March 4, 2018

Emerald City Quick Report

I’m sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my Bolt Bus, so I wanted to get some thoughts down on my Emerald City Experience. This is going to skip around a bit on purpose—it’s a reflection, not a news article.

TLDR Version: It was great!

Longer version: It’s always great when I walk around and see that people in Artist Alley are selling out of their comics. Though there’s plenty of media tie-ins relating to Emerald City, it still does a great job of holding to the spirit of being a show about comics, too. There were plenty of comics panels, several of which I attended (and hope to write up over the course of this week). An overwhelming amount of Artist Alley was devoted to people who actually had comics for sale, or were long-time comics veterans such as Jae Lee or Mike Allred, who had limited items for sale but were available to talk and sign things.

And personally, it’s an amazing show when you get to stand in an escalator with Stan Sakai and tell him that putting up with Sergio and Mark means he deserves his own private way out of cons.

But back to the people buying stuff and having quality items to potentially buy. One of the things I hate is when I go to a con, see a ton of people, and then...they’re walking out empty handed. There’s a disconnect. Somehow, the people aren’t finding what they thought they would. That’s not their fault, nor is it the fault of the people tabling. But it really needs addressed when it happens. Cons are expensive for creators, and to a lesser extend, for those like me who travel to them. If they end up not being worthwhile, they can’t sustain themselves.

Trust me, Emerald City in its new configuration that concentrated art with art and merchansdise with merchandise, did not have this problem. I snagged the last copy of some things, and others I was one of the last, and in a few cases, what I had planned to grab was sold out even by Saturday. That’s amazing for the people in Artist Alley. 

And yes, I did my usual buying. I’ll have pictures when I get home. So many good things I can’t wait to read! Especially looking forward to the items I got from Vault Comics, who impressed me with their panel.

Backing up a bit: This show is really big, and while I admit that 4 days is a grind for me (and if that’s way for me, I can’t imagine being at a table for 36+ hours), it really kinda needs to be long in order to accommodate all the people who want to be there. I thought the Con did a great job with crowd management, bering firm but polite when people blocked the flow, handling a downed escalator like a pro, and never acting like power-hungry goons, at least that I could see. There’s nothing worse than a con person being a jerk to an attendee. I hope that my observation and experience was the same for everyone else, especially those with special needs and people of color.

The show floor was broken up extremely cleverly, I think. Gaming got its own floor, and I wish I’d had more time there, but comics has to be my focus. I did walk around though and saw lots of people playing CCGs, some folks demoing new games, and of course, game vendors. Another floor was dedicated to rest, meet-ups, and one of the best things of all time—A CLOAK ROOM! Holy shit, game changer, make it mandatory in my Con Contract. Not joking. The 4th level had the people selling Funko Pops, jewelry, clothing, celebrity photos, etc., along with some of the larger names in comics, like Dark Horse (whose booth always looks great), Oni, Boom! and their Skybridge sprawl, Vault, First Second, and many others. I don’t know what they keep on the 5th floor (and maybe I don’t want to know...), but then the 6th was all Artist Alley and panels relating to them, except for a misplaced Filk stage. Whether you like filk or not, it needs to be somewhere that isn’t going to echo into where creators are trying to talk about their books.

The other area of the show floor I spent time on was on the oppposite side, where a lot of panels, including mine, were held It’s a little hard to find, but once you do, I like having the extra space. I’ll talk more about the panels later, but the highlights for me were Vault, Black Crown (from IDW), and Vertigo, all of whom had great presentations and a tightly run show.

Of course, for me, one of the biggest things is just getting to stop and speak to the many wonderful people I’ve met over the course of the past 10 years running this site. It was so good to see Rafer Roberts of Plastic Farm, Archer and Armstrong, and more, one of the first to really believe in what I do here from a creator’s perspective, in a rare West Coast appearance. Other folks I rarely see included Blue from Oh Human Star, Mel Gillman of As the Crow Flies, and of course Spike Trotman from Iron Circus, plus Robert Wilson IV of Heartthrob, Jim Zub (who I hear is Avenging these days), and finally meeting Tamra Bonvillan. That’s to say nothing of the Portland crew, who I’m always happy to see, even if I wish I saw them more often in our own city, hahaha!

The costumes also were top notch. I even cosplayed officially at a con. For the first time, and I had a blast. I have some plans to do more of this, even if it’s a bit silly when I meet a publisher dressed as Eddie Nigma. My favorite was probably the pair done up as Janet and Bad Janet from the Good Place, my favorite TV show. 

This is going a bit longer than I’d planned, so I’ll close out by saying that if you were afraid to go to ECCC because its too big, or worried that maybe a Panel Patter type fan of comics would not have enough to do, I can heartily say that neither is true. The size is large, but doable, and there’s so many great comics, just waiting for you. If you can make it to ECCC next year, March 14th-17th, I hope to see you there!