Put A Bird On It: Comic Con Edition - Rose City Comic Con 2017
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Fall is my favorite season, with the leaves turning and the Pacific North West switching gears from hot sunny days to crisp cool weather. With the crisp Fall breeze I also make a trip down south to Portland for Rose City Comic Con.
The biggest change this year is the shift in ownership, while Seattle's Emerald City Comicon sits under Reed Pop's banner, Rose City joins Leftfield Media... the minds behind Awesome Con, Anime NYC, and Crunchy Roll Expo. Looking at the convention from the perspective of an attendee, I can say that unlike Emerald City which had a palpable difference in a post-ReedPop world, Leftfield Media's influence over Rose City did not feel as heavy handed as I expected. Typically when a convention shifts from being run by an independent entity to being part of a larger group, these are some noticeable changes... some good while some disappointing.
RCCC retains much of what made the show such an amazing convention over the years, I'm glad to see that the Kid's Zone continues to grow each year. While I love attending my other staple cons, with more kids showing up each year... RCCC continues to be the most kid friendly convention I go to.
Like every con I hit, one of my favorite sights is all the amazing costumes that come through. Everything from games to comics, anime to Star Wars. If you can cosplay it, RCCC has it. One puzzling aspect of the show was the lack of cosplay guests, generally with comic cons I look forward to seeing the influential people in the cosplay community showcasing their goods and meeting with fans. Granted, there were just as many fans cosplaying as I've seen in years past, but the lack of cosplay guests made the show feel like something was missing. Cosplay culture is just as integral to conventions as the artists, vendors, and industry guests. I know that in recent years there has been some serious push-back at other shows, some artists and vendors claiming that cosplayers attending cons has greatly and negatively impacted their sales. While cosplay wasn't absent from the show, the impact it made on the show was greatly diminished over previous years.
On a more troubling note, the political climate of today has continued to affect conventions... especially with some cosplayers exhibiting poor decisions with their costumes. I'll say it here first and say it proudly, if you are a Nazi you don't belong on Lifted Geek. People who claim they wanted to cosplay as an agent of Hydra to explain away why they showed up dressed like a damn Nazi deserve zero sympathy. Some of these cosplayers made the people around them clearly uncomfortable, so much that after the show RCCC publicly banned these types of costumes from future cons. Nazis are the most fucked up group in the history of fucked up groups, and with disgusting people claiming to be American but clearly don't realize that nothing is more American than punching a fucking Nazi. This isn't a difference of opinion, it's a bloody fact if you are a Nazi you don't deserve to breath... okay, back to my happy place.
Strong programming does keep me coming back to RCCC, from the larger guest panels to the smaller panels that talk shop on a wide variety of differing topics. I was spread quite thin this year with my core team largely absent for this show. Despite that, I still made it a point to cover as much as I could. Walking the show floor, not much has changed format wise. The show floor seemed to be quite a bit bigger than it was in past years, primed to be the “big show” for Portland. One change that RCCC made this year was the decision to go three days as opposed to the two days of previous years.
I'm a bit conflicted in the new three day format, in past years the two day format was always just enough for me; I didn't have to take an extra day off work and I was able to get all my comic con goodness in. While I've always been impressed by past RCCCs, this year felt slightly off and part of that I feel is attributed to the three day format. The big conventions like Seattle's Emerald City Comicon and of course San Diego's Comic Con International benefit from having multiple days. These are shows that sell out yearly and pack in every possible attendee they can. Rose City isn't there yet, I feel like it will eventually get there... but even heavy hitters like New York Comic Con didn't incorporate a full fourth day until just a couple years ago. I know RCCC can be the next big convention, and for a city as unique as Portland it deserves its very own big comic con.
Artists Alley is a continued staple at comic cons, one that makes up a bulk of my purchasing at shows. The buzz around the alley was that RCCC made it mandatory to keep 90% of their table paper goods, something that alienates artists who work in other mediums like crafting plushies, shirts, and pins. There was an air of negativity floating around the alley, some artists were let down to know that they couldn't sell the majority of their goods because of the the 90% paper requirement. In fact, some artists that threw caution to the wind were even threatened by staff to either remove their non-paper goods or be banned from ever vending at the show again. This wasn't just rumors heard through third-party accounts, rather I heard these tales from close friends... one such friend was banned by a staffer who I could only guess was on some inane power trip.
Look, I get it RCCC... there have been cases at other shows, namely the anime cons, where an artist in the alley would sell horrible knock offs of official merch. This can be a problem and one that can negatively affect the convention, but in my travels I have rarely come across this type of vendor. Most artists I meet at a convention's artist alley put an indescribable amount of work into their art. The response I'd hear from other artists was that if an artist wants to sell more than just paper products, they can pay double for an exhibitor's booth... mind you something that isn't feasible for many of artists I've met.
Despite some hiccups, I still feel optimistic for this convention... maybe it's wishful thinking that in the landscape of convention culture changing as much as it has, this show can still improve. Perhaps it was just some awkward transition for this year, I remember how awkward the transitional year was for Emerald City Comicon after the Reed Pop buyout. I will be back next year, RCCC is still one of my favorite shows... just please continue to not just grow larger but be better.