Update Nov. 26: Emerald City Comic Con said in a Twitter post this week that LeVar Burton will no longer be attending due to a shift in his filming schedule, and that those who purchased photo ops and autographs with Burton will be refunded.
In most years, it would be the largest non-sports event in Seattle, drawing around 100,000 over a four-day event. And while it still may be — given our halting return to normal life in the post-vaccine world, who knows? — it will definitely be a scaled-down version of the usually over-the-top gathering. Fewer tickets sold, fewer celebrities and creators to meet.
And everybody’s OK with that at ReedPop, the company that puts on ECCC and several of the world’s top entertainment gatherings, including Seattle’s PAX West.
After holding five events so far this year, including drawing 150,000 people to New York Comic Con, ECCC event director Kristina Rogers said the company has discovered many people are still afraid to gather in large numbers.
“And so this year’s less about, ‘Oh, we sold out tickets for our biggest show,’ ” said Rogers, who oversees U.S. cons for ReedPop. “It’s more about, ‘We’re going to run a really safe, really fun show.’ And if you’re comfortable coming, come and have a great time. If you’re not comfortable coming, man, we will see you in 2022 when the world is hopefully, knock on wood, back open and everybody’s feeling better.”
At ECCC, all attendees must wear a mask and provide proof of vaccination or negative coronavirus test.
There are attendance caps and extreme complications that require a bit of a step back in 2021. Few corporations are allowing staff to travel during the pandemic, which has cost some of the event’s largest exhibitors. And some stars who might normally have made the trip have been kept away due to film and television set restrictions.
There’s still a pretty good list of celebrities that includes:
- LeVar Burton, the former “Star Trek” and “Reading Rainbow” star who recently survived the “Jeopardy!” host debacle to stick the landing as host of a new game show based on “Trivial Pursuit.”
- Tim Curry, cheeky comedic actor and star of the timeless classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
- John Cena, wrestler turned actor turned “Suicide Squad” member.
- Jim Lee, legendary comic-book artist of “Batman” and many others and DC Comics co-publisher.
But there’s also been a priority put on events that will bring people together to have fun, something most of us have sorely been lacking in our lives.
“We’ve learned the big takeaway is community,” Rogers said.
“That was the biggest piece when we asked fans, ‘What do you miss?’ (They said,) ‘Well, I actually miss seeing my friends, hanging out and meeting people.’ That’s very human. Very, very human.”
A handful of events intended to bring fans together include:
- Twisted Toonz, the team of voice actors, will take the stage and re-create beloved comedy classic “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” with a live script reading.
- The 8-Bit Wave concerts, featuring music from video games and anime synced to visuals.
- Multiple voice cast Q&As for animated favorites, including members of the casts of “Avatar,” “Attack on Titan” and “My Hero Academia.”
- The McElroys, the podcast stars of “The Adventure Zone” and “My Brother, My Brother & Me,” will hold a Q&A session for fans.
- There will be cosplay! So much cosplay!
Artist Alley is open again this year with quite the headliners: superstars Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, who just finished reinventing “Venom” and are now launching a Substack comic, “Vanish.” There’s lots to unpack here as Cates launched Marvel’s new “Hulk” run last week and is more than 20 issues into an entertaining “Thor” run.
There’s also a Family HQ kids area, gaming opportunities and countless meetups, singalongs, panels and lessons.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve done and I’m really proud of what we’re setting up for Seattle,” Rogers said. “It’s very community focused. It’s very interactive. We have meetups, we have features around popular shows. If you’re an anime fan, there’s a ton of other things that you can do with other fans.”