Because of my rotating work schedule, I'm usually on duty most Saturdays and/or Sundays. It's only after several weeks that I get an entire weekend off. Such was the case this past weekend, which allowed me to attend all three days of the Emerald City Comicon (ECCC).
Since I started my own webcomic, Breakout from Bongolaan, over a year ago, I planned on attending some of the panel discussions dealing with such topics as comic writing, creation and promotion, etc. In short, I was going to act like I was at a writers conference.
But as von Moltke said, "no plan survives contact with the enemy."
The first pre-con crisis was getting tickets. I waited until my duty schedule was confirmed before buying them. When I logged on to the ECCC website, at 4:30 PM on a Sunday, I discovered to my horror, that the 3-day passes were sold out!
Once I stopped hyperventilating, I read the fine print and learned it was the on-line tickets that were gone. Hard copy tickets were still available at various comic book stores. The nearest one to me was Atomic Comics.
One frantic phone call later, I was relieved to hear they were open until 6 PM. So it was a hell-for-leather drive to the store before they either closed or sold the last ticket. Fortunately, I arrived on time and purchased a 3-day pass for me and a Sunday pass for my fiance.
The next hurdle didn't pop up until the morning of day one. The ECCC website provided excellent directions to the Washington State Convention Center. However, in my zeal, I didn't read them properly. I drove up from the Tacoma area, which is south of Seattle, so I scribbled down instructions under the "I-5 South" heading.
I left early enough, because after living in this area for over a dozen years, I expect traffic on I-5 to look like this:
Especially on any given Friday. It wasn't until reached the exit that I realized "South" actually meant southbound--as in driving down from the north. Zipping my way through the Emerald City's busy streets, I looped back around to the point where I could follow the "I-5 South" instructions.
This brought me right to the Convention Center's parking garage--which was full. So I drove to the next parking garage--and that was full. And so was the next, and the one after that. Four blocks later, I came across one that had some spaces available in the lower catacombs.
From there I trudged up hill, back to the convention center, only to stand in a line that looked something like this:
Alright, I'm exaggerating a little (okay, a lot). The line though, was enormous and snaked throughout the convention lobby. So consider this my "artistic interpretation" of how we felt waiting to exchange our tickets for badges. Yes we needed stinkin' badges because the convention areas were often segmented and some sort of proof would be needed that we were all paying customers.
Seriously, the ECCC staff and volunteers did a great job at crowd control without having to resort to this:
Although one volunteer shouted "Make Room! Make Room!" repeatedly to keep the line moving.
Needless to say, no one in this crowd needed a Wikipedia app to get the joke.
Despite the best efforts of the ECCC staff to hustle the herd through the ticket-badge exchange, it still took over an hour to get into the inner sanctum of the convention.
After deciphering part of the floor plan, provided in the program guide, I managed to arrive only a few minutes late for the first event I attended.
To find out what this was--stay tuned for the (possibly exciting) next blog post!