Emerald City Comicon Day 3

So we come to the last day.  We didn’t get quite as much done on Sunday, but what we did do was pretty great.  I’d have liked to get some more time down in the gaming area, maybe try out D&D Next, but you can’t do everything!

We started out the day in the showroom floor.  I know, it seems like we spent a lot of time there, but there really is so much stuff out there that no way will you be able to see everything no matter how long you stay and how hard you try.  In any case, we came by one display for a small outfit called Skullastic.  There owner operator was at the booth.  He produces rather unique school supplies, most with a geek theme.  One interesting thing they had was a “decomposition” notebook, which had a slightly zombie theme to the cover, and none of the line on the inside ran parallel, but rather went this way that!  He also produced custom notebooks at his booth, where you picked a cover from several options, picked what kind of paper you wanted (lined, framed, graph, comic book, blank, etc.), picked what color spirals you wanted, and finally picked which side to get the spirals bound on (so you could have a right or left handed notebook).  I bought one of these, and will post a picture in my next blog.  He gives a portion of his proceeds to schools, so everyone check out his website!   http://www.skullastic.com/

I also ended up caving and buying one of the Castle Grayskull dungeon kits I saw the other day.  I talked with the owner of working class villains a little bit more about what he does, and the different projects he’s working on.

Then we hustled our butts up to the main hall to see the Geek and Sundry Panel of Awesome.  It was really just an hour long question and answer session with Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton interspersed with amusing anecdotes and banter.  The play off each other very well exuding a kind of sibling-esque vibe, and it was a lot of fun.  The highlight was when one fan asked Felicia something rather inappropriate, and Wil, who was drinking from a water bottle spit his water out in shock, spraying Felicia!  Naturally, they talked a lot about Felicia’s youtube channel, Geek and Sundry, and about Wil’s show on the channel, Tabletop.  And of course they brought up Tabletop Day.  Wil also talked about some games he’d be playing on the next season of Tabletop (Star Trek Cattan, Once Upon a Time, and I THINK he said King of Tokyo?)

Next up, was Mr. Dirk Benedict, who played Starbuck in the original BSG, and Faceman in The A-Team.  They brought him onstage with a band playing the original A-Team theme!  His panel was very interesting.  He is certainly not your typical Hollywood figure, being very opinionated, and much more on the right side of the spectrum then the left.  Coming to Seattle of all places in that mindset is kinda ballsy if I do say so myself.  His moderators kept trying to interrupt him to ask him this or that, but he had so much to say they really should have just let him go.  (note to ECCC… Get some DECENT moderators next year, the ones this year either were just terrible at doing interviews, or wanted to make the interview more about them then the person they were interviewing!)  The audience had a very mixed reaction to him.  He was very entertaining, and everything he had to say really came from his heart, but some people around here have a hard time listening to opinions that differ from his own.  So a lot of the audience was really digging the funny and personal insight Mr. Benedict gave us, but others completely wrote him off, and I even heard some people not to far from us talking about what a jacka$$ Mr. Benedict was (personally I think it’s kindof jacka$$y to be openly having a conversation during his panel about how low your opinion of him is, but hey, that’s just me)

Finally we came to what many probably considered the crown jewel of the show, the Patrick Stewart panel!  He has not aged a SINGLE day!  Captain friggin Picard!  And he really plays to an audience well (I suppose years of Shakespearean performance will do that to you).  A few highlights, his favorite episode of TNG was The Inner Light, and in the episode his son was played by Stewart’s real life son.  When he auditioned he wore a toupee, that Paramount had emergency lifted to the US from London just for the audition.  When he was cast, his agent spent several hours making phone calls to different people in the US trying to give him the news.  Dune was “an accident that never should have happened” (though he did clarify he didn’t mean the movie was bad, but rather David Lynch had thought he was casting someone else), when he met Sting he didn’t know who he was, and in 6 months he starts filming on the new X-Men movie!  I wanted to ask a question, but so did everyone else in the auditorium, and I never got my chance.  It was still worth it though, and a very memorable way to end the con!

So that was my con experience this year.  Tomorrow I’ll put up some final thoughts and pictures.  Hopefully my recap has entertained you as much as the con entertained me, and here’s looking forward to next year’s con!

Emerald City Comicon Day 2

On Saturday, we got up early in the morning because our friend Anna was going to meet us at our place before we left for the con.  Anna only got tickets for Saturday, but this was her first con, and she didn’t really know what to expect.  Comic conventions are awesome and crazy wonderful, but they can also be chaotic, crowded, and overwhelming, so I have to give props to anyone willing to brave it for the first time!

Once we got there, we quickly picked up Anna’s badge, and then went up to the main hall by escalator again skipping the packed line to get into the showroom.  This time there was also a line to get on the elevator, though not nearly as bad.  What WAS bad were the convention center representatives, who I guess hadn’t really talked to the people running the con or something?  They didn’t seem to know how the line was supposed to be organized, or didn’t know how to handle the crowd, but they were just randomly screaming at people to go here, then go there, then you can’t be hear, contradicting each thing they wanted us to do with the next, and being very unpleasant about it at the same time.  So naturally, the crowd completely ignored them, which just made them more angry.  But then they started letting people into the top floor, and the line moved away from the convention center reps anyway.

For day two, we started by going to the “Wil Wheaton Vs. Paul and Storm” panel, which I guess is actually a show that they tour.  Paul and Storm are a musical/comedy duo I was not very familiar with, but Ellen was.  I was just figuring on going to see Wil Wheaton’s panel on Sunday, but Ellen really wanted to see this one too, and it was very much the right choice.  Their show was quirky and histerical.  I’ve always known Wil Wheaton was good public speaker, but he does stand up (I guess the show could be considered stand up?) very well, and played off Paul and Storm nicely.  Plus, I got to see the greatest 36 seconds on the internet (just google “kitty sail” and laugh…. and be sure to watch WITH music).

After that the three of us tooled around the show room a little bit, got a quick bite, and made our way down to the gaming area for a panel on Wil Wheaton’s web show, Tabletop.  Wil wasn’t their, just the producer of the show, but he was very informative and gave us a lot of background and behind the scenes info on the show.  He also gave us lots of suggestions on running our own game nights, and talked about what kinds of game were good for different situations, and what kinds worked well for episodes of the show (as well as what kinds didn’t).  While he couldn’t out right say it, he STRONGLY suggested the first season will be coming out on DVD in the not too distant future.  Then of course he took the opportunity to plug International Tabletop Day.  He told us all about what the day was supposed to accomplish, how to participate, suggested using the #tabletopday hashtag on twitter as much as possible, and the like.  Being a fan of the show, it was pretty cool!

After eating a real meal, we headed back to the show floor to check out the artists and booths.  One of the things that’s awesome about Comicon is just seeing all the artists there, signing autographs, talking to people about there work, and often drawing sketches for people (usually for a price, but what do you expect?).  We’d looked around the show floor before but this was really the first extended amount of time we’d spent there.  Then, I bumped into my old DM, Seth!  This is the second ECCC I’ve run into him, and it was great to catch up.  I have been too busy to play in his campaign for a while now, so this was fun!  At one point when we were on the show floor I found the booth for Working Class Villains.  They are a group of independent artists that produce action figure inspired works of art.  They had an incredible 3D representation of the dungeon of Castle Grayskull on display that you can actually look up online (they have it for sale on their website).

Our last panel of the day was Gillian Anderson.  I used to be a big X-File fan back in high school, and Ellen has recently become a fan herself, so we were kindof excited.  Well…. she’s certainly aged well.  She’s not really red headed anymore, but as beautiful (if not more so) than she was during the show.  But that’s really all I can say in favor of the panel.  She was a pretty terrible public speaker.  Nervous, flighty, talking a lot without really saying anything.  I guess she did have some bizarre questions to deal with (one young lady told her that Skully was her role model, and was Ms. Anderson familiar with Skully and Mulder slash fiction?…. yuck)  Her best moment was the last question where the guy just rambled on for 10 minutes until she pantomimed handing him a joint.

After this, I we went down to the bottom floor of the gaming area to try a few games.  We started with a few games of Tsuro, which is one that was featured on Tabletop.  It’s very light weight, and quick (you can play a game in 10-15 minutes) and will definitely be featured at our Tabletop Day game night.  We followed this up with a strange little game called Dungeon World.  At this point we were trying games brought by the Seattle Story Games group.  Story games are RPG’s that are more narrative based then character based, and often are played without a Game Master.  Dungeon World seems as though it tries to split the difference between more mainstream RPG’s (sharing a large amount of DNA with D&D specifically) and the more indie type story games.  While it does have a GM, it has a number of mechanics meant to help drive story, and give a greater amount of narrative control to the players.  I am not sure what I think of it.  Conceptually I like the idea, but one play through, though enjoyable, was not enough for me to decide how successfully it hit its goals.  After that, we played a lovely little game called Zombie Cinema.  This one was a full fledged story game, proudly showing it’s indie roots.  It’s a GMless RPG where the players ultimately build a Zombie movie from the ground up.  Intriguingly, and unlike just about every other Zombie themed game I have ever heard of, the point is not to get your player to survive, but to build the best zombie movie possible.  As such, getting killed in the game can actually be viewed as a GOOD thing!  I still need to play it a few more times to get a real feel for it, but I think I just might be in love with this game.  And it comes in an old fashioned video cassette box, how awesome is that??  (I’ve already ordered a copy, and will post a full review ASAP!!!)

Well, that about wraps it up for day 2!  I can’t believe how much we did over the weekend.  Up next, Day 3!

Emerald City Comicon Day 1

We went to Emerald City Comicon last night (a birthday present from Ellen!), and it was bigger and better then ever!  The line up of celebrity guests was just mind blowing.  There was no way for us to see everyone we wanted too (bigger shows mean more programing, and it’s to the point that you aren’t able to go to everything you’d like) but I was more then happy with what we did see!

Our first day was Friday, and we got there bright and early to pick up our badges.  Unfortunately so did everyone else!  I don’t know what the stats are this year, but last year 50,000 people had tickets (to give some idea of how large the event is).  We got our badges quickly enough, but the line of people waiting to get in was HUUUGE!  Fortunately, our first event was on the top floor, which is somewhat separate from the main floor, and didn’t have the giant line.  When 10:00 rolled around, they opened up, and we got great seats.  Some people might say the seats don’t matter THAT much, because they have two giant screens in the auditorium to see what’s going on on stage, but it really does.  Seeing someone on screen is not the same as seeing them right close up in real life!

So, we had good seats for our first panel, which was Felicia Day.  If you don’t know who she is, you can look her up on Wiki easy enough, but for a quick rundown; she is an actress known for a number of works, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, The Guild webseries, and Eureka.  She also writes and produces The Guild, and in the past year started a You-Tube channel called Geek & Sundry which airs geek centered programming such as The Guild, Tabletop, Dark Horse motion comics, Learning Town, and several others.  Felicia always comes across in almost everything she does as real cute and adorable, so I was shocked and amazed to discover that in real life she’s actually… cute and adorable!  She talked a lot about what goes into producing both a web series, and running a youtube channel (hint: a LOT of work) as well as talking about some of her experiences both in the acting world, and in the geek community (if you don’t know, she’s very involved in the geek community, being know as an avid video gamer).  After that, she took questions from the audience and just shot the shit with us for a while.  She also took the opportunity to promote upcoming International Tabletop Day, which celebrates on of the webseries on her channel.

We stayed in our seats for the next panel, Mr. Billy Dee Williams!  The man is starting to show his years, but he’s still slick as ever.  I feel bad for him, as it seemed like almost every other question he got was Star Wars related (I got the chance to ask a question myself, and asked him about playing Harvey Dent in Batman).  Regrettably he had no information for the audience about weather or not he’d be returning to the new Star Wars movies to play Lando again (he said that the script was still being written, and he didn’t know yet what they were doing with it), but he did say the character was very important and he didn’t want anyone else to ever play it.  He also told us that IF it was offered, he would certainly take the part!  At this point his manager spoke to the audience telling us if we wanted to see him in star wars again, to write Disney, Lucasfilm, and J.J. Abrams and ask for him.  He did also get to talk a little about the rest of career, working with people he admired, and even talked about some of his painting work (did YOU know he was a painter?)

After that we tooled around the show floor for a bit, checking out the booths, the merchandise, and the costumes.  Some people come in really crazy costumes.  Some people come in really….  funky costumes, but it’s all in good fun.  We stopped at one booth where I talked to Tom Cook, who worked in Filmation on several classic cartoon shows, including Bravestarr, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,  Star Trek The animated Series, and The Ghostbusters (often known as the OTHER Ghostbusters, as it had nothing to do with the movie, but rather was based on a TV show from back in the 60’s or 70’s so in some ways pre dates what we think of as “The Real” Ghostbusters).

After that Ellen wanted to see a panel on being geek and feminine.  It was entertaining certainly having 4 panelists who are all very interesting personalities (though the only one I was actually familiar with was Bonnie Burton who runs in a number of the same circles as Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day) but I think Ellen was rather disappointed in it.  It ended up being more about sexism in geek community and touched on more general elitism in the community (both of which ARE very real problems these days) when Ellen had thought it would be more about resources for geek girls to both explore their femininity and their geekness.  In Ellen’s word’s it ended up being more of a giant group hug.  I would agree, though I do think Ms. Burton at least made some very insightful comments.

That was our last panel for the day.  After that we played some retro games in their retro arcade (well, rather we played the Star Wars pinball machine…. awesome!) and then looked around the gaming area.  They expanded the gaming area this year, adding an extra level, and it was really quite impressive.  The focus was more on table top games, like boardgames, RPG’s, and card games, then video games.  They regrettably didn’t have the paint your own mini table this year which was a blast last year, but you can’t have everything.  We went out for dinner, and saw Chris Tulach (the organized play manager for Wizards of the Coast who we used to see at Uncles Games all the time) at another table.  That was kindof funny because we ran into him last year at the con too, but we didn’t go up and say hi not wanting to interrupt.  We went back into the gaming area to try out some story games (a type of RPG which plays without a GM and is generally more centered on the idea of producing a good story as a group) bt they were closing down, so we decided to call it a night.

And that was just the first day!  I’ll have a write up on day two tomorrow, and maybe some pictures (and MAYBE a video!)