Going to the Emerald City Comic Con

I read comics as a kid, mostly war. As an adult I read graphic novels from authors like Joe Sacco. Sure, I know who most of the big name super heroes are and I’ve seen more than my share of Star Trek, but superheros, sci-fi, fantasy, and gaming are not really my thing. Superheroes have always bored me: they always seem to be defeating an arch villain while spouting angst ridden thought bubbles wondering if they are strong enough, good enough, and not too much of a freak. I don’t mind a few who do this, Spider Man I’m looking at you, but every time I turn the page of a super hero comic I’m bored. So that I would go to the Emerald City Comic Con might seem a bit of a stretch, but I’ve always been curious and supposedly as someone who makes a living from programming I’m bombarded by my supposed interest in all things geek.

The first thing that struck me was at 10 AM the crowd of people to get in was enormous. I’ve been to big events before but I’d never seen that many people stuffed into a convention center. I was always bumping against people or close to, especially in the exhibition hall. The hall, as in most conferences, was the hub of everything and for someone who doesn’t buy much of what is on display at a comic con it was like going to a mall and not wanting to buy anything. The reality is I spent half of my time window shopping. Fortunately comics are books and I do like to flip through them, especially the different graphic novels, many of which were more geared towards fantasy and heroic, but interesting nonetheless. Of course, I paid a visit to Fantagraphic Books the local Seattle publisher of graphic novels and whose editions I own, and added to there. Perhaps the most interesting of it all were all the comic shop stores with their wares. Yet as much as I leafed through the books looking at issues of Sgt. Rock or GI Combat I’d read (yes, I still could recognize some) and those I had not, I didn’t know what I’d do with any of them if I were to buy them. It was a pleasant entertainment to  browse through them, nostalgic, almost.

What fascinated me the most, though, and what makes the fandom that goes to a comic con so interesting is the loyalty mixed with commerce. For $40 dollars average you could get an autograph of a star, the same for a photo with said star, and for around $20 a sketch or a drawing from one of your favorite artists. That same loyalty is found in the celebrity panels when the audience would come up and ask questions. You could see that many of them didn’t want just an inside story from behind the scenes they wanted to continue their immersive experience where what they love can expand the limits of its genre, whether it be the page or a 45 minute episode, and become larger than just a product, but a living thing that they too have interacted with physically. If you can buy that drawing, which to my mind was the best of the celebrity deals, you, the artist, the work, and you are just that much closer. As a prose writer I’m actually a little envious this. Sure I have signed books but there seems to be a more intense devotion here, or better said, a more wide spread devotion.

They did have enough panels I went to fit my. One on publishing contracts, on on Fantagraphic Books, and the requisite Star Trek actor appearance from John de Lance, Q. His was funny and had the perfect mix of insider information for the fan and enough distance to make fun of the fandom in a way that the fans enjoyed.

In all I found the experience fun and surprisingly entertaining enough to keep me going for the day. Three days? Perhaps not, but it was definitely worth the experience.

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