Phoenix Comicon is less than a month away. Before I start talking about what’s to come, I want to review what happened at least year’s convention.

Every year, there are tons of panels. The areas are split up into sections like comic books, science fiction, horror, anime, costuming, and books an authors. At any point in time, there are a couple dozen panels to pick from. The frustration comes when multiple panels you want to see happen at the same time. I went to see as many panels as I could. Valiant was a fun panel about the rebooted Valiant imprint. They talked about their 8 bit game based on the Harbinger Wars (and the 8-bit variant comic covers that helped to promote it) and the upcoming Unity title they kept pretty tight lipped about. They did say that a lot of the old characters (at least the ones that weren’t registered to other companies) would be returning and we’ve already seen H.A.R.D. Corps, Timewalker, and Rai since then. DC Animated Universe was a fan panel about animated DC universe cartoons. There was a resounding disagreement in the cancelling of Young Justice, especially since it was replaced by Teen Titans Go. One of the local cosplay groups had an introduction panel Meet the Justice League Arizona. The group cosplays as DC characters. They are a social group but also does good work like visiting kids in hospitals while in costume. They are very picky about who they let in. To be let in, costumes must be of a high quality, not store bought, and very accurate. There were characters as well known as Superman and Nightwing as well as lesser known as Doctor Fate and the Earth 2 Flash. I also attended a couple Doctor Who fan panels among others I went to. The most interesting for me was a panel that I organized and was on, LGBT Characters in Mainstream Comics. It was a lot of fun being on the other side of things but a bit nerve wracking at first too. I wasn’t expecting a great turns out, but as I sat up at the table, more and more people came in. The panelists could have been better, some of them not too up on mainstream comics and others more interested in pushing their own titles, but it was still fun. The crowd had lots of questions and topics they wanted us to talk about and get our opinion on. After the event, I found out we were the best attended non-professional panel of the day.

The real panels people look for though are the star panels. I went to see 2 guest star panels, Dean Cain and John Barrowman. Dean Cain looks as good as he did back in the days of Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman. He was friendly and asked all sorts of questions, including about playing a gay character in The Broken Hearts Club. John Barrowman put on the better show though. He didn’t sit behind a desk as he had a whole stage to work with. He’s very open about his sexuality and camps it up the whole time. He even pulled down his jeans and bent over to show off his underwear. It was a very fun time and everyone in the crowded room (The line to get in scrolled back and forth across the hallway outside.) thoroughly enjoyed the show. There were also a bunch of people from Babylon 5 but that’s not my thing.

If you’ve got a break from panels, movies and anime, and general socializing, there’s always the dealer room. You’ll find booth of people selling comics, comic publishers (though they have yet to get Marvel and DC to show up), comic professionals, stores, artists, cosplay groups (Marvel and DC characters, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, and more), and a lot more. You can spend hours wandering around there checking out all the booths. There is also the fun checking out all the people wandering around in costume. I even did cosplay for the first time as Jack Knight, the modern per-New 52 Starman. (Yes, that’s me in the pic with a jacket I bought and painted up.) It was a lot of fun and it was a blast to see people recognize the character and want pictures.

The con is definitely a great time. The one downfall for the event was the security handling the high attendance on Saturday. It was the convention center’s security team but a lot of people blamed the convention because it was their event. Hopefully the convention team will deal with this prior to the 2014 con so it gets dealt with better. (They would only open one door out of 6 through to sections causing MAJOR traffic bottlenecks and making people go outside the building in 100+° temperatures only to have to go back through security checkpoints before trying to make their way to the panel they want to go to.) The con has been getting bigger each year which is a good sign of what they’ve been doing is good work.