ECCC 09: Wrap-Up And Looking Forward With Jim Demonakos

The Emerald City ComiCon has solidified its position as the little comic convention that could.
In fact, it’s not even fair calling it “little” anymore. It’s grown from its humble origins in a corridor of Qwest Field to the main room at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.

This year, Battlestar Galactica cast members Tahmoh Peniket, Aaron Douglas, and Michael Hogan, plus Wil Wheaton, Jewel Staite, Ray Park and the Suicide Girls worked the floor alongside an impressive horde of comic book writers, artists and publishers. All corners of the nerd-world were representing (including the cosplayers), making it a very enjoyable convention.

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ECCC organizer Jim Demonakos took the time to talk about this year’s con and answered some questions about the exclusive “Monsters and Dames” artbook, what it’s like running a convention amidst a recession, and forming the first-ever comic book rock band.

Pop Culture Zoo: First off, congratulations of what appeared to be another successful year. What were your impressions of the weekend? What were your highlights? Was there anything you thought could have gone smoother?

Jim Demonakos: Thanks! The weekend was great, the show was really successful and we’re really thrilled with the results. For me, the highlights was just seeing the fan response to all the stuff going on, whether it was the guests, the panels, the celebrity photos, it just seemed everyone was having a good time on both sides of the table everywhere. My only complaint, and this is something of us to address, was because of the growth of the show, registration didn’t run as smoothly as it could have and we aim to fix that by next year.

PCZ: Do you have any attendance numbers yet?

JD: We were at about 11,000 this year, compared to around 9,000 last year and 2,500 our first year, it’s been nice and steady growth.

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PCZ: Why do you think Seattle has proven to be a successful breeding ground of nerd activity?

JD: Seattle is very technology friendly, and those fields and “nerd activity” as you call it blend together pretty well, so I think it’s something… of a no-brainer, we have some of the best fans in the industry.

PCZ: Let’s talk about the “Monsters and Dames” art book. I managed to snag a copy of it and it’s a fun book with a great lineup of artists. [The book has new art from many of this year’s guests, including Becky Cloonan, Dave Johnson, Amanda Conner, Bruce Timm, Ted Naifeh, Gene Ha, and features a great cover by Frank Cho.] Can you talk about the process of putting this book together?

JD: Well, the idea was to do something cool for charity, specifically, Seattle Children’s Hospital. It took me a long time to come up with the theme, but after I did and started talking to artists about it, it kind of came in a flood – everyone loved the concept and doing it for charity was definitely something artists could get behind. So little by little, we started getting in these amazing pieces of art and the book came together pretty nicely.

We have a few of these great books left, so if anyone out there reading is interested in getting a book and supporting a great cause, drop us an e-mail at info@emeraldcitycomicon.com.

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PCZ: While I was walking the floor I saw the Kirby Krackle booth, which I found out you’re involved with. Can you talk about where the idea to form a comic book influenced band came from and your involvement in it? Also – how did Sunday’s show go?

JD: Kyle [Stevens, co-band mate] and I talked about the lack of good comic book music out there, it’s usually some guy yelling the name of a hero over and over again, or just small references to them in songs. Kyle is a full time musician, so that combined with our shared geekiness for all things pop culture, came together in to what Kirby Krackle is, a mix of real music with pop culture-infused lyrics.

The show on Sunday went great, it was a pretty full room and it was also the first time KK performed live with a bassist and drummer. You can check out some of the YouTube videos we posted. It was tons of fun.

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PCZ: It doesn’t appear to be the ideal economic climate for comic conventions right now – but the ECCC continues to get bigger and better each year. Did the economic doom and gloom affect your planning for this year’s convention at all? What about looking ahead to next year?

JD: It definitely made us nervous about the show, we did try our best to be conservative on our spending, but at the end of the day, we just did the show like we always did and hoped for the best, which turned out okay, hahaha.

Same goes for next year, we have a definite plan and a budget, just trying to make sure we get the mix of exhibitors, guests, dealers and more that
makes ECCC a show people want to come back to year after year.

PCZ: Where do you see the convention heading in the years to come? Have you even started thinking about next year yet?

JD: I think eventually the show will find it’s way to three days, but that’s a couple years off minimum. I’m already working on guests and ideas for next year, I can announce that Skottie Young is on board and we’re talking to a lot of cool people. We’re also starting on “Monsters & Dames 2010” which
will benefit children with autism. It’s pretty early to actually announce anything, but I’ll say we have some really exciting things in the works!

The 8th Emerald City ComiCon will be held March 13-14, 2010. Jo Chen, Joe Casey and Darwyn Cooke are also tentatively scheduled.

ECCC 09: Catching Up With Dan DiDio And Ian Sattler

Here’s the final interview I conducted at Emerald City ComiCon 2009. Just like last year, DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio and Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler were gracious enough to chat with me for a few minutes. Much like they are in the DC Comics panels at conventions, these guys are easy-going and a pleasure to talk to. Enjoy!

PCZ: Last year when we talked I got in trouble for not asking you for more details on Aquaman. Dan, I know you brought up Aquaman yesterday.

DD: Yes I did, but I couldn’t get a straight answer from the panel. If I can’t get a straight answer about Aquaman how are you going to get one?

PCZ: He’s in Blackest Night obviously.

DD: Yes, he is. He’s a Black Lantern.

PCZ: Is there a plan for the character after?

IS: Ok, I’m going to jump all over you for asking that now. Blackest Night starts in July and is easily the biggest event in comics this year and we get questions all the time about what’s going to happen after. Why doesn’t everyone just enjoy the eight months of awesome “dead shall rise”, multi-colored Corps. fighting that we’re going to get in the meantime? Then, when we get to issue seven of Blackest Night then we can start talking about what we’re doing down the road. I think that’s my soapbox statement for the day.

DD: You did a good job with it.

PCZ: So, Blackest Night isn’t just a way to say “Hey we killed all these characters, now we can bring them all back!”

IS: No. This is something Geoff Johns’ been planning for how many years now, Dan?

DD: Almost since he started Green Lantern: Rebirth. He always had this idea of the story of Blackest Night in mind from the start of Rebirth. You’ll actually see little threads that will go all the way back from there to now.

IS: We kid and say it’s a way to get all our dead characters back, but this is the third part of a big trilogy that Geoff’s been doing in Green Lantern. It seems to have been embraced by the fans. I loved Sinestro Corps and Blackest Night is poised to quadruple the action and the stakes.

PCZ: Again, this isn’t an “end point”, this is another story that propels the DC Universe forward.

IS: We have no endpoint.

DD: You shouldn’t or we’re out of jobs!

IS: Yeah, Blackest Night ends and we’re like “Ok, everybody, see ya! Thanks!”

PCZ: So, Wednesday Comics is the new weekly that picks up after Trinity is finished.

DD: Yes it is. For twelve weeks.

PCZ: Will there be a weekly past that or is it time to give them a break?

DD: I think we see weeklies as an extremely viable formula. We’ve built an office to support it and we have more ideas down the road.

PCZ: Ok, let’s hit a couple of characters we haven’t seen in a while. Ray Palmer as the Atom?

IS: Yes, he’ll be in Cry For Justice. That series will answer a lot of questions…and then set up a lot more. See how I did that?

PCZ: Hawkman and Hawkgirl, were they killed in Final Crisis?

DD: No, nope.

PCZ: Ok, so there are plans to follow that up?

IS: Oh yeah! (big laugh) Yeah, that’s a huge story coming up.

PCZ: Other than Blackest Night, what are a couple of books that you are most excited about in the next few months?

IS: I’m going to go nuts here. Final Crisis Aftermath: Run!, Dance, Ink and Escape.

DD: He only likes those because they’re easy to pronounce.

IS: Yeah, single syllable titles are something I can get behind! But seriously, between the creative teams and the storylines on those books, they are so exceptional and so different from what I think people are expect from a normal DCU book. Like I’ve said, they have ramifications, they count, they take the everyday characters from Final Crisis and re-establish them.

Then, we’ve got Cry For Justice, which is as beautiful and as big a deal as you can imagine coming from James Robinson. Nobody knows how big a deal that book is going to be. It’s massive to the DCU. I’m going to say every Batman book, Greg Rucka on Action Comics, James and Greg on World of New Krypton, James on Superman. All the Green Lantern stuff that’s going on. Bill Willingham and Matt Sturges coming up on Justice Society, awesome stuff there, when you see the art on the first issue it’s going to totally blow your mind.

We’ve got a bunch of new characters on Wonder Woman with Achilles and the Olympians and major plans for how that’s going to spin-off into the DCU. We have massive, massive changes coming up for Titans and Teen Titans in the post Deathtrap crosssover. Big plans for Green Arrow/Black Canary, Captain Atom’s coming back, we have co-features in a bunch of books, we have Wednesday Comics. So, you know, you ask me for a couple of things we’re stoked about…Everything! I could not be more thrilled with our line right now and with what we have planned. There’s stuff we’re not even talking about yet.

PCZ: Yeah, it seems like you guys have always had things going on, but in the last year and this year and going forward you seem to have multiple things going on in many areas. There’s something for everyone.

IS: We spent a lot of time focusing on each core franchise in the DCU and figuring out a way to make them as vital and exciting as possible. We have talent that has been with us for a while, like Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and James Robinson and we have guys who have been with us for less time like Eric Wallace and Matt Sturges, who are really bringing a new and vital energy to what we’re doing. I stand behind every single book we’re doing right now.

PCZ: And when are you making Grant [Morrison] write a multiverse book?

IS: Soon!

PCZ: Great. Well, thank you guys, it was great talking to you again.

DD: Thank you.

IS: You too, thank you.

Thanks to Dan DiDio and Ian Sattler for talkign to me once again.