As always, this year Seattle’s incredible Emerald City Comic Con presented an amazing line up of comic book creators and associated ephemera. The staff, guests, and attendees were consistently friendly, helpful, and entertaining. There was so much to see and enjoy that I only managed to fit a tenth of what I wanted into the three days I had there and by extension, I only managed to fit a tenth of that into this column, but I hope this rough countdown of incredible things gives you a taste of the best titbits of one of the best comic book conventions I’ve ever been to.
1. Best Commission Art – Kevin Maguire’s Max Lord pinup
Jordyn Nolz was the happy recipient of this amazing commission of this Max Lord drawing and she proudly showed it off all over Emerald City. Later, I asked Kevin Maguire about the marvelously cheezy 1970’s feel of it and he said that he was trying to channel the feel of that infamous Burt Reynolds centerfold 40 years ago. I asked if he had used any photo reference since the posture and body hair are so detailed and lifelike, but he said that he hadn’t and joked that it had sprung from his head pretty much perfectly formed. Another great convention sketch was Andy Suriano’s fantastically energetic Big Barda. Such a different take on the character, so quintessentially his, that it made me want to see more artist’s take on the classic character in future.
2. Best Special Edition Comic Book – Wuvvable Oaf #4 Super Fan Edition
The full ride from Wuvable Oaf, including a poster/removable slip cover, a unique random sketch, a backstage “ass” pass with an LED light-up logo, a playable flexi-record, a ticket stub with an mp3 download link, and of course, issue #4 of the comic book. This impressive and funny package was being snapped up left and right, so I was lucky to get a look at it. Other companies offered interesting special editions too, most of which were green (for Emerald City I suppose), like Espionage cosmetics who offered a set of green sparkly eye shadow pigment pots. This, apparently, had the honor of being the first ECCC special aimed specifically at women.
3. Best Fashion – Space Shuttle Skirt
Sadly, this wasn’t for sale at the convention, it was simply being worn by a stylish attendee. I caught this in passing, as a literally ran from one room to the next, (trying to catch up with all my friends in the last hour of the convention, as you do). The woman wearing it told me that a friend who’d actually watched the take off had made the print for the skirt. I was in awe of it, even as I ran off and resolved to look more actively into custom-printing on fabric in future. The runner up to this would have to be the woman with the hand-painted Batman logos on her nails. Tiny as can be, I can’t imagine how hard these were to paint.
4. Best Toy – Scoliosis Superman
Poor Superman clearly has a very dangerously curved spine, at least according to this toy he does. I see this extreme arch of his back and all I can think is “that man is going to slip a disc next time he lifts something heavy.” Personally, I always assumed that Superman’s superior musculature would give him near-perfect posture, but according to this figure he arches his back quite aggressively. He contrasted nicely with the stylized, super-blocky little Justice League nearby, all straight lines and sharp corners.
5. Biggest Faux Pas – Bitching about Panelist in Their Panels
Insulting the guests who’re speaking while you’re sitting in their panel is just silly. It might not seem obvious to everyone, but if you choose to attend a panel featuring a guest you don’t like, you might want to keep it to yourself. Sitting in panels I’ve often overheard people making disparaging remarks about the people on stage, (often people who I have made a special effort to hear talk). Sitting in close-quarters with a lot of people who have made a special effort to go see those specific creators talk, you’re definitely going to offend someone, a bit like being a fan of the away team at a home team game.
6. Best Wearable Art / Cosplay – Phoenix’s Satyr
It was an unexpected surprise to see Phoenix wearing her incredible art project at Emerald City. I’v been charting the progress as she makes this, step-be-step on her website (here) and so I was excited to get a chance to see it in real life. When she popped out of the crowd, I didn’t recognize her at all, the difference in the costume was that dramatic. The legs were so much more substantial than I’d imagined and she must have been boiling, but she hopped around like a pro and her satyr make-up was flawless too.
7. Best Animation Announcement – Squee Cartoon in the Works
There’s going to be an animated Squee cartoon from Jhonen Vasquez working with Titmouse (as a precursor to a Johnny the Homicidal Maniac animation). The embattled little character Squee was originally created by Jhonen Vasquez as simply another peripheral character to be terrorized by Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, but he grew to inhabit his own tortured comic books. Now he’s providing a healthy testing ground for Vasquez and Titmouse before they dive into the morass that is the world of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
8. Best Booth Posters – Coop
Nowadays most of the artists appearing at comic book conventions seem to bring their own posters or signage, which makes them much easier to identity and find from across a room of crowded tables. Coop took this a step further, creating these marvelously statuesque women to flank him at his booth, reminiscent of his infamous Devil Girl paintings. Special mentions have to go up for Chuck BB, who managed to accidentally create a booth poster which gave him some epic horns, and led to some very silly photos of him, and Ben Templesmith, who’s radically simple black “T” logo on a sea of red makes him identifiable from miles away.
9. Best Comic Book Job Offer – Roberta Gregory Call for Online Assistance
This year I was lucky enough to meet Roberta Gregory, the creator of hysterical, seminal books like Naughty Bits. She told me that she is looking to hire someone local to Seattle who can work closely with her to help her get her post some excerpts of her work online as a long terms project (e.g. around 3-4 hours every week or two). I wish I were local because I’d jump at the chance to help this ground-breaking cartoonist disseminate her work to a wider audience. If you’re in Seattle please consider offering your services, contact details are here.
10. Biggest Change to Emerald City in 2013 – Doubled in size
While a lot of conventions have been steadily growing, Emerald City took a tremendous leap this year and doubled in size, both in realty and attendees. This impressive growth was adroitly handled by the always affable team, I really cannot say enough good things about the very friendly and helpful people who run Emerald City Comic Con every year. As always the crowd was friendly and generally pretty relaxed, it was still a great atmosphere, just a little more crowded. The sudden change did affect the environment, and this year was the first year that the convention felt just a tiny bit overwhelming, even if it was only in the sense that I couldn’t see all of the people I wanted to and somehow missing socializing with some very good friends. All this means is that I’ll have to try to come back again next year!