In 2002, I was hired to work at The Olympian as a graphic designer, so for the first time since moving back to Washington, I had a steady income... which meant that I could consider going to comic book shows again! A few things managed to get in my way, initially, such as moving to Olympia in the first place, and getting all settled in.
In June of that year, I met Jessi, the woman who would become my second wife. Honestly, I think she wasn't sure what to make of me at first... even before she saw my apartment and all the geeky stuff that occupied it! But I think she realized that it was part of what made me who I was, and accepted it.
The first comic book show we went to together was probably in August or September of that year, and it took place at the Seattle Center. This was another of those comic book shows that was about 98% dealers tables, which was fine... that's what I was mostly looking for anyway. By this time, I'd heard that Seattle was getting its first real comic book convention, the Emerald City Comic-Con, and I had been in contact with the show's organizer about being a part of it in some way, so part of the reason for going to this Seattle Center show was to meet up with him and discuss what I had in mind.
The meeting went well, and plans were under way for me to run a trivia contest at this convention. I started working on this almost as soon as we got back to Olympia! The contest would be a basic pros versus fans type of thing, but unlike some of the more famous matches you might've read about, the fans would be chosen from volunteers in the audience. I tried to structure it to give the fans a chance, but with guys like Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek planned early on, they really didn't stand much of a chance!
Between these two shows, I recall also going with Jessi to a convention in Portland, OR, which takes place around the second weekend of November each year. This was larger than the Seattle Center show, and Jessi may have felt a bit more overwhelmed at the size of this (little did she know how big Emerald City would get)!
One of the highlights of these shows... and all comic book conventions, for that matter, was the opportunity to touch base with some people and friends I knew... some of them were people I'd met personally (such as the husband-and-wife owners of Lady Jayne's Comics & Books, the shop I was buying from before I moved to Wisconsin, which closed its doors before I moved back), while others were people I knew only from the internet! In some ways, these shows almost feel like they're part high school reunion in a way. But I digress.
I really enjoyed my first Emerald City Comic Con, especially being a part of the show itself. I think the fans and pros enjoyed my trivia contest, and there were some pretty fun prizes given away (I tried to make sure all participants got something). Afterwards, I made sure to thank all the pros individually, and one of the pros was Tom Peyer, whose comics work I'd read, although I didn't quite connect it all at the time. Tom, it turned out, had a blog, and the URL to it was on the business card he gave to me.
I doubt he had any idea how big a deal that ended up being.
Not too many days after I got home from ECCC, I checked out Tom's blog, and from there, I checked out some other blogs as well. And the bug bit me. I decided to start my own blog.
Longtime readers may recall the original title of this blog was "Waffyjon's Random Thoughts," and there wasn't really any real rhyme or reason to what I posted each day. Still, it was an outlet of sorts, and I tried very hard to post every evening, even if it was just a picture.
The following year, I went to the Portland show again, and again to ECCC, although this time I had no involvement with the show (the trivia contest was overlooked on the schedule). Same for the following year, except that the trivia contest did return! "You Call This a Trivia Contest?" was changed from the last one to an extent; the questions were in categories with point amounts similar to Jeopardy!, plus there was the addition of special helper items!
There were several helper items, and the fan team for each match-up could choose one of them, not knowing what it would be able to be used for. They were:
The Flash's Ring -- this was the ring included with a DC Direct Flash action figure. This ring, when used in the game, would allow time to be "turned back," so if the fans gave a wrong answer to a question, they'd get a chance to answer it a second time.
Two-Face's Two-Headed Coin - An item I created with a print-out of a coin glued to foam board with one side marked. If this coin was used after a correct answer, they could flip it to go double or nothing on the points for that question.
Justice League Communicator - Created like the coin, using this would let the fan team ask an audience member for help on a question.
Fantastic Four Flare Gun - Mocked up as best as I could, this was like the JLA Communicator, in that they could ask the audience for help.
Wonder Woman's Lasso - A length of golden rope (which I purchased at Wal-Mart). When the fans were stumped on a question, they could choose a member of the pro team to answer it for them, the lasso "forcing" them to tell the truth.
The Cosmic Cube - My favorite item of the bunch, this was made with one of those plastic photo cubes. I made a paper liner for the inside, and then took a Halloween thunder and lightning gadget, disabled the thunder sound effect, and placed that inside, so that there was a near constant flashing of light. As with the Flash's ring, they could use it to alter reality so they'd have a second chance of answering a question.
The fans had fun with these objects (the only one I know for sure I still have is the Cosmic Cube), but that was the last year the trivia contest was held at ECCC. I missed going the following year due to financial constraints, and then attended the next one, which was the first one my kids went to themselves. Then another skipped year, and then attended again (this was the one my daughter wore her Supergirl outfit for, which got her lots of attention. I think this is the one I made a video for).
I had to miss two in a row after that, but my family and I made it to this year's event. Daughter Desi wore a custom-made Raven outfit, based on the animated version, and we got pictures of her with every other Titan we could find there.
Even though the subsequent ECCC's have been ones where I only attended and didn't actually be a part of, I still enjoy them a lot. The show has grown significantly, to the point where it's nearly as big as San Diego was the one time I went (maybe bigger). I'd been saying for years prior to this that Seattle could support a real comic convention, and I've been proven right!
I'm looking forward to 2016's show, and you'll be able to read all about that one in the issue after it happens!