As Emerald City Comicon beams into Seattle again this weekend, I recognized that I was following some rituals that developed over the years. I downloaded the app, scanned the celebrities to see who I wanted to spend money on to add to my signature collection, and I looked at the panels to determine which were worth spending on line waiting.
My first ritual upon arrival, however, involves the Peace Bonding of my Mont Blanc pen. Peace Bonding involves tying a piece of orange ribbon to, most often, a weapon as a promise that you will not use it for violence during the con. I Peace Bond my pen, as I point out every year, because as a journalist, I must remember that my “pen is mightier than a sword.”
So I thought it would be interesting to ask other Emerald City Comicon attendees to share their rituals. The result was a wide range of activities that reflected people’s interests, personalities, vocations and collections in often very personal ways.
As I walked in from the Convention Center parking garage I was struck by a very white haired woman. Her friend was applying makeup and costume details. I asked about her rituals and she rolled her eyes. “I bleach my hair white and bleach my eyebrows,” said Stephanie Laney of Scappoose, Ore.
“Some people,” she said,” just wear wigs.” She then went on to share that she spends time hunting on the Internet to ensure the accuracy of her costume. This year Stephanie was channeling “The Collector,” of Marvel fame, the one-time safe keeper of more than one Infinity Stone. The costume includes many details and forms that force friends to sew Stephanie into her costume, which includes a full corsets to flatten her chest. While being “The Collector” Stephanie musts worry about another ritual, staying hydrated but not too hydrated.
Like Stephanie, Seattle’s Chelsey Murphy, who arrived to ECCC as Medusa, and friend Rebecca Sorby of Mount Vernon, Wash., a Star Wars Rebel Alliance Fighter, spent hours looking for the right variant of a costume, seeking the right fabrics and details. Rebecca spends a year planning the costume she wants to craft, exploring multiple images at various angles to ensure precision of detail. She took an entire week of vacation ahead of the Con to prepare. Chelsey makes sure she buys shoes for her costume that allows her to spend hours walking the Con’s rows of merchandise and artwork.
Ashley Joppie of Grand Rapids, Mich., shares the desire for precision with Rebecca and Chelsey. She spends months shopping for the ideal pieces to add to her costume. In some cases watching hours of YouTube video to see how some else made a similar item. This year she learned how to craft the belt you see in the photograph.
Some people, like Katherine Behnen of Olympia, literally get worked up about Comicon. Donning a Wonder Woman outfit, Katherine shared that she adjusted her already well-considered diet and asked her personal trainers to “up the ante” with increased weight and water training in order to do justice to the Amazonian heroine. Her costume came from Etsy, source to many looks, pins, bobbles and accoutrements at the Con.
Bella Guthrie, a steampunk enthusiast who is just enjoying life, finds some items on Etsy, but she tries to makes most of her intricate costume herself. “The best way to prepare for Comicon,” she advises, “is to create a ritual to always make your children’s Halloween costumes.”
Some, like Robert DeWitt of Auburn, finds thrills in taking craftsmanship to the last minute. Adorned in Old Republic inspired garb, Robert informed me that his Batman costume needed some last minute shoulder work that precluded it from premiering on Friday.
Brittanie McCahill, a business analyst from Redmond, spent “all-nighters getting ready for the con,” including developing inspiring playlists for prep-time.
Chelsey Murphy studied the program to ensure they get to see all things of interest. Ashley also worked the details of the Con, creating a spreadsheet that tracked where she need to be when. Tiffany Butler of Covington, WA, an Amazon Associate Producer, created a Microsoft Word document that included trade-offs between first and second tier panels and signings—on top of her frantic couple of weeks of conceiving and creating her latest cosplay masterpiece.
For many old Con hands, like Jay McCants, rituals are a thing of the past. He has set-up his Limited Edition Collectables booth at so many Cons that preparation has transformed into habit. He just “lets it flow.” Reginald Hastings, owner of Ravenswood Leather, sees Emerald City Comicon as “a time to slow down,” starting with a family prayer.
Robert Salkowitz, perpetual Con attendee and author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, finds ritual in collecting very personalized, one-of-a-kind art from those he admires. Rob gently carries a sketchbook with him to every Comicon. As he wanders the aisles of Artist Alley, home to the creative side of the Con, and seeks contributions from the artists he meets. “I have been doing this for years,” he says, as he proudly displays the beautiful line drawings from illustrators across the comic art spectrum.
And when it comes to illustrators, you can’t get more Con experience than that that of Neal Adams, who glibly shares that his ritual is to “contemplate the torture of sitting in a chair as people give me money to sign my books.” He adds, “I can think of nothing better than attending a con, save lying on a deeply carpeted floor while puppies jump on my face.” Adams continues to attend Cons, he reflects “as a form of spoiling himself.”
Some rituals transcend the Con, like finding Waldo. While you can seek Waldo on the pages of innumerable books, I like the challenge of finding him on the exhibition floor, just to say, “I found you.” This year Waldo turned out to be Tim Giese, a Deputy Sherriff in Chehalis, WA. His daughter, an Anime fan, gifted her father his ECCC badge.
Perhaps playing Waldo will become Tim’s new ritual every time the alternative universes converge to celebrate diversity and imagination at Seattle’s own Con.