2014: A Tale of Cons Past

Phoenix Com is coming up in a few weeks. It’s time to look back at what last year brought us.

Last year, Phoenix Comicon was pushed off into the beginning June but that didn’t stop it from bringing in about 20% more people than it did the prior year. The halls filled people there to see big named stars, talk about their favorite TV shows, buy stuff from the venders area which had just about anything you could be looking for, or just hang out with their friends. And whether you were hanging out with friends or there by yourself, many people broke out their cosplay costumes to make the con all that much more colorful. Groups like The Arizona Avengers and Justice League Arizona really help promote the fun of cosplay while also helping the community outside of the convention scene. Check out my Phoenix Comicon 2014 photo page to see some of the great costumes that were there last year.

Of course, the biggest draw is always the list of guests. These guests range from writers to comic artists to the big stars of TV and the movies. One person I had to hunt down in the artist area was my favorite artist Mike Grell who is known for his work on characters like Jon Sable, Warlord, and Green Arrow as well as the Legion of Super-Heroes. For those looking for the people who have portrayed their favorite characters of the big and small screens, there were plenty there. Between the panels (many of which were in the large ballroom), photo booths, and autograph lines, there were plenty of chances for people to see and meet their idols. With so many stars and so little time, there’s no way to see everyone you want to. Among the people there were Manu Bennett (Arrow), Mark Sheppard (Supernatural, Warehouse 13), Adam West and Burt Ward (the 1960s Batman TV show), Austin St. John and Billy Yost (Power Rangers), John Rhys-Davies (too much to list though I loved him in Sliders) and Carey Elwes (The Princess Bride). And, of course, there’s always Stan Lee somewhere to be found.

There were a couple that I made sure to make time for though. Returning to the con was fan favorite John Barrowman. Crossing genres playing Jack Harkness in Doctor Who/Torchwood and Malcolm Merlyn in Arrow, John had a lot of fans and a lot of questions on just about any topic imaginable. John is always goofy and always has great stories to tell. John has been an out actor for a quite a while and is also never afraid to camp it up for a little fun. (His husband was there in the front row.) John had some good Arrow stories involving pranks on set and working with Stephen Amell. This was a great lead in since Stephen’s talk was 2 hours after John’s completed. And lead into this, it did. When Stephen Amell was on stage, people verified the stories and asked for his side of it all. While he was friendly and good natured, there was definitely a difference between the way John and Stephen were on stage. Stephen was definitely the more serious one of the two.

Not all the panels were about celebrities though. In fact, a majority of them weren’t. There are a lot of panels run by fans on topics like Doctor Who, comic books, Star Trek, and such. Justice League Arizona did a panel about their group and what they do in the community and how someone could become a member if interested. My panel around gay characters in comic books went on to its second year with an even better turn out than last year. There’s geek speed dating, a geek ball, and geekiness everywhere you turn. Just because you’re not famous every day doesn’t mean you can’t be famous for an hour at Comicon and have everyone sitting and listening to what you have to say.

Phoenix Comicon 2014 was a lot of fun. A lot of other people must have thought so too since the holiday season brought along a special present in the form of Phoenix Fan Fest, Comicon’s little brother.

December 12-14 was the first year of Fan Fest. If one con is good, 2 is better, right? Maybe. Maybe not. This convention took place at the University of Phoenix Stadium instead of the Convention Center but it was nowhere near as big. For the most part, honestly, it was a vendor show and it wasn’t even the level of vendors they had at Comicon. There were a few regulars but it wasn’t the same dealer room people were used to. Nevertheless, there were still tons of cosplayers to check out. The few rooms they had set up for stuff were smaller press rooms and were a bit hard to find. There were a few stars there like Ben Browder (Stargate), Colin Baker and Paul McGann (Doctor Who) and Linda Blair (The Exorcist). The person I was most interested in seeing was Eddie McClintock from Warehouse 13. Sadly, his talk was Friday and I couldn’t get off work. I did get his autograph and a couple selfies with him on Saturday though. He is a really friendly and cool guy. I hope they get more of the show’s cast in the future. The other big name was David Ramsey, John Diggle on Arrow. The talk was very cool. He was a really nice guy, had the expected stories and such. He also did impersonations of the other cast members which was a fun point. I felt bad for the set-up he was in for doing it compared to what Stephen got.

Overall, I really wasn’t impressed with this, especially after what Phoenix Comicon had grown into. I’m not sure if it was down in a short planning time, they really couldn’t find a truly good location for the event, or what. I know a lot of friends who went to it were disappointed. I mean, it does have a lot to live up to after PCC. I’m not even sure if we need another convention. Put the money into the main one and let’s make that really kick ass. Splitting time and funds between 2 cons seems counterproductive to me.

I’m really looking forward to Phoenix Comicon 2015. I’ll have information up on that soon.

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