ECCC 2014: The Two Oh Six Goes Geek!
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Another Emerald City Comicon comes to a close, and as I fight back the year’s first bout of “post con-depression” I feel that I need to get this article in the books before I get “Wallace the fish” sad. I’m amazed how much this con has grown in recent years. ECCC has become THE premier geek event in Seattle, and the community is all the happier for it. We’ve been attending conventions for years, and as we embark on year two of Lifted Geek’s convention coverage, I can’t imagine a better convention to kick off the party than this one.
I love that this convention is still heavily comic book influenced. Sure they hold panels from popular TV shows and movies, but contrary to the entertainment/pop-culture vibe of San Diego Comic Con, the largest booths here were from the comic books publishers. Dark Horse had a huge presence (as always) and BOOM! Attended in full force with a huge booth nestled in the middle of the brightly lit overpass section of the convention center. Every inch of the Washington State Convention Center was utilized, from the hustle and bustle of the main convention center to the equally busier TCC building directly across the street.
Because of the convention’s growth, I was happy to see that ECCC utilized some of the hotels in the area (something SDCC does to help with overcrowding). Rather than the gaming area being on the ground floor of the TCC building, it was moved to a much larger space at the ballroom of The Sheraton Seattle directly across the street. Before I get too into the main con, I wanted to mention the gaming area. Wall to wall tabletop games with daily MTG (Magic the Gathering) tournaments brought many a game loving geek to the Sheraton’s halls. Gamers of the video persuasion were also treated to activities, a wide selection of classic arcade games like Burger Time and Ghostbusters were offered for those who wanted to play. I took time to check out this new game Galax-Z, coming from indie dev 17-Bit; Galax-Z is a space SHMUP (shoot-em-up) game with a distinct old school anime art style. From the character designs to the narrative that mirrors themes from classics shows, this looks to be a hit I can’t wait to play (preview will be coming soon). While I didn’t have the chance to play many games (coverage keeps a small outlet busy) the atmosphere held this warm and inviting feel to it, like-minded folk getting together over games and arcade machines to share mutual love of their hobbies.
I didn’t get the chance to play any MTG tournaments, time constraints and the fact I’m lacking the confidence to play since it’s been so long for me, my partner RIRI did attend with her boyfriend Sergei and he was able to spend a good amount of time playing. He mentioned to me that they ran tournaments all weekend, offering a wide selection of prizes, including an 11 X 11 uncut sheet of foil cards. Interestingly enough, convention officials didn’t run tournaments but instead Wizard helmed the event. Overall, gaming was alive and active at Emerald City Comicon.
One of my favorite sights of a convention are all the costumes, while we here in the Lifted Geek offices stay busy running the website, we also make time to work on our cosplay. I brought back my Booker Dewitt costume (for Saturday) with RIRI donning her Elizabeth, for Friday and Sunday I wore Delsin Rowe from inFAMOUS: Second Son. RIRI took her Amy Wong (Futurama) to the con on Sunday with the Kotobukiya variant Jubilee for Friday. We covered a good amount of costumes and our cosplay round-up article features some of our top picks. I am continually impressed by the work people put into their costumes; don’t get me wrong now, I know my way around a sewing machine, but some of these cosplayers make me look like a kid with construction paper and a glue stick. Make sure to check our Facebook for all our coverage.
Hands down one of the busiest conventions in the US, from what I’ve heard ECCC had an attendance of about 80,000+ making Emerald City Comicon the third largest Comic Con behind San Diego and New York respectively. It’s a wonderful thing when a group of like-minded geeks get the chance to get together and geek out over what they love. Visiting artists and the vendors is one of our favorite things to do. Over the years I’ve been a huge fan of Ken over at ENFU. His art is prominently seen all over Seattle and the man is an inspiration to the geek community of Seattle. Featuring some new prints and selling pre-sales of his forthcoming art book, I absolutely had to put my order in. As always Crayon Monsters is firmly placed right next to ENFU and rightly so, his work is always eye catching and since getting acquainted with him I’ve been a huge fan of his work. Breaking away from the locals, some more well-known web comic artists sere in attendance, we had the esteemed pleasure to interview Matt from The Oatmeal. The interview will be going up soon but I’ve got to say that the guy was an absolute pleasure. Cyanide and Happiness also drew huge a crowd, I’ve been a huge fan of them for a very long time and even got the chance to grab a few beers with them, one of my highlights of the con!
I didn’t get the chance to hit many panels but I don’t feel like it was a wasted convention! I had such a blast interacting with our fanbase and making new friends and fans. One event I did get the chance to hit was the Sci-Fi Speed Dating, to be honest I joined in to get content for the site, but I did actually participate and stayed as real as I could be. I met a lot of interesting ladies and even made a few connections. It was fun and I really admire what these guys do, they travel around conventions hosting this event and even have had success in making some real love connections for people. I can’t say that I found the Princess Jasmine to my Aladdin, but it was an interesting take on dating… and for someone as busy as I am, this type of date isn’t so bad. I did feel kind of bad for some of the guys, bless their geeky little hearts, but one thing that this event really showed was how desperate some guys can be. After everyone completed their dates, the guys would go to one side with the ladies at the opposite, you then find the sheet with the number corresponding to a girl you’d like to give you contact info to and write down your email and/or phone number. Some guys were writing their phone number on practically every sheet and I just had to SMH for a minute and say to myself “c’mon guys… don’t be desperate.” I gave my number to four ladies and three of those four reciprocated and gave me their numbers… nice little bump to my ego and at least I can say I’m not bad looking. As I was walking out there were a few guys walking away with blanks sheets, I felt a little bad for them, I know what it’s like to be awkward and self-conscious about talking to women, but those are the risks you take when putting yourself out there. I’ll have a video of the event up soon so perhaps you can catch a few highlights!
As I mentioned earlier, they do a great job utilizing every inch of the convention center, nothing felt like wasted space and the whole area was just brimming with Comicon vibes from Westlake all the way up to Capitol Hill. The minions (ECCC volunteers) did seem a bit over-worked and many seemed a bit high strung compared to last year, I don’t know if this has been confirmed but the buzz around the community is that a good 100 minions didn’t show up for their shifts on Saturday. Now I can’t fault the con for this but I can fault any volunteers who decided to just say “F-U” to the con… shame on you… bad minions. For the rest that were there, I thought they did a great job managing the crowds that poured in from every entrance. This is still the smoothest run convention I’ve gone to aside from PAX (and PAX can be a clusterf*ck!).
We here at Lifted Geek stand for understanding and mutual respect in this very young subculture. We actually were part of a panel on Sunday discussing how to build a strong cosplay/geek community. Aside from my partner Riri and I; Mary (Mannly Creations) from the Seattle Mass Effect group, Lauren of Random Tuesday & Seattle CosCon, and Meris the Fabric Alchemist joined us. Lauren was our fearless leader who organized this panel and brought us all on board. She has a future project called Seattle CosCon, a cosplay convention, which we at LG are looking forward to coming into fruition. I was very nervous, this was my very first panel and I was so worried that no one would show up! On the contrary, a good number of people made it to the panel. We held it at 4PM on Sunday, the very last panel in that room. To make matters worse we were also conflicting with the Karen Gillan panel. While most Whovians were firmly planted in the Main Hall, each and every person who came out to hear what we had to say humbled me. It’s an important subject and one that has to be addressed, I won’t get too into it but the key themes were “don’t be a dick” and “deep down inside we’re all just nerds in costume.” The staff at ECCC was adamant about stamping out harassment, and even had posted notices about respecting cosplayers prominently throughout the convention center. While it sucks that it has to be said, but cosplay never equals consent, just because someone is dressing sexy does not invite you to take your d*ck out or something, that’s just rude.
The Comicon vibe was felt throughout the halls of the entire convention, moments like this are what makes being a geek worthwhile: meeting new friends, spending time with old friends, and putting on costumes to escape reality at least for a weekend. I love this city and I love this convention, if we the Seattle geek community shall be judged based on our conventions, I can safely say that the Seattle geek community is one of the best around, as Macklemore would say… “my city’s filthy!” Get lifted