By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Last year, Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) expanded to four days and I attended the full show. By day three, I was sort of bored. I checked out every aspect of the event that spanned three buildings and had the luxury of attending more than one panel. I wondered if it’s possible to attend for a day and get the most out of the con. It’s possible, but I do not recommend it.
I barely had time to look at the TCC level (the other part of the Seattle Convention Center where events were held). The LEGO exhibits were located here and what was offered was mainly for the kids in attendance. Hasbro also had a presence but what they offered was not what I expected. What I was told was that they had Beyblade demos than a full-on exposition of all this company’s many properties. Had there been Transformers and other brands they made toys for, I’d be a kid in a candy store!
Suspiciously missing in the guide is the location of where the modelling club displays their work. I could not find them last year and wondered if they were around this time. They might have been, and if they are, advertising this aspect of the show has been very low-key.
Despite a few negatives, there were many positives: I love the fact ECCC dedicated the sixth floor of the convention center to indie and big-name comic book talent. A section included authors (of the written word). Had I planned better, meeting Timothy Zahn would have just made trip to ECCC over the top! Other great names like Whilce Portacio, Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza (Deadpool) certainly caught my attention. The line-up was fairly reasonable in size during the times I walked by. The wait required the patience of a saint until it was a person’s turn to chat with these creators. I’m loving the fact they take the time to interact with every fan than sign a comic (for me, it’d be a photo op) and say next.
I hoped I could meet Todd McFarlane again, but during a big show, chances are slim unless you’re willing to wait for more than an hour! He was signing books (limit of two) and by the time I got to the room where it was held, a cap was already in place. I was able to look in and the folks standing in the hallway outside said the chances were unknown if they will get in. Fortunately and unfortunately, I do have an autograph from him back when he lived on Vancouver Island (prior to him really becoming famous), but I don’t know where I kept it and I never did think of getting a photo (my much-preferred form of memorabilia) back then. He might return. ECCC has become a mecca for many in appearance from the big talents of the comic book industry. From Jim Lee last year to Man of Action Entertainment this year (I truly geeked out, since I enjoy watching all the animated products they helped produce), getting to meet these folks is an extreme pleasure.
Also, I could not miss meeting Stan Lee making his final appearances at these shows. I always knew about him retiring completely from the convention scene since seeing him rest his head on the table a show or two ago. If I did not get to tell him how much I loved reading his Bullpen Bulletins when he was still editor at Marvel Comics, I’d fully regret it. The third time is the charm, and I got a photo-op and a moment to thank him. With these big name guests, the fan really has to be patient for a return, or they have to hit other conventions out of country (or state) to meet him or her.
I’m wondering if Sergio Aragonés, creator of Groo the Wanderer, might appear in the future? Jhonen Vasquez and Mike Mignola are semi-regulars at ECCC. For a short time, Bruce Timm was a fixture. There’s no easy way to predict who will appear. four-day and Saturday tickets tend to sell out fast, and to buy is a do or do not situation when they go on sale roughly September/October. Afterwards, fans just have to hope who they like to see will be invited to attend.
I’m hoping for the return of Kevin Conroy, the one and only voice of Batman in the animated world! The cutoff was four people in front of me the first year I went, and I could have pleaded my case of having come down from Victoria, BC to make an exception. As experience and observations have taught me over the years, I should not fret. John DiMaggio returned and the third time was indeed the charm. I got a photograph memento. I also bought his fascinating documentary which looks behind the scenes of voice work.
Bouncing between the two buildings, the Washington State Convention Center and the Sheraton, was not too bad. From the middle of each, I would say worming through the quagmire of people took about 10 minutes to get from the exhibit hall to the autograph floor. Photo-ops was a challenge. I know why it spread to two floors; fire-code regulations can only allow so many folks in a given area. Props have to go to the ECCC Minions and Epic Photo Ops for doing an exceptional job of managing the crowds in the space given to them (it was smaller than before). When I had two photographic moments back to back, I was advised not to worry and stay where I was for Stan the Man and the wait for the Godfather of Shock Rock hardly existed since it all flowed nicely.
Because I had an itinerary of what I wanted to do organized from “must do” to “hoping for,” it is possible to attend ECCC for one day. That’s assuming what you want to see and do is only five items or less. To have more, the stress to make it to everything will only have some people freaking out. Sadly, I missed the return of Twisted Toonz doing a live reading of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi on Saturday. If only it was held in the evening like previous ones, I would have had something else to do. The options were limited, either attend ECCC’s Western Championships of Cosplay or participate in some demos of board / RPG games on the lower floor. I wished more variety was offered in the off hours when the doors close to the showroom, than during.
Although I missed hearing Rob Paulson and Maurice LaMarche (Pinky and the Brain) in the ensemble voice over talent, I have to thank fellow fans who recorded it and put it online free for others to listen to. The big question for this particular event is what’s next? Will the talent next year do another series, like Lord of the Rings? Mentioned at the end of the recording is Phantom Menace (there were audible groans) and I prefer another iconic saga to be selected. Although I’m tempted to skip 2018, ECCC has set a huge standard that not many other conventions follow. All the shows from my home town are simply tiny in comparison.
I really want to return, but when I’ll go depends more on how much money I have saved to deal with the crazy Canada-USA foreign exchange rate. If the organizers are listening, could you please offer a tentative list of comic book and entertainment guests so my decision to go for a particular year can be made easier? I don’t mind if names are dropped, but to regret not buying a pass because of an announcement made later is always riddled with “if only…”