Don’t be surprised to find superheroes running amok in downtown Seattle this weekend— or Imperial stormtroopers, Vulcans and begoggled steampunks, for that matter. On Mar. 1-3, the Pacific Northwest’s premiere comic book convention returns to the Washington State Convention Center (800 Convention Pl.), bigger and better than ever before: Emerald City Comicon 2013.
Now in its 10th year, ECCC has gained incredible momentum, from a “modest” attendance of 20,000 in 2010, 32,000 in 2011 and then an incredible 53,000 in 2012. ECCC promises to outdo itself yet again with throngs of excited fans; legendary guest stars from television, film, video games, art and comic books; and a jam-packed schedule of events for the whole family this coming weekend.
The organizers also recently announced that they will be producing the Rose City Comic Con in Portland in the fall as well, so the Pacific Northwest can blissfully geek out on comic book culture every six months.
The comic books at the heart of the comicon have inspired retellings and reimaginings in every conceivable medium and genre, and thus top-caliber conventions like ECCC evolve to compress all things geeky and awesomesauce into three days of adrenaline-fueled pop culture fun.
ECCC invites attendees to explore exhibitors’ tables and the artist alley on the main floor, as well as the ECCC Kids! area in the North Lobby, several floors of gaming and dedicated areas for celebrity guests. This year’s programming includes popular mainstays such as sci-fi speed dating, NERDprov, Magic: The Gathering tournaments, the costume party and the annual charity auction benefiting Seattle Children’s Hospital, as well as panels on myriad topics ranging from geek girls (“I Can Be a Geek and Feminine”) and fitness (“How to Become as Fit as Your Avatar”) to Kickstarter campaigns, cosplay and both creative and business aspects of becoming a writer or comic book artist.
How do you pick what to do and see? Here are the top 10 highlights of this year’s Emerald City Comicon.
Batman and Robin Reunited
The legendary Adam West and Burt Ward, who played the original Batman and Robin in the iconic, campy 1960s television series and the 1966 feature film, will join forces at ECCC—the first time this dynamic duo has ever appeared together in Seattle, West’s home town, in their 50 years of working together. In addition to their panel during the convention, they will walk the red carpet at the Emerald City Comicon gala screening of the 1966 “Batman” film on Thursday, Feb. 28, which Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn proclaimed “Mayor Adam West Day” (a little wink to West’s recurring voice acting role on “Family Guy”).
“Star Trek” Stars Old and New
It’s not a proper Comicon without some “Star Trek” cast members. As it happens, ECCC 2013 attendees get to meet none other than Walter Koenig (Pavel Andreievich Chekov from the original “Star Trek” series) and the formidable Sir Patrick Stewart (Capt. Jean-Luc Picard from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and Charles Xavier in the “X-Men” films). Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”), a six-time ECCC regular, will be lurking in the Gaming Section with Felicia Day.
Billy Dee Williams
It’s not a proper Comicon without a “Star Wars” cast member, either. Since Carrie Fisher unfortunately will not be attending ECCC as previously scheduled, Billy Dee Williams will have to hold down the fort alone. Luckily, the super-suave actor who played Lando Calrissian in the original “Star Wars” series has more than enough personality to go around, and many talents to boot—he will also discuss his success as a fine artist whose works have been displayed at institutions such as The Smithsonian.
The truth is out there, and Gillian Anderson is coming in here to tell you about it. In addition to her recent acting ventures on screen and stage, the award-winning actress will chat about her role as level-headed redhead Agent Dana Scully for nine seasons of “The X-Files,” which marks its 20th anniversary this year.
Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton
Come to the Gaming area to pay homage to Felicia Day (“The Guild,” “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog”)—the “Warrior Queen Goddess of All Nerds,” per Gawker. She holds court with Wil Wheaton, her co-host on “TableTop,” the board-game equivalent to celebrity poker shows that is featured on Day’s Geek & Sundry, the ultimate YouTube channel for nerds. Day and Wheaton find themselves in excellent company in the Gaming section: renowned Dungeons & Dragons artist Larry Elmore, musical funny guys Paul and Storm (stars of Geek & Sundry’s LearningTown) and voice actors Quinton Flynn (Raiden of the “Metal Gear” series) and Jennifer Hale (Commander Shepard of “Mass Effect”).
“The Walking Dead”
Discuss your zombie plan with the experts: Michael Rooker (Merle) and Danai Gurira (katana-wielding Michonne) from AMC’s hit TV series “The Walking Dead” will hash out the finer points of kicking undead butt. Alternatively, consult with Charlie Adlard, the artist of the wildly popular comic book series upon which the show is based, in signing area B on the main level.
The ECCC Kids! Area
The Emerald City Comicon makes its daytime programming eminently kid-friendly, and the friendliest area of all is the dedicated ECCC Kids! area in the North Lobby of the main level—purportedly the location of the secret headquarters of the Emerald City Caped Crusader and Caped Crusaderette. Children of all ages can meet NASA astronaut Clay Anderson, enjoy LEGO exhibits and participate in a kids’ costume contest.
Indie Cinema Magic (and Dinosaurs)
On Friday evening, watch clips from Seattle-based writer-director Steve Snoey’s faux-documentary series, “America’s Fighting Dinosaur,” about the military exploits of “Little” Sammy Vogel—a World War II infantryman who just so happens to be a T-Rex. Cinephiles can also support aspiring female genre filmmakers by checking out the Viscera and Etheria Film Festivals for horror and fantasy/sci-fi genres, respectively.
The ECCC Costume Party
Just going to Emerald City Comicon feels like attending a nerdy masquerade ball, but the pomp and showmanship reach their pinnacle at Saturday evening’s costume party and contest. Serious cosplayers easily devote months to their outfits, but attendees can find last-minute inspiration at the exhibition of costumes from “The Hunger Games” or from veteran costume designer and cosplay entertainer Yaya Han in the Gaming section.
The Comics Themselves
The list of comic book guests at ECCC 2013 reads like a who’s who of the industry. From animation legend and architect of the DC Animated universe Bruce Timm and Eisner hall-of-famer Neal Adams (“Batman,” “X-Men”) to artists such as Tim Sale (“Superman”), Adi Granov (“Iron Man”) and Gaijin Studios founding member Brian Stelfreeze (“Batman: Shadow of the Bat”) and writers including Garth Ennis (“Preacher”), Bill Willingham (“Fables”), Greg Rucka (“Whiteout”) and Gail Simone (“Batgirl”), the Emerald City Comicon lets longtime fans and recent enthusiasts experience the past, present and future of comic books.