I have committed to an intensive Con schedule this year - perhaps because I got into cosplay later in life, but also perhaps of not being able to go to any Cons over the COVID 19 pandemic. Nonetheless, Emerald City Comic Con is one of the largest conventions near me, taking place at the convention centre in the heart of downtown Seattle, Washington, just off Union street.
Not only that, but this is its 20th year in operation - happy anniversary ECCC! Here’s to 20 more years to come.
I didn’t plan on attending Emerald City. When I am not involved in the cosplay world, I have a full-time professional job and a family that needs looking after, and with a plan to attend 5-6 cons this year, I didn’t need to take another weekend away. On a whim, I decided to look at the ECCC webpage, and saw one of my favourite voice actors was scheduled to be in attendance. With that, I bought a one-day ticket so I could meet Jennifer Hale.
Before we continue, I would like to recognize that the city of Seattle is located within the ancestral territories of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, Duwamish, Suquamish, sdukʷalbixʷ (Snoqualmie), Muckleshoot, and Stillaguamish. It is on these unceded and stolen lands that we meet, gather, and play.
Sunday 5th March
My day started early; my goal was to arrive at con around 11 am, which means I needed to leave around 8 am from my home in Vancouver, British Columbia, to make it to ECCC. I had asked my parents if I could borrow their larger electric vehicle for the drive, as my smaller EV did not have good range and it would take me much longer to get there.
Since my main goal at Con was to meet Jennifer Hale, I picked my casual Femme Shepard cosplay from Mass Effect; I did my full make up and pinned my hair back, taking my wig with me to put on before I went in. I didn’t want to try and cross the border with a wig on, plus it would add 3+ extra hours of wearing a wig. I got my gear on, packed extra makeup for re-touches, brought some extra clothes for after; I had prepped the EV to be fully charged to it’s travelling battery capacity and had the cabin pre-heated, so I got into the car and started my journey south towards Seattle.
|Ready to roll|
I quickly crossed the border with no incident, and started my journey down the I-5 to Seattle. I stopped at my favourite coffee stop in Burlington, waved at a few folks checking out the car on the highway, took a pit stop, and before I knew it, I’d started seeing the traffic in Everett which signalled I was getting close to Seattle. I had to take the famous Union street exit - well known for cars not slowing down enough coming off the highway and colliding with the side barrier.
Arriving at Con
As I said before - this is my first time attending ECCC, so I was figuring everything out for the first time. The Seattle convention centre is made up of multiple buildings, laid out over 2 streets. As I drove up between two convention buildings, I saw a stream of cosplayers and decided I was in the right general place; I followed a sign for parking and followed other cars into a parkade attached to one of the convention buildings. I knew I had picked the ‘right’ parkade when it had a special event rate posted as I went in. After driving up a few floors, I saw other cosplayers putting on their last details at the trunk of their cars, so I picked a free spot and pulled in. I then did the same, and while at the trunk of my car I touched up my makeup, put on my wig cap and wig, ditched my sweater and tucked my billfold and phone into my pocket.
The badge pickup was in a different building than the main con. Luckily, I parked in the building where badge pick up was; after meeting a couple other folks from Vancouver, I got my badge and directions to how to get to the new building that the Con was being held in. As I walked, there was a man with a large cardboard arrow helping direct people; he was complimenting folks as they walked past and giving high fives.
|The artwork on the Sunday badge|
I walked about 1 block, turned a corner and saw the entrance to the Con - it wasn’t hard to miss with the crowd hanging around!
|The main con building|
Attending the Con
Upon first entrance: wow! The con was being held in the new Summit building and everything about it was beautiful; the outside promenade was gorgeous, and the inside atrium had high, lofty ceilings. Since I arrived after Con had started for the day, and it was the last day, the line to get through security was very short. They did have metal detectors and were searching bags; luckily I was able to go right through.
|The amazing 20 year anniversary art|
The first thing I did was check out the map - there were 5 floors of Con happening! The first 2 floors were for merch, artist alley and celebrities, the third floor was smaller panel rooms, quiet rooms, lounges and the garden balcony, the fourth was for game rooms, cosplay rooms, Maid Café and manga library, and the top floor was the large panel room, and where you could have the opportunity to meet Mark Ruffio (of Marvel Fame) or David Tennant (Dr. Who, Ducktales, Marvel, Good Omens, etc).
I was really impressed to see so many quiet rooms and lounges; ECCC took inclusion seriously so that all attendees could be comfortable during their con experience.
Meeting Jennifer Hale
My first order of business: meet Jennifer Hale.
Jennifer Hale is a Canadian-American voice actress, who is most famous for the female voice of Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series, Bastila in Knights of the Old Republic, Ashe in Overwatch, and Naomi Hunter in Metal Gear Solid. Going back in her impressive CV, she’s also voiced characters from my childhood shows, such as Felicia Hardy from Spiderman: The Animated Series, Sedusa/Ms Keane/Princess Morbucks in the original run of Powerpuff Girls, Sam from Totally Spies and Thorn, lead singer of the Hex Girls in Scooby-Doo.
I went straight up to Floor 2, where the celebrities were. Much like other Cons, they had an area off to themselves with their own booths, with clearly marked areas to stand and corridors to make leaving easier.
As I walked in, a gentleman stepped out in to the hall - close enough I could have touched him; when I turned to look who it was, I did a double take - it was James Marsters of Buffy/Angel, and Smallville fame! He was stepping out to take a selfie with a fan. I took a moment to quietly fangirl internally, because who didn’t love Spike and Brainiac?
I quickly found Hale’s booth and got in line. She was with her Metal Gear Solid co-stars David Hayter and Robin Atkin Downes. After a brief wait - maybe 30 minutes - I was in the presence of one of the most prolific voice actors of our time. Emerald City was her first Con back after taking a 3-year hiatus from Cons, I would think mostly due to her work schedule and the pandemic.
|Jennifer, Myself, and David Hayter photobombing us|
I could write a whole article on Jennifer Hale - what I will say for her in this article: if you get the chance to meet her, do it. Not only is she gorgeous in real life, but she is kind, modest, and just an absolute sweetheart. She let me ramble on about how much her voices meant to me, and she was so sweet.
Back to the Con: Exhibition Floor
After meeting Jennifer, and walking the autographs back to my car, I was able to go back and enjoy the con!
I decided to hit the floors in order to explore. The exhibition floor was dedicated to merch - there were comic boxes, pins, funkos, clothing, swords, wall scrolls, plushies and everything else you could imagine in this space. The floor was very large - even walking at a moderate pace and not really stopping at any one booth for too long, it took me about 2 hours to look at everything.
|Lord Shen from Kung Fu Panda|
The entrance to this area was down an escalator from the entrance floor, and the entrance to go on the main floor was quite large. Two food areas were located at the very back, but there was little to no seating, meaning most folks were sitting down around the back wall, or even up near the entrance.
As you walked in, there was a large display area with life size models of different animes - the ones I recognized were Spy Family and Dragon Ball Z. There was also a large lightsaber vendor near the front with probably around 20 choices of hilt/blade colour, as well as a large plushie vendor.
I will mention that the whole floor was quite crowded. Emerald City is much larger than anything else I’ve attended (FanExpo Vancouver and Capital City Comic Con Victoria), so the people and the sheer size of the floor was overwhelming.
|Alan with baby Facehugger Carlos from The Hangover/Aliens|
The second floor was devoted mostly to independent artists. They had quite a large Artist Alley which was impressive, but it was so crowded that I couldn’t make my way through it until the con emptied out later on in the day.
They had larger booths as well of independent artists - not only art, but also writers with books, plush crafts, dice, and musical instruments. The celebrity area was quite large as well, with signs not to take any pictures in that area.
|The Shepard Art I ended up buying from this show|
There was also a food station on the inside of this hall, and one outside (which I missed until the very end). This was the place I ended up eating at; unfortunately I felt like the portion was very small for the amount I paid for it. Like the Exhibition Hall, there was very little seating so I ended up sitting on the floor to eat.
The third floor was mostly quiet, reserved for lounges and the smaller panel rooms. The biggest attraction was the LARP fighting area - which was great for kids - and the garden balcony where many cosplayers were going to connect with photographers to get their pictures taken.
This is where I met quite a number of people, and got their pictures!
|Myself and Jack Sparrow|
This was also the floor with the local 501st - Garrison Titan - which were out in full force with their droids! There were quite a number of R2-D2’s rolling about, small and large, that would beep and squeal. Some would even ‘overheat’ and their tops would open and smoke would come out.
The 501st is always a delight, and with the popularity of Star Wars and all the new shows being released, there was a lot of Star Wars cosplay representation.
Level 4 & 5
These levels were devoted to gaming - none of which I partook in, but the tabletop hall was hopping and so was the PC Café; the manga library was also up here, as well as the Maid Café.
|Black Widow on the Garden Patio|
The top floor - with a magnificent view of the city I might add - was for photo ops, the large panel room, and where you could meet Mark Ruffalo and/or David Tennant.
What a con to have gone to. I’ve never experienced anything so large yet in my time as a cosplayer, and it was both amazing to see so many people together, and overwhelming at the same time!
There were also so many amazing cosplayers to see with gorgeous costumes on. The Garden Patio was active with folks; this is where the professional photographers were taking photos. I was able to ask to take a few photos of others here as well. Sadly I did not get enough Instagram handles!
|I wish I knew what franchise this gorgeous cosplay is from!|
I did find the building absolutely beautiful. There were places to sit near the escalators, however there wasn’t enough seating just in general to sit down to have a rest, however there were lounges on an upper floor. The food areas could have been better marked, and had more seating. By the time I was able to eat, I had the feeling they were running low on items and so my portion seemed pretty small.
Doing the whole con in one day was also exhausting! When I go again, I would spread it out over at least 2 days to enjoy the con in a more relaxed manner, and also maybe take in a bit of Seattle at the same time.
My final feelings on Emerald City Comic Con are overwhelmingly positive. I would definitely attend again! I have a feeling that the new building has solved previous issues the Con may have had before, as it was not hurting for space, and unlike other cons I have been to, it was housed in one building instead of being split between locations.
|A friendly neighbourhood ghostbuster|
I was very impressed as well at the calibre of celebrities that were in attendance, with a good mix of artists, gamers, voice actors, and other nerdy celebrities from shows/franchises older and new. There really was a little something for everyone at this con.
Dates have already been set for 2024: February 29-March 3, in Seattle, Washington! Get your tickets here.
You just might see me next year!