Emerald City Comic Con 2019: Weasleys in the Wild!

We had a great time at this year’s Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Washington! From the amazing expansion of Artist Alley and the show floor to the focus on literary and comic book artists rather than mainstream celebrity guests, we felt more involved in the ECCC community than ever before.

Before we get into the fun interviews and panel coverage, we have to give a huge shout-out to all the ECCC Minions who worked the show floor, photo booths, and panels during this convention. Every single person we talked to, asked questions of, and made contact with was helpful and kind and made it their mission to ensure that we had what we needed and got us where we needed to be.

Our three-day event started Friday, March 15 with a bit of a jolt – our scheduled panel and photo opportunity with Rupert Grint was canceled due to a change in his production schedule. We promptly panicked, much like Ron while wrestling with the Devil’s Snare, but our inner Hermione told us to get ourselves together and we were able to quickly swap our Friday photo op for a slot on Saturday. Our previously Rupert-packed Friday was now fun and fancy-free, so we made it our mission to cruise the show floor, check out some Jelly Belly art, and grab our own Ginny, Fred, and George Weasley Funko Pop! limited edition three pack at the Funko booth during our scheduled lottery time slot.

Saturday was another early day, because we had a meeting with a high-ranking Funko official first thing in the morning and we had a LOT of important questions to ask, plus we had a must-attend Jason Isaacs spotlight panel to hit, and we had to look our best for our photo with Rupert. We even made a poster to use in our photo op in hopes of making him laugh a bit.

Check out our Friday and Saturday experiences below, and then keep reading to share in our adventure with Rupert at his panel on Sunday!

 

 

Jelly Belly Artist Kristen Cumings

You may be familiar with Kristen Cumings after our coverage of her Harry Potter portrait from 2018’s New York Comic Con, but we loved her work so much that we jumped at the opportunity to meet up with her again this year. At ECCC, Kristen displayed her already completed portrait of Ron Weasley standing in his Gryffindor robes in front of Hogwarts and was less than a third of the way through her latest work featuring Hermione Granger.

 

Jelly Belly portrait of Ronald Weasley in his Gryffindor robes outside at Hogwarts

 

After we took our turn at the BeanBoozled wheel (we were pleased to have received only nice flavors rather than unpleasant ones), we asked Cumings about her art, her job with Jelly Belly, and what she thinks she might try for her next portrait.

For her portrait of Hermione, which joins previously completed Potter portraits of Harry, Ron, and Albus Dumbledore, Cumings estimates that she will use 12,000–14,000 Jelly Belly beans. She can’t just pick any Harry Potter character she wants. Cumings may want to create Snape or Voldemort out of Jelly Belly candy, but she must get approval from Warner Bros. before she does. Luckily, Jelly Belly has a license with WB, and the candy company will often send approved options for her to choose from. She also has the option of requesting approval if she has a character she wants to pursue for a portrait.

 

Kristen Cumings, Jelly Belly artist, standing next to her partially completed Hermione Granger Jelly Belly portrait

 

Cumings doesn’t just do portraits, though! She has re-created Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night and was once commissioned to create a buffalo’s head that was to be placed above a bar in a saloon. For the upcoming National Jelly Bean Day on April 22, she will be re-creating Claude Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge at the Jelly Belly headquarters in Fairfield, California.

She’s also looking to expand her art into other pieces and would like to experiment with the tasty treats. When asked if she has ever dreamed of creating a piece that seems impossible, Cumings told us that she feels that each portrait presents its own challenges, but she loves bringing strong women to life on the canvas, especially female superheroes. She would love to create a portrait of a female scientist or author, as well as attempt to complete an optical illusion with her Jelly Belly art.

When asked if she’s ever needed a color that Jelly Belly just didn’t have, and if she needed something specific, would they make it for her, Cumings pulled out a small box used for separating beads that was filled with a color-coded variety of Jelly Belly beans. She pointed to the shiny, light pink beans and let us know that she has asked for some jewel-coated colored beans and the company was able to create them fairly easily for her.

 

Jelly Belly beans sorted by color, from speckled purple, gray, and black to light pink, mauve, and cream

 

The hardest color for her to find are the lighter blue tones, but other than those, she can usually find exactly what she needs. Take a look at the nearly finished portrait of Hermione!

 

 

We also had the opportunity to try the new line of Harry Potter chocolate wands and the fifth edition of BeanBoozled while we were at the Jelly Belly booth. Whatever you do, stay away from anything that could potentially be “canned dog food”!

Since Hermione was the featured Jelly Belly portrait, we chose her wand to sample. We were very surprised at how solid the wand was and the care that was put into the packaging.

 

 

The box is in line with the other licensed Potter products from this brand, but when we opened the box to reveal the wand, we were pleased with the gold tray and the wizard spell sheet inside!

 

 

 

The Funko Booth

If you love Harry Potter collectibles, and we all know you do, then you are no stranger to Funko. The company’s line of Wizarding World Pop! figures have us dumping our Galleons into Funko’s account just to take home these cute and quirky toys, as well as eagerly and willingly standing in long lines at conventions just to get a shot at the limited-edition exclusives.

After beginning a partnership with the generous folks at Funko in 2018, we were thrilled to be able to meet Hilary Gray, Funko’s Social Marketing and Video Production Manager. Hilary met with us just outside of the very busy Funko booth during one of the many scheduled lottery times, where eager collectors took their turn in line to hopefully purchase one of each of this year’s exclusive figures.

 

 

We couldn’t resist asking Hilary some questions about her job at Funko, and like the consummate professional she is, she answered each one – even the ridiculous ones.

As fans of the product, we wanted to know exactly how Hilary came to work for Funko and what the best part of her job was. Like many of us, Hilary started out as a fan of the brand and was active in the Funko fan community, saw a job opening, and applied. She also wanted to encourage fans who want to work for Funko to continue to be passionate about the brand and the products, stay active in the community, and don’t be afraid to apply – there are jobs all over the United States, and there will be openings in the new California store soon, so keep checking the website!

As the Instagram Marketing Manager and a member of the brand’s podcast, Funko Funkast, Hilary’s favorite thing about her job is getting to hear from and talk to fans, and she really does take the feedback and suggestions you give her to the brand.

For instance, we asked her about a few characters we know fans want to see but simply haven’t come into being yet.

*cough, Credence, cough*

Hilary told us that Funko looks for trends and listens to what the fans want, and pursue licenses if they can, but it is often much more complicated than simply requesting a license. For example, we attended Wizard World in February and had a chat with Charisma Carpenter from the Fox series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel. Many fans of both series have been asking for a Cordelia Chase Pop! In fact, a woman ahead of us in line to meet Carpenter presented a custom-made Cordelia Pop! for her to sign, and she was so surprised. We asked Carpenter why she thought there wasn’t a Cordelia Pop! out on the market yet, and she told us she had no idea because she released her image license a long time ago and didn’t understand when the fans so obviously wanted it.

Hilary told us that Funko had released a video on this subject recently as part of its Funko Women of Power series, in which Funko’s Brand and Licensing Senior Manager, Lauren, explains that sometimes the license is hung up on the celebrity, but sometimes the brand is waiting on the licensors – it all depends on who actually holds the licensing rights. Check out the video Hilary recommended here!

Now that the issue of Credence is out of the way, for now at least (we’re looking at you both, Ezra Miller and Warner Bros.), let’s get to the really fun stuff! We asked Hilary if she had a favorite Wizarding World Pop! and if there was a Pop! she really wanted to see licensed that for whatever reason just hasn’t happened yet, and just like the rest of us, she had a list. While Nearly Headless Nick is her favorite Pop! (she’s super jazzed about the neck peg that keeps Nick “Nearly Headless”), Hilary dreams of a Tonks Pop! with heat-changing hair color and also has hopes for iridescent Patronus Pop! figures.

We want to say thank you to Hilary, and to Funko, for allowing us to steal some time from them during the convention to delve a bit deeper into how Funko works. We also have a special surprise coming soon, but we can’t say any more right now other than to keep watching our social media accounts to see how you might be able to score a piece of ECCC merch from our visit!

Oh, okay. Here’s a hint.

 

 

Don’t say we didn’t give you a heads-up!

 

 

Jason Isaacs Spotlight Panel

How we wish we could share this panel with you, dear reader! Unfortunately, at Jason Isaacs’ request, we only had about one minute at the beginning of his panel to take photos before he asked us to put all our phones and cameras away, and the panel was not recorded. These are the only photos we were able to snag before we had to put them away, and they aren’t the best. We can hear your disappointment from here, and you are not alone.

 

 

While we were told the panel was streamed online via SyFy Wire, we have not yet seen the panel put up on its channel and it may never be put up since Isaacs requested nothing be recorded. We will do our best to reveal all we can recall from his panel.

 

 

The panel quickly reached capacity due to Isaacs’ popularity – there were fans there from more than just his role in the Potter series. Isaacs opted to moderate his own panel, and as he started to list off his body of work that fans might know him from, exclamations of joy and rounds of applause broke out, which seemed to both please and irritate him at once, depending on how loud or how soft the applause was.

He spoke about how he neglected to take home anything from the Potter set, but he did take home a uniform from Star Trek: Discovery that he said his daughter was able to wear but he no longer could.

Isaacs revealed a cutscene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, in which he discussed where he thought Lucius would end up. Since Lucius had no place within the Death Eaters, and he had turned against his family to maintain his status within society, Isaacs felt that Lucius would have had nowhere to turn during that battle in the courtyard at Hogwarts.

He helped form a scene with the director, David Yates, where Lucius was trampled by the Death Eaters during the battle. The scene was shot, with a hole being dug in the middle of the courtyard for Isaacs to lay in so that stunt Death Eaters could appear to be “running” on top of his body and face, essentially trampling him to death. It was filmed and in the can, and Isaacs felt satisfied with the ending, but then the next day, Yates came back and said, “I forgot, Harry and Voldemort end up in the courtyard for the final battle, so we can’t use this.”

Isaacs didn’t seem happy about it, but such is the movie life. Ultimately, we all know that in the films, Lucius leaves the battle to follow his wife and son away from Hogwarts, but Isaacs still feels that he ended up an alcoholic, bitter and alone, without his family and without his precious social status.

There were many funny moments in the panel, including when he Sorted himself into Slytherin House and when he declared jokingly that Lucius Malfoy’s Patronus would be Donald Trump’s hair.

Isaacs also explained that the roles he takes, while often appearing to be villains at first glance, are never that cut and dry. He chooses roles based on the character, and those perceived as villains don’t actually see themselves that way. His characters, no matter the type he is portraying, think they are right and are following their moral compass. He mentioned his character in Star Trek: Discovery, Captain Lorca, as well as his character in the Netflix series The OA. Both characters had their reasons for doing what they did, and while morally and ethically questionable, they believed themselves to be doing the right thing.

One of the best parts of this panel was the way Isaacs switched from his normal accent to so many different variations. It appeared effortless, although he told attendees that he always found himself being able to mimic other accents and had to from a very young age since he was from Liverpool and had a very distinct accent and was often teased in school until he changed it one day at home, which was a surprise to his parents. During his panel, when speaking about different colleagues within the acting world, Isaacs often switched into a different accent depending on who he was imitating. It was quite something to see in person – the man is very talented, and this gave us a whole new appreciation for him.

Rupert Grint - Was Our Photo Op Experience Worth It?

This is such a hard question to answer. Since joining MuggleNet in 2013, I have attended many conventions and purchased many photo op experiences. For anyone who has been through one of these, you know that it is a lot of waiting in line for less than ten seconds of time with a celebrity of your choosing, all for a photo as a keepsake.

First of all, I want to say how very much I appreciate the opportunities I have had as both a fan and as a representative of this wonderful site. Photo ops are not part of the press access we get when attending these conventions. Most of the time, we do not have front-row seating (in fact, we are seated in general admission ticketed seats like everyone else), and we are almost never granted one-on-one interview opportunities. That means that any time we get a photo op or autograph, it is on our own dime, just like every other fan who purchases a photo or autograph opportunity.

I still get a thrill at meeting the folks who have created these wonderful characters on the stage and screen for fans to enjoy – they mean something to me, even if they will never remember me or know who I am. It means a lot to me to get a moment to meet them and tell them how much I appreciate their talent and express how their portrayal has helped me get through hard times in my life or has brought me joy or helped me make friends I may never have had a chance to know if not for the fan community.

That being said, photo ops are always rushed because they have to take photos of as many people as they can in a small amount of time. Celebrity guests are always scheduled for multiple sessions, plus panels, so the time is extremely limited. Rupert’s scheduled photo op times were no different from any other I have been to, although this one felt SUPER fast. I had created a poster for our photo op that I had hoped would make Rupert laugh, but literally, I don’t even know if he registered what it was. He kindly smiled, said thanks, and held his end up, and then we were rushed out as soon as the flash had gone off. It must be awkward to rush so quickly through these interactions, but what choice do you have?

So is it really worth the money you spend on the photo and the hours you wait in line for the less than ten seconds you get with your chosen celebrity/author/artist? I’m still trying to decide.

I’ll always have the photo to look back at. It brings me joy to see it, so the answer must be yes.

 

 

By the way, for those who don’t understand why Rupert is wearing Tina’s hat, it’s a nickname his family gave him that he still answers to – Rupertina. The hat is really his – we swear he didn’t steal it like he stole the golden dragon’s egg from the Triwizard Tournament (you’ll have to scroll down and click the “Rupert Grint Spotlight Panel” section to hear THAT story from his own lips).

Sunday was THE day – the day of Rupert’s panel, that is – and we anticipated it getting really crowded very quickly. We had to make sure we got lined up as soon as possible to ensure great seats. But first, as an aspiring author, I felt it imperative to attend a literary panel first thing in the morning to start the day off. After the author panel, we made our way over to Rupert’s panel and planted our flags in line for seats.

Check out all the things we did on Sunday as we said good-bye to Emerald City, wrapping up our visit with Rupert Grint’s spotlight panel on Sunday evening!

Authors on the Best Advice They Ever Got

On our final day at Emerald City Comic Con, we were able to attend our first literary panel, The Best Advice I Ever Got, which featured six authors sharing their experiences of being published for the first time, how they were discovered, and giving advice to aspiring authors in the audience based on their knowledge of the industry.

The author panel was made up of Todd Lockwood, Patty Briggs, Anne Bishop, Jenna Glass (also known as Jenna Black), Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Seanan McGuire. The panel itself could have gone on longer, and many attendees had more questions for the panelists. I was grateful to hear their stories and advice, and now I have a whole new list of authors to check out! I particularly liked the sassy-pants attitude of Seanan McGuire and probably related to her more because she comes from a fan fiction background like I do, but I also liked the wonderful discussion that took place regarding reading and writing for “other” characters – it is so relevant to everything happening in today’s culture and it has encouraged me to read more books by authors of color and different sexual orientations than mine so that I can also be inclusive in my character creation. We need more representation in the literary and entertainment industries, and being unafraid to break through what we know and are familiar with will help us all learn and grow.

We hope you take away some encouraging and inspiring pieces of advice as you watch the panel for yourself!

 

 

 

Rupert Grint Spotlight Panel

Oh my, Rupert. Where to even start?

The lines for this panel were probably miles long if you had actually taken every single person and placed them in a straight line throughout Seattle’s streets. Due to his production schedule, Rupert’s Friday panel was rescheduled to Sunday evening and closed out the convention. ReedPOP allowed Friday-only ticket holders to come to the panel, which was incredible to many including myself, since most conventions I’ve attended have not done that before. This furthers my belief that the organizers behind this convention do care about their attendees more than some others I’ve been to.

After we waited in line for what felt like forever, we were let into the panel to get seated. It wasn’t long before they finally brought out panel host Clare Kramer (my favorite Buffy villain, Glory!) to introduce Rupert, and then the fun began. Rupert was 100% Rupert – a bit awkward, super kind and attentive to fans who asked questions, and fun to listen to. Take a look at some photos we captured during his panel!

 

 

I won’t rehash the whole panel for you, because SyFy Wire streamed the panel live and then put it up on its site! You can see for yourself how lovely Rupert was.

What I will say is how much I enjoyed Rupert’s delight in talking about his special moment with Dame Maggie Smith, how sweet it was for him to mention Dame Julie Walters, and that an hour for his panel was just not long enough! We wish he could have talked more about his time on the Harry Potter set, but we were absolutely gobsmacked that he had no idea about wrock and that he had no ships that he preferred in the Potter series. It took everything in us not to shout out “Drapple!” in the middle of that question as he struggled to think of a ship he could support until he finally agreed with the fan who asked the question and decided he would also ship Drarry.

Go on, you know you want to watch it!

 

That concludes the coverage of our adventures in Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con. We enjoyed the events we were able to attend, but we really did not like how spread out the convention was – all photo ops, autographs, and main stage panels were in a hotel three blocks from the convention, will call for tickets/passes were at yet another hotel two blocks away, and that meant shelling out more money for parking or transportation, especially if you were physically unable to make the trek to the other places, or having to be very picky with the events you chose to attend because you had to allow time to travel between all four locations of the convention in downtown Seattle.

The hotels also did not plan correctly for the sheer mass of people that would be using their facilities, with restrooms not working or having enough supplies, restaurants being severely understaffed and not stocked for the crowds that passed through, and elevators and escalators breaking down, making it nearly inaccessible and impossible to get people where they needed to be safely and on time.

We hope that some changes are made next year if they decide to keep this layout to provide transportation for those who need accommodation due to barriers that prevented them from attending all locations and that these locations take a look at the literal thousands of people who attend these conventions so that they can plan appropriately.