ECCC is located in the Washington State Convention Center in the heart of Seattle. It’s a short walk to Pike Place Market, a vibrant seaside marketplace full of good restaurants and fun stalls with a tendency to throw fish to entertain the tourists. ECCC is also a few blocks from the Starbucks Reserve Coffee shop. I did not try the baked goods there, but the atmosphere is polished and rich, full of deep wonderful coffee aromas, and was an excellent start to my stay in Seattle. I was also able to go on a underground tour of Seattle where we got a flavor of the origins of the city. This is the setting for Emerald City Comic Con.
I arrived in Seattle the night before the con, not knowing what to expect. Oh, I had read the reviews and liked the vibe of the con, which seems to be a true comic convention with a good artist alley. However I was a little hesitant about the types of panels listed. I was seeing a lot of cosplay panels and ‘how to’ sessions for comic creators. Not being particularly interested in cosplay or working on a comic, I wasn’t sure if there was enough there to keep my interest for three and a half days. However as I dove deeper into the panels, a few of them grew on me, such as Self promotion in the Geekdom and the Image Founders panel. I decided that I needed to approach this con without preconceived ideas and look at it as a enriching opportunity.
The show opened on Thursday, March 2nd at 2pm. Thursday is more of a ‘preview night’ for the con, since the show floor since was open only 5 hours, with few panels and no celebrities to draw people away. The actual con is spread over 2 different convention centers and 6 floors, which gives it a vertical feel. The first floor has a beer garden and food trucks. The second floor is devoted to gaming of all types from tabletop games and RPGs, to video games, to panels. The third floor is devoted to cosplay. The fourth floor is the sales floor with everything from the larger booths of Funko, Skybound/Image and Dark Horse to smaller vendors selling cosplay and t-shirt vendors. The sixth floor is devoted to Artist Alley, The Writers’ Block, and a new area I have not seen at conventions before: the PodCast Zone.
The PodCast Zone had 8 to 10 tables of local/original podcasters ranging from folks who analyzed the X-Men from the beginning of time, XplaintheXMEN , to current comic discussion from the Out of the Fridge group, to comic review and overview sites like Comic Pop. There was also an attached stage in which podcasters presented their shows. Having put on a few podcasts with the Englishman in San Diego, I can say I am very happy to see pod and video casting given their due within the geek tribe at conventions. I am glad to report that the area seemed to be well received by the attendees.
Artist Alley is HUGE. While there was a few larger comic stars, such as Liefeild, Snyder and Letour, this convention really excels in the mid to smaller artists.
The first day of conventions are usually devoted exclusives hunting and getting the a sense of the layout. One of the booths that always garners attention is Funko. They held a lottery for access to their booth. I was lucky enough to win a prime slot, the first buying group on Thursday afternoon. I was about 20 people back and was able to get everything I wanted. In a similar vein, there have been questions about why the Stan Lee collectibles booth hasn’t offered any exclusive Stan Lee Pops for individual conventions for some time. I asked about this at their booth and was led to believe that there is an issue with licensing and they do indeed want to produce more Stan Lee Pops for the collectors.
A word about lines, as I’ve found they’re a good indication of the organization of a con. In general the individual lines on the ECCC sale floor are very well managed, set up along walls, not blocking walkways, etc. However due to the vertical nature of the convention centers, I found lines to get into the individual areas to be a little more confusing first thing in the morning. This is very small issue because there isn’t a huge ‘line culture’. I believe folks only started lining up at 11 am for a 2 pm open.
Thursday was a good first day of a laid back convention. ECCC is an excellent first con of the 2017 season.