Phoenix Comicon organizers could have been content to continue running a really solid convention every summer. With an army of 1600 volunteers and just 6 paid staff, they were already putting on one of the largest Comicons in the U.S. They could’ve just cruised.
The 3-day Fan Fest had a more focused scope than the intimidatingly expansive schedule of the main Phoenix Comicon event, wrapping up each day by 7:30 pm or so instead of stretching to the wee hours. It still had multiple tracks, two Doctor Whos (Doctors Who?), activities for all ages, and an attendance of over 11,000. (So…slightly larger than the population of Sedona.)
Yes, there was a first year glitch here and there, but overall it was a great event.
Clearly, the force is strong with them.
Comic book track
Ahead of the con, organizers polled the community about what kind of character they’d like to see created. Then, during the weekend, an entire track was devoted to bringing the character and story to life.
For each step of the process – sketching, inking, coloring, etc. – a different panel of volunteer artists would build on what had been created before, brainstorming and incorporating audience feedback as they went. I sat in on the clothing session. Discussions centered on how to reflect the story and super powers of the character, Blaze, in the design of her costume with the artists sharing ideas and opinions, as well as busily sketching them out.
By the end of the weekend, there was a 4-page comic book(let) of Blaze’s origin story.
I’ll introduce you to some of the fabulous cosplayers and other makers I met in a separate post. For now, here are some of the costuming related programming and activities I got a chance to check out.
Cosplay fashion show – So many imaginative costumes! And some of the teens really got into character as they walked down the runway. It was great to see them embrace and embody something they’re into.
Costume-building competitions – Due to lack of participation, a few of these had to be cancelled. I chalk this up to first-year growing pains. I’m not sure people came expecting to participate as much as they had the opportunity to.
EVA foam demo – Mike Syfritt demonstrated his techniques for working with sheets of EVA foam, laser-cutting and layering them to create cosplay weapons and other props. Also, he had a really impressive supply toolkit – with an entire drawer for glue.
Makeup – There was a special effects make-up competition with just 75 minutes to transform an audience volunteer using theatrical makeup. The make-up artists did a fantastic job!
There were around 300 exhibitors. A big section of the hall, “artists’ alley,” was devoted to comic book and other illustrators. There are several artists and makers I’m excited to tell you about, but again, that’s going into another post.
Beyond the exhibitors were the lines for photo ops with actors and other guests.
There were also some places to take your own photos. Phillip posed as Han Solo facing off against the bounty hunter Greedo in a replica of an infamous hive of scum and villainy.
Outside there were different activities like jousting matches, muggle quidditch, and bouncy houses/slides/etc. for kids.
There was a team version of the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown (PUGS), which Phillip participated in.
Teams had to debate geeky topics like “who wore the bow tie best: Doctor Who or Bill Nye?” Moderator Jeff Moriarty assigned the sides to the teams as he saw fit, and they had to defend whichever was assigned to them.
For example, Phillip’s team had to argue why Catwoman was better with a whip than Indiana Jones. They put forth a valiant effort, but, really, Indy is hard to beat.
Preview of Phoenix Comicon
“We want Phoenix Comicon to be a place where you don’t just come see things, you come do things.”
–Phoenix Comicon 2015 Preview panel
One of the last panels was about what to expect from Phoenix Comicon in May 2015.
A few of the things that are in the works:
- Possible Jedi training with a lightsaber group.
- Youth activities, skits, and art room.
- Science tracks that count towards continuing education credits for teachers.
- More writing panels.
- “Drinks with Authors” events.
- More fantasy programming centered around Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, etc.
- More nighttime events, including nightly parties at the host hotels. Some will be 21+ and some for all ages.
– More info –
- Phoenix Comicon
- Phoenix Comicon for newbies
- Cosplay tips
- Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest
- Interview with Jillian Squires, Director of Marketing for Phoenix Comicon, on the Blogadin podcast (interview starts at about 34:00)
Thank you to Phoenix Comicon for providing media passes!