Technology with attitude

Cosplay Heroes and the Rest of Emerald City Comicon


Level four of the Convention Center in Seattle was the sweaty, glossy heart of the 2013 Emerald City Comicon. The twin warehouses spanning Pike St had lines of fans waiting for signatures from creators like Mike Mignola and Matthew Inman. There were swag peddlers, and comic peddlers, and folks selling toys, and ideas, and giving elevator pitches to willing ears. Big companies like Image, and Dark Horse were there creating their own manic vortexes. The chaos in the high-ceilinged rooms would have confused a blipvert.

In a rare moment when there wasn’t a line, I spoke with Inman, creator of The Oatmeal. He spoke of the change that has happened to him since publishing ‘When your house is burning down you should brush your teeth‘. He feels that at this point he can’t put out list or fact-based comics anymore. He’s coming to terms with what that transition means in terms of productivity. I for one look forward to fewer comics, if that means they are all held to this new standard. We also talked about the Tesla Museum, an idea that he had and put out to overwhelming support. (It was quickly funded many times over.) You never know what your efforts will yield. For now at least, Inman has some pretty serious clout. Let’s hope he continues to use his powers for good.

Throughout the show floor there was a wealth of talent: graphic artists, writers, and local creative-types like the folks behind America’s Fighting Dinosaur, a faux documentary about a T-Rex in WWII. (Check out the video, it looks awesome!) To balance out the overall wholesomeness of ECCC (besides the many sexy versions of everything) there was the weird anime porn booth tucked into a corner, with images censored by fluorescent yellow paper. CREEPY!

All of this was made relevant by the hordes of cosplayers and non-cos (regulars) whose numbers insured the transmission of the post-con plague that is no doubt consuming swathes of this past weekend’s attendees. It’s Disneyland, Coachella, the numbers are Times Square-esque. It’s a lot to take in — sometimes too much. That’s when you go to panels, or stand in line to pay Patrick Stewart $80 for a handshake.

On Saturday I went to a panel with Jhonen Vasquez, creator of, among other things, Invader Zim. “Let’s cheer of the disappointment of people who only want me to do Zim things,” he said early on, to big applause. He seemed good naturedly jaded; perhaps due to being limited by what he was able to speak about. (E.g. nothing Titmouse-related. That panel was still coming up.) Instead, he started digging a bit of a hole for himself, rhetorically. He spoke of how some fans do fandom wrong. “Teen idol shit is grotesque to me,” he said. For the rest of ECCC his comments stuck with me. It’s hard to say how many times one could endure someone being a blubbering inarticulate fan asking a question, or offering a sweaty too-familiar hug, but still… Nobody in the audience winced as far as I could tell.

Vasquez’ comments on fandom came back to me during the Gillian Anderson Q&A. Long lines of women and men stood up to ask mostly X-Files-related questions, and almost all of them spoke with sincerity about Anderson, about her, and her character Scully being role models. A few lost their shit, and you know what? It was endearing. There was some definite hero worship, but Anderson took it in stride, even with that one really creepy guy. A highlight was when a truly energetic Chilean man asked her if her X-Files co-star David Duchovny is anything like his lecherous Californication character off screen, and if she will ever do the show. She said “yes, and no,” but left the order of her answers unclear.

That night, after the con, The Bushwick Book Club performed at the Crocodile. As an ECCC tie-in, the performance was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Emmett Montgomery was the host, and was the first to interpret Sandman, describing how years ago Sandman was his introduction to the idea of benign nightmares, and how nightmares could be beautiful. All of the performances that night had a kind of nightmarish beauty.

This is a digression, but I’d like to give a shout-out. There were a lot of performers. Whoever ran the sound that night should still be congratulating themselves. Besides setting up mics for a full band, there was every flavor of acoustic instruments, and many varied voices. Color me impressed. End of digression.

Having gotten a taste of the Bushwick show on the first day of ECCC, I knew to expect good things. I knew ahead of time that I’d be amazed by Tai Shan, and Mozo, and Aaron Shay. I didn’t know that Evan Peterson would perform a spot-on poem about Desire, the most salacious of the Endless. I didn’t know that Aaron Daniel would create a looped composition with moments of acoustic transcendence. I had to be there to experience that. You have to go to these things. The super-catchy lyric award has to go to Mike Votava. I am a sandwich has been on repeat in my head ever since the show. Bushwick, by the way, shows no sign of slowing. Their next big event on March 28th at Town Hall: The Bible, no big.

If the Bushwick show at the Croc was the apex for me, then the con on Sunday was Frodo going back to the Shire. The things that I’ll take away from ECCC were the parts that were most encouraging about humanity. The true-hearted cosplayers, like the woman in the Weeping Angel costume, who never got a moment’s peace. How she said yes to everyone who wanted a photo. There’s proof right there in something essential about us as people that seemed overwhelmingly positive, and silly, and brave. Best in show for me? Male Milla Jovovich from the Fifth Element, hands down amazing.