Thursday, April 3, 2014

Emerald City Comicon 2014 - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: A Retrospective

Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) is fast becoming one of the more popular conventions for fans who are into comics more so than the pop-culture fest that San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) has been in recent years.

Red Dot Diva's Twitter pal, @TheArtimus (whom she has met at SDCC before) decides to take on ECCC this year.

And this is his experience at the Seattle-based convention!


This year marked my first trip to ECCC. While I’m not important to this article, a little background information might come in handy.

I’ve been to traditional comic conventions that are so tiny, you can throw a baseball from one end of the show floor to the other, and I’ve been lucky enough to attend the granddaddy of them all, San Diego Comic-Con.

My interests are all over the board: comics, television, movies, etc. Finally, I try to find the good in every event I attend. I figure if I’m spending money to attend, I might as well enjoy myself. However, I’m not naive and realize every event has some less than stellar moments or reasons other people would not want to attend.

Knowing that, let’s move on to talking about Emerald City Comicon.

1. Atmosphere - If you’ve ever been to SDCC (or NYCC to a lesser extent), you know how stressful large conventions can be. Lines get out of control, exclusives sell out in minutes, and you don’t have time to eat proper meals. ECCC has none of these issues.

Matt Fraction
On Friday, I walked into the “Secret Origins: Matt Fraction” panel a mere fifteen minutes before it started, and I was able to get a seat. On Sunday, I didn’t arrive at the convention until after the doors had already opened, yet I was still able to purchase an exclusive Funko Pop! vinyl figure.

Custom Funkos by Rick Tuthill
At some smaller conventions, the programming is severely limited. You might only find a handful of mid-level comic talent doing signings or an actor from one episode of Star Trek that’s charging $40 for a photo op. Emerald City had plenty of options, no matter what your taste.

The Secret Origins series of panels offered an intimate setting for Q&A’s with some of the biggest names in comics, such as Matt Fraction, Gail Simone, and Scott Snyder. The Main Hall featured big names from Hollywood, like Ron Perlman, Karen Gillan, and Stephen Amell. Panels in other rooms included traditional comics, webcomics, cosplay, and gaming. If you couldn’t find something you liked, you weren’t looking hard enough.

2. Comics, Comics, Comics - While there was something for everyone, this is a predominantly comic driven event. From big companies like DC and Image to self published titles and web-comics, you could find and meet your favorite writers and artists.

Image Comics' "Comedy in Comics" panelists

Marvel didn’t have their own booth, however, there were plenty of individual tables for people who work for Marvel. There were also plenty of comic shops with long boxes and graded comics to purchase from.

3. Artwork Galore - Even if you aren’t a huge comic book fan, there were plenty of artists showcasing their talents. Original artwork and prints could be found for every pop culture interest. Prices seemed mostly reasonable, which was nice. Some larger conventions charge more for vendor tables, and that cost is usually passed on to the attendees, in the form of higher priced merchandise.

4. Cosplay - I’ve never been so impressed by cosplay as I was at ECCC. Entries into the costume contest were obviously awesome (especially the fan favorite Alien, who won for Best Sci-Fi), but the quality of costumes on the show floor was just as amazing. My personal favorites were the steam punk Mario & Luigi and the Joker/Big Lebowski mashup.

Cosplay: Mass Effect

Cosplay: Dark Crystal

Cosplay: Toy Story

1. Layout - Logistically speaking, there were some issues with the layout. For most large conventions, booths and tables are organized into groups. ECCC had one section of comic writers/artists in lettered rows, such as C-5 or B-2. On a different floor of a different building, there were other similar tables with double lettered row names, like NN-6 or MM-1. There were still others in another area of the convention floor. I don’t believe it was a difference of status either. Frank Cho was at MM-07, Kelly Sue DeConnick at C-12, and Ron Randall at 1214. Three creators of similar status in completely different areas.

Adventure Time's Jeremy Shada
Unfortunately, this caused some confusion among attendees who didn’t study the map. If this was a move to curb congestion in the aisles, it didn’t work, as there were still clusters of “big names” which led to crowds. Simply re-designating the lettering/numbering system could have helped. To differentiate panel rooms, TCC (The Conference Center) was attached to the room number for panels that weren’t in the convention center proper.

2. Comics, Comics, Comics - I know what you’re thinking, “I thought you said all of the comics were a good thing.” I did, but it did provide a few drawbacks.

With the popularity of Harley Quinn, the tables for Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti always had capped lines. The same goes for people like Scott Snyder and G. Willow Wilson. Some people complain that comics have taken a back seat at SDCC, but I love that the Hollywood factor allows the fans easy access to many of the best and brightest in the comic industry. ECCC is a larger show in terms of attendees, but there aren’t a ton of panels at all times to quell the crowds.

3. Weather - Obviously, this isn’t the fault of the convention itself, but Seattle lived up to its dreary, rainy stereotype. There was rain at some point of all three days, with the worst being Saturday’s midday downpour. If you were spending the entire day in the convention center, it wouldn’t be so bad. However, many people have to walk several blocks (or more) to get there, and there are limited dining options inside the building (which always had the longest lines). After talking to some locals, I learned that its standard fair for this time of year, but summers are much nicer. Maybe the convention organizers should look into different dates.

1. Scalpers - ECCC was a sellout out, several weeks in advance. The organizers offer a will call pickup or can mail badges to attendees, and the badge doesn’t have the attendee’s name. This seems to have led to a larger than expected number of scalpers on the corners. I can’t think of a high demand event that is without scalpers, but with a few tweaks to the system, I believe ECCC could deter some would-be hawkers.

2. Homeless - I’ve been to events in cities much larger than Seattle (San Diego, Philadelphia, New York City), but Seattle definitely had more homeless people around the convention center than the others. This isn’t a knock against the convention itself, more of a knock on the socio-economic issues that plague my country. I don’t want to use this article for political reasons, but we NEED to figure out a way to solve this problem. No one should have to beg for food scraps and keep all of their worldly possessions in a shopping cart.

Finishing Thoughts 
Getting tattooed at ECCC
There is absolutely no reason for locals to skip this show.
Even if you’re there for a single day, there’s a lot to check out. I traveled from Pennsylvania to attend and have no regrets.

If you’re a comic book fan without a big show nearby, it’s definitely worth the trip. There aren’t many shows where you can get a tattoo on the show floor (thanks Delaney, from Artful Dodger), see MacGyver speak, and meet some of the best writers and artists in the business WITHOUT the stress of sleeping on a sidewalk.

However, if you only go to the bigger events for the Hollywood aspects, I think it’s safe to say you can stay at home and save your money. SDCC and NYCC are going to give you a much better bang for your buck.

Chip Zdarsky, writing about brimps

Matt Fraction autographs SexCrimes HC!


Thanks @TheArtimus for the write-up! 
Red Dot Diva will see you again in SDCC 2014! Geek mega-party time!! :D


  1. I'm glad you liked the Joker/Big Lebowski mashup my husband and I did, we worked hard on it! :D Thanks for coming!

    1. Were you the Valkyrie Harley? Because that was a pretty rad costume too.