Spring is in the air. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and - best of all - comic book convention season is getting underway! For me and many others who live in the northwest, the Emerald City ComiCon is the event that signals the return of creator signings, fans dressed as superheroes, and con exclusives. Taking place this Saturday and Sunday in Seattle, the ECCC promises to deliver on those three counts and more.
To assist those who plan on attending the con, CBR News contacted ECCC's founder Jim Demonakos to get the skinny on what folks should prepare for. From the very beginning of our talk, one thing became clear quickly - attendees should brace themselves to rub elbows with lots and lots of fans. Last year, the con topped ten thousand in attendance. This year, Demonakos stated that they're anticipating fifteen thousand fans to come, with 40% of those travelling in from out of state.
Those who frequent conventions across the country often have to look at a con's offerings to decide if it's more of a comic book convention, a science fiction fest, or a pop culture carnival. As far as Demonakos is concerned, however, the ECCC is all about the comics.
"We focus on comics and dip our toe into 'media' by having a couple of media guests. But even with those, you can make a pretty strong connection to the comic community (like Leonard Nimoy, who's attending this year). If you look at our show, there's no mistaking we're a comic book show."
While a few of the smaller conventions across the country have seen their attendance decline in recent years, the ECCC remains stronger than ever. In looking for a cause to attribute to this event's success, Demonakos said, "I think 'focusing on the comics' rings true here, as we basically are presenting a comic con with very few frills on the side. You want comics? We got 'em! You want creators? We got 'em! The show's success is built on the basis that our focus for the show is all about comics, and the fans appreciate that."
The fact that fans go to this convention seeking comics is a given, but considering the number of travelers coming in from places outside Washington, one can also assume they're on the lookout for something special. Well, in that department, ECCC's founder guarantees that folks won't be disappointed.
"We worked with Top Cow to create some great merchandise for the show, including both the official con shirt and a Witchblade print as well. We'll have cool prints from Udon Studios and 'Stumptown' co-creator Matthew Southworth. There's also an Owly shirt by Andy Runton, numerous exclusives from BOOM! Studios, our charity art book 'Monsters & Dames,' plus much more! You can see the whole list on our Exclusives page on the ECCC's website."
Beyond the collectables mentioned by Demonakos, a unique prize is being offered at the con - an original, one-of-a-kind Stan "The Man" Lee HeroClix figure. This will serve as the "trophy" for the HeroClix Monsters & Dames Tournament Benefit. There is a five dollar entrance fee to participate (which goes to the Seattle Children's Hospital), but that's a small price for a good cause and the coolest HeroClix of all time! In addition, Stan Lee will be there himself to sign the figure and have his picture taken with the victor. If you have any experience with HeroClix, there will never be a better time to play than this.
And speaking of Stan Lee, Demonakos indicated that he was thrilled to have "The Man" come to Seattle for his first ECCC. He added that getting Stan off of his soapbox and into the Emerald City was surprisingly simpler than he expected. "I was introduced to his agent by Mike Scigliano over at Long Beach Comic Con (which is another really fun show) and we managed to work ECCC into his schedule, simple as that."
Not only did ECCC's organizer manage to get Marvel's former EIC to attend this year's event - he got the current head of Marvel to attend as well! Joe Quesada will be present in a big way at the convention, and will be holding a "Cup O' Joe" Panel (which has been a hit at many cons) over the weekend. And for those who are only familiar with Quesada as the head of Marvel or as an artist, they'll get to see a new side of him this weekend too - Joe Quesada: Rock Star!
On Sunday of the ECCC, Joe Quesada will be going onstage with his guitar to join Demonakos' "nerd rock" band, Kirby Krackle. If you're curious about this intriguing genre of music, just imagine taking the best bits of comics, video games, girls, and geek culture, mixing it together, and then singing about it melodiously from the top of your lungs while wearing a Venom t-shirt. It's that fun (and that good)!
"We have songs about Wolverine, Green Lantern, the Thing and much more," Demonakos said. And with regards to making music with Marvel's EIC, he elaborated, "Joe has been a supporter of Kirby Krackle from the get-go. He gave us a very nice shout-out when we began and has been a fan of our songs. So as we got to talking about things, and with me wearing two hats, I asked if maybe he'd be up for attending ECCC. His schedule allowed for it, and then we floated the idea of him playing with the band as well - he's a musician, after all - and it all just came together!"
As if it wasn't enough to have two of Marvel's most influential folks, the guest list is a veritable who's who of the comic biz. To run down the entire guest list would be an exhausting affair. With names like Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Rick Remender, John Layman, Kurt Busiek, Matt Fraction, Joe Kelly, Mark Waid, Tim Sale and Geoff Johns (in his first NW appearance), it's clear that fans will have to schedule their time wisely.
Those who are looking for media guests won't be disappointed either. They'll have the opportunity to get photos with Leonard Nimoy ("Star Trek"), Thomas Jane ("Punisher"), Lou Ferrigno ("The Incredible Hulk") and Aaron Douglas ("Battlestar Galactica"), just to name a few of the celebrities in attendance. And if you feel the need to combine your passions for music, video games and all things geek in one fell swoop, then ECCC has the event for you - playing Rock Band with Wil Wheaton!
For two hours, the actor of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" will join fans onstage to play the popular video game with them. When asked about where the idea for this entertaining venture came from, Demonakos responded, "This was Wil's idea. He'd done it at one or two other conventions and it went over like gangbusters, so we're gonna give it a go at ECCC!"
The convention lasts two full days, and attendees should expect to stay busy and entertained all weekend long. Since the event is in Seattle, rain may be a possibility; however, fun is nearly guaranteed. To aid those who are attending ECCC for the first time, Demonakos offered the following words of advice: "Wear comfy shoes, don't be a jerk, bring some water and have a good time!"