Now that a of couple weeks have passed and I’ve recovered from a bout of sickness, as well as bouncing back from sheer exhaustion related to work issues and my own personal state of sanity (insanity?), I think it’s time I did a recap of Emerald City Comicon 2013. The second largest convention in Washington State following Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), ECCC has grown larger and larger over the years and, in its 11th year, has finally graduated into what can only be described as “kind of a big deal.” At least if you’re of the nerdy/geeky ilk. I have attended the convention for the past five years and in those five years I’ve seen it go from a casual celebration of comics and their creators to a sold out “you need to buy your passes now!” event. This was the first year, in fact, where con-goers had to buy tickets or they couldn’t get in, which I know disappointed many a casual convention attendee.
But aside from getting in, what still strikes me about the growth of ECCC is the loyalty it retains to comic book creators and artists. Yes, there are plenty of media guests and gaming areas, but ECCC, unlike San Diego Comicon, hasn’t become a Media Event. The only premiers in Seattle are for local filmmakers with plenty of comedy and art shows that complement the convention and its guests. It doesn’t shove all the comic book people into a small corner while waving the banner of attention over recent and not-yet-released movie franchises and television programs whose stars they managed to secure. Nope, at ECCC writers and artists are front and center along with vendors of every geeky variety. It’s a showcase and celebration of fandom and this year did not disappoint.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t secure any press passes (doesn’t mean I won’t try next year!), so there aren’t any interviews to put up; however, I have convinced a few creative teams to appear on future Word of the Nerd podcasts, so stay tuned for those! What I can do now is give a slight recap of the three and a half days I spent amongst my nerdy brethren and show a ton of pictures! Sound good? All right!
Day 1-ish: Technically this was an evening event, but it still counts as the official beginning of ECCC and it was the best way possible to open a comic book convention – a screening of the 1966 classic Batman movie starring Adam West and Burt Ward at the Cinerama! I owe a lot of my geekiness to my mother because, without her, I might not have seen this show. Luckily, it was one of her favorites growing up (plus she had a huge crush on Burt Ward), so when Nick-at-Night started showing reruns during the late 80’s and early 90’s, my sister and I would watch them along with her. The show, along with Batman: The Animated Series, made my love of Batman blossom.
The movie itself has a special place in my heart purely because of the opening sequence in which Batman fights off a shark. And while Arkham City (the game) paid homage to this most awesome of sequences, it’s something you have to watch to understand just how amazingly campy and wonderful the movie is. Friends of mine who’d never seen the movie were subjected to my re-telling of this scene alone, which I would start laughing through mid-explanation.
When I saw the announcement for the screening, I immediately got tickets for myself, my sister, and my mother because this was one of those few pieces of pop culture (other than maybe Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings) that we all share. Not only did we get a screening of the movie, but there was a little pre-movie interview with Burt Ward and Adam West, who were charming and hilarious. Adam West even received an honorary Adam West Day decree from the mayor of Seattle since West is from Walla Walla, Washington. It was a great start to an even greater weekend!
Day 2: I never really have a plan when I approach the convention. Don’t get me wrong, I look at the schedule and check out the programming available, but I always find that even when I try to make a plan for myself, I end up abandoning it because something else attracts my attention or I get caught up in an unexpected, but never unwelcome, conversation. Last year, I flat-out devoted my attention to the voice-over artists who attended, but this year was all about visiting as many artists and creators as I could. Since I started writing for Word of the Nerd, I’ve read and reviewed a lot of comics, which has also given me the opportunity to interact with many of the writers and artists involved, so my mission for this year was to meet as many of them as possible.
After trying to make any kind of sense of the main floor, which took up the entirety of the convention center in comparison to last year when most of the special guests and artist alley were in one section, it became abundantly clear that I was never going to make sense of it, so I just started walking around and looking at names. Sometimes it’s the only thing you can do. I have no ability to read a map, no matter how simple, but I have great muscle memory and a sense of awareness.
The first memorable moment happened within thirty minutes of the convention when I met Tony Parker. I’ve reviewed the recently concluded R.I.P.D.: City of the Damned and when I saw his name, I approached him and proclaimed that he was the one who drew R.I.P.D. If only my camera could have captured how much he lit up when I said those word. “Can I hug you?” was his response and I’m never one to turn down a free hug! We talked about R.I.P.D. and I looked at his originals for the comic, which were amazing! Like I said, his work has definitely grown on me. It was a great conversation and a great way to start off my comicon experience. He even did the inaugural sketch in the book I started passing around during the convention.
As the day progressed, I got to meet a lot of writers and artists who I was aware of either through works I’ve been reading or recommendations by others. I managed to meet Denny O’Neil, one of my favorite writers from the Bronze Age of comics. His book on how to write comics pretty much inspired me to write a comic of my own someday, so look out for that in the not-too-distant future! I also met Kyle Higgins, Scott Snyder, and Gail Simone. They each signed a little Joker bobble-head I got a few years ago and all of them were incredibly sweet, taking the time to at least listen to me gush and tell them how awesome they are while others waited to do the same. While Higgins and Snyder were great, I was most enamored with Gail Simone. Not only is she just an awesome person, but she’s been a tremendous source of inspiration to me as a writer. She’s one of many female creators who’ve set the bar high for some of us and I hope to meet it someday. Her husband was awesome as well, trying to figure out how my phone worked when Gail and I got our picture taken.
I spent the rest of the day meeting new artists and creators, many of whom were in Seattle for the first time or attending their first convention. Even if I didn’t end up buying something from them, the conversations had just by joking around while they did a sketch or talking about our favorite comics and creators was worth the price of admission. I’ve been lucky, so far, to have met very few assholes at ECCC. Maybe it’s the chill vibe of Seattle or the Valium we put in the coffee, but the first two days of comicon were absolutely fantastic. Though the next two days were guaranteed to have higher attendance, and therefore less room to breathe, I was just happy to be talking to and interacting with a cavalcade of comic book giants.
There’s more to follow, but as this article has gotten a bit long, I’ll leave you with the remaining sketches I got on the first official day. See you back here for part 2!
Roy Pulsipher by Tony Parker
Damian Wayne by Dustin Nguyen
Goblin Guy by Brett 2D Bean
Batman by Paul Friedrich
TMNT by Eli Wolfe
Cthullu by Drew Pocza
Wonder Woman by Phil Moy
Cyclops by Josh Frost
Wolverine by Josh Covey
Nightwing by Phil Hester