Flesk Trip to Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, Washington

Last weekend I flew up to Seattle, Washington to attend the Emerald City Comicon. This is the first time I had attended a show in which I was not set up as an exhibitor since 2004. I had heard great things about Emerald City and decided to take a three day weekend and check it out.

It is not uncommon for me to remain so focused on running my booth that I miss a show entirely. This is despite my spending three to five days there. Comic-Con International is a perfect example. I’m lucky to see the row behind me and the row in front of me. This trip allowed me to walk the floor with no pressure, no chain attaching me to a booth and no responsibilities. My initial problem, though, was my not knowing what to do with myself. I have grown accustomed to working shows and sort of forgot what it was like to just have fun at one. Complete freedom? What is that? I found out in Seattle.

It didn’t take long to fall into a groove as familiar faces appeared. Bob Chapman at the Graphitti Designs booth, who is an icon and an inspiration to me, was quick to welcome me inside. If you exhibit at enough shows you will get to know many of the usual suspects. I’ve been helping friends with their booths since the early nineties. I have known many of the comic dealers since before I had any plans to be a publisher. Having this experience and the support of an experienced group helped tremendously when it became time for me to find my own voice.

The show was great. You can see the whole event floor in one day at a leisurely pace. There are tons of quality artists to meet and plenty of rare comic dealers. Bud Plant was there with an excellent selection of art books. The only type of vendor that was missing that would round out everything I like to see at a show is an original art dealer. However, with the artist representation so strong this absence of a dealer was minor.

A consistent expression from the artists was how well the show treats them. Whatever the organizers are doing, the artists like it.

A quick observation I made, stimulated by a comment by someone I know about the isles not being as wide as WonderCon or Comic-Con, is how every booth is a corner. This is welcome as a dealer since you are essentially doubling your table space when compared to a regular aisle booth. The show felt very packed with people. Much of this, I feel, comes from all of the corner booths and narrow aisles. Without any long rows, every twenty feet is an intersection with another aisle. There were constant cross-flows of people wanting to go in four different directions at every turn making for some interesting, yet necessary, navigational techniques. I say all this as an observation and without any criticism. It is what it is.

Bruce Timm was there as a guest. At times there were large “walls” of people waiting in line to meet him—for a very good reason.

I had the opportunity to meet two amazing artists I admire greatly. The first being Kevin Nowlan and the second is Phil Noto. I also enjoyed meeting Michael Cho, Eric Larsen and a host of others I never normally get to see.

I had a terrific time with Terry and Rachel Dodson, along with Aaron Lopresti, during a Saturday evening dinner. One of the main reasons I went to the show was to have some time to go over a few book projects with Terry. We hashed out our plans for some titles which I am anxious to share at the appropriate time. More on these projects will be shared in a few months.

This picture is looking up from across the street from the entrance of the convention center hosting the show. The path under the archway is the indoor entrance to the exhibitor hall.

This picture is standing by the front doors of the exhibit hall about 10 minutes before opening time on Sunday. It was packed with people. I didn’t have my wide angle lens on me, otherwise I could show the full crowd which is far greater in number than this picture conveys.

Here’s Bill Martinez who is a terrific guy. Billy runs Neko Press and is an amazing artist. I was happy to pick up his new book In Your Face.
Bob Self, publisher of Baby Tattoo books. Bob is one of the most creative people I know. His books are of the highest quality and we share a passion for the arts. He is one of the nicest guys out there. I am particularly happy with how this picture came out. Bob is very easy to photograph. He is among the rare person completely comfortable with a camera pointed at him.

I had a fun time at the show. I look forward to going again next year.

Now it is time for a little self-indulgence. There is much to do in downtown Seattle. This was my third trip to this city but, only my first spent at length in downtown. Early Sunday morning I walked down to the Pike Place Market. The skies were clear and the lighting excellent. I was predicting some good conditions to do a bit of photography.

I am not a shopper. I avoid shopping and going to stores unless absolutely necessary. What drew me to Pike Place were not the items I could buy, but instead the subjects I could photograph. I walked in to discover a beautiful array of colors all around me. I was in awe. Here are some of my pictures.
This first one is not impressive. It was of the main sign as I was leaving. I looked for a non-traditional angel to shoot it, although the lighting was no good at that moment. In general I do not like having to alter my photos in Photoshop. I like the challenge of nailing a shot with manual settings. I used a fixed 50mm f1.8 lens that forces me to move around and pay attention to my composition. The only adjustment I made to these photos is a very slight lightening on some of them, otherwise they are fully raw.
This was the only picture I took of the seafood stand that is famous for throwing the fish. I immediately became focused and fascinated on not the stand but the large crowd of people that was standing there in anticipation of seeing the workers toss a fish to one another. The people watching were giddy with excitement as the moment was about to happen. I focused on the people as the fish flew and got exactly the picture I wanted in the first attempt. I wanted the whole background to be in soft focus with the backs of the people sharp. If you look under the letters “CA” in “CAFÉ” and just under the lights you will see the profile of the fish flying through the air.

Here are some more pictures from that day without commentary. The photos speak for itself.


John Fleskes
Flesk Publications
Text and photographs © 2012 John Fleskes. All Rights Reserved.

Emerald City Comic-Con
Baby Tattoo Books
Kevin Nowlan
Billy Martinez / Neko Press
Graphitti Designs