I am a proud Blerd who lives in the Pacific Northwest home. My dad had an interest in comic books and instilled a passion for them in me. After decades of being a Marvel Fanatic, I got sucked into the DC whirlpool that was The New 52 launch. Currently, I am moving more into various independent and non-mainstream titles. I am a proud supporter of local artists, comic book creators, and comic book businesses. My two goals as a writer for ComiConverse are 1) to highlight new, little-known, and/or diverse titles, artists and writers, and work that is coming out of the smaller publication houses and 2) to address issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation in comics and the industry.
Our Lydia Roberts is at Emerald City Comicon (ECCC) this weekend and she has filed the first of what promises to be many reports from the convention floor.
Spring is in the air!
For many in the South Sound on Thursday, that meant spending time in the garden, walking along Ruston Way, or simply sitting out on the deck enjoying the beautifully sunny 80 degree day. For nerds and geeks of the comic book variety, like me, that meant heading to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle for the first day of the 2016 Emerald City Comicon to enjoy panels, exhibits, and work of artists like Camilla d’Errico.
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For the first time, ECCC will span four days. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I breezed up a relatively traffic free I-5. I’ll be relating my overall review of the expanded Con in an article next week. For now, I’ll just give two quick tips if you are headed to ECCC.
1) They are not giving out bags when you pick up your badge and program book, so take your own to carry around your swag.
2) Parking at the Convention Center fills up fast. There are plenty of public parking garages in the area. Parking in the lot across the street on Pine is much more expensive ($25) than other options a block away.
Now, I’d like to focus on one of Thursday’s highlights: an interview with artist extraordinaire Camilla d’Errico, whose pastel-infused work personifies the charm of a warm, spring day. I’ve been a fan of the fantastical whimsy of Ms. d’Errico’s big-eyed children and animals for years, and the exclusive content available at ECCC does not disappoint.
Camilla is an ECCC veteran, having been at every single one since its inception. While others might be uncertain of what to make of the new 4-day format, Camilla is more than ready for the longer event.
“The 4-day cons give people more of a chance to come, so adding an extra day isn’t bad. I have good stamina… and energy drinks help! San Diego has trained me!”
Anyone who has attended a Con can tell you that there are always sights you’d never see anywhere else, and attendees often leave with entertaining stories to tell friends. Camilla’s favorite Con experience wasn’t here (at ECCC), but it was in LA.
“This is really funny because I have this thing about serenading. I find it really awkward. Even in movies, I’ll cringe. ‘Oh, man, they’re singing!?’ It’s just an awkward thing! So, last year, a girl came up, and she was the sweetest girl! She was buying some stuff, and she was like, ‘Do you mind if I sing to you?’ and I thought, ‘Oh, my god. That’s my nightmare.’ But, she was a fan, and I wasn’t going to say no, so I said ‘Ok!’ I thought she would sing one verse. No. She sang the entire song. ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ And she stared at me, you know, dead in the eye the entire time. I had nowhere to look! I didn’t know what to do! I was trying to catch my booth-friend’s attention to kinda save me. Nope. She let me hang. She threw me under that bus so hard! The girl had a beautiful voice, but because I have a thing (about serenades), it was the funniest and most awkward experience!”
Although it is hard to imagine because she is really cool, confident, and easy to talk to, Camilla knows what it’s like to be on the other end of an awkward fan moment, too.
“I remember the time I met Mike Mignola, way back, and I was so awkward around him that I just kinda stared at him. Then, I did this one thing which I’ve never done in my life. I was like (in a flat voice), ‘What’s free?’ and I ran away! My brain didn’t even know what to do! I was overwhelmed by the awesomeness. I have never actually had the courage to say hi to Mike again. Even though we’re friends on Facebook, no, no, no. I can’t chance being an idiot again.”
I know there are many of us who get a little tongue-tied when face-to-face with amazingly talented pros. I ask Camilla if, despite the flub with Mike, she has ever spent time geeking out as a fan when she attends cons.
“I try to! I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead, and you know Norman Reedus is here this year. Darryl Dixon is my favorite, but I won’t get a chance to go to the photo op because it happens – of course – right during my panel. I would have loved to meet him and have a little fangirl moment about The Walking Dead. Last year, I was really sad when I missed when David Tennant and Billie Piper were at Phoenix Comicon together. I am a huge 10 and Rose fan, and… I had a little meltdown. (laughs) I am a hardcore ‘shipper, and they are my dream pair! I do know that Darryl (Norman Reedus) and Beth (Emily Kinney) were supposed to be at a con once, and I missed them! My Bethyl feels! I was like, ‘Son of a -!’ So, yeah, I definitely take my moments and have little freak-outs.”
Painting in Comics: Behind the Scene with Top Artists is the panel that will cause her to miss Norman Reedus. Camilla approached the other artists who organized and planned to participate in the panel with her: Jim Mahfood, Ben Templesmith and Bobby Chiu (who had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict).
“It’s an awesome panel so that people can get to know what traditional artists are like, how we work in the comic book medium. It would have been really cool to have Bobby because he is a digital painter, to have that other side of the spectrum, but I’m pretty excited to have Jim, and Ben, and me get up on the stage and talk because we’ve live painted together, but we’ve actually never had a chance to sit down and talk about our process. People often think I am a digital artist. They are surprised when I tell them that these (prints) are oil paintings. Their eyes go wide!”
Though she is only on one panel, fans can also enjoy a live art demonstration on Saturday, 3:15-5:00 on the Skybridge Live Stage. When reflecting on what she likes to draw most, she says:
“I love drawing my series, Tanpopo, more than anything because that’s my baby. Recently I’m really into cats, even though I have a dog, and I don’t own a cat. I’m doing these fluffy cats. I can’t stop myself. (As for “Handicat,”) the funny thing is I thought he was a normal looking cat, until my husband was like, ‘What did he just smoke?’ The same thing happened with my bunny, “Rainbuns,” the psycho bunny! I’m like, ‘Oh, god!’ When I’m painting, I just love big eyes! I don’t realize I’ve given these crazy expressions. It could be that I’ve just had too much caffeine.”
Outside of the panel and demonstration, Camilla will be at her booth in Artist Alley (#204). Prints, books (such as Tanpopo and the recently published Rainbow Children from Dark Horse and Pop Painting from Random House), exclusives, and other items featuring her artwork can be found there, including… furniture?
“These chairs were done for the show, and they actually sold so quickly. Rubbish Rehab is the company that made them. They’re local (in Puyallup, Wa). I have two of the chairs at home. They (also) made for me a giant… throne, pretty much. It is the most beautiful thing. It’s three times my size and has my image of the loveless bird on it. People constantly try to buy it off of me, and I’m like ‘No. No.”
Rubbish Rehab is only one of several local businesses that can count Camilla as a loyal fan. She classifies Seattle as one of her favorite places, and – like many visitors – Pike Place Market is a must-do when she finds herself in the Emerald City.
“Every year I hit Pike Place Market, and there are these pork buns (at Mee Sum Pastry) – oh, my god! I had one today, and I just stopped talking. I was like, ‘Don’t talk to me. This is like a religious experience.’” Mollusk, formerly known as The Gastropod, received a shout-out in our conversation, as did Westland Distillery, whose master distiller and cofounder, Matt Hoffman, was recognized earlier this year by Forbes as a being one of 30 tastemakers who are redefining food and drink. “I’m a big whiskey fan, so I go to – my favorite – Westland Distillery. Honestly, I’ve tried Scotches all over the world, and that one is one of the top ten for me.”
That’s pretty high praise, I’d say!
Because I am not only a Blerd, but also just random as all get out, I wrap up our conversation by asking about the most random question she has ever been asked in an interview.
“The most random thing? That’s a really tough one. I know the most random comment someone gave me once. They were walking by my booth, and then they stopped, backpedalled, looked at me, and said, ‘You’ve a great head. Just from the neck up is good.’ I’m like, ‘ok,’ and they just walked away! ‘Body guards? Security?!’ That was a bit weird!”
That would have freaked me out, for sure!
Check out the artwork of Camilla d’Errico even if you’re not at ECCC by going to her website. If you are at the con, swing by her booth and say hello!
She is fun to talk with, and her artwork is one-of-a-kind!
Let me know if you’re enjoying ECCC by dropping me a line @Lyderary.
Until next time, peace!
Lydia K. Roberts is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow her on Twitter: @Lyderary