By Victor Van Scoit

What sets Emerald City Comic Con apart from all the rest? Emerald City Comic Con seemed to grow so quickly, both in popularity and growth. That’s what I was curious about as a first time attendee. As I walked the floor it was great to see it filled with creators and vendors actively engaging with attendees. Comics was definitely at the forefront of the show and it was a welcome change of pace compared to the beast that is San Diego Comic-Con. Having recently been purchased by ReedPOP there was some curiosity by attendees as to how that would manifest. Some of that could be seen in the list of celebrity guests available for fans. I managed to attend the Jon Bernthal session (Punisher in Daredevil) and it was refreshing to see how deep of an interview they were able to get—again when compared to the abrupt interviews at San Diego Comic-Con.

Both Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics partnered with ReedPOP this year. Image Comics brought their Image Expo to kick off Emerald City Comic Con, while Dark Horse Comics and their series were prominently displayed around the convention.Creators were all around me. The setup of the convention floor was such that it was surrounded by Artist’s Alley. This allowed for a lot of great traffic, exposure, and interaction between the attendees and creators. Because of that the creators definitely shared the same vibe when it came to the what set Emerald City Comic Con apart for them. Since it was only my first time at Emerald City I took to asking the people who might know best on what sets an Emerald City Comic Con experience apart for them.

Aub Driver | Dark Horse Comics
It’s a more intimate show. The ReedPop guys don’t like me saying this, but Emerald City [Comic Con] is kind of like the Bernie Sanders of conventions—where everybody is there and talking about it, but the media is not covering it. 85,000 people is what they’re reporting to this show right now with it being completely sold out. Major corporate media is always great to have the film and television component, to a certain extent the gaming component. Not having that overpowering media swarm detracting from the actual message that is in the title of the show you’re at—your at Comic Con. You’re there for comics. That’s why we are here and have been for so long.


Nathan Wilson | Dark Horse Comics
It’s one of our favorite shows to do because we’re based in the Pacific Northwest ourselves. This year we’re cosponsoring the event so we’ve had a real big hand in the design and layouts. We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary this year so we’ve got all of our series banners all throughout the [convention aisles above]. It’s really important to us.


Corey Murphy | Image Comics
I think for Image, Emerald City Comic Con occupies a space that is still very comics centric where a lot of conventions have become more entertainment based and collectibles. Whereas you still have a lot of people coming [to Emerald City Comic Con] for comics—for singles, for trades, for hardcovers. They’re really here to see the creators and not just the entertainment side. Which is good because that does grow the industry, but bringing back to where it all starts, where these ideas come from, and how they get on the screen I think is really what it’s all about. That’s why ECCC continues to be one of Image Comics’ favorite shows.
I always think we’re going to have a point where we have a saturation level. Everyone will have read Saga. Everyone will have read East of West. Time and time again, day after day at the show I’ve had people coming to me and saying, ‘I heard about Saga and ‘I heard about Fiona Staples’ and ‘I want to find out about these creators’. That’s something that’s so rewarding that I don’t feel you necessarily have at every single show. To have people rushing from a panel to talk about creators and comics it’s just such a good feeling. You really don’t get that at every show


Jerome Opeña | Seven To Eternity
To be honest it feels more creator friendly than most other conventions especially if you’re comparing it to San Diego. That thing is huge. It’s smaller so it’s a little easier to connect with other creators as well.


Jody Houser | Faith
I think it’s a very inclusive environment. They want to make sure everyone feels very welcome. That no one feels like if something happens they don’t have someone they can reach out to. I think they coined ‘Cosplay is not consent’ that now a lot of conventions are using. It’s just a very welcoming positive atmosphere and also the fact it’s focused on the comic creators. It really is about comics, and there’s a lot of people here happy to see their favorite creators. Every year I’ve come I’ve had a really good experience here.


Frank Beddor | Hatter MadiganCrossfire
It’s really easy because I’ve been coming here for ten years. I don’t know if it’s because the rain or the people are more intuitive, but it’s the quality of the reader. There is something very intellectual and intuitive about how they view their pop culture, how they consume it, how they read their books, and then how they talk to you about their books. For me it’s always been about the quality of the reader, and the early adopters, and how many people here want to be the first to read something and then share it with their friends. A girl came by not that long ago, and the way she articulated my book back to me was the reason I come to Seattle first and start my book tour. In Seattle it trickles down to the rest of the country I think. They’re respectful of the work and the effort. The way this con is laid out people are stopping by whether they buy it or not, or whether they read the free handouts, or look at it or not, they will stop and say thank you. They’re gracious.


Matthew Inman | The Oatmeal
I live here. I get to go home to my own bed, pet my own dog, and sleep—peacefully. That’s why I come here so I recommend coming here if you live here. It’s great!


Abby Howard | Junior Scientist Power Hour
It’s a very large convention, but it’s still sort of small press focused. Someone like me can still sell a bunch of books because people expect to buy books here, so that’s very nice. You still get to see all the ridiculous cosplay and have this gigantic venue where you get to see a bunch of your friends. I have a lot of other web comic friends who come to [ECCC] so that’s always pleasant. Mostly I’m just delighted that people come up to me and tell me they like my comics.


Ed Brubaker | CriminalThe Fade OutVelvet, Kill or be Killed
This is my first time coming in a few years. But this was my local convention for several years. I think this con and Heroes Con are the best conventions in America because they’re still really about comics. There’s celebrity guests and everything here, but it’s still really about comics. It’s filled with a room full of people who are very passionate about an art form, and not about the TV spinoffs and movies.


Kat Leyh | Lumberjanes
This is the first time I’ve been to Emerald City. The first time I’ve been to Seattle, and it’s the first time I’m tabling so it’s a really unique experience. But it’s actually just beautiful and friendly. I’ve had a really good time here—in the city and also in the con.
I’ve had a bunch of people come by who are familiar with Lumberjanes and they see my other work or vice versa. They know my stuff from Tumblr and they find out I’m on Lumberjanes. I feel like I’ve had a lot of new people come by and get interested in my books which is really exciting.


Noelle Stevenson | Lumberjanes
Uhm… There are more oysters? There are real good oysters here.


Scott Kurtz | PvPTable Titans
It’s one of three shows left that I feel 100% still embrace comics. I know ReedPOP just bought Emerald City [Comic Con] and everyone’s really afraid it’s going to start going to media, but I’m not seeing it. The three shows are the Baltimore Comic Con, Heroes[Con], and Emerald City are still the comic shows to me. I moved here because Jim Damniakas flew me out to the second Emerald City and that introduced me to Seattle for the first time. There’s three reasons Emerald City has been great—Jim Demonakos, George Demonakos, and the entire ECCC staff. They run a great show.
There is discovery here, which is rare at shows these days. It’s not bad, but geek culture has become pop culture and so a lot of people come for the spectacle. You have a lot of families coming because there’s costumes, and cosplayers. The brands that the kids know—Marvel, Star Wars, and LEGO. But they’re not necessarily looking for new comics.
We had a mom and her daughter, the daughter really wanted the [Table Titans] book, but she didn’t have the twenty bucks to spend. Here’s a young girl that wants to read a comic? I’m like, take it and read it. Let me know what you think. I’m not going to not give her a book. When a kid wants to read your comic? She was excited to read it. It’s still about discovery here.


Fiona Staples | Saga
I love how it’s so creator focused. The con is definitely centered around comics themselves. There’s other media here, but it’s not dominated by videos games or movies. As far as I can tell most of the crowd here are here to meet their favorite creators. The layout is really good. You have to walk through Artist’s Alley and it’s easy to navigate.


Terry Dodson | Red One
Two great things about Emerald City for me—one I can drive to it. It’s the only show that I can drive to which is a huge deal. Two is the location right in the middle of the city, and be able to walk right out the doors of the convention center. Walk out the door, go down to the harbor, go get some great food. To have that crazy of a show and then to be out the door and enjoy the city at the same time is awesome.


Camilla d’Errico | Tanpopo, Rainbow Children, Pop Painting: Inspiration and Techniques from the Pop Surrealism Art Phenomenon
This is actually my 14th year here. I was at the very first Emerald City Comic Con and I’ve watched this grow from just a tiny little hole in the wall con, basically, to this massive beast. I’ve been doing San Diego [Comic-Con] since 1998 and I’ve seen that con grow. It’s like the Cirque Du Soleil of cons now.
Definitely the people [set it apart] because I’ve been doing this for so long that I’ve gotten to really bond with my fans. I’ve watched them grow. I actually met one fan and he’s now a friend of mine. I’ve seen his little girl grow from 2 and now she’s 16. I’m like ‘Holy cow!’ I just feel so connected to this city. I’m from Vancouver and I come to Seattle constantly. I just feel that this convention in particular is so friendly and everyone here is really into art. A lot of conventions people go for the actors and the spectacle, but here the support for the artists is different than many of the other cons I do. This is the one con where nobody asks me ‘What’s free?’, which is amazing.


Kevin Wada | Cover Artist | Marvel & DC
I’m not sure. This is one of the first conventions that I’ve attended. It’s kind of set the standard. It’s set the bar. I just appreciate, and am appreciated by this community. There’s a lot of them here and they like things that are kinda maybe a little more indie, or something off the beaten path. I like that.


Annie Bulloch | Valkyrie member | 8th Dimension Comics and Games, Houston, TX
It’s just very well organized. I’ve had a really good experience in lines that I’ve been in. It’s friendly for everyone. It’s the focus on creators, the focus on the comics, but with the feeling of a big con. That’s a hard thing to achieve and Emerald City has been doing it for years.


Jason Shawn Alexander | Empty Zone
This is my first year. It’s this perfect blend between Long Beach [Comic Con] and San Diego [Comic-Con]. It’s got this small comics focused vibe and it’s still big and draws a big crowd. Really big names and artists and creators are here. It’s just enough media. It’s a beautiful blend! Artist’s Alley doesn’t feel like a swap meet and you’re not scared to go down there. There’s room to move around. The crowd itself, they understand the show, they’re more respectful. They’re not insane like somehow San Diego [Comic-Con] can get. This is my first time, but I’ll come back as much as they let me.


Christina “Steenz” Steward | Valhalla member | St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, MO
It’s really nice to be at a convention that focuses on so much on comics. I understand that New York and San Diego Comic-Con started with comics and have expanded into pop culture. But to have this be so pure, 100% comics—it feels so good. A lot of people have come to the table and asked “What are you about?” We’re not even selling a book.


Brandon Thomas | Horizon
I love that it’s actually about comics. I love that it’s not a Hollywood show, it’s not a movie show, it’s not a TV show. It’s an actual comics show. I love the—I guess it’s a weird word—the intimacy. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to so many other writers and artists. It facilitates that, and you can really tell it’s really focused on the comics.


Babs Tarr | Motor Crush
I also call [Emerald City Comic Con] “Commission Con” because everyone wants a commission here. I make sure to try and do more commissions because I know it’s expected. It feels like a family event.


Ben Templesmith | BLACKHOLERS
It is a comic convention. It earned the right to have ‘Comic Con’ in the title—literally. Have you seen how big Artist’s Alley is here? We get a whole table to ourselves, and two chairs, and we’re allowed to bring other chairs if we want—unlike San Diego [Comic-Con] which is non-profit, allegedly, organization. It’s meant to support the arts. But by the arts they mean Hollywood and TV, and not comic books which was grassroots that started it. So we can’t setup and be us at that show. [At Emerald City Comic Con] we meet new fans, we make connections. Younger guys and girls coming up [in the industry] can interact and meet people. That’s what you want otherwise you won’t get good new independent comics or any new properties. San Diego [Comic-Con] is not about that anymore. They lost the pot sadly a while ago. I’d love them to back to being honestly about comics. I’d love to support them in that.


Jamie McKelvie | PhonogramThe Wicked + The Divine
Honestly one of the biggest points is the way they organize the lines. (laughs). It’s an example of how well organized the whole thing is and how focused it is on making sure everyone has a good time. Yeah, everyone just seems really happy basically.


Kieron Gillen | PhonogramThe Wicked + The Divine
We’re often very confused, and we’re easily talked into things. Honestly for my money Emerald City, of the cons I’ve experienced, is the best quite big con that exists. It’s very creator focused. It’s also very comic focused and that’s exactly what we like. It feels like home turf. We just did a panel in the big room and we filled it. We—you know—us. That as comics as it gets. So, hell of a time.


  1. Excellent reporting Victor, as someone who has never been to the show it’s great to hear some behind-the-scenes insight!

  2. We still had a good time this year but compared to previous years it was a huge disappointment.

    This was the first year that it was fully produced under ReedPop. I had actually been looking forward to an enhanced studio/celebrity presence that RP might bring but what we got was the complete opposite. What we got were the drawbacks of corporate America with none of the advantages. There were fewer media guests than the last couple of years and zero full media panels. The media guests that were there were fewer in number and less established than previous years. And yet, somehow it still managed to feel more produced and corporate, and lose some of the independent spirit.

    Yes, there was a large presence of comics and creators but just like the media guests on average they were not as prolific as previous years. And what was really baffling was the last minute addition of players from the Seahawks as celebrity guests. In itself, I see nothing wrong with the addition of limited sports celebrities IN ADDITION to an already great, full lineup. But their lineup was so anemic to begin with (even before the cancellations) and it felt like they just added them as a last resort because they were trying to stay afloat. THAT’s the issue.

    Granted ECCC has had good years and bad years in the past, but I really hope this isn’t indicative of the direction it’s going to go in with ReedPop. Buying up and milking the resources out of well-respected conventions such as ECCC, PAX, and Celebration, and turning around and using them on their babies NYCC, C2E2, and their new cons in India and China. I fear this is the new direction though.

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