Published on March 18th, 2019 | by Joseph Saulnier0
Another year, another Comic Con in the books. It has been 4 years since ReedPOP added Emerald City Comic Con to its portfolio. In many ways, this was an excellent thing. ReedPOP has certainly shown that they know how to run a show, and they certainly aren’t slouching when it comes to ECCC. Every year the show attracts more, and bigger, celebrities than the year prior. This year was no exception adding Peter Capaldi and Rupert Grint to the line up of guests. But comic conventions aren’t just about the celebrities.
I lived in San Diego before moving to the Pacific Northwest, which is why it pains me to make this next statement as I am no hipster. I loved San Diego Comic Con before it became what it is today. Sure, they had celebrities back then, but the focus was on art, in many forms. I remember picking up a complete set of the Mission Earth series from L. Ron Hubbard back before people didn’t like him; or maybe I was too young to realize what people’s view on him was at the time because the 10-book set was fairly inexpensive. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Why am I talking about San Diego Comic Con circa 1997? Because the feeling I had when I got to that Con back then is the same feeling I get when I attend ECCC now, even though it is 22 years later. ECCC feels like, to me, it’s on its way to becoming what SDCC has become. I sincerely hope not.
SDCC, while great and all the late breaking news comes from there, it has lost sight of the artists and story-tellers that made the whole thing possible to begin with. Last year at ECCC, I could really feel the pride in the artist alley, and not just by the artists, but by the show runners and the attendees themselves. I have found amazing books I would never have found anywhere else, like Cura Te Ipsum by Neal Bailey and Dexter Wee or Legba’s Juke Joint C.W. Thayer and Ron Milts (this in particular is an amazing series where each book comes with a soundtrack to represent a different era of music that influenced the story and themes in that particular book). I never would have been able to actually meet these artists, and truly show appreciation for what they have done. And they would never learn how they touch the lives of other people. Heh. I never would have found out that my step-son’s teacher was the daughter of one of my favorite authors, Terry Brooks, whose stories helped me in a hard time of my life. I would never have been able to create new friendships with artist I have met, or even have the talented Greg Scott Bailey draw a tribute piece to my father which is not permanently inked on my leg.
I got all of these feelings and experiences at Emerald City Comic Con. Except… I did have this same experience this year. This year started to feel like a change, and not necessarily a good one. The whole experience felt more… corporate is the best word I can come up with. Lost on me was the fluidity of the event, and the accessibility to everything the event has to offer. While Artist’s Alley and the Writer’s Block had the same amount of floor space as years past, it felt less populated. Even the main floors have seen less and less spaces dedicated to Comics and their publishing, and more toward things like customer built light sabers, merch companies, and the ever-popular mystery loot boxes. Most panels were not onsite this year, and instead being held at one of the local hotels, all save for some of the bigger ones. The security changes this year also took away from everything, and really put a drag on the show. This could be one of the reason’s panels were held outside of the Washington State Convention Center, so that the lines at the single entrance with metal detectors wouldn’t stop people from getting to their panels on time. But if I recall, most panels didn’t start until around 10:45 AM. Is it possible that adjustments were made on both sides (scheduling and location) without communication?
It’s not to say that there wasn’t anything good about the show. It is exciting seeing some of the celebrity guests there. I still managed to find a couple of possible gems this year, but at the end of the day, I just felt very underwhelmed by ECCC this year. I can only hope that next year we don’t see it decline any further.