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February 27, 2013

A Few, Random Tips For Attending Emerald City Comicon


1. Work The Entire Room
I don't know that Emerald City has worked out a firm identity for itself the way that HeroesCon has forged a relationship with a drawing culture that favors sketches and more sketches and then some more sketches followed by an art auction. Its reputation in comics seems to be that of a super-solid show, one that treats its professionals well, so let's start there. With so many talented creators on hand perhaps the greatest joy I've had at this show is simply walking around the room and interacting with all of the talent on-hand. I might suggest even making a full circuit before you buy anything -- the exception being someone you simply have to have sign something, which might be worth sacrificing any other sort of strategy, particularly if their line is short. Any show that has cartoonists like Moritat, Steve Lieber and Brandon Graham just sitting at various locations around the room waiting to talk to you -- not to mention hidden gems like last year stumbling across Kevin Nowlan -- is a pretty darn good show. Walk and talk.

image2. Seek Out The Guy That Sells Old Silver Age Material Super-Ass Cheap
I don't remember this guy's name, but there's a dealer there that sells a metric ton of lower grade Silver Age comics for less than five dollars a pop. He's my favorite con-dealer ever. You may notice his presence because there will be a bald guy with a beard snapping up late-period Jack Kirby Fantastic Fours and cackling. I actually think it's a good show for dealers overall, with a graspable selection of guys on-hand, mostly featuring different things. You could probably do the whole crew in less than half a day. Dealers are comics conventions for those of us that remember a time when you went to comic book shows because otherwise you couldn't find the comics you wanted. It's always nice to remember that. It's also nice to leave a show with a little stack of comic books.

3. Drink Local Coffee
Starbucks is a local coffee joint, really, but that's not what I mean. Seattle loves its coffee enough that it has a number of really solid, full-service coffee places that don't have a franchise option. You might try this one, right up Pike from the convention center. I used to haunt the top-of-Capitol Hill location back when I lived in the city. Search near wherever you're staying or ask a local, though. It's not like these are going to be uncomfortable, weird, tiny places.

4. Steal Away To A Restaurant
Seattle is a pretty good food city. Downtown is probably the trickiest neighborhood in which to find a place to eat because there are a lot of places that serve people a) with a lot of money and/or b) that don't really give a shit about maximizing their food experiences and/or c) that are tourists and enjoy chain-restaurant eating. You might have to dig a bit, in other words, but it pays off. Here's a list of places Anthony Bourdain visited on a recent show; here's a list of places from Seattle folks pushing back against that list. I'm not sure that I have a specific recommendation down there, although restaurants that have been around a million years are usually pretty good and I always thought Seattle did underrated storefront Italian. You'll find a lot of stuff in that $15-$30 entree range. Also remember that the big dinner-out days are big dinner-out days generally: Friday and Saturday. You might have to wait, and having a smaller party rather than a big one could be key. Also, maybe don't let the guy who made $1500 selling art pick the place.

5. Seek Out Programming
I only went to a few pieces of programming last year: a Robin McConnell panel with Bill Sienkiewicz and a Seattle comics culture panel hosted by Larry Reid. Both were solid and fun, although admittedly I was in a honeymoon phase with conventions in general at that point. The bigger-name mainstream panels tend to fill up, so you might have to wait in line. I think I heard of a Jeff Parker spotlight conducted by David Brothers that sounds worth attending.

6. Use Public Transit
The professionals late-night culture at this show is I believe pretty hotel bar focused, with an undercurrent of people bailing out on the comics convention altogether and spending time with their local friends in some neighborhood or another. I think it's a fine city in which to get around, and I like the public transit options. I might not like them as much if they were my only option day after day after day, but they're fine for a visit. It's also a fun city in which to walk, and the downtown is small enough that a short jump in a cab solves a lot of problems.

7. Register Early
I happened to be walking around downtown well before the show last year just to check things out and found a registration line for press, got that settled in about ten minutes, and spent an hour or so checking out the set-up of the place and chatting with people. It was really, really fun, and press doesn't get to do that at a lot of shows. At any rate, I'm told that registration in general is pretty easy across the board. It's certainly casual, but so is Seattle.

8. If You Can, Seek Out The Fantagraphics Store
I'm not sure that I can recommend a specific comics-related stop to make there in the city. Perry Plush's fine Zanadu Downtown store is the one I used when I was roaming around in that part of town. It's a solid shop, or at least it was a decade ago and I have no reason to think otherwise. I have yet to to to the Fantagraphics store, and would like to make that trip during this year's event. That's become more of an events space in terms of what we hear about it, and I'm not sure Fantagraphics does events down there that weekend, but I'd still like to see it.

9. Remember To Have A Good Time
This may be a function of my getting older, or the fact that this show is first up in the calendar year for a lot of those attending, but one thing that struck me about the ECCC that I attended is that people seemed to be having a pleasant time at the show itself, as opposed to enduring a madhouse in order to get to the good times on either side of show hours. So have fun on the floor. Meet somebody new. Say thanks to somebody that's provided you with a fun moment or two. Smile.

posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

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