Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Con-Man: Emerald City Comicon

In case you didn't know, Comic/Nerd/Pop Culture Conventions are hot shit.  San Diego Comic-Con welcomed tens of thousands for years before selling out Saturday in 2007.  Since then, it's been a mad rush to be one of the 130,000 attendees.  Local Los Angeles show Comikaze expected 10,000 goers at their inaugural show in 2011 but welcomed 35,000 on it's way to 50,000 attending in 2013.  Not to be outdone, Seattle's Emerald City Comicon has been running strong since 2003 where 2,500 fans showed up.  In 2008, the show moved to the Washington State Convention Center with a crowd of 10,000 and 2013's edition brought in a whopping 60,000 attendees.  The organizers have put together quite an event with Emerald City taking over the entire convention center as well as the local Cinerama movie house hosting flicks/Q&A's then an additional theater for podcasts and more events.  This would be my first year attending but I'd definitely come back again, albeit with much more preparation.

The Convention Center is smack dab in the middle of Downtown Seattle, there's shopping and eating for days nearby.  Things got confusing almost immediately as we didn't prep for the show much and did not realize it would take place over so much of the center.  I didn't see the usual table of flyers and programs nor was there any staff handing them out so I ended up grabbing a discarded one off the top of some cardboard boxes by the trash.  What we came to realize was that the exhibition floor was on one part of the 4th floor, continuing across a bridge to the other side AND on the 3rd floor beneath the North side.  Then all of the celebrity centric panels were on the 6th floor.  Only problem was, there was no direct route to travel between levels.  Escalators marked on the map did not exist in real life so you had to walk across a section, get on an escalator or two then walk somewhere else.  Talking to some veterans, they all let us know that the show had blown up year after year so that lead to some of the confusion.

Show wise, it was great.  A lot of exhibiters with some awesome swag ready for purchase.  Since we were flying, I had to be conscious of my buys since plane space would be a premium.  Besides, we're going to Wonder Con in our backyard soon so I'm pretty sure I can get most of the same stuff.  We ran into artist Tomas Overbai again, whom we met at Comikaze.  He had some new artwork for sale so we bought some postcards featuring Arnold, Nathan Fillion, Robocop and Jean Reno from The Professional.  At another booth I spotted the Thermal Vision Dutch from Predator action figure.  You know, where he's lit up like a rainbow the way a Predator sees him through his mask?  Turns out, the gentleman selling was from Cape and Cowl, a store in Fountain Valley, CA, 5 minutes from my family in Orange County.  We'd seen him at shows and in the store before, it's a sweet spot, check it out.  A few issues of Buckaroo Banzai later and we headed up to the 6th floor to check out the Main Stage where a reading of Empire Strikes Back was in session featuring various voice actors famous for their animated roles.  Next door was also the Celebrity signing area where Michael Biehn, Karl Urban, Ron Perlman, Eliza Dushku, Alan Tudyk and many more were meeting fans.  Expensive ass Richard Dean Anderson didn't have much of a line I saw.

My goal for the day was to secure birthday presents for two of my best friends.  If you're one of them, stop reading right now.  Basically, I hoped to get a sketch from Ed McGuiness but he was all booked up on commissions.  Down the row was former Udon Comics' Street Fighter artist Alvin Lee to save the day.  Lee was super cool and chatted it up with everybody in line while he cranked out full sketches of Dark Phoenix and X-23 with a My Little Pony motif.  Yeah, he didn't get it either and the guy who asked for it didn't know anything about My Little Pony but randomly had an issue of their comic with him.  Don't know what else to say.  While in a perfect world I would have commissioned a piece featuring the Hulk and Doc Samson or Guile and Ryu doing the Predator handshake, Mr. Lee was only doing headshots.  He did throw in a thumbs up for me though as an extra Happy Birthday to my friend.  Across the floor was former Filmation and Masters of the Universe artist Thomas Cook.  I hoped to get a sketch of He-Man for the other gift but Mr. Cook sketches at night and delivers the next day.  I had to settle for a print and birthday greeting.

If 3 show floors, a celebrity signing area and main stage weren't enough, Emerald City also included a Game of Thrones themed art gallery done by artists near and far on the 2nd floor.  Then even more was in the lobby as there was a Lego exhibit featuring renditions of the Batcave, Rivendell and child sized statues of the Avengers among many more.  After nearly 5 hours of checking out the show, we decided to skip out on any panels and hit the streets of Seattle to find some grub and booze.

See ya next year, Emerald City! 

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