The only cons I like better then ones that I can ride my bicycle to are cons that only take an hour and a half drive. Sometimes the commute is intimidating and it’s much easier to just stay home. Amazing Arizona Comic Con gave me too many reasons to not miss this event.
Jimmy Jay organizes not only this show but also the Las Vegas convention that experienced a couple of logistical problems in October. That convention needed to move closer to the strip, based on the feed back I heard, to be beneficial to some guests for transportation and lodging. Jimmy was also the organizer of the Image Con Expo in February of last year.
I was regrettably late because the rain made me instantly lazy. It took me twice as long to get ready because I kept snarling at the rain through the window, and wanting to roll over, back to bed. The rain has this effect on Arizonans; we are like turkeys looking up and drowning in it. That didn’t stop my sister Deborah and I from making the commute up to Phoenix.
As we were walking in the rain, pushing through a crowd of what we thought were people dressed in WWE cosplay, it was actually the Royal Rumble Fan Fest happening at the US Airways center across the street. I don’t know how much the WWE event effected the attendance but I’m confident in saying it didn’t help with the rain factor. We finally arrived at the Phoenix Convention Center, which is a big step up for this event because last years’ events were in a much smaller venue in Mesa.
There was a large line waiting to buy tickets and another to claim wrist bands to enter the show. When I walked onto the floor, I could feel the presence and energy. The floor layout was well organized and didn’t seem to have any bottle necks except when the Cosplay Wutang concerts started in the middle of the aisle.
I sat in on the Jim Lee panel. He was sharing his wisdom, telling war stories and expanding what the future entails with the new 52. Lee was very generous with his time and practically signed anything you put in front of him. I spoke with one attendee who told me he was in line for three hours to get a signature.
A2C2 is a blossoming convention and already has attracted the attention the likes of Image/Top Cow. Matt Hawkins was present after reading over 800 talent search submissions in the span of a month. I can’t wait to see the who gets picked out of that bunch. Richard Starkings was also at his third A2C2 appearance, announcing that ELEPHANTMAN will hit that 50 mark in June. John Layman was also showing off his CHOG model to the attendees.
Another publisher making their debut appearance was Boom! Studios. Not only were they pushing the new Adventure Time butEric M. Esquivel and Michael Alan Nelson were the promoting their work at the company.
Right after the Jesse James Social Media panel I was on there was also a surprise live Skype session with Scott Snyder moderated by Kyle Higgins and Scott Lobdell. There were some technical difficulties but it was the most bizarre and spontaneous panel I have ever seen. It was very nice of Snyder to find time to talk to the folks of Arizona amidst his hectic schedule.
I know of few states these days that get three conventions in one year. The comic con pros in the state are a very enthusiastic bunch and so are the fans. The next AZ convention is Con-Nichiwa in Tucson, it’s gained massive popularity and has some very notable manga and anime guests. After that we have Phoenix Comicon in May that has guests like Mike and Laura Allred, Matt Wagner, Mike Mignola, Greg Capullo and many more.
I hung out at the exit of the show and asked some guests questions about the convention and their overall experience and it was all positive. The last couple of days on the Twitter and Facebook feed has been all praise from attendees and pros, not one single negative comment about the show. I knew it was a success because there was not one single line at the coffee stand.
Now I think this state is just spoiled rotten.
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 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.