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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nerd Watch: Emerald City Edition (Part II)

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Sun, Mar 6, 2011 at 3:17 PM

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(Part I is here.)

I'm not sticking through all the way to the bitter end—I'm writing this on the train back to Portland! Wheee!—but I'm gonna go ahead and call it: This year's Emerald City Comicon was pretty great. Straddling the difference between a staunchly indie show like Portland's Stumptown Comics Fest and bigger nerd conventions like San Francisco's WonderCon or—shudder—the San Diego Comic-Con, Emerald City is a broad show, with plenty of superhero stuff around but still boasting a solid showing from indie creators and publishers. (Including, like, every comics creator from Portland. Of which there are about 42,000.) There's also a growing TV and film presence at the show; depending on who you're talking to, this is either awesome or a worrisome sign that Emerald City is starting to sell out. (Personally, I'm not inclined to complain, as [A] in addition to comics, I dig a lot of that more generalized pop culture stuff, too, and [B] it doesn't seem like the media-related guests and panels are—as of now, at least—pushing out comics-related ones. On Friday night at 6 pm, for example, there was a "Jonathan Frakes Flies Solo" panel ["Come join actor, author, and director Jonathan Frakes in this upbeat Q&A. Famous for his portrayal of Commander William T. Riker..."], but, at the same time and in another room, there was also a "LGBT Comics Panel," featuring Portland's Erika Moen and several other creators in a discussion about how "mainstream comics stack up against indies on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters.")

Estimates are around 25,000 attendees for the show, making it big enough to feel like an event, but still totally manageable, especially compared to the rampaging behemoth that is San Diego. One of the unexpected highlights of today summed up the show pretty effectively, actually—it was a panel titled "Con Horror Stories," hosted by comics creators Travis Hanson, Brandon Jerwa, Eric Trautmann, and Jim Zubkavich. (Prior to the panel, I wasn't super-familiar with most of those guys, but Zubkavich's newish book, Skullkickers, is a fantasy-action-comedy that's well worth checking out.) All that happened on the panel? The four of those dudes shooting the shit, talking about embarrassing things that had happened to them—and that they'd done to others—at conventions. A little inside baseball, maybe, but also genuinely funny and enjoyable; here were four smart guys with plenty of experience in the often-ridiculous comics industry, cracking jokes about it. It was the sort of panel that'd get totally overshadowed at a bigger con, and could easily feel out of place at a smaller show, but felt just right for Emerald City. Not to get all Goldilocks about it or anything.

Plus, yesterday morning, when I was stumbling around my hotel lobby, hungry and tired, trying to find the restaurant? This guy totally walked by, presumably also looking for the restaurant! DENETHOR REQUIRES A DENVER OMELETTE!

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