Now in its eleventh year, the New York Comic Con kicked off Thursday, once again bringing thousands of wildly devoted fans of, well, just about everything to the Javits Center. It was a day bursting with panels, photo-ops, cosplay, networking, and just about every form of merchandise imaginable.

A woefully incomplete list of the things for sale at Comic Con includes stuffed animals, models, stickers, hot sauces, mugs, audiobooks, VR games, t-shirts, sweatshirts, two-tone Pokeball contact lenses, decals, wigs, bolts of dyed leather that smell luxurious, Star Trek french presses, bright florescent wigs, corsets modeled after Batman and Robin, exclusive Power Rangers model Zords, jewelry, luggage, one of a kind original art, Nintendo-themed ice trays, apps, Mechanized Deiselpunk Walking Tank Scale Models, and something called "Techcessories." Commerce is the motor that keeps Comic Con running, and everywhere you looked yesterday, transactions were being made as fans eagerly bought up the wares.

But the most important thing on offer at Comic Con is community. "Cons" are a chance for the wildly obsessed to let loose in a space where cynicism and judgment get checked at the door. For many, if not most of those milling through the Javits Center, recognizing a specific Marvel timeline based on the color of a Spiderman suit, or understanding just how hard a fan worked to get their Princess Mononoke makeup just right meant that thousands of strangers there already knew each other. Being a devoted fan at Comic Con is instantly joining a club whose only membership requirement is passion.

Boston resident Adam Ramusiewicz made the trip to Manhattan by bus early Thursday morning, and was aware of the misconceptions that persist with fantasy, gamer, sci-fi, and otaku cultures. "A lot of people think that we have no lives, any of us. That couldn't be further from the truth—you see all types of people here. You see people who put a lot of work into their costumes. You see exhibitors who love the fans. You just see so many different passions. Everyone has fun here, and you see people of all ages."

"You can get into conversations so easily, just because you share a common interest," the 29-year-old said. "For me, when I'm outside and not at a convention, it's a little difficult for me to talk to people. But here, it's so easy, because I know I have that shared passion."

Parents introducing their kids to the wonders of Comic Con are a common sight. But Cassandra Lenas, 23, was busy guiding her 44-year-old father, Ariel, through his first con. "I came for the first time last year, and I just had such an amazing time. And my dad enjoys collectibles and things, and so I told him he should come with me, and now he's got his own box of comics!"

"I wasn't nervous at all I've always wanted to try it," Ariel said. "She's my chaperone. I would definitely come again."