I have had the opportunity to attend all three Eugene Comic Cons, otherwise known as Eucon, and each year it has gotten better. Running from November 11-12, it isn’t the biggest or most exciting con, but it is a very family focused one that highlights the local geeky community as well as bringing in some bigger names. Because it is smaller, it allows for more indie works and a smaller price tag as well with children under 12 getting in free with a paid adult.
While not the biggest star-studded event, there was a decent showing representing many facets of geek culture. Illustrator Dan Parsons was probably the most popular with many fans approaching him. He chatted about all sorts of things including how much fun it was to come up with new characters by combining elements of previously established ones. Christopher Sebela was also quite charming and fun with his displays of We(L)come Back placed in the categories of “Gay” and “Even Gayer.” While not listed on the promoted guest list, Comic Historian Mark Arnold was also there and was very friendly. He even signed my copy of Back Issue! The more wider-reaching stars included Ryan Hurst, Martin Klebba, All Things Z, and several Twin Peaks stars there for a panel titled “Twin Peaks: Questions In a World of Blue.”
Of course, not all of the stars were people. Supernatural consistently gets a lot of love at this con and this year saw the return of Baby with the addition of Charlie’s Gremlin as well. We also saw the return of the ever-popular Nintendo Car. For the first time, we also got an opportunity to see the biggest display yet: the Optimus Prime semi-truck. The Michael Keaton Batman Suit was advertised to be there as well, but I was unable to find it. When it comes to the guests, the cosplay was very well done this year with newer characters and even some returning groups that are fun to spot.
The two biggest events were “A Matt & Two Mikes: Krackling about Kirby” and “The Force Experience.” Sunday’s “Krackling about Kirby” featured Mike Royer and Mike Allred, who were two of the biggest names of the con, talking about Jack Kirby and other comic related topics. Taking place on both days, “The Force Experience” gave children a chance to get some basic Jedi training while also providing a decent show with lots of audience interaction.
A fun and interactive part of Eucon is Indie Game Con. This con within a con displays a wide variety of games all set up for guests to demo. They ranged from tablet applications all the way to virtual reality games. My personal favorite was RezPlz. It is essentially a 2D platformer with puzzle mechanics based around killing yourself and having your brother resurrect you in order to progress through the level. If that sounds interesting to you, the demo we played can be found online at https://www.rezplzgame.com/download/
One of the main things that this con focuses on is family based fun. Along with the ability to see and purchase great art, there was plenty of opportunity for kids to create some of their own with many coloring stations set up for both younger and older kids as well as an appearance of Artie the Art Bus, a local mobile classroom, which provided yet more opportunities for colorful expression based around Warhol. The Science Factory was also present with an exhibit focused on aerodynamics complete with a wind tube and the chance to make and fire off rockets. Unsurprisingly, they had a kids cosplay parade and contest as well.
While there is plenty of good, it is still a newer con and there were some minor issues. One that I was quite surprised by is how hard it was to find will call. I was told to pick up my press pass there, but nobody seemed to know where it was. Eventually, they just gave me free admission because they didn’t know what else to do. Also, previous years featured full color booklets that guests could pick up detailing events and guests, but this year was simply a print out list that felt very last-minute. Unfortunately, there were also moments where space was an issue as waves of people sometimes made it feel quite cramped despite the fact that they made use of three large rooms at the Lane Events Center. That said, and it was impressive that they were able to fit so much in there and I would rather it be packed then empty.
In a lot of ways, they are still finding their footing, but it was still a great time. I especially love how much they have for kids to do. Additionally, it is great to see the way that so many local and indie companies get spotlighted at smaller cons. And finally, a big factor is the smaller price tag allowing guests to spend more of their money on the great merchandise and commissions. They even manage to have decent swag bags with items such as posters, pins, and magnets. It may not be the con for everyone, but I know I plan to keep attending it.