I went to every day of ECCC this year, and I want to recommend it to everyone.
Emerald City Comic Con ran from March 1st-3rd in my beloved and caffeinated stomping grounds, Seattle, Washington. Held in the Washington State Convention Center, it’s got easy access to Belltown, the waterfront, and food options that run from Subway to sushi. If you’re willing to take a jaunt a few blocks down, you can hit the transportation center underneath Westlake, and hop on bus or light rail to other parts of the city.
In terms of where the convention is located, it’s my favorite. Most conventions I go to are impossible to get away from without a cab or a car, effectively shackling you to the location for days. There’s a number of hotels nearby, so staying within walking distance (depending on your budget) isn’t an insurmountable goal. My one grievance, which is really one that goes for all of Seattle: parking is expensive and con traffic is a Limbo-esque area adjacent to Hell itself.
Now for the inside of the convention. PAX had previously made me think I hated the convention center with a burning passion, but I discovered it’s actually a layout/humans/culture issues. PAX has too many humans for me. ECCC was still packed, and a little claustrophobic at times, but I could wade through the crowds of people without wanting to snap. The lines held together better than most PAX lines, and the convention staff were overall on top of reminding cosplayers to get out of the way of foot traffic when posing for photos.People were usually polite if they stepped on my toes, and I didn’t see a single misbehaving child. Parents seemed on the ball about escorting crying kids to less populated areas, and I didn’t see a single kid who looked unhappy outside that. I only saw a handful of costumes that would qualify as revealing or particularly sexy, and they were still more tasteful and family-friendly than most of the costumes I see at PAX. There was also goodie bags for kids and a NASA science area for children upstairs, which further cements recommendation that ECCC is good at being kid-friendly.
My one shining grievance inside the convention itself: ECCC does not mail badges. I got to the convention before noon, and my badge line was short, resulting in a less than 20 minute wait. Friends who came in later that day waited for hours in a line that curved around the building. This is the reason I have my GenCon badge mailed to me every year. The sole saving grace of that first day: I was able to go back to standing in line for someone while they went to put money on their meter, and grab their badge for them. It didn’t erase the incredible inconvenience of the line, but it was a small band-aid on the wound.
I only went to a few panels, and the quality was definitely mixed. ECCC’s interviewer for the Stargate Q&A was impeccable, and the actors in that Q&A were brilliant. I heard less than positive things from friends who attended the Sir Patrick Stewart session, in regard to the interviewer. Sir Patrick Stewart himself was, as always, described to me as witty and brilliant. Some of the panels I attended didn’t have a good sense of who was their moderator, and the panels suffered for it. I don’t go to a large number of panels at conventions, so I don’t know how the numbers shake out for this year’s panel quality.
ECCC’s centerpiece is comics, and they do that very, very well. The content pertaining to television, video and tabletop games didn’t feel tacked on or out of place, and the gaming area of the show floor had some of the best placement and sight lines I’ve seen. The area for playing across the street was on the bottom floor of that building, and wide open. Just a sea of tables and chairs. That made it a little noisy when well-populated, but I’d rather have a noisy but open space versus an incredibly loud and far too small space. I spent a lot of time seeing friends instead of fully exploring the gaming content, but as I said above: ECCC is a comics convention, but the other content meshes well.
All in all, I’m definetly willing to consider going again next year.
If you have a tip on things to do in or around ECCC, leave it in the comments! If I missed you at ECCC, you can catch up to me later this month at Norwescon in Seattle, Washington.