Emerald City Comicon sees record attendance

Record-breaking attendance at this year's Emerald City Comi-con means you might be hitting more traffic downtown this weekend.

SEATTLE — A record-breaking 90,000 people at the 15th annual Emerald City Comicon has prompted the organizers to utilize space outside of the convention hall to spread out the crowds. The convention has also had to place more prominent signage warning fans to maintain respectful behavior.

A company called ReedPop manages the event.

Mike Armstrong, the event director for ReedPop, said Emerald City Comicon has a reputation of being a great local show.

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“As someone’s local show becomes larger and larger, they feel like it loses that local flavor, so we do whatever we can to inject that flavor back into the event,” Armstrong said. “As we grow larger and we outgrow this convention center, that means we’re in the convention center, we’re in local hotels (and) we start doing events off-site.”

The convention is holding certain events, for example, at the Sheraton Hotel and the Showbox Theater.

There has also been more prominent signage, reminding people that “cosplay is not consent.”

“We really started to see it become an issue or something we should be thinking about maybe four or five years ago,” Armstrong said. “We want all of our fans to feel safe and comfortable here. Just because you dressed up as a costume, as a method of self-expression, doesn’t necessarily mean you want a bunch of people taking a picture of you. You just want to go and embody that person in public.”

Shelby Pielak and Hannah Musick, from Puyallup, both told KIRO 7 they had experienced uncomfortable moments in the past.

Sometimes men would catcall at them, or say inappropriate things. Musick said others simply touch her handmade costumes without asking first.

Pielak said she had mostly worn male character costumes to avoid unwanted attention, but now feels more comfortable dressed in feminine outfits.

“Seeing those signs is just such a positive influence. It really gets it into the front of people’s minds,” she said.

Musick, who was dressed as Princess Tiana, said otherwise, she enjoys attention from children, especially children of color who get excited to see a minority princess represented.