Conventions in the Northwest: Fans rejoice that convention season is here

Many conventions based on a variety of interests are held in the Northwest throughout spring.

Suzanne BuchholzReporter

Many people, regardless of their fandom, might consider conventions to be one of the best parts about being a dedicated fan. They provide people with similar interests a chance to meet and enjoy various aspects of their fandom such as cosplaying, attending panels and purchasing merchandise. Many conventions also feature specials guests such as actors and artists, making them an even bigger dream come true for some fans.

The Northwest hosts various conventions throughout the year, the majority of which occur in spring and early summer. Some conventions have already happened for the year, while others are coming soon.

One of the biggest conventions in the Northwest is Emerald City Comicon, a convention devoted to comics and all things pop culture. The ECCC has been held annually since 2003 and has gained a growing number of attendees each year, reaching 8,000 people in 2015. It’s run by ReedPOP, a group that’s been dedicated to organizing fun and exciting events that “put fans first” since it launched in 2006, according to their website.

This year, the ECCC was held from April 7-10 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The convention featured more than 100 guests that ranged from celebrities such as Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Nolan North (Uncharted), Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) and Nathan Fillion (Firefly) to comic book artists and authors. The guests were available for autographs with fans as well as events.

The ECCC also featured panels that fans could attend that covered a variety of topics, from how to turn interests into professional careers, to the evolution of comics in modern society. There were also events in which attendees could play both video and board games, exhibitions known as The Block and Artist Alley where fans could peruse art and merchandise and a Cospitality Zone where attendees could get tips on how to create cosplay outfits as well as find cosplay repair stations.

Another major convention in the Northwest area is Sakura-Con. Whereas ECCC focuses more on action heroes and the like, the central focus of Sakura-Con is anime, a style of Japanese animation that’s become popular with American fans. The convention has ran annually since 1998 and was attended by more than 23,000 people in 2015. It’s presented by the Asia Northwest Cultural Education Association, a non-profit organization whose prime goal is to spread awareness of Asian culture throughout the Northwest, according to their website.

This year, Sakura-Con was also held at the Washington State Convention Center from March 25-27. Various guests were in attendance to give autographs to fans, including popular voice actors from dubbed (anime translated into spoken English) anime series such as Chuck Huber, Ian Sinclair and J. Michael Tatum.

Like ECCC, Sakura-Con featured various events for fans to participate in. A wide selection of panels were open to attendees that were themed around many popular anime such as Hetalia, Attack on Titan, Sword Art Online, Soul Eater and more. There were also panels devoted to topics like popular recurring themes in anime and presentations of the newest shows by companies like Funimation.

Other events included gaming competitions, a karaoke contest, a manga (a Japanese style of comics) library and even more cultural Japanese events like traditional tea ceremonies and mahjong competitions.

While the focus of the event was on anime, many popular American cartoons were represented by artists and cosplayers, such as Steven Universe and Over the Garden Wall as seen on Cartoon Network. One of the most popular cosplay options as seen in the crowd of attendees was Dipper Pines from Disney XD’s Gravity Falls, according to an informal survey conducted by The Puyallup Post.

Another convention that recently occurred was Norwescon, one of the largest science fiction and fantasy conventions in the Northwest, according to their website. The convention focuses mainly on the literary aspect of science fiction and fantasy, but also features aspects such as gaming, art and cosplay. It’s been held annually since 1978 and will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year in 2017.

Norwescon was held March 24-27 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport in SeaTac. Many of the panels focused on how to improve writing skills, as well as discussing various aspects of belonging to fandoms. Nightly events including dances and laser tag were also available.

Norwescon has also hosted the Philip K. Dick Award every year since 1984. Sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and presented by Northwest Science Fiction Society, the award serves as recognition of distinguished science fiction books published for the first time in the United States as a paperback, according to their website. This year’s award was given to Apex, the final book in the Nexus trilogy by Ramez Naam.

While many conventions have already passed, there are still ones coming up that fans can look forward to.

Everfree Northwest, running for its fifth year in a row, will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel Seattle Airport in Seattle from May 13-15. Everfree is an all-ages convention celebrating all things related to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The convention will feature guests such as writers and voice actors from the popular series, as well as vendors, panels, a charity auction and a concert series known as Ponystock.

For those who were able to make the trip, the 25th bi-annual Just A Game Con was held at the Corvallis Elks Lodge in Corvallis, Ore. from April 16-17. JAG Con is a gaming convention run by Matt’s Cavalcade of Comics, a comics and collectibles shop in Corvallis, as well as volunteers. It offers a library of games that attendees can rent, as well as gaming events including board games, card games, video games and role-playing games.

For those who aren’t able to travel, one convention they might consider is Puli-Con, a miniature convention being held at the Puyallup Public Library on May 7. Puli-Con was first held last year in honor of Free Comic Book Day, an event that the library has been holding since 2002 where fans could pick up free comics from some of their favorite series. Some of the comics that will be available this year include Doctor Who, Lumberjanes, Pokemon and The Avengers. In addition to free comics, the library will also offer an Artist Alley, panels, crafts, a cosplay contest and scavenger hunt.

No matter what someone’s interests might be, there will almost always be a convention that’ll satisfy them. Conventions might even lead them to new friends who share their interests or the next fandoms they might love. It’s a great opportunity for fans to take advantage of this whenever possible.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Suzanne Buchholz

Conventions in the Northwest: Fans rejoice that convention season is here

by Suzanne Buchholz time to read: 4 min