Emerald City Comic Con is one of the the Pacific Northwest’s biggest events, not just comic book convention, so needless to say I’m struggling with where to begin. I suppose I should start from the beginning so I cover all the bases and don’t leave anything out.
I live in Tacoma which is a pretty quick forty five minute drive to Seattle and luckily enough Saturday traffic was great so it wasn’t a bad drive. Since I work in Seattle near the convention center I knew exactly where I was going and had a rough idea of where to try and find parking. Seattle is full of one ways, annoying at times for sure, but since I knew what I was doing it worked to my advantage. The convention was on 7th Ave and all of the number streets are one ways so I went up 4th Ave and decided to hunt for parking a few blocks away. I was surprised to see that there were people walking around in cosplay all around Pike and 4th Ave. I made a few turns and ended up one block down from Pike on 5th Ave, which really isn’t that bad, not even a five minute walk to the convention center. There were other Con goers getting parking and people walking past the street so after parking we just followed the wave of Deadpool’s and Harley Quinn’s.
I jest about the amount of Deadpool and Harley Quinn cosplay but there was a truly amazing array of costumes that ranged all across the board of not only comics but video games, books, and TV or movies. The amazing part is that I saw all of this before entering the convention center.
When we finally made it into the convention center the cosplay and waves of people didn’t slow at all and the open areas became a steady stream of people coming and going. The convention center was several levels and the entry was full of small food shops like Taco Del Mar and Subway but also small cafes, and of course in Seattle, coffee shops. The flow of people was steady for the entire time and it was easy to follow the flow up to the vendor areas.
Generally I don’t complain or bash things as principle but since this convention is so large I have to say some stuff that I didn’t enjoy. The amount of people was crazy. I know this doesn’t sound horrible but all the way through the aisles we were elbow to elbow and it was nearly impossible to stop and look at stuff without killing the flow of traffic. I got poked many times by protruding costume accessories and rude people that thought pushing and elbowing was totally cool. I love the fact it’s popular and the majority of people were spending money and keeping the industry I love afloat but more then once I had a really hard time stopping at a booth because the traffic was so thick any stopping was basically impossible. If I wanted to stop I had to hug the booth and expect several people pushing into my back and pushing me into the booth. Because of the crowd I knocked over several things and one vendor even laughed and mentioned that it’s been happening since the first minute they opened the doors.
Although the crowd was huge and the aisles were small there were a couple of spots in between the floors where there were spots to sit and take pictures of the cosplayers and I took full advantage of those whenever possible. In particular there was a really nice midway point between the two big vendor areas where people were converging for photo ops and resting a bit. I love taking pics to share with all of you and just for good memories so I spent about an hour or so getting pics and people watching. I feel this convention would have been better served with a slightly bigger rest area with more seats or a nice large photo and rest area combined. This way it would get people out of the way of the vendor aisles and allow for the money spenders some room to look and stop to buy.
As I complain about the room I wonder how much the vendors suffered, or if they suffered at all. I saw a lot of people buying and ton of joy over the products that were offered. There was no lack of stuff for sale but much to my chagrin the indie comic world was not very well represented. I struggled to find the indie creators in the blur of booths in artist alley but be on the lookout for some interviews from the few guys I did meet. Where this convention did a bang up job was with the major publishers just under DC and Marvel. Image, Boom, Dark horse, IDW and other medium sized publishers like Aspen had wonderful displays and took up sizable chunks of real estate. I enjoy the big two as much as anyone else but to see the excitement for stuff like Lantern City or Lumberjanes from Boom, and stuff like The Fuse, Invisible Republic, or Birthright from Image really put a smile on my face.
There was more to the booths than just publishers; toys, clothes, costumes and costume accessories, posters, pin ups, and artist originals were everywhere and just a small piece everything that was there. It was somewhat overwhelming, the sheer volume of stuff, but in many cases unless you were into something specific it was easy to look and move on. One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises for me was a large booth full or Tor and Baen books. I’m also a huge fan of literary books, Not just comics, and seeing a book booth was really awesome. It was more than just a booth selling books however, authors were there to sign and pitch their books with the love and knowledge only the author can provide. Needless to say I walked away with a book or two.
Throughout the time wandering it occurs to me that I could kill some time going to a workshop and learning something new. Often times there are some really amazing panels of creators or an awesome topic that covers something interesting and this convention had both. There was a wide range of topics; from cosplay to creation, and I had my heart set on two that were back to back and worth wild for a perspective creator. I showed up ten minutes early and was turned away because the room was full. I’m not sure if it was because of the convention center or because the topic and panel guests were so popular but the fact I couldn’t make it into the workshop really killed my afternoon. At that point I had been there from 10:00 am when they opened the doors until 4:00 pm when the first workshop was to start and I had little reason to stay after being turned away. If I would have went for the workshop chances are I would have made one more go around before leaving and caught something I might have missed but instead I packed up and went home sort of upset I got turned away from the workshop.
Dispute the few issues I had with it I would still rate my experience as a 6 or 7, certainly above average but with just a few tweaks it could have been epic. If I was filling out a Sergey I would say more space for booths and workshops and keep up the good work with diverse booths like the Tor books booth and invite more indie creators so the indie guys and gals get some much needed exposure.