2015 ECCC Jewel Staite Panel

2015 ECCC Jewel Staite Panel. Photo courtesy of ECCC.

Seattle’s premiere comic book convention, Emerald City Comicon was acquired by ReedPOP last January. Last year’s convention was relatively unaffected by it, as it was well into planning at the time of acquisition. While the original organizers are continuing to run things, this year will be the first year of the ReedPOP-branded and flavored Emerald City Comicon. What should you expect?

There have been rumblings of change that are worrisome to me and other fans (many of whom have commented on their Facebook page.) In past years, there were numerous fun Facebook posts announcing amazing headliner guests that have been absent this year. While Nathan Fillion is a fantastic guest, the overall media guest list looks diminished in number and prominence from previous years.

In a recent poll, one fan noted, “2 headliners is the least amount in the 6 years I’ve been attending ECCC.” Another fan asked, “Isn’t ECCC the 3rd largest comic con in the country? Why doesn’t it have a guest list bested only by SDCC & NYCC?”

The same applies for the Comic Creator list, which many fans felt lacked the big names featured in the past. It also makes the added fourth day (Thursday) to the convention confusing if they don’t have the talent to support it. Hopefully more guests will be announced in the next month.

Featuring three members of the Seattle Seahawks as guests at the convention is another odd choice. I admit that I’m not a sports fan and don’t enjoy football, although I don’t have issue with those who do. Sure, they technically fit the bill, as it’s a “comic and pop culture convention” and sports fit into pop culture. But sports don’t feel like a natural extension of the original comic convention theme like fantasy/sci-fi TV shows or board games.

The above poll indicated they were considering all sorts of talent, even celebrity chefs. Being inclusive of everything you could possibly be a fan of will dilute what makes the show special. Granted, the Seahawks are appearing just once on the added Thursday, and it does have a gaming tie-in, but I hope this isn’t indicative of the direction Emerald City Comicon is heading.

Emerald City Comicon’s social media has changed in tone over the last several months. Of course they’ve made their programmatic decisions and they want to support them. When you ask for fan feedback, though, all you need to do is listen. Defensive comments like “Have you actually looked at our Comic Guest list? As always it’s at least 3x longer than the entertainment guest list” are not helpful. When a fan insisted on their page that sports was not pop culture, responding with a dictionary definition of pop culture is unnecessary snark that’s off-putting.

A friend once joked with me that my emotional reactions range between cautiously optimistic and mildly dismayed. I do overall try to stay positive about these things, so I still remain cautiously optimistic. Hopefully more guests will be announced, and hopefully ReedPOP doesn’t veer too far off course. I’ve still got my 4-day pass and I’m looking forward to the convention. Check out Jetspace Magazine again for my updated Queer Guide to Emerald City Comicon, coming up soon.

Of course, one thing that won’t veer off course is SuperHard Comicon on Saturday, April 9 happening at the Seattle Eagle. Get suited up and check it out!