Between eight and ten thousand sequential art, science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts gathered within Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center to celebrate the comic book and pop culture this past weekend. The fans came, some in costumes, seeking personal sketches and autographs from the gathered artists. Artists and writers came to meet their fans and to network with publishers in order to advance existing careers or establish new ones.
In contrast to San Diego’s massive event, which draws over 10 times the number gathered in Seattle, the Emerald City Comic Con (EC3) caters far more to the sequential art form that inspired the convention. The San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) has become a multimedia extravaganza drawing stars and directors from Hollywood to preview what they hope will the next blockbuster or the next television ratings hit. At SDCC booths for production companies like Fox and Warners Bros, share floor space with television studios, toy companies, and, yes, even comic publishers. Moreover, a single event hall In San Diego, where fans will spend an entire day watching trailers and movie clip previews, can accommodate nearly all those gathered in Seattle.
SDCC is a massive cultural event where panelists are escorted in and out of events by Con personnel. EC3 is a show where comic book enthusiasts can literally indulge a cigarette, if they’re so inclined, on the Convention Center’s smoking pad with a creator of their favorite titles.
The show began for me with Skewed and Reviewed’s Gareth Von Kallenbach, and his one-man panel on upcoming films. Some of the items Gareth relayed were:
- Hugo Weaving is set to play the Red Skull in the upcoming Captain America movie
- Adrian Brody is staring in a “Predators Planet” movie
- The Thing prequel, in which we learn what happened at the Norwegian Camp, is set to start shooting March
- Disney has a Tron Legacy television series in the works, the advancement of which depends on film’s success
- Missile Command and Space Invaders classic video arcade games may hit the big screen
- Steven Seagal can pick off the heads of matches and Q-tips with a firearm at more than 150 ft (Note to self: Don’t mess with Mr. Seagal)
During Gareth’s free ranging discussion, there was much derisive laughter at the plethora of 3-D films in the works, as well as to the numerous sequels and remakes. Since Comic Con fans are almost certain bank and a reliable source of pre-release buzz don’t expect the sequel/remake trend to change any time soon. The comic convention crowd has a “sequel jones” that must be fed and the studios are more than happy to feed it.
I had hoped to catch presentations by Will Wheaton, Leonard Nimoy and Stan Lee but the room in which they took place filled and remained so for each hour these gentlemen held court. Instead, I caught Erin Gray, who I grew up watching as Col Wilma Deering in “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. “
Ms. Gray built a career, post Buck Rogers, on the fan convention circuit. She created a business, Heroes for Hire, in which she helps science fiction and fantasy television and film stars meet their fans. It began when Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) and Marc Singer (Beastmaster) asked her to help them get into the convention circuit.
It was a lot of fun listening to Ms. Gray’s stories about how she built Heroes for Hire, her experiences on her first big break with Evening in Byzantium, and being the first Sports Illustrated swimsuit model to don a thong.
An aspiring actor asked Ms. Gray about breaking into the business, which gave her a chance to pitch her book, Act Right. The book is intended to teach actors everything they don’t learn in acting classes. She realized that actors simply did not know how to behave on a set because no one gives them the scoop on studio protocol. The book grew out her experiences on sets and from conversations with crewmembers that saw actors as unprofessional.
Much of my time, at the convention, was spent, like most folks, wandering the exhibitor hall. At one booth, I had the pleasure of meeting James Fletcher, owner of Heroic Fine Art. James hails from North Salt Lake, UT. What struck me about the work he displayed was it conspicuously avoided politically charged material. Specifically, he did not display Alex Ross’ “Bush as Vampire on Lady Liberty” nor his “Super Obama.” James did offer several of Ross’s superhero work. James noted, when I mentioned what was missing, that he didn’t particularly care to inject politics into the art he sold, which should be clear from his gallery’s name: “Heroic” fine art, not “political” fine art.
If you browse HeroicFineArt.com online gallery, you may find yourself wondering about the pricing. The thing to remember is that James Fletcher runs an art gallery and the works he displays are art. If you want comics, go to your local comic shop.
Finally, just to draw the distinction between the smaller conventions, like ECCC, and the massive San Diego Comic Con. I got my ticket for ECCC three days before the convention took place, and there were still plenty of tickets sold at the door. Tickets for all four days of SDCC sold out last November, and currently the only single day tickets left are for Sunday, July 25. If you were planning on going, and don’t have a ticket, prepare to part with a sizable chunk of change when people start putting their Comic Con tickets up for sale on E-Bay.