When I decided to go to Emerald City Comicon for the first time this year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I don’t read many comics or follow the industry at all, and the only other conventions I’d been to are PAX and a small con in Michigan. I spent some time looking at the ECCC website and decided that there would definitely be enough to make a day trip worthwhile, so I bought a pair of Sunday passes for my wife and myself.
Our first impression when we arrived Sunday morning was that ECCC was smaller, brighter, quieter, and more kid-friendly than PAX. While they are much different cons, they are both held at the Washington State Convention Center and PAX is the most recent con either of us has attended, so it was our basis for comparison. Where PAX features prop-heavy booths showing off the latest video games, ECCC’s expo hall was almost entirely vendor space with booths selling shirts, comics, and costumes. A lot of booths were selling single issues of comics (something we weren’t really interested in since we don’t read many comics and generally only buy trade paperbacks), but there was also a good number of booths selling artwork, posters, and clothes.
My favorite part of the expo hall was the Artist Alley where artists had small booths selling their work. We spent a lot of our time browsing the area, and I ended up buying two new prints to hang on my home office’s walls: a print of Athena by Sara Richard and a print of Chewbacca by Drew Pocza. In addition to those two there were a ton of other great artists, and for me just browsing the artwork was enough to make the con’s admission price well spent.
In addition to the expo hall, we also spent a couple of hours in the big theatre listening to a few celebrity guest interviews. We caught the last part of Summer Glau as she was answering questions from the audience, all of Adam Baldwin’s session, and then the first half of the Phelps twins before our stomachs won out and we needed to find lunch. The interviews were well done, and it was a great experience being able to just wander into the room and get a seat rather than dealing with the lines I’ve gotten used to at PAX the past couple years.
In addition to the main exhibition hall, there was another small section set up for gaming. The area had a few booths, but it seemed cramped and crowded compated to the main hall. Part of the problem seemed to be the layout of the area with arcade and pinball machines, which had attracted a bit of a line of people waiting to play as well as some spectators, in the same area as the rest of the booths. There were also a good number of tabletop tournaments running through the weekend, but neither of us participated in those.
Overall, we both enjoyed our first visit to ECCC, and we’re planning to attend again next year.