Driven by a top-notch list of comics guests and a strong selection of media guests, the eighth Emerald City Comicon in Seattle saw Saturday attendance grow 40% from last year. Organizer Jim Demonaokos said that about 13,000 people had attended both days in 2009—in 2010 Saturday alone saw 11,000 people buy tickets. Reflecting the surge in attendance, the show announced they would be going to three days next year.
According to Demonakos, the expansion is badly needed. "We were sold out of exhibitor space four months in advance, and the waiting list for artists alley was so long that we could have had 30% of the people cancel and we could have filled it right up." The longer show will also open up more time and room for programming, he said.
Emerald City has seen steady growth in its eight years, which Demonakos attributes to steady promotion—an ad for Stan Lee's appearance ran during his guest shot on The Big Bang Theory—as well as a strong local fanbase. The thick concentration of cartoonists in the Pacific Northwest doesn't hurt, either - Seattle is home to Fantagraphics, while Portland Oni, Top Shelf and Dark Horse call Portland home base. All the local companies had booths, and area writers and artists - including Marvel mainstays Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and Matt Fraction - were star attractions.
As the first major convention of the year (along with MegaCon on the East coast), it was also the first show since DC Entertainment announced their reorganization. Geoff Johns, DC's new Chief Creative Officer, was a guest, and answered questions about upcoming Green (and other colored) Lantern and Brightest Day related stories on the DC Nation Panel.
Marvel E-I-C- Joe Quesada appeared on the traditional Cup O' Joe panel and talked about Marvel's move into digital comics, a question which was also asked at t the DC panel.
With the arrival of the iPad imminent, digital comics remained a hot topic. Longbox, the much buzzed about application that will allow readers to purchase online comics held a launch party Friday night - according to CEO and founder Rantz Hoseley, the planned public beta launch is expected this week.
Image Comics also held a panel where they announced several new projects, including Tim Seeley moving his popular HACK/Slash horror book to the publisher.
While comics are the main focus at Emerald City, media guests Leonard Nimoy and Stan Lee were definitely at the top of many people's must-see list, and a Nimoy panel was held to a packed room of worshipful fans. Reflecting the growing view of comic-con's as full service "pop culture festivals" where attendees can let their nerd flag fly, there were several musical interludes as well, including Quesada, a long time musician, jamming with Demonakos' nerdcore band Kirby Krackle, and a Rock Band session with Brubaker, Fraction, Bendis and actor Wil Wheaton.
Next year's Emerald City ComiCon will be held March 4-6 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.