Basking in the Crowd at Emerald City Comicon

Saturday was an excellent day. After spending the morning at Writers Group, and getting feedback on Chapter 1 of a new novel, I headed over to the Washington State Convention Center to spend the afternoon at Emerald City Comicon.

This was the second year in a row I spent a day at ECCC, and I have to say, this year was way more fun than last year. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t fighting a cold this year. Or perhaps it’s that this year was way more chaotic and crowded.

That’s right, you heard me. I like chaos at cons. I like crowds. The energy is fantastic, and I have never once had a problem with stereotypical smelly B.O. Let’s face it, folks, we’re well beyond the days of the basement-dwelling nerd. Geeks have self-respect these days.

In all seriousness, though, this year did feel much different. Just for comparison, here’s a shot of the main exhibition hall on Saturday afternoon at last year’s con. Busy, but not really crowded:

Here’s a shot of the exhibition hall on Saturday afternoon this year:

I rest my case. Not only were there more people, there seemed to be a lot more energy in the crowd. (Although again, that may be because I was healthy this year.) I got the same vibe from ECCC this year that I get from Dragon*Con: mad delightful chaos, with plenty of energy, enthusiasm, and of course, lots of kickass costumes everywhere you look.

ECCC also had a fantastic guest list this year: George Takei, Wil Wheaton, Summer Glau, Adam Baldwin, and Edward James Olmos, to name a few. The lines to get into the guest panels were incredibly long (I saw on Twitter that people waited for an hour and still didn’t get into the George Takei panel), but luckily for me, I wasn’t that interested in the special guest panels. Instead, I walked around, took pictures, toured the exhibition hall, and attended a Star Trek vs. Star Wars Dance-Off put on by members of the fantastic Portico Dance Company (see right).

In other words, I soaked up the atmosphere and just had fun. I’d love to see a George Takei or a Wil Wheaton panel sometime, but I’m not going wait in line for hours to do it, especially when I’m only there for one afternoon.

There are two types of conventions I go to: media cons, and literary cons. Media cons, like ECCC, I attend for the crowds and the costumes and the energy. Literary cons I attend to meet authors, sit on panels, and learn stuff that I didn’t know before. Admittedly, most cons have a little bit of both (and Dragon*Con is as close to a fusion of the two as I’ve found), but ECCC was a pure media con. Fun, crowds, costumes, merchandise, spiffy art.

Next week is Norwescon, and that’ll be more the literary side of things: hang out with writers (including, hopefully, many of the awesome folks I met at the Rainforest Writers Village), attend panels, do the writer’s workshop. I’m really looking forward to it, but mostly for different reasons.

What literary cons and media cons have in common, though, is getting to hang out with passionate, creative people. At literary cons, it’s the writers I get that vibe from. At media cons, it’s the cosplayers. There were some amazing costumes, most of which took a lot of work and dedication to put together. Cosplaying well takes skill (and sometimes guts), and like writing, it’s essentially a creative art– a completely different one, perhaps, but still, it’s a manifestation of that same fusion of creativity, passion and energy that I sense in writers, and indeed, in all pursuers of the geeky creative arts.

Speaking of creative arts, there was some damn fine art of the drawn and painted variety there too, of course. I went to the ECCC Art Auction in the evening, and bought a cool piece by Lar DeSouza. (All the proceeds went to the Seattle Children’s Hospital, so I blew my budget for a good cause.) My favorite find of the day, though, was a print from DPI Studios. Jaysin is a nice guy and a fantastic artist, and I bought a limited edition print of the picture that is currently featured on DPI Studios’ homepage. I snagged the last one, too, which makes it all the sweeter.

There was creativity of another kind as well, in the form of a preview for BrickCon, a Lego exhibition that will be at the Seattle Center in October. There was a lego Batcave, a lego Stargate, a bunch of lego Star Wars vehicles (including a very nice Lego Super Star Destroyer), and perhaps my favorite, a Lego Space Needle.

Next year I think I’m gonna have to carve out time in my schedule to go for all three days of ECCC. Maybe get a VIP pass, too. I mean, it’s only a ten-minute walk from my apartment. Since I have free lodging, I don’t have to feel guilty about shelling out the extra cash, right? As well as the extra cash for cool art? Right? (The correct answer is: no, I should not.)

Full slideshow of pics from the con is here.

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