Thursday, March 10, 2011

Emerald City Comic Con: That's a Wrap!


I try to avoid hyperbole when I’m writing, so when I tell you that this year’s Emerald City Comic Con was the best comic convention I’ve ever been too, I want you to understand that I’m not being hyperbolic in the least. From panels, to the convention floor, new friends made and connections strengthened, ECCC 2011 was a rousing success.

I arrived on Thursday and after a nap at the local Green Tortoise Hostel (which I would recommend to any weary travellers looking for a good, cheap bed), I set off in search of food and drink. Once both had been acquired, I Twitter-stalked Chris Haley, one half of the team behind webcomic Let’s Be Friends Again and a fellow Tennesseean. We quickly bonded over our mutual love of professional wrestling (and comics, I guess) and marveled at our mutual ability to drive girlfriends to the far reaches of the bar with discussions of, well, professional wrestling.

PLACES ATTENDED: The Nitelite, The Whisky Bar

The first Friday in the history of ECCC had a mercifully late start, giving those of us who’d arrived the day before some much needed rest After a breakfast of coffee, more coffee, a little bit more coffee and finally, some donuts, I made my way onto the floor. As a member of the press, most of what I do at conventions is walk the floor, scope out new books and creators and set up interviews. As a hopeful creator myself, I spend a lot of time talking to editors, meeting and picking the brains of fellow creators and riffing with marketing directors. One of the great things about ECCC this year was it somehow brought together a bunch of people from the industry that I’d only previously known online. Aside from Chris Haley, I also met Curt Franklin, the other half of Let’s Be Friends again, the inimitable Evan “Doc” Shaner and his lovely wife Carla, and my longtime friends, R13 and King creators, Daniel Bradford and Thomas Hall. After those meetings were done, I set about the work of setting up interviews. Over the course of the next two days, I would set up interviews with some of the brightest names in comics. Want to see a list? Okay, you twisted my arm.

Greg Rucka
Dustin Nguyen
Matt Kindt
Riley Rossmo
Kevin Maguire
Gabriel Hardman

And many, many more. It’s going to be a busy few weeks, but I’m really excited to pick the brains of these folks and get their advice for new comics creators and opinions on what the future holds for our industry.

Another part of the job is covering panels and reporting back to Broken Frontier what I find therein. On Friday I took it pretty easy, choosing to buck the big two panels and attend instead the kind of panels you only find at conventions like ECCC, conventions still devoted to comic books as a whole. The first panel was the Ask Comics Alliance panel, which featured new friends Chris Haley and Curt Franklin, a live-drawing event that saw the Demon dressed as a hockey player visiting his girlfriend at the “titty” doctor and an impromptu concert by nerdcore rapper Adam Warrock, wherein he played a whirlwind tour of his West Coast Avengers album. While the laid back, off the cuff panel was devoid of any “groundbreaking announcements,” it did celebrate everything that’s fun and inclusive about comics, and for that it was well worth the hour. My other Friday excursion was into the Comic Twart panel, which featured a live drawing event by what members of the Twart collective were on hand. I watched and joked with MC Adam Warrock as Tom Fowler, Nathan Fairbairn, Andy Kuhn, Evan Shaner, Mitch Gerads and Chris Samnee all drew the hell out of some Conan, the results of which were donated to the con’s silent auction.


That night saw a trip to the Noc Noc bar for a drink and draw event that saw more live art from Chris Haley and Curt Franklin, fingerpainting by Jim Mahfood and David Mack, girls in bikinis, lots of good tunes and, well…that’s probably about all you need to know about that night. What happens at the Noc Noc, stays at the Noc Noc.

PLACES ATTENDED: Seattle Coffee Works, Top Pot Donuts, Local 360, Noc Noc

Saturday was much of the same, with more interviews set up, more connections made and more panels visited. Their was an “off the record” press appreciation breakfast that morning before the convention, but if I told you anything about it it wouldn’t be “off the record,” would it? The only panel of note I attended on Saturday was the BOOM! Studios panel. Chip Mosher, Matt Gagnon and Ross Richie lined up to address the shift of the BOOM! Kids imprint to kaboom!, the release of new licensed properties such as Hellraiser, Elric and Planet of the Apes and everything in between. BOOM celebrated a second gem award in a row for the best publisher under 4% of the market and really managed to get everyone excited about what they have coming down the pipeline, despite the loss of the Pixar license to Marvel. The most exciting part of the panel for me was the announcement that Chris Roberson (Superman, I, Zombie) will be writing an ongoing Elric series with the complete blessing and involvement of Michael Moorcock. For this fan of old school dark fantasy, that was a hell of an unveiling.

video
Dustin Nguyen drawing Batman/Hush!

That night brought dinner with yet another online friend I’d yet to meet in person, the incredibly talented Joe Quinones. It was a large group at an excellent Italian restaurant and the conversation I had with Joe and his girlfriend was a foodie’s dream. We discussed our excellent meal, comic books, food on the East Coast and the differences between the South, the North and the West. Joe even dropped some not so secret knowledge on me about his latest project at DC, which features two of my favorite characters. I’m very excited. After dinner it was a brief stop off at the Adam Warrock/Kirby Krackle show at the Hard Rock Café, then a couple Rainiers at the Nite Lite before calling it an early night.

PLACES ATTENDED: NYC Deli, Starbucks, I can’t remember the name of you but you were awesome Italian restaurant, The Nitelite

Sunday at the con was a brief day of goodbyes and see you soons, followed by a lonely yet fantastic evening of dining and drink in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. I made even more friends, visited even more fantastic places and had one seriously crappy bus ride back.

PLACES ATTENDED: Starbucks, Seatown Seabar and Rotisserie, Old Town Ale House, King’s Hardware


All in all, Seattle treated me very well. I say that Emerald City was the best comic convention I’ve been to because it was the con where my life as a professional and my life as a fan converged so perfectly. I’ve yet to experience a convention where I felt as catered to as a fan of the comic book industry and as welcomed as a peer than Emerald City. I’m looking forward to every con I’m visiting this year, but I tell you they’ll have a lot to live up to. If ECCC was any indication, this is going to be a HUGE year!

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