ECCC 2017: Fantastic Cosplays and Sing-Alongs

This March brought the promise of spring, as always, and the excitement of Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) 2017. To me this springtime geek mecca never disappoints. There is always sure to be some wonderful guests, entertaining panels, great exhibitor halls, and some of the most amazing cosplays around. In fact, as the community continues to grow it’s only gotten even better over the years.

Since the first day of con was on a Thursday, it didn’t start until 2 P.M. Knowing that we had plenty of time to spare, my friend Swan Song Creations (Emma) accompanied me to get a haircut in the morning, before we set off to go pick up our out of town friends, Raging Storm Cosplay (Jay) and The Scientist Wrangler (Gabby). They had arrived the night prior and stayed with our friend Chameo Cosplay (David), but he worked that day and was unable to take them to the con. After grabbing Jay and Gabby from David’s place we stopped by a Starbucks, then were on our merry way to Seattle. In between our excited chatter about debuting our Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them cosplay group on Saturday, we sang along to the Hamilton soundtrack.

When we arrived at the convention center around 1 P.M., we decided to go play some Pokémon Go in the park in lieu of waiting in the admittance queue. All of us are pretty big Pokémon Go fans, and Gabby in particular was excited to find Pokémon that aren’t common to the region of California where she resides. Coincidentally, while catching Pokémon, we ran into a group of people cosplaying as the Pokémon Go team leaders Candela, Blanche, Spark, along with a professor Willow. So, they were my first picture of the con!

As more friends arrived at the con center, they ended up meeting us in the park, we took several photos and hung out until the con started. At 2 P.M., I headed to the exhibitor hall with Emma, Gabby, Jay, and Emma’s friend Mark. Shortly upon arrival, I stopped to chat with one of my vendor friends, and lost the rest of my group. I ultimately decided to walk around on my own for a bit, knowing I’d eventually find my friends again.

While walking around I ran into my a few other friends, Greg, Sarah, Tiffany, and Brigid. I opted to join them while on my mission to find artist Babs Tarr’s booth. I wanted to know exactly where to go when I brought a framed photo for Babs the next day. The photo is from a shoot I did Oct. 2016 with several cosplayers, based on a Sailor Moon fan art piece Babs drew a few years back.  I couldn’t find her booth number listed on the ECCC app so, I ended up checking Babs’ social media. To my dismay, I found out that she was unable to attend ECCC this year due to comic book deadlines. While totally understandable, I wasn’t any less disappointed to hear Babs wouldn’t be at ECCC. I’m thinking about reaching out to see if there is a P.O. Box or some other place I can send this photo. I still really want her to have a copy of the work we all created based on her art.

Original art by Babs Tarr and photo recreation by Fearless Photoworks. Models (left to right): Jerikandra Cosplay, NeuNeu Cosplay, Kit Marie, Air Bubble Cosplay, Abi Sue Cosplay

At 3:45 P.M., we decided to head upstairs towards the room a panel was being held we were interested in. The panel started at 4:15 P.M., but it was in one of the smaller rooms of the con, and we wanted to make sure we’d get a spot. The panel was called “What Makes a Man – The Portrayal of Masculinity in Geek Culture”. I really enjoyed this panel. It delved into the questions of: What is it to be masculine? How do we quantify that? They discussed that often time masculinity is more so defined by the lack of doing something or not acting a certain why, than is it about having a set of positive attributes to live by. They also talked about toxic masculinity, and how we as an audience promote change, by buying comics that cater to a wider variety of characters in media, and how we can raise a generation of boys that aren’t afraid of pink. In short, we need to speak out and fight back against gender stereotypes, so that EVERYONE may benefit from the changes. It’s okay for men to enjoy what is sometimes thought of as feminine things like mud masks, yoga pants, etc.

After the panel, we were all really hungry so we grabbed some Taco Del Mar and ate by the Juicy Café on the second floor behind the escalators. When everyone was finished eating we opted to head to a common hang out place dubbed by locals as the “Brotographer corner”. This open space found at the top of the main escalators on the 4th floor, leading to the park entrance, earned its name because many photographers and cosplayers hang out there to chat and take photos. This is usually where I end up finding any friends I’ve lost track of earlier in the day. It was here that I found Emma, Jay, and Gabby once more. I stayed in the brotographer corner mingling and taking pictures until the end of the day.

Once con was done for the day I headed to my friend Beki’s hotel room for a few last fittings on my Jacob cosplay that she was graciously finishing for me that night, so I could wear it on Saturday for our Fantastic Beasts group. We spent some time just hanging out in the room as well. We stayed there a few hours at least. I ended up getting home around midnight and went to bed fairly early to get enough rest for day 2 of con.

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We had a bit of a later start than originally anticipated on Friday, which put us in Seattle around 10:30 A.M., then, we accidentally took the wrong exit and got stuck in traffic for over an hour. I had a Magical Girl discussion panel taking place later that day, and one of my fellow panelists was waiting for me at the convention center to get their badge. So, I eventually jumped out of the car while Emma, Jay, and Gabby went off in search of parking, which took an additional hour! Parking at con was absolutely insane.

Once I finally got into the convention center at around 11:30 A.M., I met up with N’Donna and Natalie by the Juicy Café to give N’Donna her speaker badge. By this point I was starving so I didn’t stay to chat long before I went off to go get myself some lunch at the mall nearby.

After purchasing my food, I went back to the Juicy Café seating area. It’s here that Emma, Jay, Gabby, and our friend Bry met up with us. Bry was a fellow panelist for our Hamilton Sing-Along panel, and still needed her pass from me. I handed that off, and we all sat down to eat and chat before going our separate ways.

By 1 P.M., we were done digesting and I decided to head to the brotographer corner to see who was around, and grab some pictures. I didn’t really want to risk walking around in the exhibitor hall too long since I needed to be at my first panel by 2:30 P.M. So, I lingered around in that area until it was time to go to the magical girl panel.

It’s always a lot of fun chilling with everyone in the brotographer corner, I get to snag a lot of great pics and videos, from serious ones to silly ones like Jay as Doctor Strange and and NeuNeu Cosplay (Erin) as Alice from The Magicians in a heated battle of rock, paper, scissors.

  

My friend and fellow Magical Girl panelist, Natalie was in the brotog corner as well, so, at around 2:15 P.M., we headed to our panel room and met up with N’Donna, Lori, and Merri. Our panel “Mahou Shoujo: Magical Girls Rock!” went really well! We talked about what we feel defines the magical girl genre, from the character types, core values, and the reasons magical girls fight evil. Which, we all agreed is mostly stemmed from friendship and love, versus a show like Power Rangers, where they fight evil because it is more of national obligation. We also discussed whether or not the magical girl genre upholds feminist values/ideals, and agreed that it absolutely does, to an extent. Magical girls are all about empowerment, and being who you want to be, without losing femininity, or feeling like you are less than for being a female.

Additionally, we spoke about the influence the magical girl genre has had on Western media, and what that means for future media. It was agreed that people our age (mostly 20s and 30s) are now putting their magical girl influences from their youth into current media, such as Steven Universe, Zodiac Starforce, and RWBY. I loved talking about the impact of the magical girl genre, and hope to get a chance to discuss it again at future cons.

 

Immediately after the magical girl panel, I had to run around the corner for my next panel, “The Room Where it Happens: The Hamilton Sing-Along”. I was co-hosting the sing-along with Emma, Jay, Gabby, and Bry. It was a little maddening to have two panels only 15 minutes apart, but it was so worth it.

The Hamilton panel was at full capacity, and had a queue line the whole time! Any time someone left there was immediately another there to take their place. We had an absolute BLAST. It felt incredible to be singing the songs we love with so many other devoted fans. There was an intense and thrilling energy in the room, you could tell everyone was having so much fun!

We are so trying out for that panel again next year. If this year’s turnout was anything to go by, I think we’ll get accepted again. That was by far the biggest highlight of con for me. Everyone thanked us for hosting the panel. It was honestly just amazing. There were even a few Hamilton cosplayers! We got a selfie with them right after the panel.

 

After the Hamilton panel, I was totally exhausted so, I went back to the second-floor lobby to relax for a while with friends. While I was relaxing, my friend Ames messaged me to book a Harley Quinn shoot in another part of the convention center across the street. It was really cool, they made the gold and white dress Harley wears during the club scene of Suicide Squad. We used a lounge area with the green lighting to better fit a club-like atmosphere. The photos turned out well, and Ames was thrilled with them.

Once the shoot was done I met back up with Emma, Jay, Gabby, and David and we hung out in the Sheraton lobby for about an hour, in the hopes of eating at the Daily Grill. Ultimately, we decided to leave because they had already been waiting for a table for an hour before I got there. We were all super exhausted at this point and decided to just get some food on the way home. I got some Dick’s with David and Jay before heading home to turn in early. I knew it’d be early start on Saturday to get ready for the Fantastic Beasts group.

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I had a bit of a rough start on Saturday. When my alarm went off at 7:30 A.M., I had only gotten about 3.5 hours of sleep. I was still in so much pain from the previous days, and so unsure of wearing my Jacob cosplay, that I didn’t put all of it on. I gave myself the car ride to decide if I was going to fully suit up. Emma was an absolute gem during all this, she reassured me it didn’t matter if I opted out of wearing my Jacob with her Queenie, because my comfort is what mattered most. We spent some time talking it over in the parking garage, and I decided to finish suiting up. I decided to forgo wearing the wool blazer that day, as I was already feeling quite hot from the rest of the outfit, sans wig and mustache. With how crowded it got in the convention center, I definitely did myself a favor.

After I finished getting dressed, we met up with our Niffler, Epona Tenjou Productions (Beki), at her hotel room to get my mustache and wig put on. Once the whole cosplay was together I felt a lot better about everything. The excitement and encouragement from everyone in the room reignited my desire to wear Jacob. While at the con, I had nothing but positive responses. People would light up when they recognized who I was, standing beside my Queenie. Emma and I held hands a lot, we heard people around us cooing when they realized Jacob and Queenie were exploring the con as a happy couple.

 

Photos by David “DTJAAAAM” Ngo and Cliff Nordman respectively. Cosplays by Swan Song Creations and Fearless Zombie.

Shortly after arriving at con we had to run to catch Beki’s panel, Crossplay 101: Female to Male. It started at 11:15 A.M., and we all just barely made it, including Beki. She did a good job, along with the rest of our friends: Brittany, Arlene, Katie, and Victoria. They covered some of the basics like binding materials/techniques, makeup techniques for changing gender, and some basic mannerisms or stances to adopt to carry one’s self as a male believably. It was a good panel to attend for anyone wanting to step into the world of crossplaying.

Once Beki’s panel was done, I already needed help re-applying my mustache. Which was the theme of the day, the liquid latex we used to secure the mustache didn’t hold it to my skin for too long. From what I can gather, that’s pretty typical though. It was totally worth the upkeep to surprise so many of my friends with a cosplay and be a part of an absolutely amazing Fantastic Beasts group. The rewards definitely outweighed the stressors. I’m so glad that I let Jay convince me to do this cosplay. His face when he first saw me at con was seriously PRICESLESS. He was so excited!! And he kept randomly hugging me all day. I’m just so happy that I followed through with my cosplay.

 

Photos by Fearless Photoworks and Neeko Cosplay Photography.

Cosplayers: Credence Barebone is Lady Impala Cosplay, Percival Graves is Chameo Cosplay, Tina Goldstein is The Scientist Wrangler, Newt Scamander is Raging Storm Cosplay, Queenie Goldstein is Swan Song Creations, Jacob Kowalski is Fearless Zombie, Niffler is Epona Tenjou Productions, and Gellert Grindelwald is The Madly Ambitious Cosplayer.

My favorite part was seeing people realize that it was me under the mustache. Most people I know have only seen me in dresses. It was quite a shock for many to see me not only in a suit, but also a men’s style wig, and a mustache! Several of my friends told me that they found a mustache to be oddly fitting for me, and that were I a guy, that would totally be my style. Looking back at photos from the con, I’m inclined to agree.

 

Photos by David “DTJAAAAM” Ngo and Cliff Nordman. Jacob Kowalski is Fearless Zombie.

Activities wise, Saturday was the most low-key. We mostly stayed in a few places to pose for photographs. Emma and I also took a lot of breaks to sit and rest our feet, mine were still very swollen from the previous two days of con, and Emma’s were swelling up because of her Queenie shoes. It was during our breaks both by the Juicy Café and in the park, that I had a chance to snap photos of cosplayers passing by all day long.

Towards the end of con, I also got a chance to do a quick photo shoot with Erin, in her art nouveau Belle gown, inspired by artist Hannah Alexander’s design. She looked absolutely gorgeous! I kept on eye on her WIP photos for months, and had been greatly anticipating seeing this cosplay in person. I was not disappointed, she did an amazing job. I’m so glad we had a chance to meet up and take a few photos.

At the end of the day we our Fantastic Beasts squad wanted to go out to dinner. Since all the nearby restaurants had a 3 hour wait, we opted to leave downtown. We ended up at the Northgate Red Robin, and had a very lovely time eating together, and chatting about our day before parting ways to get a good night’s rest.

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On Sunday, Emma and I arrived around 10:15 A.M., and headed straight to the autograph area so Emma could get her Bender pop figure signed by John DiMaggio. Sadly, by the time we got there the line was already capped. So, we opted to get some food before heading to the rest of con.

While we were eating, I got a message from my friend Erin asking if I’d like for her to save us some seats for the voice actors panel starting at 12:15 P.M. We said yes and met up with her as soon as our lunch was done. Erin had scored us seats close to the front, which was awesome.

Before the panel started the ECCC MCs called people up that are good punsters, and Emma was one of the last called on stage. What proceeded was a wonderful cheesefest of pun-y pick-up lines aimed at the main MC. He sat in a chair while the attendees on stage pretended to try to hit on him with themed pick-up lines. The first round was based off Disney princesses, and Emma’s pun was by the best. She said, “Have we met? Because your face really rings a Belle.” The second round was based off ice cream and/or an ice cream man. One of the guys on stage wore a shirt that said “bad puns are how eye roll”. One would have have thought he’d have some of the best material, but his game was really weak. He even re-used Emma’s ring a bell pun during the ice cream round and everyone booed him. The third round was about cats. A lot of the other people up there were just going with uncomfortable innuendos instead of puns, it’s like they didn’t understand what a pun really was. Several people actually told Emma after the panel she had by far the best puns. She totally did.

The voice actors panel with Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Jess Harnell, Maurice LaMarche, and Troy Baker was wonderful. We got to hear everyone say some of their most notable character’s iconic lines, as well as random sayings. They also had some very inspirational and helpful advice, about working hard and never giving up, if you truly want to be a voice actor. But, not in an unrealistic and cheesy way, they admitted that you’re going to have a lot of failures before you find something that works. That you’ll face more rejections than you can even keep track of, but, eventually you will gain momentum if you do not give up. They didn’t make it sound easy, because it’s absolutely not.

One of my favorite moments of the panel was after someone had come up to the microphone and asked Tress in a Donald Duck voice if she’d marry him,because she has voiced Daisy Duck for years. The man was a bit awkward, but, Terra handled it well. The other panelists joked about him doing basically, an on the spot audition with the Donald voice. Then, John DiMaggio asked the room if they had ever heard Donald Duck “being intimate”, before proceeding to imitate Donald Duck orgasming for at least 30 seconds, complete with cries of “oh Daisy!” It was so awkward and hilarious, and just all the things at once. Emma and I turned to each other and said “what is life right now?” Truly a memorable experience.

After the panel, Emma went straight to the autograph room to wait in line for John DiMaggio’s autograph. I went with Erin to the brotographer corner to hang out and take photos. We spent about an hour and a half there before it was time to head to the celebrity area for Erin’s photo op with the Animaniacs cast, which she ended up inviting me to join in on!

Next, we headed to the autograph area to both meet up with Emma, and so Erin could collect autographs from most of the voice actors attending. I ended up getting to the John DiMaggio table just as Emma was getting her autograph. Not wanting to interrupt, I waited off to the side. Emma and I sat down for a bit while Erin got in line for autographs. I really needed to rest my feet so, I didn’t join Erin when she got Jess Harnell and Tress MacNeille’s autographs. I did however, join up in time for Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, and Jim Cummings.

We opted to wait in Rob’s line first because, Erin had brought a card to con for fellow fans to sign in congratulations for Rob beating throat cancer. Not only did we fill up the card, we also got signatures all over the envelope too. It was so wonderful to see his reaction, which he allowed us to film! You can tell he is so thankful for us fans. We wanted to make sure he understands just how thankful we are to have him in our lives, his characters were in our living room daily as children and often still are. His voice acting personally got me through a lot of tough times as a kid. I’m so glad Erin thought to do that, you could tell he was just so blown away by our heartfelt card.

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After that moving and tearful visit with Rob, we headed to Maurice’s booth where we talked with his manager and she took a photo of us holding the hand fan she was using to keep everyone cool. Maurice also told us to tell her happy birthday, and we did one better by getting the whole room to sing to her. It was pretty great talking with him for a few minutes about the Seattle rain, how it suites us just fine here, and doesn’t seem depressing at all.

Lastly, we went to Jim’s booth, which was such a delight. I’ve had a deep love for Winnie the Pooh and Darkwing Duck for so many years. I even got a chance to tell him that when I exercise I think of Pooh Bear’s little exercise song, which he sang to me! That was the best, honestly. There was a deal going on at the booth where if you bought an autograph it was only $10 for a selfie/cell phone photo instead of $20. So, in addition to an autograph Erin got a picture and she let me join in with her. Thank you Erin for letting me join in your photo ops!

As we finished up in the autograph area, the con was winding down. We opted to go sit in the Sheraton lobby to give our feet a break and eat a quick snack. Eventually, my friend Emily, and her boyfriend Luke, met up with us a few minutes before we all headed our separate ways. I went back to the brotographer corner to meet up with my ride and snag a few last con photos and that was a wrap for ECCC 2017.

It was a whirlwind of a con with its ups and downs, but, I can definitely say I had way more fun than not, and that the hard work really paid off on my cosplay and con prep. If I had to sum up ECCC 2017 in one word this, it’d be fantastic (pun totally intended). As always, I am greatly looking forward to what next year’s ECCC may bring!

All photos unless otherwise stated, were taken and provided by Fearless Photoworks.

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