So we just returned from the 4th largest comic book and pop culture convention in the US; Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, WA. This was the first "official" changing of the guard over to ReedPop since they purchased ECCC last year. Here are some of the changes that we noticed (and there is probably more, so don't assume this to be a complete list):
1. This year the convention expanded from a 3-day event to a 4-day event
2. The volunteers (or "minions") were paid... so I guess that makes them not exactly volunteers.
3. The VIP packages changed. It used to be the VIP badge gained you early entree to the convention, access to a break room, a bag of swag, and access to the celebrity autograph VIP line. This year there were two types of VIP badges; Type 1 allowed you to enter the convention floor first and Type 2 allowed you access to the celebrity VIP line (we opted for the Type 1 VIP Badge - more on that later).
4. The app changed to be more interactive and "useful"
Day 0 (Wednesday)
Image Expo was occurring the day before ECCC. They advertised together so there must have been some kind partnership there. Image Expo advertised that retailers get complimentary badges. We had completed the form a few months ago. However, the folks at Image, despite numerous communications from us, did not confirm that we could get badges until a few days before the event. Unfortunately, that did not give us enough time to modify our schedule and arrange for an expanded hotel stay. That was too bad. I really wanted to go. Perhaps in the future Image can do a better job of communicating with retailers sooner? #slightlybitter
Day 1 (Thursday)
We had already received our badges in the mail. We arrived early, checked into the hotel and then walked 2 blocks to the convention. We arrived about an hour before the doors opened. Lots of people were already lined up like cattle (typical for ECCC). Lucky for us we won the Jim Lee signing tickets. We asked the minions "hey here's our VIP badge... where is the VIP entrance we were told about?" they had no idea. Nice. So wandered looking for the elevator (we had a stroller for our 10 mo. old). Found the elevator... hmmm what floor? The room # was on the ticket but no map showed it's location. Well.. we guessed. Since the room started with a 2 it was a probably somewhere on the 2nd floor. Eureka! We were right. After wandering the second floor we eventually found the room. We met Jim Lee and it was awesome!! He signed a bunch of books for us... he liked our Signature Windows and gave me some suggestions to make them even better.
Then we went to and dropped off some blank variants for some of our favorite artists to sketch on; Neal Adams, Jim Mahfood, and Chad Hardin.
Got a bunch of autographs for my books. Then hotel, dinner, and bed.
Day 2 (Friday)
Using my "get in early badge" I decided to go after those Funko Pop requests from my friends.
The Funko booth had some challenges for sure. Apparently retailers inside the convention were jumping in front of the line and buying up all the ECCC exclusives before the attendees could get in the convention. By Sunday though ECCC worked with Funko to fix that issue. I will say that Funko had a neat booth though.
I spend the rest of the day meeting some great artists (many of whom I have met before)... and trying to navigate the crazy ECCC map. The ECCC app wasn't too helpful, unfortunately. Maybe next year it will work a little better. :)
This was the day that I remembered... 80k people... is A LOT of people. LOL. The flow of "people traffic" would just stop for apparently unknown reasons. A bit frustrating when all you want is a few autographs LOL. Right about the time it was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic in there so I made the choice to grab a burger and a beer.
The lounge was crowded but I still managed to find a seat at the bar in a very short amount of time. The beer helps take the edge off an otherwise stressful day.
Then I go back in, get a few more autographs then back to the hotel. At dinner I discuss with friends my frustrations with crowds and Funko. I'm told "ECCC is becoming like SDCC... you have to just push your way through... people are lollygagging.. just push through them... elbows, shoulders, whatever... its all part of the big con experience". Hmmm okay then... elbows it is.
Day 3 (Saturday)
This day started early. 3:30am my 10 mo. old son... is teething. Ahhhhh!
Thankfully my friend Starbucks opened at 6am.
At the convention I get some celebrity autographs... they were mostly on time. So getting autographs from 3 celebrities only took about 4 hours in total...only. Lol.
A really cool thing happened though... I ran into the guys doing the comic "The Humans". Really really cool guys writing an amazing comic!!! I had met them a week ago in Portland but was super excited to see them again. I love "The Humans". Love it, love it, love it! So I bought a few things from their table and chatted for awhile. Love those guys!
So that day I elbowed and pushed and shoved my way through the convention (kind of feeling bad... kind of not.. then feeling bad for not feeling bad). Looking for more lost booths with covered numbers... people that cancelled or moved or under different names. Ugh! Elbows! Shoulders! Shoulders! Elbows! Elbows! Elbows! Finally out of the convention.. into semi-fresh air! Hotel, dinner, then bed... and then I couldn't fall asleep. Ugh! Why????!!!! Oh life you cruel cruel mistress. I was so tired. So I watched the last two parts of that OJ Simpson tv drama thing... and then bam fell asleep.
Day 4 (Sunday)
Last day. Oh sweet baby jesus am I tired. Back hurts. Feet hurt. One more box of comics left to get signed... pick up my commissions... head home. That's the plan. I pack up my stuff. Head to the convention. I figure I will try out this Funko business one more time. I arrive at 8am 'ish. Wait in line for the doors to open at 10am. Concrete floors. Gotta love it (man did my back hurt!).
The minions make an announcement "Ok who's here for Funko?" cheers. "Ok here's how this going to work... follow that minion in front. Do not stray. Look in front of you. Keep your position in line. Do not cut. Do not shove. Do not run. We will lead you to the Funko booth. If anyone is there when we get you there we will kick them out. You will be the first in line. If anyone breaks any of these rules you will be removed. Clear?" cheers. "Good. Lets all behave like the human beings that we are... we had an old man get hurt this weekend and its not happening again."
And that is what they did. I still had 3 people try to cut in front of me... they got kicked out of the con. Good, I say. They are toys!! For chrissake! I don't even like them! I don't get it just like I didn't get the whole 'tickle me Elmo' craze or Cabbage Patch kids... what is it about these toys that makes adults behave like schoolyard bullies? And why does Funko remain silent... condoning this behavior? They should be yelling at retailers. They should say "Hey, if you want a retailer exclusive then work with us, pay us our fee, and we will design a retailer exclusive just for you! Stop robbing convention attendees of their opportunity." But they don't. Yes those aggressive attendees should be ashamed... and ECCC should be applauded for attempting to make it right... I wish it wouldn't have taken an injured 80 year old man, multiple social media posts, an email from me and anyone else to get an obvious change made. Funko should have looked and wondered why someone with a day badge was in their line before any VIP badges at 10am exactly. Totally unacceptable. Shameful. I hope Funko rethinks how they handle convention booths in the future... to prevent any future Funk-ing Fiasco's.
Ugh.. ok... stepping off my Funko Baby Groot Stump now :)
I then I picked up my last remaining commissions (which look amazing!!!) and headed home.
Chad Hardin, Neal Adams, Buzz, Jim Mahfood did some fantastic commissions for me:
Another convention for 2016 - done.