If you’re anywhere near the Washington State Convention Center (downtown, 705 Pike St.; 206.694.5000) between March 1 and March 4, do not panic; an alien invasion is not afoot.
It’s just the 16th annual Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC). What was once a niche event that attracted 2,500 people when it debuted in 2003 has grown into a full-blown pop culture convention bridging the gap between geek culture and the mainstream, and reeling in 91,000 fans last year (with even more expected this year, organizers say).
Whether you want to seem in the know at the watercooler or plan to attend for the first time, follow our tips for how to do it right.
1. Ask Before You Click. When you see people in costume (at the con, it’s called “cosplay,” meaning costume play), ask permission before taking their photo. Most attendees who dress up expect to provide photo opportunities, but it’s still courteous (and expected) to ask.
2. Respect Cosplayers. If you want to pose with a cosplayer for photo, know that ECCC has a strict, zero-tolerance anti-harassment policy. The Fan Code of Conduct will send you packing for inappropriate touching, catcalling and the like. As with most things, common sense and respect are your best guides.
3. Fake It ’Til You Make It. If someone in a Starfleet Federation (for neophytes, that’s from Star Trek) uniform approaches and speaks to you in foreign tongues, simply reply “Nuq jatlh?” which is Klingon for “What did you say?”
4. Check Your Sword At The Door. All costume-related weapons—which are required to be stage props, definitely not the real thing—must get “peace bonded,” that is, checked individually and deemed safe by convention staff.
5. Pace Yourself. As in Dr. Who, time gets slippery inside the convention hall, so stay hydrated and take breaks to sit down. Seating is extremely limited, so your best bet is Freeway Park, which has dedicated access from the Convention Center. The numerous benches and fresh air provide a necessary refuge to relax and clear your head.
6. Protect The Badge. Tuck your badges inside your clothing when you walk around downtown outside the con. We realize they’re a geeky symbol of pride, but they’re also valuable and snatch-worthy items.