Erik Grove, our "Essential 8" columnist, reports for Bleeding Cool from Emerald City Comicon:
There's a certain amount of planning you can do for the one of the country's largest cons and there's a certain amount of hey-my-phone-died-and-lost-my-notes you just can't account for. There's also the impossibility of getting from point A to point B through a crowd of thousands of people and panels being full unless you camp out like you're waiting for Star Wars: Episode One tickets in 1999. So what you're left with, well, what I'm left, is winging it and having an awesome time and Essential (Emerald?) 8 Things from Emerald City Comicon Day One!
There are horror stories about the lines from last year's ECCC. They lasted hours and went halfway into the Puget Sound. I remember leaving my hotel last year, walking to the line and then following that line as it went through the convention center and outside all the way back to my hotel before it eventually, and very slowly, got us to an overwhelmed bank of staffers handing out passes. Well, this year they changed it up. Passes were sent in the mail in advance and even though they apparently didn't have enough programs or lanyards to give to everyone (a whole big chunk of the line I was in just got skipped), the lines were much shorter and everyone was in good spirits. I've heard some horror stories from local comic book stores that were selling passes but overall, it seems that the process went a lot smoother this year.
Another welcome change from last year and following the trend of other cons, ECCC is taking harassment seriously and have a zero tolerance policy for it. They've posted these notices all around the floor and while it's unlikely to stop all instances of harassment, I think it's a great step in the right direction. If there are jerks, tell someone and they can make the jerks leave. It is and should be that simple.
The absolute best thing I found at the con so far was this amazing flask from the creators of the webcomic A Softer World. Joey Comeau and Emily Horne were on hand and very friendly and gracious with what has probably been the most fanboy gushing I've ever done in public. I've been a fan off ASW for a long, long time and, true story, I decided I really needed to go to ECCC this year when I saw that they were going to be there. There's a ton to love and want to be here for but Joey and Emily and A Softer World pushed me over the edge and this flask? Amazing. They have a table right in the highly trafficked sky bridge right next to other fantastic webcomics creators. Worth the trip for the flask and the Canadian super awesome.
This is also a big launch and promo weekend for the Lumberjanes and Boom! has an ECCC exclusive copy of issue 1 available. It's a great comic and I was lucky enough to meet three of the friendliest, most enthusiastic comic creators, Brooke Allen, Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis, in the business, and get their signatures on my copy.
Another comic that's making an impression at ECCC is Southern Bastards. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are doing panels and signings and Jason has a copy of the first issue he was showing off at the Image booth. It looks fantastic and both Jasons are great, humble guys. Jason Aaron's beard should be appreciated in person and Jason Latour has many secret hat admirers after today.
Did you know that Charles Soule, in addition to writing a new comic every five minutes and practicing law, is also a sharp, energetic and really nice guy? Well, I do now. I also know that Inhuman #1 looks gorgeous and that Soule's also a musician. Soule and fellow Marvel creator Dennis Hopeless were big winners of the "wow – these guys are especially cool and you should try to talk to them" awards for Friday. Other award winners include but are not limited to Rob Guillory, Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch.
After all of the great folks I talked to and the great stuff I saw though, today's MVP was Cafe Yumm!, a delicious and nutritious restaurant a few blocks away from the convention center. While you can get hot dogs and pizza and $5 bananas inside the convention center, Cafe Yumm! has brown rice bowls, sandwiches and wraps that are delightfully not deep fried and greasy. I'm certainly biased because Cafe Yumm! started in my college town of Eugene, OR and it's grown to being a Pacific Northwest staple, but after all those hours on my feet, nothing hits the spot better than some real food. I'm all about the edamame bowl with jalapeno sauce. Haggard, worn down, con goers, exhibitors and creators – it's just down Pine St. and I swear you'll be happy that you got some real food for lunch tomorrow.
The last thing I want to plug for con-goers and everyone else at ECCC? This goofy guy in the Superman hat. That's me. I'll be roaming the halls tomorrow and Sunday, looking for more flasks, talking about comics and looking for that baby dressed up like an Ewok I've heard so many good things about. Now that I've learned the secret to moving around faster- the three guys in cosplay Umbrella corp riot armor with "fake" rifles showed me that all I need to do is shout move! and something about staying in formation – I hope to attend more panels and get some good photos.
Follow me on Twitter for up to the minute-ish commentary @erikgrove.