There’s something wonderful about a four-day convention: not only do you maximize the amount of fun you can have, but there’s just something about being able to take a couple days out of the grind that is the regular work week and go to a place of sanctuary, where everyone is in on the secret handshake and the constant backbiting of the Internet is completely nonexistent. At a convention, no matter your interests the primary goal is (or at least should be) the chance to have fun with a group of people who may not be your friends yet, but everyone shares a common passion for their escapist fare of choice. You like Steven Universe? Meet a ton of people who do too! Want to discuss the minutia of every single episode of Star Trek Discovery and just how can the Starfleet symbol be the symbol from the Enterprise because that wasn’t adopted by Starfleet until after the historic 5 year mission and THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE PEOPLE.

But I digress. The opportunity for connection abounds at a convention, and should be savored as an oasis of enjoyable (if chaotic) leisure in the midst of an increasingly chilly world.

Thursday and Friday at Emerald City are great opportunities to get the heavy lifting done for your congoing experience. It’s lively, but not nearly as insane as Saturday can be. Sunday can be more sedate, but we’ll get to that in the fullness of time.

On Friday I had the opportunity to speak with Kyle Higgins regarding his upcoming book with Stephen Mooney and Jordie Bellaire The Dead Hand. The full interview will be coming soon, but needless to say the series looks amazing and the premise of an aging Cold War era spy coming across a mystery that ties into his past  sounds intriguing as all get-out. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.

My first panel of the day was DC – The Write Stuff hosted by Brian Michael Bendis and featuring some of DC’s top tier writing talent: Julie and Shawna Benson, Jody Houser, Jeff Parker, James Tynion IV,  and Mark Russell sat down and talked about their various writing processes, some of the challenges inherent to the medium, as well as their personal dream projects. Also discussed in detail was diversity in the medium, which the panelists encouraged to write people outside of their gender or race with research, consideration, and respect.

After that I wandered the convention floor for a bit, losing myself in the hustle and bustle of the dealer’s hall (oftentimes quite literally, the expanded layout of the ECCC would give Theseus a run for his money). I had the opportunity to speak with Victoria of Anovos, a costuming company that creates replica uniforms from such franchises as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters. This was their first time at the convention and we talked a great deal about their product and the challenges inherent in obtaining licenses for established properties. For instance, while they do have the rights to produce Ghostbusters uniforms they don’t have any for the most recent film, due to it being a separate sub-license from Sony Pictures. Still, their current stock of Star Trek and Star Wars uniforms and even armor were very impressive.

Next on my panel schedule was the Critical Role interview/Q&A at the main stage featuring voice actors Travis Willingham and Laura Bailey discussing the origins of the Critical Role webseries from a simple one-off tabletop roleplaying game session into the web phenomeon there is today. Voice actor Matthew Mercer gathered a number of his friends in the voiceover industry to play Dungeons & Dragons, and now their tabletop sessions are broadcast live via Geek & Sundry and Project Alpha to thousands of viewers worldwide. But for all that, the pair were humble and charming, with Laura Bailey easily stealing the show with her description of receiving a video message from Princess Bride alumn Cary Elwes congratulating her and Travis on their recent announcement of her pregnancy. “He even ended the message with ‘As You Wish’!”

Following that I attended the Black Heroes Matter panel featuring Nilah Magruder, Ryan Benjamin, Myisha Haynes and Karama Horne sat down and discussed the impact and importance of black voices in speculative fiction, fantasy, and horror. The recent box office dominance and critical success of both Black Panther and Get Out has provided a pointed counter to the notion that both black superheroes or black-led films are at a disadvantage at the box office. The conversation was at turns funny and profound, and definitely left the audience with some things to think over.

The final panel of the day was Jack Kirby 101: Top Creators Pay Tribute to the King. With Kirby turning 101 this year, Professor Ben Saunders sat down with Mike Allred (Bug, Silver Surfer, Madman), Chris Claremont (X-Men, Excalibur, New Mutants), Joe Keating (Glory), Jaime Hernandez (Love & Rocket) among others to discuss the impact of Jack Kirby and what his art meant to them. Each creator picked an individual issue to discuss, with the standout choice easily being Keating selection of Marvels 2001: A Space Odyssey #8, which was essentially Jack Kirby’s take on the recent season premiere of Black Mirror. A lot was made of the impact of the King, and how it’s only now, in the early 21st century that technology is able to finally bring some of his incredible art out of the printed page and onto the silver screen.

With that, Friday was officially done. I breathed easy as we left the convention center for dinner and drinks, but there was a cold feeling in my chest. For while the first two days of the con were over, Saturday loomed in the distance. Like Theoden at the battle of Helm’s Deep, I readied myself for the madness to come.

That’s all for now, and make sure to check out my interview with Kyle Higgins which will be on the site on Thursday March 8!

Stacy Dooks
Stacy Dooks is a writer and assorted pop culture fanatic whose childhood fixations on the works of Jim Henson, George Lucas, and DC Comics laid the groundwork for his current status as a pop culture junkie chatterbox. He currently resides in Calgary, Alberta while he waits for his TARDIS coral to finish growing. For more of his observations on popular culture, check out The Fanboy Power Hour:

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