Last weekend at New York Comic Con a fight broke out in front of Peach Momoko's Artist Alley table leading to the cancellation of her signing. This raises issues about fandom, entitlement, and convention security, so what can we learn from this?

Is Civility Dead?

2022 should be known as the year conventions came back after years of cancellations arising from the global pandemic. Instead, it is rapidly earning a reputation as the year of the endless Comic Book Industry Scandals. There was #Acetategate at Chicago's C2E2 convention, a rather high-profile love triangle at Boston Comic Con, and now a fistfight at New York  Comic Con that interrupted an incredibly rare US convention appearance by Japanese artist, Peach Momoko.

The popular and prolific cover artist of such highly-sought variants like Champions #1 and Strange Academy #1, as well as the co-creator and penciler of X-Men Demon Days, lives in Japan, and after the events of NYCC we'll be lucky if she consents to return.

While rampant speculation about what led to the artist's abrupt departure proliferated YouTube and Instagram accounts through the comic influencer sphere as early as Sunday afternoon, eyewitnesses eventually came forward to report what they saw, and Surprise! It ran counter to much of what had been written and reported up til then –mostly by people who were not there.

John (known as @hahayouwish_comics on IG) reported on Bronze Age Nerd's YouTube channel that Momoko's husband, (who is also her manager) asked dealers and others gathered by her table on Friday before the convention doors opened to refrain from lining-up until the show opened to the public –as a gesture to fans who had lined up outside for several hours already. Without event, the crowd did so, and in addition to allowing everyone in line ten signatures, Peach offered $20 sketch remarques to the first 100 people in line.

Second Verse, New Stanza

The following day, Saturday, October 8th, again, a large group of exhibitors and others whose badges allowed them early entry were gathered in Artist Alley to seek Peach Momoko's signature on their comics. Again, Peach's husband, Yo Mutsu requested they not line-up until after the fans outside were allowed entry, and to a man, they acknowledged the same system most of them had experienced the day before; sharing in enthusiasm for this opportunity to spend a bit of time with their favorite artist and ask a question or two which Mutsu would translate.

This time when the doors opened, pandemonium ensued.

A large group of attendees with VIP badges rushed toward the head of the line demanding they be serviced first, with some becoming loudly vocal and somewhat verbally abusive to Peach and Yo. While it should come as no surprise that Momoko, whose public appearances are undeniably scarce, attracted among the largest fanbases at the entire convention, her security detail was only two or three security guards.

At this point, they were preoccupied with shaping the serpentine line to accommodate the huge crowd. John reported that people were climbing over and under the stanchions creating friction with people who had already gathered into a somewhat orderly single-file line. The group that claimed VIP privileges (some of whom purported themselves to be Whatnot guests) was able to install themselves at the front of the line before security got to them, and hoping to minimize the aggressive hullabaloo were allowed to stay there, while the initial group of exhibitors and professionals continued to wait for up to and beyond three-to-four hours.

To their credit, those online did so patiently and without fuss in contrast with the line-hoppers that were literally yelling at the person whose signature they expected. Peach Momoko, while visibly shaken, was incredibly courteous and made sure everyone in line got their signatures. The item most had signed was her NYCC 2022 exclusive variant of Edge of Spider-Verse #4

Edge of Spiderverse #4, New York Comic Con 2022 Peach Momoko Exclusive Variant

By Sunday, any expectations that the line would be shorter after two days of signing were quickly dispelled when the largest group yet of dealers and VIPs queued around Artist Alley awaiting the arrival of Momoko and her team. Instead of using the prior two days as a measure of the expected crowd, her security detail was again limited to the same two or three people who elected to start shaping the line just ahead of the 10AM public opening. By 9:50 it already slithered completely around the area into a circle that extended just shy of the front of the line, and back out toward the nearest convention wall.

An unnamed male in his early 20s, wearing an exhibitor badge, was waiting in queue for the signing to begin when another man (described only as slightly older) approached his position in line, initiated an argument with insults, and ultimately escalated to poking the young man repeatedly in the chest. This elicited a return of physical contact that erupted into a full-on fistfight –directly in front of Peach Momoko. In the time it took the security guards to get to the two combatants and break up the altercation and eject them both, Momoko had removed herself from the situation and the remaining crowd was informed that she would not be returning. And while I'm sure there were a lot of disappointed fans, some of whom may have only had the opportunity to attend on Sunday, presumably with the sole intention of meeting Peach Momoko, who could blame her for leaving? By Sunday morning she had been yelled at and almost assaulted in the melee that took place a mere few feet from her seat.

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

There is a common thread to incidents at conventions, which is that there doesn't seem to be a standard policy in place about how to handle signings or exclusives. New York Comic Con is the second largest comic convention in the United States (in back of San Diego Comicon), and after seventeen years they should be prepared for every possible mishap at this point. For high-profile guests, there should be designated signing areas –preferably away from the convention floor, with plenty of security to oversee order.

If benefits are to be extended to VIPs or Exhibitors or Professionals, there needs to be a posted policy about what those entitlements are. In addition to security, there needs to be vendor relations personnel to make sure that exhibitors and guests are aware of the rules that pertain to them.

But the biggest offenders here were attendees. Granted, most people conducted themselves appropriately and the convention was a massive success by any other metric. But as a society, we have to re-ratify a code of conduct that has been eroded through social media interaction that (in a post-Covid environment) has created a generation of American Hikikomori –basically a backslide into social ineptitude.

Being indoors and alone for extended periods of time has de-socialized children, teenagers, and full-grown adults and we all need to be reminded of what is expected of us in public. Maybe we need to start teaching etiquette again in schools? In any event, a standard of behavior needs to be confirmed in the ticket-purchasing interface, which should require attendees to read and opt-into regulations of behavior at the penalty of ejection.

A bare minimum of planning and a mere axiom of courtesy would have prevented what happened on Sunday, October 9th. I only hope that we all learned something here and that changes are already underway.

As for Peach Momoko? She returned to her table on Sunday to sketch, proving that she's not only a class-act, but committed to her fandom.

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This blog is written by freelance blogger Matt Kennedy: Matt Kennedy is owner of Gallery 30 South and author of Pop Sequentialism: The Art of Comics. The first comic he bought on the newsstand was Werewolf by Night #32 which he somehow managed to keep in good enough condition to get it graded 9.0 forty years later. Please follow him @popsequentialism on Instagram & Twitter and visit his website:

Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect advice on behalf of GoCollect