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caption: Nike Adejumobi, Nhu Tat and Mia Doan browse a booth in the Artist Alley at Emerald City Comic Con on Aug. 18, 2022.
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Nike Adejumobi, Nhu Tat and Mia Doan browse a booth in the Artist Alley at Emerald City Comic Con on Aug. 18, 2022.
Credit: Alayna Ly

Embarking on an Epic Quest: What I learned at my first Comic Con

Attendance numbers were almost back to pre-pandemic levels this year at Emerald City Comic Con, Seattle’s annual comic and pop culture convention.

RadioActive’s Alayna Ly went to Comic Con for her first time, and brings us this audio postcard.

[RadioActive Youth Media is KUOW's radio journalism and audio storytelling program for young people. This story was entirely youth-produced, from the writing to the audio editing.]

Transcript:

[Sound of crowds bustling at Emerald City Comic Con]

Alayna: This is what Emerald City Comic Con sounded like.

I went with three of my friends, Nike Adejumobi, Nhu Tat and Mia Doan. It was their second time attending, and it was my first. The convention lasted for four days, and we went on the first day.

I’ve heard people label conventions as spectacles or a waste of money. So as a first-time attendee, I had one big question on my mind: Why do people go?

Here are some audio snippets from my time there. We’ll start in the Artist Alley.

[Sounds of vendors and crowds of Comic Con attendees in the Artist Alley]

Alayna (on tape): I'm walking through the Artist Alley right now, and it's just rows and rows and rows of booths. It's kind of crazy. All these booths have big displays with art prints and posters. There's also lots of racks of keychains, stickers — everything you can think of.

And there have been multiple times where my friends are just, like, squealing with excitement. They're like, "Oh my god, oh my god, look at that, look at that!" It's honestly kind of heartwarming to see everyone's excitement, to see this love of fandom being shared with everyone.

caption: The Artist Alley on the first day of Emerald City Comic Con, Aug. 18, 2022. The Artist Alley is full of artists selling merchandise like prints, stickers, keychains and apparel.
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The Artist Alley on the first day of Emerald City Comic Con, Aug. 18, 2022. The Artist Alley is full of artists selling merchandise like prints, stickers, keychains and apparel.
Credit: Alayna Ly

[Sounds of crowds in the Showroom]

Alayna (on- tape): So I'm walking to the showroom right now...

Alayna: The showroom was very similar to the Artist Alley. There were tons of vendors selling stuff. But there was one big surprise.

Alayna (on tape): We passed by this area where you pay for autographs, and that's really cool. Most of them are for voice actors.

Alayna: In the showroom, we walked up to a table and started talking with the person behind it. I assumed they were a vendor because their booth was covered in posters of various characters. I looked around for any signs and realized…

Alayna (on tape): Oh, is this a voice acting thing?

Alayna: The person behind the table was Caitlin Glass! She voiced the character Haruhi Fujioka in the anime show Ouran High School Host Club, which Nhu and Mia loved as kids.

Caitlin pointed to the character posters spread across the table. She said she voiced all of them.

Caitlin Glass (on tape): Yeah that’s me, I’m all these people.

Alayna: Nhu and Mia saw the poster of Haruhi and connected the dots.

Mia (on tape): For real?

Caitlin (on tape): Yeah! For real!

Nhu (on tape): You’re Haruhi?!

Nhu and Mia (on tape): Oh my god!

[Nhu and Mia exclaiming unintelligibly]

Alayna: They were very excited.

Mia told Caitlin that Ouran High School Host Club was one of the first anime shows she and Nhu ever watched. After saying goodbye, we walked away from the table. Mia said she felt star-struck.

[Up-beat ambient music]

Alayna: My first con experience was really fun.

By the time I was home, I was dragging my feet across the floor and desperately wanted to jump into bed. But I also wanted to call my friends and talk about the convention, even though it just happened.

So back to my original question: Why do people go to conventions?

I think the main reason is for the accepting and joyful community. Wherever I went, I heard people laughing and bonding over their shared interests. Exploring the convention center with my friends brought out a childlike wonder in all of us.

Sometimes in public spaces, a lot of enthusiasm might seem out of place. But at conventions like Emerald City Comic Con, it’s welcomed with open arms.

You’ll probably catch me at the next one.

This story was produced in RadioActive Youth Media's Advanced Producers drop-in workshop for high school and college-age youth. Production assistance by Kyle Norris and Marian Mohamed. Edited and prepared for the web by Kelsey Kupferer.

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