Last week, when rumors started to spread about Emerald City Comicon’s sale to international pop-culture events organization ReedPop, the most common sentiment I heard from local comics professionals was surprise, followed by skepticism. Everyone seemed to think ECCC founder Jim Demonakos would never sell the convention, mostly because he seemed to love his job too much. Demonakos was way too proud of his convention, people protested, to sell it to some faceless entity. So today’s confirmation raises more than a few questions.
ECCC has sold to ReedPop, but Demonakos has also been hired by ReedPop under the title “Director, Comic Talent” to coordinate ECCC and other shows around the country and the world. But what does that mean for the future of ECCC? I spoke with Demonakos about the changes.
Demonakos confirms he’s been in conversation with Reed since spring of last year. It’s nowhere near the first offer he’s received, but it is the first one he’s taken seriously. “For ReedPop, the approach was much different” than the other offers, Demonakos explains. “It was taking ECCC and actually adding value, making it even more awesome, while also having the team behind ECCC work on the ReedPop shows, and bringing some of what makes ECCC special to their other events.” He’ll be in charge of commissioning art and merchandising for the shows, choosing talent to highlight, and fine-tuning the customer experience at conventions in New York, Australia, and elsewhere.
After working on ECCC for a full third of his life, Demonakos emphasizes that he’s not abandoning the convention he founded. “I'm actually getting to still work on ECCC, but also then expanding my scope to all the other pop culture and comic shows that ReedPop is involved with as well, both domestically and internationally. That's not something I'd ever be able to do on my own.” He says ECCC’s staff of seven full-time employees will also be “taking what they do with ECCC and expanding it across all [ReedPop’s] events.”
Part of the fun of ECCC is the feel of the show, which is just the right size and not too super-intense. The comics professionals at the show always enjoy themselves, and so their interactions with the fans tend to be looser and more fun. It's garnered a reputation of being the one convention on the long convention schedule that the industry actually looks forward to. What does Demonakos have to say to these people who are worried that the ECCC they know and love is going to go away?
“It's hard to just take my word for it,” he admits. “But all I can say is that ECCC will continue to be run by the same people who have always put on the show, and will continue to foster the vibe, the feel, the spirit of ECCC moving forward.” The next Emerald City Comicon is scheduled for March 27 through 29 at the Washington State Convention Center. Demonakos will be there.