Howdy readers! I mentioned on Monday of this week that today would feature my first ever guest poster, my fellow cosplayer, sewcialist, and friend, Meris from over at The Fabric Alchemist. I have yet to meet Meris in “real life”, but our blogs are similarly themed, and we’ve been tweeting and chatting virtually for a while now. I hope we someday wind up at the same convention!! In the mean time, I’m very pleased that she has agreed to give y’all her rundown of a Seattle convention she recently attended. Thanks again to Meris, and I hope y’all enjoy her post today! ~Jen “Tyraenna” Allen
There are so many different conventions around the country, and unless you’re a geek celebrity, you probably have not experienced all of them yet. Two behemoths bookend the convention season in Seattle, WA: Emerald City Comicon and PAX Prime.
Emerald City Comicon (aka: ECCC or EC3) is a three-day comic book and pop culture convention, held at the end of March. This annual swarming of costumed comic book and pop culture enthusiasts is my favorite indicator of Springtime’s arrival in Seattle. The Northeast can keep their groundhog. I will know it is spring when I see Batman’s shadow on the sidewalk. After eleven years of steady growth, ECCC sold out this year with 70,000 attendees.
Celebrities, Panels, and Exhibition Halls
I cannot speak to ECCC’s humble origins in 2003; I have only attended ECCC the past three years. But in those three years, the caliber and celebrity of the special guests (authors, actors, and cosplayers) has grown exponentially. And still the comic book heart of ECCC beats strongly. Comic book retailers, artists, and graphic novel publishers crammed two huge exhibition halls. Some artists were so tightly packed that it was a challenge to find them, which can be problematic. I experience ECCC as a pop culture geek and cosplayer, so please accept my apologies for not providing a better summary of the comic book offerings.
Should your legs get tired circling the exhibition halls, you could sit down with friends in the table-top game area (this year located next door at the Sheraton hotel) or gawk at the creations in the LEGO zone.
This year, the fantastic line-up of celebrities included the Mark Shepard and Alan Tudyk (hilarious and awesome), Michel Dorn, Karen Gillian, Ron Pearlman, Karl Urban, cast members of the Walking Dead, and John de Lancie (Q from Start Trek: TNG). Patrick Rothfuss endured a fever to speak to a packed room about writing, life, and share a few pages from a new novella out this fall. My favorite moment of the con came during John de Lancie’s Q&A panel. I was awestruck by de Lancie’s ability to tell a story about filming naked on the TNG set and subsequently answer a 5 year-old girl’s question about who his favorite My Little Pony was. Watch this video for his answer!
The panel topics ranged widely. There were panels to help aspiring creators “write dialogue that works,” consider the portrayal of women and characters of color, and break into the industry. Attendees interested in cosplaying, gaming, or geek-lifestyle topics had much to choose from, including: “Couples who game together,” “Planning Geeky Events,” and “How to form diverse and supportive gaming groups.”
The cosplay & the communities
Emerald City organizers set out to make this convention a safe place that encouraged positive interactions and community building. On March 6, ECCC debuted their Anti-Harassement policy and poster.
ECCC coordinated fandom meet-ups every day, allowing geeks to meet others who love the same franchises. Three cheers for community building!
I was on a panel about Building Cosplay Communities to counteract bullying and harassment online and in real life at conventions. Everyone is entitled to their cosplay preferences, but we encouraged the audience to take a step back and examine their preferences and biases. I may hold myself to extremely high accuracy standards when I cosplay, but that does not mean that all cosplayers are required to meet those standards. Cos-PLAY should be fun, and as long as someone is having fun, I think they are successful in their cosplay, whether they are a professional or wearing a superhero t-shirt.
The amount and variety of cosplay (and cosplayers!) at ECCC was delightfully overwhelming. I think there were more attendees in costume than in regular clothes. The convention staples of Firefly and Mass Effect were present. Superheroes and supervillians strutted the halls. Disney characters were plentiful, no doubt bolstered by the (financial and emotional) success of Frozen. But I’m not going to tell you about it. Take a look at these photo albums to SEE for yourself!
Proof that cosplay is growing in popularity is the number of cosplay-related panels. Our panel was just one of twelve cosplay-related panels. There were panels to introduce people to basic construction technique, advance armor and prop techniques. The most important thing I learned from these “how to” panels? Automotive Paint. Oh, and shoe-shine spray paint. With these in your arsenal, you will be able to make any piece of cardboard look like a proper shield, headdress, sword, or blaster.
Geeks are mainstream
To prove this, some might point to the sold-out crowds at conventions across the country, or the financial success of films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. My proof is the young attendees of ECCC.
Adult geeks are raising geek families. Conventions like Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, WA have shed their stereotype of being a place exclusively for single socially awkward individuals. As it turns out, we are all quite social and friendly. We have met friends, girlfriends, and boyfriends through our shared [obsessive] interests. We (I refer to the broader “we” of geekdom) have reproduced and formed families, and we are bringing those families to conventions.
Kids are joining in the cosplay and melting our hearts.
And then there are those rare moments that bring a tear to your eye.
Geeks and geekdom are mainstream, and it is GLORIOUS.
Nothing brings me more joy than seeing kids in costume or kids react to adults cosplaying as characters they recognize from their books or movies.
I hope Emerald City Comicon never loses its family-friendly nature, regardless of how fast the convention sells out in the future. Right now the convention offers lower priced youth tickets, making it affordable for an entire family to attend together. This builds family relationships and strengthens the geek community. After seeing all the families at ECCC, I have decided (at 31) to invite my parents to a future convention. They are the ones who set me on this path by introducing me to Star Trek and Lord of the Rings, it is only right they get to see the community I found.
Emerald City Comicon is nowhere near the size of San Diego Comic Con, nor is it as much of party as Dragon Con. But ECCC has become one of the required annual traditions of the Seattle geek community. ECCC is at the heart of my social network. I see most of my friends over the course of three days and I meet so many new friends while cosplaying. If you ever find yourself in the Pacific Northwest in March, come join us!
My fiancé and I are still processing the photos, but if you are interested in seeing how we cosplayed ECCC you can see more images at The Fabric Alchemist.