Monday, March 13, 2017

Emerald City Comic Con

When I walked out of the New York Comic Con in October 2015, I was sad. It went beyond the usual "Awwww, the Con is over", because I also knew I wouldn't be going back to NYCC anytime in the near future. When I went to my first NYCC in 2008 the attendance was around 70,000. In 2015 it was 168,000. In 2016, when I didn't go, it was 180,000.

It should be noted that the Javits Center has not expanded to keep pace. So while it is a con I have great memories of, it's simply too crowded. They're talking about expanding the Center, but that's not likely to be completed to the early 2020s.

So yes, a touch depressed.

But that's when Cathy stepped in with one of her ideas that she later has cause to regret. There's been a series of these. They include such highlights as:
-    If you give up single issues of comic books you can buy all the trade paperbacks you want.
-    Hey, let's wander into this toy store.
-    I bought you Lego for Christmas. You do like Lego, right?

To that list we now add "you should just find a Con in the middle of winter. It'll give you a nice break."

Which took as permission to go to another Con. Which I just did.

The Emerald City Comic Con hit every note I want for a con. First, it's in a new city, which is always a good chance to explore. Seattle is pretty awesome and a lot of comic creators are now located in the Pacific Northwest, which means you get some pretty cool writers and artists in attendance. It also has a reputation of focusing more on creators than celebrity guests. It's over four days and last year the attendance was just shy of 100,000. So perfect all the way around.

So while Cathy goes to Florida for a week to sit on a beach and read in April (which I would suck at. It takes me a week of moving before I can settle into doing nothing), I spent the first week of March in Seattle and at the con.

Alas, I didn't see as much of Seattle as I would have liked. I underestimated distance and was desperately trying to save my feet. I nearly amputated my feet after the last NYCC and you do a lot of walking at cons. I did walk around Pike's Market. I also had some truly excellent pizza, thank god.

As for the con, it may be the best organized one I've ever been to. I can nitpick at stuff. Cell service was shit, but that might have just been T-Mobile sucking. Also, the escalators kept breaking, which I actually found slightly amusing, recalling this article from a few weeks ago.

But the organizers did a phenomenal job of utilizing space. For one thing, they moved all celebrity autographs and photo ops to the hotel next door, clearing out a ton of space. There was a floor dedicated for gaming. A floor for cosplayers, especially if you needed to repair your outfit. Most of the 6th floor was dedicated to Artist Alley. It's the nicest one I've ever seen. Huge number of artists there, lots of space for getting around, carpet on the floor so your feet aren't being murdered....

They had family rooms and quiet spaces in case you need some privacy to chill because you're overwhelmed. Cosplay is not consent signs were all over the place and I didn't see any bad behaviour to speak of.

In fact everyone I spoke to was friendly and I had a lot of great conversations just waiting in line for something to be signed. An Australian and I bonded over the fact that we could finally talk the metric system when describing temperatures instead of having to mentally convert to Imperial. Discussions about cosplay. Bantering with a Darth Vader.

One of the other cool things ECCC does is a limited edition book. Each year they do an art book called Monsters and Dames. I'm normally leery of these kinds of books because they can be hit and miss. But it was overwhelmingly hit. And then you go on a treasure hunt - walking around the alley trying to get each page signed by the artist.

It's time consuming, but it is fun and you talk to artists you might ordinarily walk past. And you pick up some information on their projects.

Everybody has their own thing at these events. I didn't spend five minutes on the gaming floors, but I prowled artist alley and the main show floor. I bought a bunch of books (rules: the creative team must be there to sign it, or it's on sale). I hit the Funko booth, god help me. I sat in on a few panels as well.

So yes, just a blast. Tons of space to move around, places to sit, friendly atmosphere. It's in the middle of downtown so there are lots of places to eat after the con (for that matter, there were lots of places to eat on site and the mark-up was only annoying as opposed to horrific and the lines were reasonable.) I caught a late show of Logan a couple of blocks away. Hell, I even managed to find a hotel a few blocks from the convention center and it was clean, reasonably priced and gave away free craft beer every 5:30.

So yeah, I quite liked this con. I'd go back in a heartbeat. And rather than try to mix pics in with the text, here are a few favourites from the show...

Pickachus. Lots of them

Ursula. She was terrifying and futhermore,
she knew it.

Captain and Ms. Marvel

Barry Kitson drawing Delirium in my
sketchbook at the Hero Initiative booth

A young Predator

I love Yip Yips.

R2D2 has been hitting the juice

My main goal was to get a sketch from
Terry Dodson. And I did. He's showing
the spectacular Princess Leia he drew
for me.

Oh yeah, and I got my picture taken with this guy.

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