Saturday is the big day at the Emerald City Comicon and when I say "big" I'm talking about the crowd more than anything else. Saturday is the most popular day for everyone to attend and was sold out weeks ago. The convention floor was densely packed with excited fans, aspiring pros, cosplay Deadpools and soon-to-be-exhausted contributors for Bleeding Cool. Through this whirlwind day, I took notes, talked to a lot of people and cobbled together Essential 8 Things About Emerald City Comicon Day Two!
There are three things that I think are critical for a good con experience. 1) plan ahead what you want to do and see but stay flexible for new diversions. 2) stay hydrated and remember to take breaks to eat. 3) start your day off talking to someone really cool like Kazu Kibuishi. Presumably for crowd control purposes, the organizer of ECCC let waves of fans in shortly before the official opening at 10 AM. Propelled by the momentum of the crowd and by damn good luck, I found myself right in front of Kibiushi's booth with only a couple of other people around. I got an autograph and doodle of a copy of Amulet for my nephew (no one spoil it – he doesn't know he's getting swag yet!) and just had a great, little chat. Kibiushi, like so many creators was gracious and accessible. It really started my day off with a spring in my step.
I'm going to be honest. I never used to really get cosplay before. It seemed like Halloween to me and I dig that (Halloween is awesome), but what I missed was the social and creative element of cosplay. Well, today I talked to a lot of cosplayers and now I get it. Cosplay, like fanfic, is a way for fans to interact with a property they love. This guy in the Dog Welder cosplay, made me almost giddy. I saw him across the convention floor and thought "OHMYGODDOGWELDER!!!" and in that moment of recognition and appreciation and knowing just how obscure a minor supporting character from Hitman really is and how much affection I have for a guy that welds dogs to bad guys, I think the light went on for me. It's not going to be my thing (I'm far too lazy to create that kind of ornate costume) but I see it from a new perspective now. It was a cool moment for me and Dog Welder. I wish you had been there.
There's a group of cosplayers that I want to focus on separately from the rest because at ECCC they kind of took over. I'm talking about the Carol Corps. I never managed to get a photo of a large group of them (well, I thought I did but as I learned yesterday iPhones can betray you) but there were dozens of Carol Corps (and Kamala Corps) young girls and women all over today. At a Marvel panel which I'll be writing about more later, a young woman stood at the mic in full Captain Marvel cosplay and told Kelly Sue DeConnick how Captain Marvel got her to the hobby. It was an awesome thing to see this character inspire so many and specifically bring new readers into the fold.
You know who else was taking over the con today? Boom Studios. They have one of the most impressive and most importantly central booths at ECCC right in the center of the sky bridge. There's was real energy and fan presence constantly around their booth too especially with kids (thanks in no small part to Adventure Time). It's worth noting that I passed their booth literally a hundred million times as I crisscrossed the con floor today and it is possible that they subliminally planted things into my mind but I'm cool with that. Dark Horse and Image also have big displays but this year at ECCC, it is undoubtedly the year where Boom! stood out.
Everybody knows that Michael Avon Oeming and Taki Soma are two of the most down to earth and sincerely friendly people in comics right? Yeah, now I'm just bragging because this signed Powers print is going on my wall.
Between the panels and talking to creators I was already a fan of, I talked to a lot of people I had never heard of before today. Honestly, that's one of the best reasons to go to a con. If you walk in the door thinking you just care about X, Y and Z you're probably going to miss out on learning about how kick-ass W is. I got a chance to talk to a great non profit group called Comics 4 Kids that receives or purchases comics and gives them to children to help improve literacy through comic books. They accept donations of old comics – even ones without covers as they will make new covers from art kids have drawn. This group is really cool have been doing great work for the comics community and the larger community for over 10 years. I'm really excited about what they do and happy I got a chance to talk to them this morning. I think if you have old comics, you should consider sending them in. Teaching kids to read and love comics? Sign me up!
It's hard to ignore the impact webcomics are having on the overall comics community and this is especially apparent when you go to a con. Last year when I went to ECCC I remember seeing a lot of cosplayers wearing rainbow colored horns and gray face paint. I had no idea what they were into but I found out it was Homestuck and I felt like the most out of touch old person ever. Well, there were a lot of Homestuck trolls this year but there were also a lot of webcomics creators and fans that are existing in the strange middle ground between traditional print publishing and purely online distribution. I had a chance to talk to Jennie Breeden who does the Devil's Panties daily webcomic (that Breeden describes on her FAQ as being about her "getting all up in dem hijinks") for a while about the the challenge of that co-existance and how much of a savior printing on demand is for her garage. It was a fascinating conversation and I carved out some time to catch up on some of her comics back in my hotel. Jennie, if you read this, don't move to Lents – listen to the crime maps (and my struggling property value).
Another awesome find for me was this comic about cats. Seriously. I'm not a cat person but this comic resuscitated me after running around today. After collapsing on the bed in my hotel after my day at the con, I dug through my bag of gets and found Frankie Comics #1 by Rachel Dukes and it made me laugh and feel better instantly (helped along perhaps by the tylenol). I talked to Dukes for a while after I saw her holding two signs: one said "Punk Comix" and the other that said "Cat Comics." I got some of both because the signs made a compelling argument. I love punk rock music so I was initially interested in the punk comix published by Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club out of the bay area. I picked up an anthology, As You Were issue 3 that I read a little bit of (spoiler – I love it and I will likely write about it more later) but the unexpected and understated gem was Frankie Comics, a strip Dukes does online and collected into this little red comic that she gave to me as I was walking away. The artwork and storytelling were awesome. Dukes is damn gifted and super humble. She told me the book was "rough" and that she's gotten better. Well, the book isn't rough but I also skimmed some of the new stuff online and it is better. I'm so happy I stumbled onto the booth and that I had a chance to kick back and read this comic. It was a very nice cap to a very exciting, but exhausting day.
My last observation for the day is about Seattle itself. This city was ready for the con. Surrounding stores were using the con to promote their merchandise (I have gotten a "Thorpaccunio" yet – maybe tomorrow) and even the panhandlers made their signs convention appropriate ("need money for uzis and PCP" was my favorite. It's remarkable to me how much this city has really adopted the scene. It's virtually impossible to be downtown this weekend and not know about ECCC.
I'm looking forward to meeting more cool people and learning about more comics I haven't heard about before. Follow me on Twitter for ECCC bits or Erikisms at @erikgrove.