It just hasn’t been the same for Emerald City Comic Con the past few years. The annual Seattle comic book convention, which typically draws close to 100,000 attendees across four days, was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, and the 2021 event was more scaled back than previous years, also because of the pandemic, drawing around 45,000 attendees .
This year’s ECCC, though, should be closer to years past for the comic book fans, cosplayers, gamers and families attending the event, taking place Aug. 18-21 at the Seattle Convention Center (formerly the Washington State Convention Center).
However, COVID-19 is still a concern, and ReedPop, the company that puts on ECCC, announced Aug. 3 it was reintroducing its mask policy, a change from its June 29 announcement saying masks wouldn’t be mandatory. Attendees now will be required to wear approved masks — certified N95, KN95 or KN94 masks were strongly recommended — in order to enter the venue. (Get the latest safety information and mask requirements at emeraldcitycomiccon.com.)
ECCC will not require verification of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative test for admission.
But with that being said, ReedPop is expecting a convention closer to pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re looking at a definite increase in attendance from 2021,” said Chris D’Lando, event manager for the domestic portfolio at ReedPop, which includes ECCC. “And what that tells us is that people are starting to come back to their events, but they’re still coming back in their own time.”
ECCC attendees can also expect some different fare this year.
“We’ve got our pretty tried-and-true stuff covered: comics, anime, sci-fi fantasy, authors, that sort of thing. But we’re starting to see a lot more different niches kind of rise up in terms of fandoms. We’re bringing some really great guests from ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ this year … . So I anticipate we’re going to be seeing some new fans at the show this year.”
What to look forward to
Autographs and photo ops
Attendees can expect some fan favorites this year available for photo ops and/or autographs (check the website for time and day):
- Christopher Eccleston from “Doctor Who”
- Brendan Frasier and Oded Fehr of “The Mummy” fame
- Cast members from “Our Flag Means Death” (including Con O’Neill, Nathan Ford and Kristian Nairn)
- Tom Welling of “Smallville”
- Jinkx Monsoon and BenDeLaCreme of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”
- Freddie Prince Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook of “She’s All That”
You will be able to remove your mask while your photo is being taken, ECCC said in its COVID announcement. And keep in mind: Photo ops and autographs aren’t included in the price of show floor tickets, and you’ll have to pay extra for those.
Dozens of panels will take place across all four days of the convention and touch on everything from how to write comics to gaming therapy to a panel featuring the voice actors of the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon.
You can learn from some of the best tabletop campaign designers, hear about the role the queer community has played in the world of comics, join a reunion for the Syfy hit show “The Magicians,” find out more about the latest entry in the hugely popular “Dragonlance” book series and more.
Cosplaying is a major staple of entertainment conventions, and ECCC is no exception. Expect to encounter a wide range of costumes from anime to movies to comic books.
For those partaking, you can meet up with other enthusiasts at Cosplay Central, where you can attend workshops, connect with other cosplayers and touch up (or change out of) your outfit. Plus, ECCC on Aug. 20 is hosting the Cosplay Central Crown Championship, where entrants will vie for a cash prize and a trip to Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo in 2023 to compete against cosplayers from around the world.
Of note: If you’re donning your alter-ego during the convention, you’ll still be required to wear an approved face covering, according to ECCC.
“You may wear your helmet/mask after entering provided that you have an approved face covering on as well,” ECCC said in its mask announcement.
Next door at the Sheraton Hotel is the Gaming Zone, which is, well, exactly what it sounds like.
From Dungeons & Dragons (with dedicated dungeon masters available) to Magic the Gathering to console and arcade games (and tournaments aplenty), there’s much to occupy your time if you’re between panels or just looking for a break from the show floor.
Your badge will allow access to the area, which generally runs from the opening of the show floor each day to about 1 am
Want to meet the artists behind the comic books? Then you’ll want to take a stroll to Artist Alley.
This year, the creative hub will have about 500 tables, the vast majority of them Pacific Northwest artists and crafters you can converse with, buy commissions from or watch work on their craft. Expect to see names big and small there throughout the event.