Unencumbered by cool: an ECCC wrap-up

“Unencumbered by cool” is, according to Glenn Berger, Bono’s description of a geek, and for all that Bono and Berger seem to have some distinct misapprehensions about geeks and comic book fans, I do like that summation. A geek is someone unencumbered by cool, someone who is so excited and passionate about a topic or an activity that they throw themselves into it un-self-consciously.

This weekend was Emerald City Comic Con, the second one I’ve been to, and it was hugely successful. I’ll try to do a full write-up soon with pictures n’at, but a couple thoughts first:

  1. Image

    Elisa C. as Poison Ivy, giving her stamp of approval to ECCC’s anti-harassment policy.

    The volunteers and staff of the con were stellar. They were dealing with a lot of people — the con was enormous — and yet every minion and staff person I interacted with was polite, efficient, helpful, and usually friendly to boot.

    In particular, on our first day there when Elisa, Cass and I were dressed as Gotham City Siren rollergirls, we were asked inappropriate and explicit questions by a podcaster. ECCC was extremely aggressive about making the con a safe space this year, with posters proclaiming “A COSTUME IS NOT CONSENT” displayed all over the convention center and multiple dedicated quiet rooms for parents with children and guests who needed a break for whatever reason. With that in mind, we decided to report the podcaster.

    The social media team directed us to the information desk; the volunteers at the information desk promptly contacted staff and security; and everyone, everyone we interacted with related to the con thanked us for coming forward, apologized for the negative experience, asked if we were okay, and assured us that they would do what they could. Given the number of horror stories I’ve heard about harassment at cons, it was incredibly heartening to have my first experience of reporting an incident go so well.

  2. Seeing so many artists and writers and creative types in one place was inspiring. I kept thinking that the energy in our apartment — briefly covered in cosplay construction materials and con swag — and at the convention center was just like Playground at CMU: the energy of people throwing themselves into the hectic joy of creating and consuming the things they love. From cosplayers to customers to creators, everyone at the con was there to be excited (and also, generally, excited to be there). It’s the kind of environment that made me want to contribute, not just consume.It didn’t hurt that we wrapped up the weekend at the Rain City Poetry Slam Championship. I think there’s a lot of overlap between geeks and poets — not just in the sense that some poets are also geeks or that some geeks write poetry, but in the sensibility, the radical ideology of being oneself, unencumbered by the “shoulds” and “should-nots” of cool. If there’s one thing I’ve learned (and re-learned, and learned again) about art, every kind of art, it’s that the only way to progress in it is to throw yourself into it un-self-consciously — to do it for the love and to do it as fully as possible. Which is how I try to approach fandom, as well.

So yeah. An exhausting yet energizing weekend. I’m already looking forward to next year.

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