Emerald City Comic Con 2008
What do you say after a weekend in which you were treated like royalty, hung out with some of your best friends and colleagues, and were surrounded by kind and supportive fans?
“Thank you” doesn’t seem to touch it.
First of all, let’s talk about Emerald City Comic Con – and more importantly, let’s talk about the people who run it. Jim Demonakos and his brother George run the very finest comic convention I’ve ever attended. Between their tireless efforts and the work of their incredible and dedicated volunteers, it’s simply the most phenomenal convention I’ve ever attended.
The whole thing started when I went to Baggage Claim to pick up my checked luggage. (An aside: Northwest is charging a whomping $25 for each checked bag after the first one – and charging extra if it’s over 5o pounds. It’s getting so I’m going to have to ship everything but my clothes when I exhibit out of town.)
ECCC’s Chris Berman (Chris, forgive me if I’m misspelling your last name) was waiting to drive me to the hotel. Among the cool individuals I was riding with was Jarrett “The Defuser” Crippen from Who Wants To Be a Superhero.
Jarrett’s a natural-born storyteller, and he made the short drive into Seattle an enjoyable trip. He’s also an incredibly classy guy, offering me an autographed photo for my son when I mentioned I was shopping for souvenirs on Sunday. I had to admit that I had never watched the show, but now I’m kinda sad that I missed it.
We were checked in to the Grand Hyatt in Seattle. What an amazing hotel. That’s Dave in front of our amazing view in the photo to the right. I had shipped seven boxes to the hotel over the course of the weekend. In the past, this has been a source of extreme confusion and delay. Not only were my boxes waiting for me, but they were brought up to my room immediately. And when I explained Friday night that I was waiting for a shipment the next day, they took my cell phone number so they could call me on the convention floor when the shipment arrived. AND THEN THEY DID! The hotel was about a block from the Washington State Convention Center. I was able to scamper to the hotel and back in less than fifteen minutes, which was nice because the last-minute shipment was more copies of the How To Make Webcomics book, which we would have surely run out of otherwise.
By Friday evening, Dave Kellett and Kristofer Straub had arrived (Kris was accompanied by his sweetie, Erica). We linked up shortly thereafter with Scott Kurtz and his wife Angela and Angela’s sister, Ashley. With the entire Halfpixel crew united, we made plans for a celebratory feast.
At the nearby Cheesecake factory, we dined… one of us was carded when he tried to order a beer. Others, sadly, were not.
Merriment ensued. Then Kellett, Straub and I made haste to a theater to see Iron Man. The earliest flick we could catch was 11:15 p.m. – getting us back to the hotel around two in the morning.
So the next day came a little earlier than we were prepared for, but I think our excitement carried us through the morning. Saturday was non-stop action. The Halfpixel booth was buzzing from opening to close. The response to the HTMW book was truly gratifying. I was also happy to see many people buying all three volumes of the Evil Inc Annual Report.
Saturday night, Wil Shipley invited us to a party he was throwing in honor of both Halfpixel and Penny Arcade. The champagne flowed and the food was simply fantastic. Wil’s an awfully nice guy and a consummate host, and I was very pleased to have been able to meet him. After we left, it was off to the Kurtz’s suite for a cheesecake nightcap.
Sunday morning brought the Webcomics Weekly panel at 11 a.m. We were worried that no one would show up so early on a Sunday. Boy, were we wrong. The auditorium was packed and we did a live version of our podcast to a receptive and supportive audience.
There were a couple people taping the presentation. If you could contact one of us, we’d love to make a tape available to everyone!
Unfortunately, the convention, like all good things, had to come to an end. After striking the booth, we were treated by Los Bros Demonakos to a dinner at Ipanema, a Brazillian grill that I have not enough superlatives for. We gorged ourselves on steaks and chops and steaks and boar and shrimp and steaks and chicken and steaks. I passed on the chicken.
We made fast friends with Rodrigo, one of the servers, who pinned us drawing on the paper table coverings. When he brought out paper for some sketches, we were only too happy to oblige. And he was only too happy to bring the filet mignon by the table a few more times. For desert, it was grilled pineapple crusted with cinnamon. Now, Midwest Boy, here, has a hard-and fast rule about cooked fruit. He avoids it. He’s even somewhat leery about its use in pies. But Rodrigo insisted I try it.
That was the most awesome thing I’ve ever eaten. I may have downed an entire pineapple singled-handedly.
After that, our friend Dave had to rush back to be with his wife and baby daughter – both of whom he missed terribly.
Kris and Erica were kind enough to invite me out for drinks with them at a sushi bar. The conversation was lively and the company was keen. My old pal, Malki, was there. So was a new friend, Alina Pete, who does a charming webcomic, Weregeek, that I think a significant number of my readers would get a charge out of. I don’t want to try to pull off a list of the entire crew; there were about a dozen people there. Some I knew of, but had never introduced myself to (like Jeph Jacques, who is an extraordinary storyteller – as his strip belies) , others I knew by sight, and still others were complete strangers. Everyone, though, was welcoming and kind, and I thoroughly enjoyed winding down my Sunday night with them.
Monday morning came way too soon. I was soon being driven to the airport by Jim Demonakos himself – who has been up at four that morning to escort his first guest of the day to the airport. I couldn’t thank him enough. And still can’t.
The flight home was uneventful. I scripted a couple weeks of Evil Inc and tried to eavesdrop as the local celebrity next to me mac’ed on the blonde next to him. And, yes, that’s a blind item.