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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Emerald City Comicon

 

Kids shoot their "blasters" at a Stormtrooper during "Blast a Trooper," a Star Wars Experience Room game. // Photo by Melissa McCarthy
Kids shoot their “blasters” at a Stormtrooper during “Blast a Trooper,” a Star Wars Experience Room game. // Photo by Melissa McCarthy

Through the crowds of people in costumes, the sound of a saxophone can be heard. The woodwind is playing the Ghostbusters theme song. Suddenly, cutting through the crowd, are six people in Ghostbusters costumes being followed closely behind by the saxophone player. As they run past, people sing along and grins spread across their faces. This is Emerald City Comicon.

ECCC is a comic book convention held annually at the Seattle Convention Center. Tens of thousands of people flock to the convention dressed as their favorite characters or pop-culture references according to the ECCC website statistics.

This year, many Western students attended the ECCC, which included almost all of the WWU Comic Book Club.

“I think the weird people at comic book conventions are the ones who don’t dress up.”

Sophomore psychology major, dressed as Astrid from “How to Train Your Dragon 2, Kelli Gessner

Students were there to experience the panels and games. Such as Dinah Lankerovich, a sophomore biology student, who went dressed as Star Butterfly from “Star vs. the Forces of Evil.” She made her own costume, complete with wand, over spring break. This was her third year at ECCC and Lankerovich said her favorite thing was the exhibitions of games at the Sheraton Hotel next door.

At the Sheraton there are two floors filled with board games, arcade games, video games and more. Lankerovich did admit she ditched school on Friday so she could have more time at the convention.

WWU Comic Book Club’s president Ryann Jonak and her boyfriend Scott Shuken, came to the convention and it doubled as a couples weekend in Seattle. Jonak is senior and came dressed as character Harley Quinn. Shuken, a former Western student, was wearing a green morphsuit. Jonak said the highlight of her ECCC experience was meeting Marguerite Bennett, a writer for two of her favorite series.

“The cool thing about the convention is you can walk up to [a comic book artist’s] table and be like ‘Hey, I like your comic. Do you wanna talk about it?’ And they always want to; they always want people to be like ‘yeah I’m excited about the comic,’” said Shuken. (Shuken 2:14)

Shuken would have continued his thought but was interrupted by an exuberant comicon attendee dressed as Gandalf the White screaming, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” at an oncoming crowd.

Jonak is a comic convention veteran, having attended events in both Bellingham and San Diego.

Jonak and Shuken compared ECCC to Bellingham’s ComiCon. They said Bellingham ComiCon is a lot smaller and has more buying and selling of comics rather than talking with the people that created them. “It’s more of a fan convention than a creator convention,” Shuken said.

But, Lankerovich argued on the side of Belligham ComiCon. “Support your local artist,” she said. “Bellingham ComiCon is coming up and some students are exhibitors at it. Go there, show up, support their art.”

Kelli Gessner, a sophomore psychology major, dressed as Astrid from “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” spent one day at the convention. Having already attended Sakura-Con, an anime convention, two weeks prior, Gessner has had plenty convention-time this year. Her favorite part of going to conventions is people watching.

“I think the weird people at comic book conventions are the ones who don’t dress up,” Gessner said.

She had made her own armored custom filled with fur. She said she’d been working on it since February and had just finished the costume that morning.

Gessner also mentioned her love for the ECCC community. She said the crowd has a very different nature; they are very accepting and compliment each other left and right.

Senior geology major Katherine Winchell, dressed as Rey from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and Arlene Keller, a Western alumni who had just changed out of her Tusken Raider costume, proved the ECCC community is generous as well as accepting. They were there working for two charity organizations, the Rebel Legion and the 501st Legion.

The two charity groups, affiliated with Lucasfilm and Disney, work at events with the Make-A-Wish foundation, the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and smaller scale opportunities like food drives and local literacy events.

In the “Star Wars Experience Room,” kids shot nerf bullets at storm troopers and fans got to walk inside a Millennium Falcon set piece.

A donation area was set up just outside the experience room to raise money for Children’s.  Last year, they raised over $10,000 for the hospital and this year the total raised was over $17,000.

“You get to run around and be a nerd and also do something good for the community,” Winchell said.

Winchell is the base membership officer for the charity organization and said the ECCC is a great spot for recruiting new members.

This year’s high profile guests included people like James and Oliver Phelps who play Fred and George Weasley in the “Harry Potter” series, Nathan Fillion from “Firefly,” Norman Reedus from “The Walking Dead” and Sean Astin who played Samwise Gamgee in “Lord of the Rings”.

“[The ECCC] is an adventure. It’s a vacation,” she said

 

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