The Pacific Northwest has one “major” comic convention each year and that’s the Emerald City Comicon held annually every March in downtown Seattle. Cons seem to be growing in terms of scope and audience size, and ECCC is no different, expanding to three days (March 4-6) as opposed to the traditional two and bringing in notable comic talent like Frank Quitely and Frank Cho, as well as major media celebrities like William Shatner, whose work has transcended the traditional scope of the sci-fi or comic convention. This has been the only of the big cons we’ve been able to attend in recent years, so it’s a special weekend that we look forward to and it’s generally a lot of fun.
We rolled into Seattle late Friday afternoon, checked in at our hotel, and headed over to the convention center with the quickness so as not to miss Frank Quitely’s panel, which began at 5:00 pm. Unfortunately, we did end up being a little late, but we did get to listen to him answer some questions about his work, how he works, the origin of his name, and the fact that no one(!) in his family has ever read any of his work.
Quitely speaks with a thick Scottish accent and sports a shaggy mane of hair that curtains his face. He took the name “Frank Quitely” so as to “hide” his early, more out-there, work from his parents when he was first starting out. The name stuck and he continues to produce some of the most distinctive work around using that alias. He comes across as a very cool and humble guy who fans are not afraid to approach, as evidenced by the line at his table on Saturday. I think only Mignola and Bendis had longer lines. Wow.
Following the panel, we made our way to the dealer room. The crowd on Friday night was smaller than I expected it to be, but being as this was the first year there even was a Friday night, I suppose the turnout was appropriate. Lots of faces familiar to the NW had their tables set up selling all manner of fanboy loot – Things From Another World, Cosmic Monkey, Top Shelf, etc. and while there was nothing we were specifically shopping for, tearing through the booths to see what we can find is always our favorite part of any con.
On Saturday we arrived a little early and were able to have a look around the main floor before the doors officially opened. Saturday is always the big day and the crowds could be seen forming even on the street outside the convention center. On Saturday I had one key mission in mind, which was to get an original sketch from David Willis, the creator of “Shortpacked,” “Roomies,” “Joyce and Walky,” etc. I’m a big Transformers fan, as is Willis, and I largely owe it to him that I’m now a fan of Beast Wars, so I wanted a sketch commemorating that very thing. We chatted for a few minutes, and then he produced an absolutely awesome sketch of Beast Wars’ Dinobot and Ethan, from his own “Shortpacked.” In all the years I’ve been going to cons, this was the first time I’ve ever had a custom sketch done by an artist I admire, and this was
a slam dunk. This sucker is getting framed ASAP!
Following our meeting with Willis, we meandered around the main dealer room some more where we chatted with another personal favorite artist, Brandon Bird, who produces paintings with a very unique and skewed take on pop culture. I purchased a print of his “Lazy Sunday Afternoon,” which I’ve wanted forever but never had the opportunity to. Very stoked to finally hang this on our walls.
Then came time for the panels. Because the crowd seemed to have swelled this year, getting into the panels was no easy task and long lines formed early. We made our way to the Jonathan Frakes/Brent Spiner panel, which was held in a very large auditorium, but we couldn’t find anywhere to sit, not two seats together anyway. We snuck around
to the side walls with a few others, but were shooed away by security and really had no other choice but to leave. Security had already cut off the influx of fans because of a lack of available seating, so we made our way back out to the main convention floor. Seeing the lines and how full all the rooms were made it very clear that the panels were not in the cards for us this year, so we decided to walk around and take in some cosplay entertainment instead. Like most cons, there were some awesome costumes, and some absolute trainwrecks. I’m not sure which I prefer, to be honest!
We weren’t able to stay for Sunday, unfortunately, so we made the drive back to Portland Saturday evening all conned-out and looking forward to next year!