Phoenix Comicon may be over for another year, but there’s no doubt that attendees are still riding high on the geek vibes emitted by Arizona’s largest – and easily best – comic book convention. The Valley of the Sun was more than prepared for the tens of thousands of attendees that descended upon it last weekend. Local business owners in the downtown area embraced the convention, the culture, and the attendees; making Phoenix Comicon not only an event, but an infusion of geek culture into the day to day life of the Downtown Phoenix area.
Like most comic book conventions, Phoenix Comicon comes from humble beginnings. Thanks to the popularity of comics in mainstream media, the convention has grown bigger and bigger each year, and this year was truly their most spectacular. The convention boasted appearances from some of the biggest names in movies, books, cosplay, television, and comics. For many, it was a dream come true to see Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar on stage together. For others, meeting authors such as Patrick Rothfuss, Charlaine Harris, and Frank Beddor was a goal that netted nothing but positive results. Oh, and let’s not forget those photo and signing opportunities with the man himself, Stan Lee.
Conventions are judged not only for their guests, but also for their programming schedule. A good convention may have a couple of panels that draw crowds but, for the most part, attendees will stick to the floor. A great convention is when attendees have so many options that they have to make tough decisions between staying on the exhibit floor or getting in line for the next big panel. By these definitions, Phoenix Comicon has become a fully-fledged great convention. The convention had more programming than you can shake a stick at, and the off-site events were accessible, fun, and wonderful.
Highlights from the 4-day convention:
Party Like a Time Lord – This Doctor Who-themed, all-ages party was held off-site at the Sheraton and it is safe to say that any Doctor Who fan within a 25 mile radius was likely in attendance. In addition to the themed drinks and dancing, the party presented costume contests (including the most adorable children’s costume contest in recent memory), role playing (the “boos” while The Master took stage were thunderous), and general frivolity. This was one of the best parts of the convention and a feature that not many conventions have offered.
Spotlight on Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar – The largest ballroom played host to only the biggest panels the convention had to offer. There were plenty of great questions from the audience and answers from the Batman ’66 cast, but the best fan question wasn’t a question at all. It was a thanks from a fan who was inspired to join the United States Marines after watching West and company show him that being a superhero is the best job on the planet. This heartfelt thanks brought tears to the eyes of the audience and cast. While this was wonderful, it still wasn’t the biggest surprise. That honor goes to a man by the name of Justin Kirby, who brought his girlfriend Courtney on stage with the cast to pop the big question. Lucky for him, she said “yes”.
Harry Potter/Doctor Who Astronomy – Mixing science with fiction is always fun, and this wonderful exhibit found that sweet spot that ties the two together. The unusual presentation had attendees squeezing into an inflatable dome in where the night sky was projected on the ceiling. Once inside the moderator pointed out various constellations and showed guests the celestial counterparts to some of the biggest characters in either the Harry Potter or Doctor Who universes, depending on which presentation you attended.
Spotlight on John Barrowman – Anyone who has been to a Barrowman panel will never miss another, and those who have never been need to correct this as soon as possible. Barrowman’s panel isn’t so much a “panel” as it is a one-man show. For an hour, the Doctor Who and Arrow actor took the stage on his own; no moderator and no holds barred. He took questions from the audience and provided non-stop laughs throughout the entire presentation. Easily the best panel of the convention.
Spotlight on Stan Lee – Stan Lee. Do we really need to say anymore?
These highlights are only a very small portion of the wonderful panels and activities this excellent convention had to offer. While holding a convention of this size in a harsh climate does bring with it unique issues – like Phoenix Comicon’s clear warning about heat exhaustion and dehydration within the first pages of its programming guide – the event is well worth battling the few problems.
Next year’s sale dates have yet to be announced, but you can find all of the information about this year’s convention (including guests and panel information) here. Be sure to follow Phoenix Comicon on Facebook so you will be one of the first to snag a ticket for 2015 once registration opens! It’s sure to be one of the “don’t miss” conventions of the year.