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Comics are Serious Business at the Emerald City Comicon

Camilla d'Errico at the 2012 Emerald City Comicon. Photo by Elisa Mader.

Last weekend, roughly 53,000 fans swarmed the Convention Center downtown to attend the Emerald City Comicon, a gathering of the crème-de-la-crème of the comic book industry and one of the largest US fan conventions devoted to comic book arts.

ECCC is a colorful barrage of visual stimulus. Enter the main exhibition hall, squeeze past fans dressed as stormtroopers, the Joker or Harley Quinn, and feast your eyes on the top talent in comic books, graphic novels, webcomics, animation and fantasy art—many of whom have received Eisner Awards, the Oscars of the comic book industry.

This year, guests included Bruce Timm, an industry legend who helped create the DC Comics universe (including Harley Quinn); Bill Sienkiewicz, who influenced comic illustration through titles such as Marvel’s Elektra: Assassin; and Marc Silvestri, who co-founded publisher Image Comics and studio Top Cow.

Artists also traveled to ECCC from countries as close as Canada, such as cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim) and illustrator Camilla d’Errico (Helmet Girls, Tanpopo), and from as far as China, notably prolific international star Daxiong.

Comicon ‘12 fans got to interact with specialists from every stage of the creative process: Star pencillers such as Joe Benitez (Lady Mechanika), inkers such as Dexter Vines (Captain America), or penciller-inker-colorists such as Chrissie Zullo (Fables). ECCC’s artists not only offered signed prints and original pieces for sale, but also took commissions and produced con sketches—quick drawings whipped up during the convention.

The Emerald City Comicon even inspired its own collectible art, including Seattle-themed limited edition prints by Marvel artist Alex Ross, Jeremy Haun (The Beauty) and Dean Trippe (Project: Rooftop). ECCC’s annual charity art book Monsters & Dames, benefiting Seattle Children’s Hospital, featured cover art by Bosnian-British illustrator Adi Granov ( Iron Man).

From Batman to the Avengers, comic book heroes are pop culture’s most iconic artistic creations. Sometimes saucy as pulp fiction covers, sometimes dramatic as 19th-century tableaux, comic book art is varied, powerful and astonishing. The 2012 show is over, but the Emerald City Comicon returns every spring.

If you’ve got a taste for cons, this weekend you can check out the Japanese animation festival Sakura-Con and sci-fi fan convention Norwescon. Horror-themed Crypticon takes place May 25-27, 2012. There’s always a space at cons for top artists in the different genres, and it’s an unparalleled opportunity to learn about the creative process from the creators themselves.

Joe Benitez amidst the artist alley madness at the 2012 Emerald City Comicon. Photo by Elisa Mader.