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 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.
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.