More and more the Rose City Comic Con steps out as the convention to watch in the area.
Following the trend set by conventions like the nearby Emerald City Comic Con, RCCC stands out by its focus towards quality and preference towards comics. This year they really came on top by attracting creators that many of the more corporate cons, like the dismal Wizard World chain in the area, just cannot claim. Here we saw Tim Sale, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Joelle Jones, Mike and Laura Allred, and a whole number of others that you tend to see avoiding the corporate cons. The numbers of comic creators were also staggering with dozens and dozens appearing and being accessible. This didn’t mean that they avoided the celebrity crowd, and they even had a better showing with that as people flocked towards Carrie Fisher and Robert Englund.
At a convention like RCCC you see a trends, which is extended from the creator as well, against the professionalized comic re-sell culture and celebrity trends. For example, Joe Keating and Leila De Luca of Image’s Shutter offer sketches and rare variant covers at dramatically reduced prices if you have them personalize it. The point that they made is that eBay sellers simply flock in, buy up everything really quick, and then the fans that love the book cannot afford to actually get anything from them in the end. With this in line, there were slightly fewer expensive re-sellers at this con, and even amongst exhibitors there was more of a focus on craftsmanship.
Beyond simply being focused on comics and broad “nerd culture,” you would notice that RCCC 2015 is heavily indebted to regional artists and small-production fun products. There were real highlights here with set-ups like Cult Classic Posters and Dancing Heron, both design-artists that are perfectly set in an environment like this.
When superstar creators like Kelly Sue Deconnick show up, its always going to be a good time. She drew crowds all weekend with lines at her booth, which formed mainly because she had a personal conversation and photos with each individual person. This is a part of the new comics culture where creators are followed partially from their stunning work, and then also for their accessibility and personality. This led directly into some of the best panels of the weekend, including several great ones featuring Kelly Sue. Both the Bitch Planet panel and the Image Comics panel, both she did with Bitch Planet artist Valentine De Landro, discussed the issues of performative gender, male gaze, and the depiction of female sexuality in comics. The Image Comics panel was done along with Josh Williamson and Mike Henderson discussing the tightrope that is walked when doing a comic on serial killers. The writing panel featured a lot of greats with Jonathan Case (The New Deal), Larry Hama (Call of Duty: Black Ops III), Joëlle Jones (Lady Killer), and Paul Tobin (The Witcher, Colder, Plants vs. Zombies), all of which shared the process it takes to create not only story and characters, but also working with a visual medium. The spotlight panels are always a treat, which we saw more than a dozen ones looking back at iZombie with the Allreds and Chris Roberson, a Lady Killer spotlight with all creators, one outlining the success of Autumnlands with Kurt Busiek, and one looking at the 25 year history of Valiant. Creators like Tim Sale and Ariel Schrag had their own work focused on, which is the kind of simple panel success that is lost on the more pop-culture focused on cons. In that direction, however, was a great one talking to former Power Rangers from RCCC’s own Ranger-Super-Fan, Mikey Neilson.
One of the only criticisms that could be leveled, if you are looking for one, was that several promised people did not end up being available. For many people, this was James Robinson, who was shown as appearing on the website yet was not present in the guide and was unavailable in the end. These are really so small that they should not distract people from the overall success. One thing that also really helps set the tone for the convention is the inclusion of different set pieces, including the time machine from Back to the Future, the classic Batmobile, and the various Storm Troopers, R2-Unit recreations, and the occasional Darth Vadar.
RCCC should be openly commended for its treatment of cosplayers. There has been a lot of spotlight shown recently on the deeply laid mysogeny in the comics community towards female cosplayers, as well as the really violating treatment that many women and female-presenting people face when in costume at conventions. There was a “no tolerance” policy for this behavior, and there were signs every few feet that said “Cosplay is not Consent,” with instructions about who could intervene on behalf of cosplayer safety. This is an incredible turn of consciousness for RCCC organizers and a great push forward. It was also seen in the cosplayer community since this was one of the best costumed shows in years.
For those who are feeling the convention burnout, and a lot of people are, this is the one to center your comics furor on. This really is a place for comic fans, to get your books signed, to talk to creators, to listen to panels, and to interact with other artists. Keep that in mind when thinking about where you want to spend your convention time and money(though RCCC is notably less expensive than Wizard World). We, for one, are looking forward to 2016.