Lots of folks were worried that this would be the year that Emerald City Comicon jumps the shark—that this year would become too pop culture promotion-y or the whole show would experience some kind of inexplicable and amorphously weird attitudinal shift. I have yet to see that happen. In fact, this year's show feels a lot more pleasant than last year's show, for two reasons:
1. There are fewer costumes (please bear in mind, if you've just driven by Washington State Convention Center and you'd like to disagree with me on this point, I am speaking relatively, which is to say that there are way more costumes than a non-convention-going person would expect to confront on the street on an average day). Costumes aren't the mark of a bad convention by any means, but the lack of costumes here make the convention feel more open-minded and omnivorously nerdy. The costumes that are here are for the most part comfortable, casual and fun. For instance, there are a whole lot of original gangster Star Trek outfits, which are practically street clothes in this kind of environment. And I've seen only one Slave Leia, which I consider a noteworthy improvement over most conventions (and the guy dressed as Pedobear is respectfully only groping people who ask to pose for pictures). Most of the costumes are charming, and some are downright cute, especially one three-year-old girl dressed up in a Wolverine costume with over-exaggerated man-muscles. Along those lines:
2. The male-to-female ratio isn't quite fifty-fifty, but it is closer to gender parity than any convention I've ever attended. That changes the tone considerably. Sometimes a convention can reek of casual misogyny; I've never gotten that vibe off of Emerald City Comicon, and this year feels downright girl-positive.
All the exhibitors I've talked to agree that the convention being open on Friday (this year is the first year that the convention has been open for three full days) made a huge difference for them. It gave the show a nice, ramping-up feel as people checked in after work, learned the lay of the halls, and prepared for the weekend. I bought some back issues of books that I always wanted to try and talked for a bit with Phil and Kaja Foglio, of the webcomic series Girl Genius. They're selling the omnibus collection of the first three volumes of Girl Genius for $10. I got them to autograph my copy. (Nerd.)