As I’ve mentioned previously, a four-day convention can be a thing of beauty. You get some time off from work, hanging out with a group of people who all know the secret handshake and with whom you can strike up conversations aplenty delving into the minutiae of popular culture. Thursday and Friday are typically great days; things are busy but not nearly as crazy as your average convention is known to get. You have a bit more elbow room, you can peruse the back issue bins or attend panels without having to crowd in with fellow con-goers. But as autumn gives way to winter, so too must the sunny and sedate week days of the convention give way to Saturday.
The widow maker.
A few years back, when I first started attending the Emerald City Comic Con, it was confined solely to one building. Now it’s spread out over The Conference Center and the WA State Convention Center, and the Sheraton hotel. It’s not quite as gargantuan as the San Diego Comic Con, but ECCC is well on its way to being one of the largest pop culture conventions in North America. Saturday is where things got busy: crowds were shoulder to shoulder in some places and foot traffic through the exhibitor hall often slowed to near-glacial pace due to the sheer congestion of it all. Thankfully I was able to wend my way through some of the back alleys and hidden shortcuts known to the seasoned con-goer (and someone who, y’know, looked at the map) to attend the following panels:
First on the docket for Saturday was D&D as Dialectical Roleplay Therapy, a fascinating one hour panel on how the world’s most famous roleplaying game can be used as a supplement to treatment for dealing with trauma as well as handling symptoms of PTSD. Within the controlled environment of a tabletop game surrounded by friends those dealing with anxiety or negative life experiences can assert themselves and learn to deal with potentially stressful situations by using the simulated stressors found in a Dungeons & Dragons setting as a controlled environment. While it was stressed that D&D is in no way meant to replace conventional therapy, it can act as a supplement to existing treatments to help people come to terms with stressful situations in a constructive, friendly environment.
Next up was Vertigo: At The Center of Modern Storytelling. That hour contained numerous highlights, including the glorious madness of Joshua Williamson and Riley Rossomo’s upcoming Death Bed series (imagine the Most Interesting Man in the World as an action hero), Jody Houser and Ibrahim Moustafa’s Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. #1 from Vertigo’s Young Animal line (which has the title character wind up in Gotham City. . .but not the Gotham City on her Earth). But easily the show-stopper of the panel was the revelation that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was returning to comics in time for both Veritgo’s 25th anniversary and the character of Dream’s 30th anniversary. Gaiman himself (via a video message ) revealed a Sandman special will be released in August of this year introducing realms beyond the Dreaming including a mysterious new House (a la DC’s Houses of Mystery and Secrets) called the House of Whispers, complete with a mysterious proprietor all its own. This will lead into four brand new series set within Sandman continuity featuring collaborators hand-picked by Gaiman himself. Needless to say, this got the crowd’s attention. At the end of the panel all attendees were given a digital copy of the entire Sandman series.
After that I sat down and attended Trek Talk – Star Trek: Discovery & More. The panel, comprised of fans and producers of fan-related content discussed the current season of Star Trek Discovery with the audiences, how they felt about it and how they also felt about the news of Quentin Tarantino potentially directing the next Star Trek film. The panel was largely positive, and even featured some exclusive promotional art imagery for Star Trek Discovery by panelist Cryssy Cheung. Much to my surprise the panel was in the main fairly positive about Discovery. . .they just wondered why it specifically had to be a Star Trek property. Also discussed were the hopes that the potential found in the latter half of the first season could make for engaging stories in the second.
Next up was More Than Marketing: Lion Forge’s Comics For Everyone. Hosted by Jeremy Atkins, the panel discussed the company’s commitment to providing comics that spoke to readers from all walks of life, promoting diversity in creators and titles alike. Of particular interest was Quincredible by Mildred Louis and Selina Espiritu. The book stars a slender African American high schooler who suddenly finds himself completely invulnerable. . .and that’s it. Now he has to find ways to defeat supervillains with only 120 pounds of power.
After that I had the chance to sit down at The Orville fan meetup, talking with fans of the show about how they saw it in comparison to Star Trek Discovery, what they hoped for in the second season, and much more. It was an enjoyable opportunity to sit down with fans and just gush about our shared enthusiasm for this oddball little sci-fi dramedy that had so thoroughly charmed us. It would have easily been my favorite thing done that day.
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you: I love to sing. Throw down a spotlight and just try to keep me out of it. So when I learned about The Room Where It Happens: A Hamilton Sing-Along I was. All. In. A convention is all about community and having a fun time, and what’s more fun than a convention room filled to capacity with a group of fans belting out ‘The Battle of Yorktown’ in glorious harmony?
A glorious day at the convention, but all things come to an end. Next time, we’ll talk about Sunday and bid the Emerald City a fond farewell.