Emerald City Comic Con 2017

We’re back from all four days at ECCC 2017!

Since we’re focused on budget cosplay, I tend to highlight the negatives of conventions and experiences in writeups, mostly because it’s things I would have liked to know before wasting money going to something that sucks — Wizard World 2017 — ahem.

I really don’t have a lot of negative commentary for ECCC this year; it was a great show and they ran a tighter ship than previous years.  (Our con was pretty much made the first day when Scott Snyder wanted a selfie with Swampy and Constantine.)

Crowne Plaza, the hotel we stayed at this year, was one of the best hotels we’ve tried; the staff was excellent in handling our clown car full of cosplay crap when it rolled up, and great about getting it to the room in one piece.

The convention staff and ECCC staff were much better this year about not yelling at people or getting snippy with them.  Sunday they were getting kind of cranky, but by then so were we; if you overheard Prince Eric and Ariel using some less-than-Disney language about the overcrowding, sorry!

I also have to say that ECCC is one of the better cons for cosplay, both in what people are wearing, and the convention’s support of it.  “Cosplay is Not Consent” signs are everywhere and people were mostly respectful of our costumes other than in the Main Stage.  Poor Shy Guy endured a good deal of abuse from kids, but for the most part parents were good about stopping them.  There was a changing room (just a big empty room, no doors, but it was a great place to de-armor and take a breather), a cosplay lounge, and a cosplay repair room all located conveniently.

Our last-minute, super low-budget Shy Guy costume got at least as much love as my old and busted Iron Man build that took 4x as long (with working sound!), Swamp Thing had his farewell tour (Constantine will probably make another appearance with a new friend at a future con), and Prince Eric and Ariel were both upstaged by that giant, giant bow.

Overall the panel quality was excellent as well; Twisted Toonz made a comeback, Vincent D’Onofrio made his first convention appearance, and Gates McFadden had a great panel that paid some much needed homage to Roddenbery and his vision.

Some minor gripes:

The Dates:

ECCC was moved up a month to March.  Many people, including myself, have to travel mountain passes to get to the con, and many people encountered snow and ice.  We didn’t get to finish the costume that was in the Western Championships of Cosplay because we never got a break in the weather to paint.   Boo.

ECCC has commented that they’re at the mercy of the convention center for what dates are available, but that they will try to move it back in the future.   So if you’re thinking about attending and you’re not a local, the roads are definitely a factor.  Even if you are a local, walking to a con in 34 degree weather or a wind storm isn’t really a good time.  Bring a poncho!

The Smoking:

Ugh.  We don’t walk around with Constantine with a fake cigarette inside because it’s a crappy example for kids, but step outside for some fresh air and you’ll choke to death on clouds of smoke from people too inconsiderate to move the required 25 feet from a doorway.  The outdoor area is one of the nicer places to take pictures or even get a break from the heat and crowding inside, and it’s really ruined when your eyes are stinging, your throat is raw, and you’re worried that the costume you have to dry clean is going to reek of smoke forever.  Yeah yeah, rights and freedom, whatever, smoking is foul.

The Main Stage:

It’s not really ECCC’s fault that people are a bunch of jackasses (see above), but the main stage panel room is so full of people coming and going and packing in for later panels that you tend to miss half of the panel you’re trying to watch.  People having full volume conversations, eating stinky sandwiches and dripping food, and half the room not even bothering to clap because they were only waiting for the next one were only some of the sad behavior we saw.  We sat in the back along the wall with our large costume on the floor and people kept kicking and nearly stepping on because they were too lazy to move 6 inches to one side to avoid it.   Again, none of these things unique to ECCC; people in general are stupid, inconsiderate, and rude.  But if you’re paying for tickets for the pleasure of enduring them all day, it might be nice if ECCC staff could tell people to shut up or get out, or if there was a better queuing system so that people who are loudly discussing Gates McFadden’s panel — “it’s the Star Trek lady or something” — can go somewhere else until the panel they want to see starts.

MONEY MONEY MONEY

ReedPop is the same company that runs the massively oversold New York Comic Con that we have sworn off attending again due to overcrowding.  ECCC proudly announces its record 90,0000 attendees and boasts how they have outgrown the convention center and are now adding content to nearby hotels, but this doesn’t change the fact that there are certain things EVERYONE wants to do, and no matter how spread out the con is, it’s still going to be too crowded to get into a popular panel or to grab lunch in a timely manner.

When it gets too crowded and too spread out, it’s also an issue for those with disabilities.  People in wheelchairs or scooters, people who need an interpreter, people with service dogs, or people with any of a myriad of invisible disabilities are getting marginalized in the name of packing more people in.  I don’t think ECCC is not trying; social anxiety or crowd issues are common (raises hand) and they have quiet rooms, family break rooms, and do a good job of keeping people moving.  But where they could be doing more, people who can advocate for their group should be doing that (ie if you’re in a wheelchair or understand the challenges that a wheelchair has at a con, email ECCC or speak up) to ensure that the cash grab mentality doesn’t overtake what a convention should be about — connecting with creators, makers, and each other.