Back in 2011, Marvel superstars Marvel superstars Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Hiddleston gathered in a ntion hall at New York Comic Con to promote the first Avengers movie. It was crowded, hectic even, but still managIt was crowded, hectic even, but still manageable. Today, i, iould be a madhouse. NYCC has simply grown too large, too fast — 200,00 tickets](http://www.comicsbeat.com/nycc-17-its-official-new-record-attendance-set-with-200000-tickets-sold/) sold last year — to accommodate the kind of star-studded panels we still see at the rival (unaffiliated) (unaffiliated) San Diego convention.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Since it first launched just over a decade ago, NYCC has quickly expanded beyond comic books to enencompass everything from anime to esports, displaying the type of diversity that makes New York City itself so great. The convention’s organizers have sometimes struggled to keep up with demand, leading to hour-long lines (or worse) in the bitter NY cold, but 12 years in New York Comic Con is bigger than ever with no signs of slowing down., displaying the type of diversity that makes New York City itself so great. The convention’s organizers have sometimes struggled to keep up with demand, leading to hour-long lines (or worse) in the bitter NY cold, but 12 years in New York Comic Con is bigger than ever with no signs of slowing down.

A year later, ReedPOP (the company created to manage NYCC) booked twice the space and scored Stan Lee as a key speaker. In response, 38,000 people showed up, leading to two-hour lines in the icy 20-degree temperatures outside. And the year after that, Lee returned to accept the first ever New York Comics Legend award.

stan lee
Stan Lee

But it wasn’t until 2010 that NYCC really found its groove thanks to, of all things, a scheduling conflict that forced the event to move from February to October. This turned out to be the best possible outcome, giving ReedPOP the opportunity to partner with studios looking to hype up their Halloween promotions, along with new fall TV shows and big holiday-season movies. At the same time, NYCC merged with the New York Anime Festival, boosting growth even more.

In 2011, NYCC crossed the 100,000 attendance threshold, expanding again by partnering with the Intel Extreme Masters Global Challenge to add competitive gaming to the mix. In 2014 the convention saw 151,000 visitors, officially surpassing San Diego Comic-Con to become the biggest event of its type in North America. In 2016 that number grew to 180,000, and in 2017 ReedPOP sold 200,000 tickets.

If the stars of Avengers: Infinity War showed up at NYCC now there’d likely be a stampede. Even the news that Mark Ruffalo (who also appeared at that 2011 panel) would be signing autographs at the 2018 event was enough to spark headlines and excitement.

At this point, New York Comic Con may be too successful for its own good (if that’s even possible), but like the city where it takes place, it looks like there’s still nowhere to go but up for the 12-year-old comic book convention.

New York Comic Con runs October 4-7. Follow along with all of Inverse’s coverage right here.