Every March, there comes a time where the downtown area has heavier traffic than usual. Zombies, superheroes, and all manner of other characters become a common sight on the streets. The occasion is, of course, Emerald City Comic Con, which is celebrating its 15th consecutive year as one of Seattle’s biggest pop culture celebrations.
Over 80,000 people flocked to the Washington State Convention Center to be a part of the four-day event and thanks to SEAC, some of those attendants were Seattle University students. SEAC’s city programmers were able to reserve 50 passes for Friday, March 3 which they raffled off to those that expressed interest in the ECCC.
“I myself love Comic Con and everything and everyone there, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring it to the Seattle University community,” said Kasi Gaarenstroom, a junior environmental science major and the city programmer responsible for leading the event.
With the large demand that Emerald City Comic Con and similar events elicit, passes are often subject to speculation and scalping, which severely limits the average person’s ability to gain admission. SEAC’s reservation of theses passes allowed a number of students that otherwise would not have been able to go the opportunity to be a part of the experience.
“I know I didn’t have the opportunity to go for the past few years ‘cause it’s too expensive. So to provide the opportunity to those who couldn’t go because of the financial barrier, and to provide it for free, was really exciting for me,” Gaarenstroom said.
Though comic conventions across the country are all mostly comparable to each other, there are very few things that are comparable to a comic convention. For someone that has never gone, it is an experience that is surprisingly similar to a big sporting event, despite how opposed the two may seem. They both take place in a big venue, are often hard to get into and try to sell you overpriced food and merchandise. People come to both types of events dressed up as their favorite characters, whether that’s James Harden from the Houston Rockets or James from Pokemon’s Team Rocket and will have lively discussions on how this season was better than that other season. In short, it is a place where people enthusiastic about a specific thing are packed very tightly with thousands of other people that share that interest, combined with celebrities everyone is dying to see.
Humor aide, one of the reasons that people are so drawn to events like Comic Con, aside from buying rare or convention-exclusive collectibles, is the opportunity to meet the people behind your favorite pieces of media. Whether it’s the actor that played your favorite character, or the writers and artists that put them on the page, conventions house a lot of talented people in a more accessible setting than one would think. Emerald City Comic Con had the sixth floor sectioned off into “Artist Alley”, where both small indie illustrators and longtime comic artists held booths open for commission sketches and conversations with passing fans.
“My favorite part about ECCC is getting to meet the artists and minds behind some of my favorite comics and shows,” said Joseph Delos Reyes, a senior humanities for leadership major. “Being able to hang out and just chat about people who have had a profound impact on my life is incredibly surreal but also so natural because I feel like they know me.”
Emerald City Comic Con is part of a much larger network of conventions across the country, the most famous of which is San Diego Comic Con. As a result, some of the students that attended ECCC had gone to the Comic Con of their hometown and were able to make comparisons between their past and present experience.
“I’ve been to San Diego Comic Con many times and while ECCC wasn’t quite as grand, it was just as fun,” said Nyall Padre, a first-year humanities for teaching major. “Great artists, great costumes, great people and a great convention.”
Whether SEAC will repeat this event for next year will depend on the future city programmers, but what is already clear is that the convention was a big success for those that were able to go.
Carlos may be reached at