Geek Host Alice’s Adventures at Emerald City Comicon

I spent the last weekend at Emerald City Comicon (March 28-30) and I had a wonderful time! I ended up going because I saw a post that Karl Urban was going to be at this Seattle Based con in 2014. My friend Latania is CRAZY about him. So I forwarded the notification to her thinking she would let out an epic fangirl squee, but that would be it. I quickly saw her post on Facebook that she was going to Seattle to have her picture taken with the love of her life – did anyone want to join her? Latania is one of my besties, and I hadn’t seen her in a while. I had some airline miles and she had a free place for us to stay (thank you Willie) – it was clear the decision had been made.

I lived in Seattle for 6 years, but I had never attended Emerald City Comicon – I was a Seattle International Film Festival girl back then. I didn’t fly my geek flag as proudly as I do now and ECCC was still in it’s infancy.

I am glad it did this year because overall, it was a great experience made so by the great company and the fact that the convention was really well executed. Great job ECCC!

The Con

The Good:

  • Lines to the big roomLine Control – I really like their system for line control for their big room. They put tape on the floor to mark lanes where you stand. They also tape an arrow so you know which direction to move. It ends up working kinda like a TSA line and worked very effectively.

  • Seats in The Big Room – Most of the seats functioned like general admission seating where you can sit anywhere you want and save extra seats for people coming in later. Plus, people sitting in the general admission seats didn’t have to leave the room at the end of the panel. This made it possible to “squat” on your seat all day if you wanted to. However, the first 10-15 rows (it was hard to tell exactly how many rows) were cleared after every panel and con attendees joined a separate line within the room for those prime seats. At our first panel, we didn’t understand what was going on so we got to be in the prime seats for Nichelle Nichols (SQUEE!!) and Latania made sure to get prime seats for Karl Urban. The system seemed to work really well.

  • Wi-Fi! – You can actually get decent Wi-Fi throughout the entire convention center so I was able to do things like live tweet and quickly post pictures. Something I can not so easily do at my hometown convention…..

  • Embracing the Fandoms – They had rooms set aside for “fandom meet-ups” where attendees could just go squee about their favorite stuff with like-minded people without it being a formal panel. I have never seen this done formally at a Con. I didn’t get to one but I liked the concept.

  • The Schedule – Their online program is sortable so you can look at the schedule by day or by room. You can also view it as a list or as a table. The printed program is color-coded by day so it makes it easy to quickly figure out if you are looking at the correct day when planning your activities.

  • The Staff – They have a lot of staff and they all wear exactly the same thing so they are easy to spot. Every single staff member I spoke to was friendly and 98% could answer the question I asked them. In all cases if they didn’t know the answer (twice) they apologized and referred me to the information area.

  • The Seattle Restaurant Scene – Seattle is a big city with a vibrant downtown so there were a TON of restaurant options. Though, for some reason most people seemed to opt for The Cheesecake Factory right across the street. We tended to walk just a few blocks to get food with less of a wait time. They first day we had lunch at Dragonfish cafe. They seemed a little unprepared for the crush of attendees but the cocktails were good. We also had neon orange mediocre Pad Thai in a basement restaurant whose name wasn’t worth remembering. However, we cosplayed that day and the wait staff didn’t even blink an eye at our steampunk corsets. Conversely we had excellent Chinese food at Chungee’s on Capitol Hill. Tiny place, but the food was wonderfully spicy and so was the service. We did break down and go to Cheese Cake Factory for lunch on Sunday. Some fellow con attendees did us a huge favor and saved us from the long wait by letting us sit with them. Go Geeks!
  • Cosplay Friendly – They made “costumes are not consent” signs and posted them everywhere.

    Photo from Chandra Free @ spookychan.com

    Photo from Chandra Free @ spookychan.com

  • The Cosplayers – The cosplay at ECCC is off the hook. You can check out numerous compilations on the internet; try Komo News or Comic Alliance for starters.  There were several SG-1 cosplayers due to Richard Dean Anderson’s presence but these guys were my favorite:

However, my favorite cosplay was a mashup between The Muppets and Starwars! Love it! [see favorites below].

  • Convention Center Staff  – They were also friendly and helpful. No bag checks but they did aggressively check for badges in all Con areas. I felt totally safe.
  • The Exhibit Hall – It is MASSIVE. Just MASSIVE. Like Khazad-dûm MASSIVE.

The Bad:

  • The Exhibit Hall – The exhibit hall is so MASSIVE that Latania and I got lost 5 times.

  • Hidden Panel Rooms – Some of the panel rooms were really hard to navigate to; sometimes even the panelists themselves couldn’t find them.

  •  Host Hotel – The host hotel didn’t get “into it” the way the Hyatt in Phoenix does when Phoenix Comicon is going on.

The Ugly:

  • Who Are the Panelists Again? – It was hard to know who the panelist were in most cases as they were not usually listed in the program.

  • Mobile App – The ECCC mobile app didn’t work on my phone – like at all.

The Panels

The Big:

  • John de Lancie – He killed it! Best known in the Star Trek fandom for playing Q and among My Little Pony fans for playing Discord, one quickly got the sense that he had been doing this for a long time. He told wonderful stories and answered questions with great poise and humor. He got in as many questions as he could from the audience and had a brilliant moment with two tiny My Little Pony fans that stole the show. FYI his favorite pony is Discord…. not Fluttershy if you must know.

  • Karl Urban – The one word to describe Karl’s panel is Tequila. Apparently he had gone to a Kings of Leon concert the night before and perhaps had one too many shots of Tequila. He kept joking that he was forgetting details because why? Tequila! My two favorite things were when he told the story of when he was pranked by Simon Pegg and when he revealed that he read Reid Flemming: The World’s Toughest Milkman  when he was a kid (I love that book!).

  • Nichelle Nichols – She is a great story teller. Really knows how to use the dramatic pause. She told the story of meeting Martin Luther King Jr., of how she got involved with NASA and being taken out for REAL sushi by George Takei. Also, someone proposed during her panel and she handed it wonderfully.

  • Stephen Amell – (damn I was spelling his name wrong the whole time) He was totally funny and charming and hinted that there may be some pay off for all those OliCity (Oliver x Felicity) shippers out there.

  •  Movie Mash-up – Such a hysterical genius idea! They have the voice actor guests come in and do scenes from well-known movies but have the actors voice the lines in character. They did scenes from The Breakfast Club, Pulp Fiction and The Princess Bride. My favorite was The Breakfast Club with Bart Simpson, Shutterfly and Goofy. Jeremy Shada who usually voices Robin on Batman did his Batman impression while voicing The Dread Pirate Roberts and that was awesome too. Lead by The Workjuice Players (who do The Thrilling Adventure Hour).
    • Nancy Cartwright of Bart Simpson fame
    • Bill Farmer of Goofy fame
    • Andrea Libman of Pinkie Pie fame
    • Jeremy Shada of Finn the Human fame
    • William Salyer of Rigby fame
    • Cree Summer of Elmyra Duff fame
  • Ron Pearlman – Meh. We ended up leaving and going for beers. His voice is so low that he was hard to hear in the back where I was. It didn’t help that he kinda mumbled. The people up front seemed to be enjoying themselves.

 The smaller:

  • Ethics in ComicsEthics in Comics – My favorite panel of the whole convention. Four gentlemen who talked about the need to critically think about the media (comics, movie, books) that we consume. You can LOVE what you love but it is worth the effort to dig a little deeper into the messages media are sending you and your kids. They handed out some great bookmarks with 24 questions every comic fan should ask themselves. The Panelists were Chris Klix, Chris Hawthorne, Danny Ferguson and Steven “Reece” Friesen creator of Pax Avalon. They also made it clear that they weren’t preaching about what to think just that the process of thinking is important.

  •  Building Your BrandBen Thompson, Thom Zahler, and another gentlemen whose name I can’t find (see “the bad” above and if you happen know please share) gave some great tips and advice to those out there trying to build a brand for their creative endeavors.

 

  • How to Sell Merchandise Without Feeling Like You’re Selling Out –  Dave Malki , Chris Yates  and Dante Shepherd  co-creators of TopatoCo shared ideas for how to think about merchandising for your creative endeavors. They had some good ideas and  I was appreciative that they just didn’t push Topatoco. That said I am totally going to check their services.

  • God Is Disappointed In You  – We ducked out early after hearing Mark Russell’s humorous 15 min version of the Old and New Testaments. It was cheeky while staying true to the text and his choice of images for his PowerPoint were downright hysterical.  I talked with the illustrator, Shannon Wheeler  (of Too Much Coffee Man fame),  later in the exhibit hall and he said that the Old Testament was easy ‘cause it’s all stories and the New Testament was hard because the it’s just guys whining all the time.

The I wanted to go to, but needed a clone:

Panels I was interested in going to but either got lost in the exhibitor hall or the room was full by the time I got there (I think you can see a pattern):

  • The Hero’s Journey: Fiction Literature with a female protagonist

  • Why Isn’t Bilbo a Girl? Talking To Kids About Media Representation

  • Hire this Woman!

  • Kids Make Comics

  • Growing Up Geek: When Are Kids Ready For Your Favorite Stuff?

My Favorites

Panel – Ethics in Comics

Book – a copy of Hero Bear that Mike Kunkel signed for my son Ray

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 Art – print of Princess Mononoke by Shomurase

favart

Cosplay – a Muppets Star Wars mashup

Wanted – a fancy leather hat from The Blonde Swan

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Overall it was one of the best Convention experiences I have ever had. Thank you ECCC, I hope to come again sometime!

-Sincerely Alice

P.S. Latina’s picture with the love of her life

Karl&Latania