Emerald City ComiCon Upgrades Venue and Offers Exclusives

Thu, January 17th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
George A. Tramountanas, Staff Writer

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The Emerald City ComiCon runs May 10-11 in Seattle, WA
Throughout history, spring has always been seen as a time of beginnings – flowers blossom, birds sing, and young love is in the air.  For comic fans, it's seen as something else:  the start of convention season!

Now in its sixth year, the Emerald City ComiCon has grown exponentially, both in the size of its guest list and the number of fans who attend. CBR News caught up with the convention's organizer, Jim Demonakos, who had some exclusive art and news to share with us about the upcoming ECCC. 

Demonakos' first announcement concerns the con's change of venue. "For the past five years, the Emerald City ComiCon resided at the Qwest Field Event Center, but last year Qwest decided that the Event Center would make for an excellent mid-size concert venue," Jim Demonakos told CBR News. "Because of the changes needed to accomplish this, we effectively 'lost our lease' and had to seek out a new home."

The change in venue isn't necessarily bad news, however. Explained Demonakos, "As with many things in life, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we have relocated to the amazing Washington State Convention Center, located at very heart of downtown Seattle, allowing both guests and attendees easy access to numerous hotels, restaurants, and sightseeing, such as the world famous Pike Place Market – a measly six blocks away!

Artwork by Ryan Ottley
"The move to a dedicated convention facility signals many great changes to the show such as an expanded floor plan, allowing for even more exhibitors, artists and events.  In addition, we will have two dedicated panel rooms, a brand new ticketing system that will allow fans to get in to the show faster than ever before and much more."

San Diego's Comic-Con International has the sun and is only a short road trip to Los Angeles.  New York's Comic-Con shares its hometown with the two biggest comics publishers.  ECCC, however, manages to maintain a lengthy guest list without any of such benefits.  What's the draw for guests?  Demonakos has a few ideas.

"I feel as though there are two things that draw guests out to the show.  The first one is easy – the Emerald City itself, Seattle," he said. "I don't know how many guests have mentioned that one of the big reasons they wanted to come was to see Seattle. It's pretty common for guests to stay an extra day or two past the show just to experience our wonderful city.

"The second draw is the convention itself.  Over the past five years, the Emerald City ComiCon has earned a great reputation for how we treat our guests, and like in any community, word spreads.  In talking to guests, many have heard about the show and its reputation, and accept the invitation to experience our hospitality themselves."

Some of the event's promotional artwork seems especially cool for a big comic convention. However, to those familiar with the ECCC , this is nothing new.  Demonakos explained, "The art for the show is something that I have so much fun with every year and the pieces get pretty wide circulation, from the cover of the program guides to advertising to prints.  We make sure that every artist gets maximum exposure for contributing a piece of art to the show.

Artwork by Tim Sale
"Over the past five years, we've been fortunate enough to have artists such as Erik Larsen, Stan Sakai, Eric Powell, Scott Kurtz, Dan Brereton, Michael Golden and Phil Hester create these excellent pieces for us."

When it comes to the parameters for the promotional artwork, it seems Demonakos wants to do some damage to the Emerald City's most famous landmark. "We want the artists to be able to illustrate without being too encumbered by restrictions, so we only give them two parameters:  one being the Space Needle, and the other being some kind of monster attacking the city.  We're very loose with this and it has led to some incredibly fun pieces of art like the two that we're debuting exclusively here at CBR.

"The first piece you see is by Ryan Ottley, artist of 'Invincible.'  As you can see, he's got our boy Mark (a.k.a. Invincible) and Atom Eve beating up on some crazy alien monsters.  Seems as though the Space Needle can't catch a break!  The art was colored by Bill Crabtree, who along with Ryan and 'Invincible' writer Robert Kirkman will all be appearing at the show.

"The other piece is by Tim Sale and is the second of two Hulk pieces that Tim has done for this year's show.  Many people might not know, but Tim is local boy who spent a good chunk of his life right here in Seattle.  Tim wanted to go in a bit of a different direction and show off some other parts of Seattle, like the Pike Place Market and, of course, Dick's Drive-In.

"Never heard of Dick's Drive-In?  I don't blame you, but it's a Seattle institution.  There are only five Dick's locations in Seattle and they serve some of the best burgers, fries and shakes you've ever had.  It's pretty obvious from the art that like a true Seattleite, the Hulk is hooked on their hand-dipped chocolate shakes!

Artwork by Tim Sale
"One piece has the Hulk sitting at the famous Pike Place Market sign enjoying a shake and reading a funny-book, and the other one features the Hulk (again with that delicious shake!) in front of a collage of Seattle attractions, including a ferry, Mount Rainier and, of course, the Space Needle."

Besides the exclusive artwork, Emerald City ComiCon's Jim Demonakos had quite a bit of news to share with CBR readers. "To begin with, we've teamed up with Dynamite Entertainment to offer an Alex Ross variant cover of 'Superpowers' #0 available exclusively at the show to our attendees, absolutely free!" Demonakos said. "As a bonus, 'Superpowers' #0 artist Steve Sadowski is a guest of the show and will be on hand all weekend to sign the book for fans!"

For all the aspiring artists out there, the Emerald City ComiCon and Space Goat Productions have come together to present an official talent search at the show.  "Space Goat has provided art for Marvel ('Hercules,' 'New Exiles'), DC ('Nightwing'), and many other companies and is looking to add some new talent to its roster," Demonakos explained.  "Over the two days of the Emerald City ComiCon, Space Goat will be conducting portfolio reviews and a talent search for pencilers, inkers and colorists to start working on a variety of projects.

"In keeping with that spirit, we also have a whole set of panels dedicated to helping aspiring creators break in to the industry, plus panels on self-publishing, webcomics, comic book law school and a variety of other topics.

Emerald City exclusive: Free "Superpowers" #0 variant by Alex Ross
"On top of that, we'll have our ever-popular Marvel and DC panels, plus the Image Comics Show, the CBLDF sketch duel and much more."

While Seattle doesn't house the industry's largest publishers, it does, on the other hand play home to some of the top independent comics companies in the Pacific Northwest.  In addition, much of comicdom's biggest names call the area home. Emerald City Con's organizer confessed this makes acquiring guests a bit easier than it might be otherwise.

"We're incredibly lucky that some of the top talents in our industry are so close at hand here in the Pacific Northwest;  creators like Ed Brubaker, Brian Michael Bendis, Greg Rucka, Kaare Andrews, Moritat, Josh Ortega, Clayton Crain, Jay Faerber and Dave Stewart just to name a few," said Demonakos. "Not to mention the amazing Periscope Studio in Portland, Oregon, which counts among its members Steve Lieber, Jeff Parker, David Hahn, Matthew Clark, Jesse Hamm, Colleen Coover and a dozen others. 

"Plus, we have great publishers like Fantagraphics, Top Shelf and Dark Horse Comics, so the saturation of comic book awesomeness here is pretty high."

Demonakos is thrilled about every individual on his guest list, making it difficult to pick highlights for attendees. "How do you choose your favorite child?  Hahahaha!"Demonakos said.  "As with every Emerald City ComiCon, we really strive to bring a whole bushel of guests that our fans haven't seen before, along with a mix of local creators who are fixtures and fan favorites, to create one great blend of a show. Some of the new faces I'm excited about who have never been out to the show include J. Michael Straczynski, Ethan Van Sciver, Arthur Suydam, Skottie Young, Phil Jimenez, Humberto Ramos, Tom Raney, Nat Jones, and even a couple of my favorite indy creators – Jeffrey Brown and Andy Runton.

"We have some returning favorites as well, like Tim Sale, Bill Willingham, Ryan Ottley, Rick Remender, Phil Noto and tons of others.  I won't sit here reciting the guest list – needless to say, I'm definitely excited and this is our largest guest list to date!

"In addition, we have actor Jamie Bamber (who plays Major Lee 'Apollo' Adama on the new 'Battlestar Galactica'), plus a few of the favorites from 'Who Wants To Be A Superhero?,' including Ms. Limelight, Fat Momma and the winner of Season 2 – The Defuser!

"Even with this enormous list, we're not done yet.  We have quite a few more surprises in store for our fans."

For those contemplating their con schedule for the year and trying to decide whether or not to attend the ECCC, Demonakos wants to assure you tthe trip would be well worthwhile.  The organizer made his case thusly: "There's a real unknown and intangible quantity of what makes any show special, but at the end of the day, this show is by fans for fans.  I think that comes across in everything we do.  From the guests and exclusives to the art and programming, we're looking to make a show that we ourselves would want to attend and be excited about.

"Our main focus remains squarely on comic books, so fans know when they attend the show they're going to find great guests, cool exhibitors, top notch dealers, panels and thousands of fellow fans who share their love of the art form.

"In the end, the Emerald City ComiCon stands out because it's run by people who are at the store every Wednesday alongside the very same fans that attend the show."

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