Phoenix Comicon didn’t look anything like it did last year. While there was a smattering of industry news, it seemed like the industry in the southwest was pretty dormant. Which was a bit surprising with all the attention this show got. The city had PHX information all over the place, and it was promoted on various local news outlets. Did it need it? Probably not, but a show that originated in the tiny, cramped Mesa Center has avalanched into what some were calling a “Mini San Diego.”
There were just too many comic book guests to list. On the last day, after the con was finally over and the dust settled I got to meet Mike Choi. “One of the most organized conventions I’ve been to,” were Choi’s thoughts on the efficiency on the organizers and staff. Some said they were treated like royalty. Staffers would go around and give the guests food, drinks, and go as far as escort creators to their panels. Others coined this convention a comic-con in the middle of a cosplay event.
Final numbers weren’t released, but I heard 50k. Last year there was an issue with capacity and the fire marshal was called, but this year was different. At about 4:03 p.m. on Sunday fire alarms silenced a convention floor of thousands of people. Everyone was looking around thinking it was a joke or a part of the announcements, but a repeating emergency response recording was alerting people to head to emergency exits. I witnessed a father say to himself, “Oh my god I have to find my daughter!” and ran.
Attendees stood in the unforgiving Arizona heat on what was supposed to be the last hour of a joyous weekend. Fortunately, the closing hour was pushed back from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Mike Norton tweeted Saturday night a warning there was going to be a fire alarm prank at Hyatt (the main convention hotel) the night before. There might be a connection, but catching the culprit might be slim with a convention floor of masked characters.
Arizona parents warn their kids of the douchebag fanboys/girls that haunt the Hyatt elevators at midnight. #TruePhoenixComicConHorror
— Mike Norton (@themikenorton) May 25, 2013
Thankfully, security and volunteers did a great job by getting everyone to safety and relaying information during the evacuation. One of the volunteers told me it was a fire alarm prank, and an officer advised me a smoke alarm on the third floor of the convention center triggered all of the alarms. I’m very thankful that a convention full of people who READ could empty so quickly and efficiently. Volunteers helped the pros out safely and contacted them on their cellphones when it was safe to enter the exhibitor hall again.
The only negative things I heard about the volunteer staff was in the three hour lines for Kevin Eastman and Greg Capullo. One of the line staffers on Saturday was (jokingly) telling people she appreciated their patience but she was tired of looking at their faces, over and over again.
There were plenty of eating establishments and bars within walking distance of the event, including very inexpensive and quality eateries. I went out to eat at Cooperstown, home of “THE BIG UNIT.” The establishment was featured on the infamous Man Vs Food.
PHXCC has always been known for a show with amazing cosplay but nothing like this. It was like 1 out of 3 people were cosplaying as Homestuck characters, Star Trek, or members of the Village people. People were just dressing up in whatever they wanted to. Anything goes, even Mickey Mouse ears.
Publishers like Oni Press, BOOM Studios and Avatar Press were present and seemed to had some success. Maybe when attendance numbers are announced, others publishers will consider attending but I know the word mouth from the creators should appeal to their peers. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a major spike in female attendance. There was a big celebrity presence in the Star Trek Universe and various sc-fi film/television, but forgive me for my lack of focus on that subject because my heart is in comics. It was nice to see the Hero Initiative partnering up with a ton of the big name talent trying to raise money for the cause.
Sadly, it’s over and I’m sure that I’m not the only one excited for next year.
— Wear It Work It (@WearItWorkIt) May 28, 2013
— 12News(@12News) May 26, 2013
— FAMEAZ tweetv (@FAMEAZtv) May 28, 2013
— Nerdvana (@nerdvana) May 25, 2013
— Shawn Marshall (@The_Con_Fluence) May 26, 2013
— LJ superstar 2004 (@killhamster) May 26, 2013
— Jon Draper (@JSalas3845) May 26, 2013
— David Malki ! (@malki) May 27, 2013
Henry Barajas is the co-creator, writer and letterer for El Loco and Captain Unikorn. He has also written and lettered short stories for two successful Kickstarter SpazDog Press projects: Unite and Take Over: Stories inspired by The Smiths and Break The Walls: Comic Stories inspired by The Pixies. He is the Newsroom Research Assistant for The Arizona Daily Star and was nominated for the Shel Dorf Blogger of the Year award for his work at The Beat. You can follow him on Twitter @HenryBarajas and Google+.