more questionable and unhealthy aspects of fandom never had the chance to spoil the fun.

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