Monday, April 14, 2014

ECCC 2014 Post-Con Report

We’re two weeks removed from Emerald City Comicon where thousands of people gathered in Seattle to celebrate their passion for comic books, video games, cosplay, etc. This is a show I’ve heard consistently praised by comic creators and fans for their dedication and attention to comics. I was finally able to make the trip and join in the festivities, now it’s time to reflect on an amazing weekend.

As this was my first time there (though certainly not my last), I must comment on the set-up of the Washington State Convention Center. It took some time getting acclimated to the building. I can admit I got lost several times, but this was due to obviously having never been there before. Don’t let that steer you away from any convention, it’s natural. This also allowed me more time to see random sites and spot new cosplayers. Once I made note of some landmarks within the convention center such as the skybridge and various exhibitors such as Image Comics, I got my bearings and it became rather easy to navigate the show floor.

From a programming standpoint, ECCC had panels for just about everyone. Though I couldn't attend as many as planned, the ones I did sit in on featured important and informative discussions. The ones I attended were “Broadening Comics Readership,” “Looking Past the Target Audience,” “The Elephant in the Room.” Panelists included Janelle Asselin, Rachel Edidin, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Sina Grace, to name a few. These conversations not only concerned the state of the comic book industry in terms of diversity but the geek community as a whole.

While they shared similar subject matter and some panelists, each panel possessed their own uniqueness. Though the details of which are best left for a separate post, I’ll briefly mention that despite the growth of the geek world, there is significant room for growth. Some ideas I've previously held were echoed by the panelists. This included how territorial members of the community can be and how they can challenge other's "geek cred." Again, to keep it short: treat each other as the human beings we are and have FUN.

Related to how we treat each other within the community, there seemed to have been some sort of incident over the weekend which served as further evidence of how far we still have to go. ECCC sent out this tweet on Saturday of the convention.

This follows the strong efforts on the part of the convention organizers for establishing a welcoming and safe environment for all attendees. Weeks before the show, they posted their Anti-Harassment Policy. I commend ECCC for their policy and utilizing social media to spread the word on offenders. It's deplorable how some people can act to make policies such as these necessary. Even though we shouldn't need these, maybe this will help combat the issue.

I also checked out the “Editing Comics the BOOM! Studios Way” panel. This discussion, held by editorial staff and creators, highlighted some aspects of the creative partnership and how to treat fellow creators. They have some fun and talented folks producing some amazing comics.

The guest list was not short on comic talent either. I had the opportunity to meet quite a few creators, as indicated by the signature-laden program guide below. Among those were the tags of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Ryan Benjamin, Erik Burnham, Dan Schoening, Jordie Bellaire and Dustin Nguyen.

Many comic publishers were in attendance as well. In real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” Well Image Comics and BOOM! Studios owned the market that weekend. Both publishers made their presence known with sizable booths operated by large and friendly staffs. Image was located just inside one of the ends of the connecting sky bridge. BOOM! set up camp in a prime spot on that very bridge where most of the convention traffic had to pass. I liked Dark Horse’s booth as well, which allowed space for signings as well as attendees to browse their books for purchase. Other companies representing their brands were 2000 AD, Oni Press and Zenescope Entertainment, among others.

Also of note is how ECCC went a different route than most conventions with regards to the program cover. They opted to fill their cover with characters from indie comics as opposed to the superheroes of Marvel and DC. It shows appreciation for creators and it serves as a signal boost for their works which may not receive as much publicity.

And what would a convention be without the fans lining the halls? I shudder at the thought. The fans certainly showed up in high numbers throughout the weekend. I’m curious to know final attendance. There were fans from all demographics, families, cosplayers, kids and more. For more photos of the show, click this link.

It was great to see all those fans at the show, especially kids. Much of the community developed these interests as kids and yet, sometimes it seems we overlook the younger fans. We should want to encourage that joy for kids so they can share those interests and so comic books, video games, cosplay, etc. continue to grow. I've been to several conventions which have made Sunday a "Kid's Day." Emerald City Comicon dedicated a section of the show to younger fans dubbed "ECCC KIDS!" Here they could take photographs with the mascots, the Emerald City Caped Crusader and Caped Crusaderette. They could also have their face painted and just enjoy being a kid surrounded by fantastic subjects as we have enjoyed much of our lives.

Wrapping up, I had an amazing time and I’m adding Emerald City Comicon to my convention calendar. I look forward to returning to Seattle. Dates for next year's show have been announced and ECCC 2015 will take place on March 27-29.

What did you think of the show? I'd love to hear thoughts of others who were at the convention. Especially first timers. Share your opinions in the comments.