written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Another year like any other year, and like how Lifted Geek started we return to our local hometown comic con. Emerald City Comicon (ECCC going forward) was the first convention Lifted Geek ran coverage at, and for myself is one of my favorite shows to attend each year.
But this year is a very different year, and one that should be noted. Our little local comic con that could ain't so little anymore. ECCC is considered the third largest comic con in the US, attracting a staggering number of fans, rivaling PAX Prime in attendance. Because of this, Reed Pop took notice and made our little ECCC a part of their yearly lineup, including the PAXes, C2E2, and New York Comicon to name a few.
Though the official change was made last year, the effects weren't truly felt until this year. ECCC going forward will never be the same again.
The biggest change this year was adding a fourth day. Unlike previous years which ran ECCC as a standard 3-day convention, this year marked the first year they experimented with a 4-day con. Very similar to the format at NYCC, except ECCC’s Thursday schedule was more like a “preview night” of sorts rather than a full day. The panel scheduling was light, guests weren't as numerous, and I'm sure they expected the show to be a fairly light day.
Thursday ended up surprising me, drawing a crowd that seemed to rival that of Friday’s attendance. A part of me feels like it's because Thursday was the last day to sell out and the day many last minute ticket purchasers ended up getting. The shorter day also could have contributed to that, Thursday’s hours ran 2PM to 7PM for the show floor (panels ran until 8PM). While I feel like perhaps next year they should take a page out of NYCC’s book and run Thursday like they do Friday or Saturday rather than making it a half day.
I tried to get as much of the con in as I could. From the outside looking in, the layout looked like ECCC past. The Main Stage and the main vendor hall occupied much of the fourth floor with an area on the sixth floor (called The Block) housing more vendors. I didn't get to hop to the TCC (across the street) to check out much of what was going on, but I did pop by the gaming hub next door at the Sheraton.
Littered across the show floor were the artists, the comic book publishers, along with several other geeky vendors who make exploring the show floor a worthwhile experience. I tried to protect my wallet a bit by not going too crazy; sure I’d like to make it rain but I know that isn’t always the most responsible of options at a con.
The artist alley was full of talented folks from established names to new faces I met for the first time. Notably, it wouldn’t be a con without visiting my pal Ken Taya of enfu, I seem to make it a point to always buy a new trucker hat from him every time I go to a con. Another artist who everyone needs to know about is Nooligan, a talented artist from Sacramento who I first met at Rose City Comic Con this past fall. Made a few new friends in Laura D. Graves of Witches Get Stiches and her tablemate Eli Tripoli who also featured his art.
This year's guest list afforded some impressive names; even better, many of them were celebrities I actually cared about. Some notable stars were Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, Daredevil), Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly/Serenity), and Rose McIver (iZombie, Once Upon A Time) to name a few. I've never been one for getting celebrity autographs but just seeing the people who bring to life some of my favorite characters is worthwhile.
I didn't get to hit as many panels as I wanted to, but I did manage to check out a few. Notably, the iZombie panel featuring Rose McIver and David Anders who play principle cast members Liv Moore and Blaine DeBeers. The banter the two share back and forth make for an interesting panel and further drive how how much fun it must be on the iZombie set. Jon Bernthal was seemingly a last minute addition to the guest list, having been announced the week of con (iirc). The guy was warm and charming as all hell on stage, made you wonder how he can play such bad ass characters like Frank “the Punisher” Castle and Shane from The Walking Dead.
My highlights of the show always stem from my interactions with my friends and fans of the site. Unlike Sakura Con, I actually cosplay at ECCC. One of my costumes ended up trending and surprisingly was better received than I thought it would be. For half of Saturday I dressed up as Say Anything Deadpool. The inspiration came from a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it joke from Deadpool, when Wade was telling Vanessa about Wham! he says the line “I swear to God I will find you in the next life and boombox Careless Whisper outside your window.” This one line led me to dress up like Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything, wear a Deadpool mask, and blast Careless Whisper by Wham! from my buddy’s boombox. I got that song stuck in many a con-goers head that day… you're welcome… and I'm very sorry (not sorry).
As far as cosplay is concerned, ECCC is heavily becoming a strong cosplay con. While the anime conventions tend to draw a larger crowd of cosplayers, some of the incredibly talented folk I saw at Sakura Con made sure to make their way to ECCC to show off their best and brightest. I was incredibly impressed with the sheer amount of cosplayers in attendance. From people who bought their costume, to kids wearing their Halloween duds, all the way to crafters who bring to life some incredibly impressive pieces.
Speaking about cosplay, this year was also the first year they held the ECCC Western Championships of Cosplay. A big step up from previous years, featuring huge cash prizes and drawing some of the best work I’ve seen on the main stage. Our very own Riri competed as well, showcasing her Moogle Queen Lightning cosplay she unveiled at Sakura Con last year. It was quite an experience and one that I felt ran pretty smoothly. I have heard some negative rumblings from the community, but with the nature of this new cosplay contest I can understand why they had to up their standards.
Overall, this was a very different show and had its fair share of hiccups. Mass miscommunication among the cosplay peace bonding station to the new rules of the cosplay contest heavily affected many of my friends in the cosplay community. But as a whole, this was a fun… albeit exhausting… convention. On Sunday I had the chance to bring my cousin out, this was his very first convention ever and I think I got the guy hooked on em… he’s already planning to come to another one soon. While I feel like ECCC will never truly be the same again, I am optimistic for the future. There is so much this can can improve upon, but that’s the beauty of a new beginning… we can all start at square one together.
Until next year! We’ll see you at ECCC 2017! Stay Frosty!