June 2, 2010

Phoenix Comicon Report

I'm going to digress a little before I even start. Can the powers that be come up with a consistent way to name your con? Phoenix is Comicon, but San Diego is Comic-Con, and others are just Comic Con. What's wrong with having one name? Just saying.  And yes, I'm joking.  Mostly.


My experience can be summarized in one sentence. Phoenix Comicon rocked. As in the most enjoyable convention I have ever attended.

After paying a not inexpensive nightly rate for the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, the room rate at the convention hotel, the Hyatt Regency, was very reasonable. For the $119 per night (plus tax and self-parking), the rooms were very nice. The valet guy out front was kind enough to point out that we could self park, and all employees were beyond friendly. Despite that fact that some of us geeks were very loud. Though I guess it could have been the basketball fans also staying at the hotel. That's it, let's blame it on the jocks.

The convention center was just across the street and though the actual con was in the south building, you could manage to stay in air conditioning for most of the block or so walk over. I can't comment on how easy registration was or wasn't because I was helping a friend and therefore had an exhibitor's pass. I got in an hour before the public opening both Saturday and Sunday, and I noticed the line trickled into the exhibit hall for a while on each day. Though the Phoenix Comicon has been running for nine years, this was the first year in this bigger location. I'm guessing about 12,000+ flowed through the halls. *Edit - the numbers just came in and it was 13,988.  More than double the 2009 attendance numbers.

The con organizers got a solid mix of vendors to participate with very little overlap in areas such as jewelry or plushies. Tons of artists were there selling prints, offering sketches, or showcasing printed comics/webcomics, and doing commissions. Every one of them I stopped to chat with seemed happy to do so. One or two tables had plush toys, just a couple of exhibitors had costumes and jewelry, the Star Wars groups were in full force, and the rest were a mix of comic books and books. Atomic Comics had two vendor areas, and I had a fun time digging through the eight for $1 comic boxes. I probably had more fun than those who were looking for particular editions since I just pulled ones that looked like they would be fun.  I admire the dedication though.

The panels were continuous and varied; I spied subjects such as costuming, Star Wars, discussing Joss Whedon's awesomeness, and lots of comic/webcomic how-tos. They took place at the convention center for the most part and were really close to the exhibit hall. I attended the below panels which I will go into more detail about in tomorrow's post. I will say that that the non-celeb panels really felt like mini classes, and I gleaned super useful information from each of them.
Steampunk 101
The Guild with Felicia Day & Wil Wheaton
Own Your Own Comic Book Shop
Making Your Fantasy World a Reality
Self Publishing Comics
Super Happy Fun Time with John & Wil

Kids Need to Read was the sponsored charity of the con, and they had fun events going for the whole show. I wanted to attend the Geek Prom, but I didn't realize you had to get tickets at their booth ahead of time. I knew it was a ticketed event from the promotions, but I assumed that one could get the tickets at the door. It sold out sometime before Saturday afternoon. And actually, maybe even they didn't realize how quickly they would fill up the ballroom's capacity. I did get to participate in an event from the same organization on Sunday, a Smuggler's Run that involved getting sketches, signatures, or things from exhibitors and delivering them to the Star Wars Rebel Legion table without getting arrested and put in jail by wandering Stormtroopers and Mandalorian Mercs.

Speaking of Stormtroopers, the cosplayers attended the con in droves. I saw lots of Star Wars characters, anime outfits, superheroes, dressed up kidlets, and furries. My favorite costumes of the con are right over here.

I met a plethora of fantastic, nice, and passionate creators,. I've showcased my sketches below (gee, I wonder who my favorite Star Wars character is):
Spencer Brinkerhoff III - artist with kicking Star Wars prints and cards
J.S. Lewis - author of the Grey Griffins series
James A. Owen - author and artist
Tom Hodges - artist on the The Clone Wars and other Star Wars webcomics
Laurie B - artist, click through to her DeviantArt account to check out wonderful drawings

Aayla Secura sketches by (left to right): Travis Hanson, Tom Hodges, Spencer Brinkerhoff III

And I got to visit with a couple of my favorite creators:
Daniel M. Davis of Steamcrow - go check out his webcomic Monster Commute
Travis Hanson of Bean Leaf Press - he broke his previous record and did 970 free sketches during the show!
Jason Palmer - if you are a fan of any sci-fi show (especially Galactica or Firefly) just click that link and thank me later.

All of the above reasons made the Phoenix Comicon stand apart for me. Don't get me wrong, I have a blast going to San Diego Comic-Con. It's a major highlight of my summer. I feel like I get lost in the crowds there though. It's easy to feel that way with over 100,000 people in attendance. But in Phoenix, I felt like I got to engage vendors and artists in a different way than at huge conventions. I didn't get lost in a sea of people pushing through the aisles doing the penguin walk.  In a way, going to Phoenix Comicon was like going to a family reunion. You may have never met them, or they might not remember your name, but they welcome you with open arms and you're among friends. I have never felt more at home at a convention.


  1. Looks like you had a fun time. Very cool.

  2. From what I understand, Phoenix Comicon is named as such because San Diego is part of a larger con that has kinda trademarked the title Comic-Con so, we can't use it because we're not associated with them :)

    Thank you so much for the awesome recap! Glad to hear you had a great time :D

  3. Argh, now I want to go to Phoenix AND San Diego... I can't spend 3 months in California; I suspect that might get me fired!!!

    What do I DO Amy?

  4. There are so many great cons on your side of the country! I'm so jealous. But then again, I'll be gracing Dragon*Con with my presence in September (my first con EVER)!

  5. Unfortunately, I heard that Jason Palmer did some f'd up things at the con which should have gotten him kicked out.

  6. Manuel - it was such a good con experience.

    Sami - Aha, that makes total sense. :) It was a fabulous con, so well organized and managed!

    Mary - Well, jobs are helpful I suppose. But you could totally stay in California for 3 months! What? You could! Of the two though, check out San Diego Comic Con first. Just because of the size, crazy factor.

    Kara - See, you get Dragon*Con over there though! And a handful in New York too. It sounds like you chose your first con well; I've heard nothing but fun things about Dragon*Con. Apparently, there are a lot of parties.

    C - hmm, can't say that I heard anything like that, so I can't comment on it. I do know that the organizers of the con are very interested in any and all feedback though, and they can be contacted at oracle@phoenixcomicon.com.

  7. Yeah they pretty much know. Security had to be called.

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