Last year the world of comics events was stunned when a heavily armed man was detained at the Phoenix Comicon, allegedly with plans to stalk Jason David Frank. The event spurred a lot of scrutiny regarding security at conventions, and since then, going through metal detectors is a regular feature of most comics show.
This weekend, the renamed Phoenix Comic Fest kicks off, drawing perhaps 200,000 people, and the event has made a lot of changes in line management, security and more. There have often been long lines at the show, especially when weapons were inspeted last year, but new procedures hope to lessen them. And now there will be metal detectors:
All pass-holders will go through metal detectors, except cosplayers in bulky costumes and anyone who needs ADA accessibility, who will be checked with detector wands. There will also be a dedicated line for those without bags.
Anyone with props will be directed to the Prop Check Stations, which replace the Peace Bonding stations that previously were inside the convention center. Security officials and police officers will scrutinize props, making sure no one brings in a real or replica weapon, and tag them. Each prop must be tagged to move through security.
All prop and costume weapons were briefly banned at Phoenix and many other shows after last year’s events, leading to some anger among cosplayers, and this year at PCF, real (!) and replica weapons, ammunition and explosives are still banned. But lightsabers are allowed, and, I guess, other cartoon swords. (The article is lengthy but isn’t entirely clear about what is and isn’t banned outright.)
However, vendors who sell replica weapons have may new restrictions:
With the new weapons policy that bans real or replica firearms, explosives and ammunition, as well as metal or wooden swords, some vendors can’t return this year. Jen Palmer, co-director of operations, said they did a deep dive into the vendor list.
“For any that might have a problem with the new rules, we reached out to them and personally talked about the changes,” she said. “Some declined to come to the event. Others adjusted their products so they could still vend with us.”
A few vendors will offer mail-order items. Prop weapons will need to be taken to the weapons check to get inspected and tagged.
While all of this may inconvenience some people, it’s good to see that everyone’s safety is being prioritized.