Phoenix Comicon 16 has come and gone, and I suppose it’s time to finally take a few moments to assess what turned out to be quite an extraordinary event.
Even before Comicon arrived, I knew it was going to be huge. The previous Phoenix Comicon FanFest event in December of 2015 indicated that fact, as well as the Phoenix Comicon organization now has their own offices and paid staff. These were signs of bigger things to come from previous Comicons. Then there were the endless e-mails of guests who were coming in for this event. It was non-stop! Granted, there is no doubt that those attending the con were hoping for some “hotter” guests as well as previous fan favorites, but given that there were THREE other conventions going on the same day, the fact that our “little” convention was able to bring in the guests for this year was nothing short of a miracle. Yes, all signs were pointing to the fact that this was going to be enormous.
We had learned our lessons from past Comicons and last year’s FanFest regarding how we would network and perform interviews with guests. Even though our “guerrilla recording gear” had worked successfully in the past (as evidenced by a wonderful interview we were able to score with I Am Alone star Gareth David-Lloyd, compliments of the movie’s publicist, Patricia Chica), we knew that if we wanted to get some serious content that it would be necessary to have our studio in our hotel room. So, we wisely booked a room across the street from the convention center at the Hyatt and had our studio, as well as a mini hospitality suite, all set up. We were ready to go.
When Thursday morning arrived we made our way to Registration. The doors weren’t to open until 10:00 AM, so we thought that getting there by 9:00 would make it easy for us to get our Media Passes, but that was not the case. Another indicator that this was going to be a huge convention appeared in the form of a line consisting of 400 excited paying guests wanting to check out this convention on its opening day. If there was any doubt that this was going to be huge, they were erased from that moment on.
One other thing that Phoenix Comicon does so well is host little film festival blocks. Prior to Comicon we already had the pleasure of interviewing the director, Russ Emanuel, and the writer, Julia Camara, of the movie Occupants. Because we are such staunch supporters of independent creators, and specifically in this instance, independent filmmakers, we felt a strong responsibility to cover Occupants because it was having its world premiere at Phoenix Comicon. This meant spending time watching the movie both during its premiere as well as its encore showing, and staying after for both Q & A panels. While it may not seem like much, between these showings, and the various interviews we had during Comicon with some of the cast and crew of this film, a lot of our time was deliberately spent with these people. As I said, we ARE staunch supporters!
We did have a chance to attend a few additional panels, two of which sort of split the Two Gay Geeks right down the middle. With these two panels one of the geeks found it boring while the other found it highly informative. The two remaining panels were thoroughly enjoyed by both of us that led to some wonderful one-on-one time with the amazing Larry Nemecek himself. As a result of this most of our remaining free time was happily spent with “Dr. Trek,” including the opportunity to have an amazing sit-down interview with him in our studio.
Because of our busy schedule we did not get to see more panels, and we barely had a chance to explore the Exhibitor’s Hall, which appeared to be bigger and better than it has ever been! Normally we would spend at least two days exploring each table and talking to many of the vendors and artists. Sadly, because of our busy interview schedule we were not able to see and network with as many people as we would have liked. However, we were able to make some strong observations in the short time had.
While we have not, as of yet, had the pleasure of exploring other Comicons, whenever people ask us about Phoenix Comicon, and if it’s worth going to, we continue to answer with a resounding YES! Were there problems? Yes. There were some network issues causing transactions to not go through as easily and quickly as I’m sure some would have liked. There was also a somewhat controversial problem arising on Friday where people who were lined up for Registration found themselves outdoors during the hot Phoenix summer weather. While this did cause quite a bit of consternation among convention guests, it was remedied and the remaining days showed no evidence of any such problem. No evidence at all! This is the wonder of those who run Phoenix Comicon, from paid staff and directors, all the way down to volunteers. In spite of the issues that popped up during the convention, those who were in charge did their absolute best to address the problem, all for the benefit of the paying guests who were there. These are growing pains of an organization that is still getting on its feet. By their own admission they will continue to test out new ideas for their special events. Some of them will work, while others may fail with amazing grandeur, and in each case the people running Comicon will take a look at their events when all is said and done, and they will make that determination regarding which ideas to keep and which ones to discard. There is no doubt that they saw some great successes for this event, and that those failures will either be addressed or totally eliminated from any future event. What we can take away is that this is, for all intents and purposes, and very well run convention, and because it WAS managed so well, there was a general spirit of goodness among all the people. No one tried to pass himself or herself off as better than someone else. Cosplayers got along wonderfully with guests just in street clothes, and even children who had the simplest of costumes were applauded and appreciated by all who were in attendance.
There was a wonderful spirit of well being for all who were there, and even though we were exhausted by the end of each day because of all the running around we did, there was a sense of sadness when the convention was over. Yes, we were looking forward to going back to our home and the quiet of our house, but that beautiful spirit of camaraderie was going to be missed.
So what is the ultimate take away from all of this? Well the directors of Phoenix Comicon have made strong attempts to create something that is uniquely Phoenix, and while they may feel they have work to do on that front, I would say that they have already achieved it. Through their hard work and dedication they have created a glorious event that can appeal to almost any geek out there. Diversity. This in turn has fostered a wonderful feeling of good will and friendship among all who were there. I was watching a cosplayer dressed as a special order of nun, and when he witnessed a child crying because she fell and hurt herself, he went up and talked to her in a manner that just reminded me that geeks are generally very good and kind people. We care about one another very much and we are highly supportive of each other’s endeavors, and the behavior throughout all of Phoenix Comicon was evidence of that.
Phoenix Comicon 16 was a huge success, because of ALL who had a part in it. Directors and paid staff, as well as all of the guests who were there. They all had a part in making this Comicon a wonderful event that shows all that is best in geeks from Phoenix, and from all over the world.
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