Wow! THAT was awesome! Emerald City Comic Con has officially hit the big time and should now be considered a “destination” convention in the same echelon as San Diego, or Wonder-Con. Emerald City should be where people plan to attend when they are looking for a convention where comics are the focus and the creators are plentiful!
The con floor this year more than doubled in size. This allowed for a significant increase in the number of creators and publishers present, as well as giving more room for self-publishers, small press, and other creative types to have a table. As always, the convention organizers did a solid job of spreading out the “big names” so that traffic flow and long lines were never really an issue. It also gave attendees a reason to move all over the convention, exposing them to new creators and titles while heading to the next artist or writer. The only down size was that it is now almost impossible to see everything in a day. It can still be done, but it would require careful pre-planning, consideration, and a pack full of energy bars and water-bottles to make it happen.
Sure it made getting from one creator to the next a bit of a chore, but the doubled floor space (plus the celebrities on their own floor and the gaming on two other floors, and the Legos on a third floor) meant that the floor was never over-crowded. Last year the Fire Marshall closed the con floor a couple of times. This year the worst that happened was that the escalators got over-worked a couple of times and they had to stagger the riders; a minor hassle in the grand scheme of things.
The creator list at ECCC in unparalleled. Not only is the quality of creator as good as any other show (including San Diego), but the accessibility is ridiculous! Chris Claremont, Mike Mignola, Neal Adams, Mike Golden, Terry Dodson, Gail Simone, Gerry Conway, Fiona Staples, Andrew Hussie, Joelle Jones, Danielle Corsetto, Erika Moen, and literally hundreds more creators were at the con, none (with the exception of Hussie) had more than about two dozen people lined up in front of them at any given time. I managed to get in line for Chris Claremont and there were only eleven people in front of me. try that at any other con!
Emerald City has its fair share of celebrities in attendance. However, unlike other cons, everyone in attendance is somehow related to comics. No “Real” Housewives. No wrestlers. No Animal Planet insect hunters. The only sports person in attendance, Israel Idonije, started his own comic book publishing company and is launching a title with well-known comic creators later this year.
It was great to wander around the floor and catch up with creators who I only get to see every so often. It seems that the creators felt the same way, with everyone chatting and laughing with each other behind the tables. I also regularly saw the creators walking the floor, checking out what other people were doing, and catching up. It was a real festival atmosphere, even without the bag-piping Darth Maul making the rounds.
The programming was top-notch. ECCC has always had a fun balance. There are the “announcement” panels where publishers talk about future plans and announce titles and creative teams, and then there are panels like “Putting the Graphic in Graphic Novels” where creators talk about the use of sex in their comics. While it seems like it should have been an x-rated panel full of shifty looks and uncomfortable questions and answers, it was actually funny and informative and full of crazy revelations such as that Howard Chaykin used to be a camp counselor. You can’t get that at a “Next Big Thing” panel!
In all of the mayhem and excitement of the con, there were a dedicated group of “minions” who made the con run smoothly. These ubiquitous green-shirted people managed lines, gave directions, and managed to keep everything running on time.
I’d like to take a moment to personally thank the people running the Information/Lost and Found desk. Without going into a lot of detail, on Saturday my daughter found herself in a difficult and frustrating situation. The volunteers dealt with the situation with grace, a sense of humor, and a pride of ownership which I have not seen before. no one threw up their hands and said, “not my problem.” Everyone rolled up their sleeves and got to work on a solution. Even more, later on, one of them stopped me on the con floor just to make sure that everything was ok and had been resolved. The fact that someone take a moment for that level of kindness and follow-through speaks wonders, not only for their character, but for the overall priorities and expectations of the con organizers. I cannot thank them enough.
I will have interviews and announcements about the convention throughout the week. but I wanted to make sure people knew what an amazing and special show Emerald City is so they can put it on their calendar for next year (March 28 – 30). What are you waiting for? Block off that weekend now!
See you at the con!