Crowds in Seattle's Washington State Convention Center at Emerald City Comicon.

Emerald City Comicon draws 80,000 fans to Seattle

When I previously wrote about comic book shows and their fans, I was talking about small-to-medium shows like the Jet City Comic Show. Their site states that “Jet City started in order to fill in the void for a quality one-day show for fans and dealers.

Comic-Con International is the 800 pound gorilla, and Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) bears a strong family resemblance. This year they brought in 80,000 fans and took over the Washington State Convention Center in the middle of Seattle, despite the Department of Transportation shutting down multiple vectors into town. The DOT earned some jabs from Comicon attendees after declaring that there would be “no major events this weekend,” but it didn’t keep the fans away.

Activities

A group of self-described Bombshell Babes from the Comics
A group of self-described Bombshell Babes from the Comics
  • Panel sessions operated every hour in rooms around the conference center, including a huge auditorium off the main lobby
  • Fandom Meet-ups, where people could discuss their favorite shows and genres from Agent Carter to Walking Dead
  • Games including pinball machines, video games, card games and retro computer games
  • A kid’s area, including Lego spaceships, clay animation, and a chance to zap a stormtrooper with a Nerf blaster
Wedding with Stormtroopers  shortly after the opening of Emerald City Comicon
Wedding with a thumbs-up from Stormtroopers at Emerald City Comicon
  • A “Cospitality Lounge: For those who love to cosplay, and for those who admire the work and dedication of cosplayers
  • There was even a wedding, though it wasn’t on the schedule: Less than an hour into the first day, stormtroopers from Garrison Titan of the 501st Legion acted as attendants to a wedding in the kids’ area

Making It All Happen

Though operated by ReedPOP, a commercial venture, the show couldn’t happen without the ubiquitous, green-shirted Minions.

Several green-shirted Minions with one of the many Stop / No Camera signs in the autograph area.
Several green-shirted Minions with one of the many Stop / No Camera signs

Though convention center employees watched the doors, and commercial security personnel watched the celebrities, the volunteer Minions provided guidance and bulk of the bulk of the crowd control for attendees.

That dedication is certainly not limited to the fans and volunteers who come from all around. The headliners (the Celebrity Guests) also travel to be part of the festivities. When one celebrity guest is unable to attend, another of the same media family often joins the roster. This year that included Alex Kingston who represented the Doctor Who cast when Jenna Coleman wasn’t able to make it. Marina Sirtis likewise represented the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast when LeVar Burton was unable to attend. Demonstrating her dedication to the fans and her fellow cast members, Marina celebrated her 60th birthday at ECCC.

Challenges

The massive popularity meant there weren’t a lot of places to stop and sit down. There were lots of lines, including those for panel sessions, autographs, and photo sessions. Some panel sessions were standing room only.

Internet and cell data connectivity was very poor through most of the facility, which made it difficult to check on things like changes in panels and programs like those mentioned above. It also prevented at least one Artist Alley dweller from being able to draw the best possible replica of Robocop‘s helmet for a customer. Fortunately, everyone was provided a printed program guide as well.

Next Year

ECCC shows no signs of slowing down. At the beginning of this year’s show, Emerald City Comicon announced that “ECCC Expands to Four Days in 2016,” April 7-10, 2016.

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