Con Report – Emerald City Comic Con ’08
May 16, 2008
While browsing around for conventions that I wanted to attend this year, I discovered Emerald City Comic Con about a month too late to book a table. I had heard that it was a great convention for webcomics, and so I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to go, but had resolved to make it next year.
Then Jennie Breeden invited me to share her table with her. I looked at the calendar. The con was just one week away. I looked at Google Earth. Seattle was 13 hours by car (and with no time to renew my passport, flying was out of the question). I talked to Layne, and we cooked up a crazy plan to get us there in time.
Friday, I got off work at noon. Layne had picked up the rental car (we decided not to put any more wear and tear on my car, and it’s actually cheaper than I thought to rent…) and we set off westward! We drove all day, winding our way through the mountains until we reached Chilliwack, B.C. There, we caught a few hours of sleep among the semi-trailers at a truck stop, and then woke early enough to get to the border crossing before it got too busy. As it was, we still had to wait nearly an hour before we were able to cross! Driving down to Seattle was a treat. The countryside is gorgeous, and as two huge Shadowrun geeks, we had a fantastic time spotting landmarks from the game. “Oooh, Mount Ranier! Isn’t that the one that erupted?” or “Hey, we’re crossing the Snohomish river!” and “That’s where the Aztechnology Pyramid should be!”
Unfortunately, thanks to the busy border crossing, we were running a little late. We managed to get to the con just as the doors were opening! Jennie met us at the door with our badges, and I set up my side of our table in record time. Bleary eyed, waiting for Layne to bring me some coffee, I grinned and greeted Jennie with a cheery, “I washed in a gas station bathroom this morning!!”
Before I go any further, let me say that Emerald City and the Demonakos brothers host a fantastic con!!! Bravo, you guys!! The floor was packed all through Saturday, and the crowds were enthusiastically geeky. It was wonderful!
What really impressed me was the number of people who had never heard of my comic before, but still picked up a copy of my book! By all accounts, Seattle is one of the most webcomic-friendly places in America, and now I believe it!!
After the Con was over for the day, Jennie’s friends took us to a conveyor belt sushi bar. If you haven’t been to one before, I highly recommend it. Where else can you watch the entire menu move past you in a dignified parade? Or pounce on that last maguro roll just before it slips out of reach? The only real downside of having food on a conveyor belt is that it’s rather hypnotizing, and Layne was through his first two plates before I’d even picked anything. Jennie’s friends were great fun to chat with, and we spent a lot of time discussing the mural on the wall that got stranger the more we looked at it until Jennie and I slipped into sushi bliss.
After sushi, we booked into our hostel for the night. “We have some bad news.” The manager said by way of greeting. I froze. At that point, I would have curled up on their floor if it meant I didn’t have to sleep in the car another night. “Our dorm rooms are overbooked, so we’re going to have to give you a private room instead.” I goggled at his apologetic grin, and just managed to restrain myself from hugging him.
* * *
Sunday morning, after a thoroughly refreshing sleep, Jennie and I managed to slip away from our tables for an hour to go watch the Halfpixel guys’ How to Make Webcomics panel. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I love listening to their Webcomic Weekly podcasts while I’m working, and it was a treat to actually see them bantering back and forth. Jennie took notes. (Go check out her new blog!!)
Layne is an excellent booth babe. When the two of us got back, there was a big crowd around our table, waiting for us to sign books/do sketches/just hang out and chat. Sunday was a little slower, crowd-wise, than Saturday, but it gave me the opportunity to have some nice long conversations with fans who dropped by to visit. Many many geeky conversations were had, and it was a pleasure meeting everyone!
When the con closed, I had the chance to wander around and talk to some of the other exhibitors before I had to pack up my stall. Dinner plans were made for later that evening, leaving Layne and I a little time to wander around in downtown Seattle. I was glad for the chance, since I’d seen little of the city except the skyline, and the Freemont Bridge Troll, which I’d dragged people to before sushi the previous night. (I have a weakness for trolls.)
That evening, we had dinner with a whole crowd of webcomic folks! Jennie was there, of course, and Kris Straub and his girlfriend Erica, Dave Malki and his wife , Sam Logan and his two friends, Jeph Jacques, Brad Guigar, and Aaron Diaz. The table was a bit too big for me to be able to speak with everyone, but I had a great chat with Sam about the advantages of being a Canadian webcomic artist (apparently, in the U.S., they have to pay for ISBN #’s!), a long chat about conventions with Brad, and marveled over the rarity of the name “Alina” with Aaron (who’s main character is also an Alina.). Much fun!!
Later, we said our goodbyes to Jennie, and then managed to get ourselves terribly lost on the way to meet some of the others from supper for karaoke. My thanks to Kris, Jeph, and Jeph’s iPhone for helping me find my way to the crazy hole-in-the-wall karaoke joint. We sang (if that’s the correct word for what we did) in a dingy back room scattered with futon couches. Kris and Malki’s duet still brings a tear to my eye every time I think about it. Thanks guys, for the fantastic time!
Then, after karaoke, it was time for the great journey back home. We headed out of Seattle just shortly past way-freaking-too-late… I mean, 2 am.
Now, you have to understand something. The night before we left for the con, during our weekly Shadowrun game, I had cracked open the fortune cookie that had come with my supper and read off an ominous fortune. “You shall soon have a dashing and exciting adventure.”
So,I was miffed but not surprised by the adventure that awaited us on our journey home. After getting lost in the maze of highway around Vancouver, grabbing a few hours sleep in an R.V. park, and taking the ‘scenic’ route back through the mountains, we arrived wearily back at our own home in Edmonton in time for me to grab a few hours sleep before work the next morning.
But, despite that all of the “dashing adventures”, I still had a big ol’ grin on my face Tuesday morning. Emerald City Comic Con was just that awesome.
I’ve already booked my table for next year.
Check out more pictures from the convention here!