Emerald City Comicon was this weekend, and the wife and I spent quite a bit of time and money there. This year, the con more than doubled its floor space by opening up a second large room, and they also added areas for costuming stuff, gaming (both board and computer),
We got to the con early, only to find out that the line to exchange tickets for badges was out the door and around the corner. Unfortunately, the way they had set things up, you had to walk through smoker's alley to get there, which caused some allergies to flare up. I really wish event promoters would consider that when making those plans. Also, since we had to wait outside in Washington, they were very lucky it didn't rain, or they would have had some wet and angry patrons. But before you think this is going to be nothing but a negative rant, this was pretty much the only negative of the weekend.
Once the line started moving, it never stopped. They got all of us through the line to get our badges and into the con as quickly as possible. Once I got into the main room (which I ended up thinking of as the creator room, as opposed to the other room, which was mostly vendors), I started by trying to figure out where Mike Grell's table was, since I was determined to get onto his sketch list. The problem was that the map didn't really show where you enter the room, so I ended up wandering around a bit. At one point I stopped to figure out where I was, and I was only slightly aware of a group of people near me. The wife pointed them out and made me really look at them. It turned out that one of them was Chris Cashman, local comedian and co-star of a local comedy sketch show (like Saturday Night Live, but very Seattle-based). The show had only had a couple episodes, which were then repeated, but there hadn't been any new ones for a couple months. So I took the opportunity to ask if they were still going to be doing the show. He was very nice and he let me know that the initial episodes were essentially pilot episodes, that the show had done very well, and that they had just finished filming a Breaking Bad parody sketch for the show's return in April.
I finally figured out where we were, so I headed over toward Mike Grell's table. In doing so, I ended up passing by the table of Thom Zahler, creator and artist of the comic series Love and Capes. I had gotten onto his sketch list before the show, so I knew he had stuff for me. The first one I saw was Composite Superman.
Next was the Marvel Family.
He also had a copy of his numbered print for me, and I had requested that I get the same number this year, if possible, and it was.
He also had copies of his newest, as-yet-unreleased trade which I also purchased and had signed. I read it that night, by the way, and it's excellent, just as funny and touching as the rest of the series has been.
I finally figured out where Mr. Grell's table was located, and got in the short line to get some books signed and to get on his sketch list. I put myself down to get a sketch of Shakira, a character of his from his time on Warlord who was a cat who could assume human form and who was one of my favorites from that series. I was also going to have him sign Warlord's first appearance, his first ten or so issues, a couple issues of Legion of Super-Heroes, and the tabloid LSH book he had drawn, but then I discovered that he would only sign one book for free, and any others you'd have to pay to have signed. I refuse to pay to have books signed, so I only had Warlord's first appearance signed, from First Issue Special. I also got gently berated by Mike Grell for only having one issue signed.
I moved on and found the table of Mike Dringenberg, an early artist on Sandman. I brought and had him sign his issues that I had previously had signed by Neil Gaiman. He seemed a really nice guy, though I didn't get much chance to talk to him.
From there I moved on Gerry Conway's table. More than any writer, he's probably most responsible for my love of comics. The first superhero comic I remember owning (Justice League of America #174) was written by him, the first JLA/JSA crossover I read (JLA 195-197) was his, the second JLA/JSA crossover I read (JLA 159-160) was his, and the first two books I purchased with my own money (LSH 274-275) were his. These books represent pretty much everything I love about comics. For years, I didn't realize that JLA #174 was actually part 2 of the story because it was so skillfully written, you didn't need to have read the first part. At any rate, I had him sign all these books, along with JLA#173, since it went along with the set. He seemed a very humble and gracious person, and he even apologized for having hooked me on comics. He also cracked a joke about some of the dialog in the books, since he wrote Black Lightning with a very stereotypical style of speech. We also had a nice bit of chat about his work on the LSH.
Next, I headed into the other room, the vendor room, to find Kurt Busiek's table. I had met him when he did a signing at Olympic Cards and Comics, and I had him sign all of his Astro City books that had been published to that point. This time, I had him sign his books that had come out since that time, along with his first work for DC Comics, from Green Lantern #162. He also had a jar out to collect donations (in lieu of a signing fee) for Hero Initiative, if I remember correctly. I willing put some money in the jar. And before you berate me paying for a signature, I didn't. I wasn't forced to pay for the signatures. In fact, the books were already signed and I could have just walked away. I donated out of thanks to Mr. Busiek, and because it's such a worthy cause. He also had a lithograph by Alex Ross of his Astro City characters, which I purchased and had him sign.
e returned to our room, dropped off the signed stuff, and I grabbed my bag and returned to the vendor room for some shopping. I picked up around 60 or 70 books before returning to the room for the night.
The con was supposed to open at 10am, but it was already open by the time we got there. I went by Danielle Corsetto's table, but she wasn't in yet. Danielle writes and draws the awesome Girls with Slingshots webcomic. So, instead I spent quite a bit of time at the back issue vendors buying books I needed for my collection. I returned to our room for lunch and to update my list before heading back in. While we were eating lunch, I got the call that my Mike Grell sketch was done.
I returned to the vendor room and spent yet more time with the back issue vendors, and again returned to my room to update my list. My wife came back, and she had managed to find a couple of trades that I had missed, including Killing Shakespeare. With my list updated, I decided I was going to take the time to collect my sketch and try to stop by Danielle's table again. My route to pick up my sketch was going to take me right by her table, but when I got there, she had quite a line waiting for her, so I moved on to Mike Grell's table to collect my Shakira sketch.
After that, I wandered around a bit to give Danielle time to work through her line, but when I got back to her table, she was on a break, so I returned to my room for the night.
At some point on Saturday, I also managed to figure out where the cosplay and gaming area was, because I wanted to meet Yaya Han, a beautiful cosplayer who does amazing work on her outfits. Unfortunately, the first time I went down she was in normal clothes and had a bit of a crowd, and the next time I went she was in costume and had a huge crowd and was being filmed. So sadly, I never got to meet her.
Since we needed to check out by noon, I only had a little bit of time left. I got there quite early, hoping to maximize my time if they let us in before the 10am opening time. Sure enough, the opened the doors about 10 minutes early. I headed to Danielle's table but she wasn't in yet, so I headed back to the vendor area and bought another 90 or so comics. With that finished I headed back to the room to check out. I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to get Danielle's new trade, but I guess that's just what happens sometimes. I will just have to hope she comes back next year.
I will post again later with a more complete list of my haul, but I managed to find quite a few of the war and western books I needed, including most of the Jonah Hex series from the 70s and 80s. I also got quite a few mid-grade Atom comics from the 60s for really cheap, as well as a couple of early-middle LSH appearances from Adventure Comics, a couple of early JLA/JSA crossovers, and two of the four bicentennial covers I needed.
All in all, it was another great con, and the changes they made for this year really improved the experience. I have heard that they are hoping to have Friday run the whole day, rather than just a couple hours, and that would be the best change they could make. Well, that and they should also make a change to the bag they sell, since it is too small to actually put a comic book flat in the bottom of the bag. Seems like a silly oversight to me.