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The Next Phoenix Fan Fest

Posted by on Oct 13, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments


Whether it’s your favorite lunch spot or a local festival, when something you enjoy goes from niche to well-known, you may feel you miss the “good old days” before the crowds. Of course, those crowds help keep corner cafes in business and sustain community events.


It’s true of Phoenix Comicon. I’ve heard plenty of long-time attendees wax nostalgic about the earlier events with their shorter lines and sense of community, while, of course, enjoying the bigger name guests and programming made possible by the larger numbers.

Enter Phoenix Fan Fest.


Why Fan Fest?

Meant to evoke the feel of the early days of Phoenix Comicon, Fan Fest is a smaller, more intimate show by design. There are fewer tracks with the focus on artists/comics, costumes, and kid-friendly events.


It’s also more interactive. As one organizer put it, think of Fan Fest as “come and do things” instead of just “come and see things.” You can learn to play Quidditch (adapted for muggles, of course), compete in MS Paint Pictionary, make something with Lego, and even compete in a build-off!


At the first Fan Fest, artists, attendees, and the community collaborated to create a crowdsourced comic character, Blaze. Last year, they invented a nemesis for Blaze. This year, you can be a part of brainstorming action sequences for the two, while artists sketch and bring crowdsourced ideas to life!

Blaze phxff

New Time and Place

While the first two Fan Fests were held in Glendale in December, this year Fan Fest is happening earlier (October 23 and 24) and moving to the Phoenix Convention Center.


According to organizers, the time change is due, in part, to feedback from attendees that it’s difficult to get time off to go to an event in the middle of the holidays. People may also be tight on cash that time of year.


Attendees had complained about the University of Phoenix Stadium’s location in the West Valley. The Phoenix Convention Center is much more centrally located.

The Convention Center is also built to allow for bigger guest panels, more programming content, and more variety. The stadium only had three rooms for panels (and they were down this weird, dark hallway).


One downside is that there won’t be any more free parking. However, there are more transit options, including light rail stops right at the Covention Center, so you won’t necessarily have to drive. Phxcc

Organizers said exhibitors were fans of the changes, and they’re hoping you will be too!

– Fan Fest info –

We’ve received media passes to past events from Phoenix Comicon.

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5 Telltale Signs You Went to Phoenix Comicon 2016

Posted by on Jul 7, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

Did you or someone you know go to Phoenix Comicon 2016?

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

You may notice some or all of these symptoms:

1. Persistent laughter over PUGS-related incidents. Chuckling resulting from things said during the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown may continue for days.

This is a tournament of geeks to see who can most passionately debate absurd topics like “Ant-Man vs. Aunt Mae: Who was the better A(u)nt?” As bizarre as the questions were, this year’s contestants took some even more bizarre – and hilarious – approaches to arguing their respective sides.

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC
Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

2. Outbreak of photos of dogs in superhero costumes.

Superdog, Wonder Dog, Batdog, and a four-legged Ewok were among the cosplaying pooches that gathered on the patio of the Herberger Theater ahead of the Comi-PAWn Pet Parade.


3. Thermoqueuephobia – fear of waiting in line in the heat.

About the time it topped 110 degrees on Friday, a “perfect storm” of crowds and computer glitches resulted in a registration line that spilled out onto the sidewalk and stretched about a block-and-a-half. Organizers apologized for the hours-long wait and worked to rectify the situation so lines would be inside the rest of the weekend.

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

4. Claims of spotting Jedi weapons in unusual places, such as on Phoenix streets and in place of a symphony conductor’s baton.  

Outside programming included pairs from Syndicate Saber demonstrating their surprisingly elegant lightsaber combat and choreography. This was followed by a lightsaber walk, where anyone with a lightsaber could light it up and march around downtown Phoenix.

While that was going on, Phillip and I were at the Phoenix Symphony’s Star Wars vs. Star Trek performance. The audience could vote via text for which franchise’s music they preferred. To announce the winner, Conductor Tito Muñoz emerged with a red lightsaber, which he began using to conduct the “Imperial March!” (We were not allowed to take photos during the performance, but I found one on Instagram!)




5. Sudden increase in geeky and/or pop culture related skills, such as learning in a matter of days how to make a duct tape prom dress, a music video, and a tabletop game.

Yep, as usual there were a plethora of diverse panels, including…

  • Huntington Keith’s panel on making costumes from duct tape. In high school, he used duct tape to make a tux and a Kaylee-from-firefly-inspired prom dress.
  • While the protracted music video’s post-apocalyptic theme may have felt contrived, the cast and crew were able to accomplish a lot on a budget. The song itself, “They Pretend,” is a catchy, reggae/Afro-pop melody by K-Bass & Farafina Musiki, who are worth a listen.
  • The Making the Game panel, where Father-and-son team Eric and Gavin Torres spoke about their experience in making and distributing their indie board game.


Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

If you missed out, check out Phoenix Fan Fest this October. (Passes are on sale now.)

We received media passes from Phoenix Comicon and the Phoenix Symphony.

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Phoenix Comicon 2016 Picks #phxcc

Posted by on Jun 1, 2016 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments


Wading through the Phoenix Comicon schedule can be a bit daunting, so I wanted to highlight some panels and events I thought you lovely maker geeks might be interested in.

Phxcc cosplay

I’ve asterisked the items that don’t require a Phoenix Comicon membership pass for anyone who can’t make it to the whole Con but still wants to be a part of the action.

For more recommendations on what to eat/drink/see around the Convention Center, check out our last post.


Thursday, June 2

3pm Cosplay 101 – From Closet to Convention Floor – I love that this panel is about making your own costumes with what you already have!

*6:30pm Comi-PAWn Pet Parade – Probably the cutest event of the Con, pet lovers can bring their dogs in costume to the Herberger Theater patio to be part of a show and parade.

7:30pm The Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown (PUGS) – preliminary round of the annual, hilarious geek debate tournament

*8pm Star Wars vs Star Trek – The Music of Deep Space – The Phoenix Symphony will be playing music from Star Wars and Star Trek films, and the audience will vote for their favorite franchise! (Event tickets required.)


Friday, June 3

1:30pm Making the Game: The Art, Design, and Imagination of Iconica – how to design your own tabletop game. (More info on Facebook.)

*4:30pm Geek Girl Brunch Phoenix: Comicon Meetup – cocktail hour with a group of geek girls who usually meet for brunch. (h/t friends Anne and Eileen)

7:30pm The Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown (PUGS) – geek debate tournament finals

8pm Star Party with the Phoenix Astronomical Society – telescopes will be set up for star/planet-gazing


Saturday, June 4

1:30pm Cosplay for All Sizes – modify costumes and patterns to work for your body

7:30pm Dancing for Everyone! – introductory-level English and Irish community set dances


Sunday, June 5

10:30am Confessions of a Cosplay Boyfriend – trials and tribulations of being in a relationship with a female cosplayer

4:30pm Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest Preview – apparently, this year’s Fan Fest will be at a new venue and in October (instead of December). Hopefully, they’ll let us know what’s up. (And hopefully I’ll make it to Sunday afternoon.)



While the car show will stay on Third Street (full schedule under Phoenix Comicon “outdoor events.”), there will be a lot happening on Adams Street, as well.


Fri-Sun: Con on Adams

This year, Phoenix Comicon is taking over Adams Street, where there will be live music, a party pavilion, San Tan Brewery beer garden, and food trucks.



Phenix convention center and food trucks

Food truck line-up:


What are you looking forward to?

PS Travelcraft Journal turns 3 today! I’ll probably raise a celebratory glass – or spoon – at Comicon. Cheers to all of you for being a part of this community!

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Phoenix from the Convention Center

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Travel | 0 comments


Let’s say you’re in town for a thing at the Phoenix Convention Center. You have a spare hour here and there. Maybe a spare afternoon. And then you have a flight to catch. How can you get a little taste of Phoenix while you’re here?

Or maybe you’re a local, looking for somewhere new to eat or hang out while you’re downtown for an event like Phoenix Comicon or before you head to a symphony performance.

Here are some tips for a Phoenix experience with the Convention Center at the epicenter. All these locations are easy to get to from there without a car.


At the Convention Center

View: There are places to sit and experience the Arizona climate outside of all 3 of the Convention Center buildings (North, South, West). In the North Building, check out the view from the second- and third-floor (200 and 300 level) terraces on the south side of the building. Look for the mountains beyond the downtown. (Building maps)

Phenix convention center and food trucks

Food: While all the Phoenix Convention Center Food is managed by Aventura, a division of Aramark, they do contract with local companies such as City Central Coffee and Crust in the Metro Marché food court in the North Building. Some events (like Phoenix Comicon) may also have locally-owned food trucks outside.

Phoenix convention center and symphony hall

Music: The West Building of the Convention Center is actually connected to Phoenix Symphony Hall, where there is a variety of performances throughout the season. Check the Phoenix Symphony’s online schedule for concert and ticket information.


Bike Share: There are bright green Grid Bikes you can rent by the hour from kiosks outside the Convention Center, in Heritage Square, and several other locations downtown. Sign up first online or via the Social Bicycles app – membership is required even for a single “Pay as You Go” ride.


In the Neighborhood

There’s tons of stuff to see/do/eat within walking distance. Here are some recommendations, in order of their (rough) distance from Phoenix Convention Center.


.2 mi Cartel Coffee

UPDATE: As of last week, Kaleidoscope Juice has taken over the whole space At 1 N. 1st St., and Cartel is renovating a place nearby. In the meantime, they apparently have a coffee cart somewhere in the area. Kaleidoscope has Stumptown coffee, in addition to a breakfast and lunch menu that changes regularly. They are in the process of getting their liquor license and then will be open later into the evening.  

Relax and sip some really good coffee. It’s very close to the Convention Center, but just far enough away to be much less hectic. They share space with Kaleidoscope Juice, in case you also need a smoothie, salad, or breakfast sandwich.

CityScape Phoenix

.3 Cityscape

Two blocks of mixed-use space, including residences, offices, fitness centers, a hotel, salon, barbershop, drugstore, comedy club, shopping, and restaurants.

CityScape Phoenix

  • Patriots Park – Before the high rise buildings of CityScape, there was Patriots Park. The newer development includes a park-like central plaza with a grassy area, splash pad, and a solar-powered charging station.
  • Check the event schedule for music, comedy, and free outdoor movies.

CityScape Phoenix

  • The Arrogant Butcher offers a straight-up delicious variety of new American dishes, plus charcuterie and a raw bar.

AZ Center

.3 Arizona Center

The best thing about Arizona Center is probably its Garden Grotto. Pathways wind through desert plants and past a pond. There’s a fair amount of shade and lots of benches. I feel like a little garden walk is a great remedy for convention hall chaos.
Arizona center
There is also shopping and restaurants.

Heritage Square Phoenix

.4 Heritage Square

Part of the original Phoenix townsite, the Square is now home to several museums, a couple restaurants, and cultural festivals throughout the year.


Diamondbacks baseball field

.5 Sports Venues


Just stops away…

The Valley Metro light rail is a convenient way to get around Central Phoenix. There’s just one line and automatic ticket kiosks at each station. You can catch westbound trains off Washington in front of the West Building / Symphony Hall. The eastbound stop is on Jefferson, just across from the South Building.

Hop on the westbound train (it’ll curve north) to check out these places, listed by number of stops from the Convention Center.

Her secret is patience sculpture

2 stops: Civic Space Park area – Van Buren/Central Ave (0.6 miles)


Lola Coffee

3 stops: Roosevelt Row – Roosevelt/Central Ave

  • First Fridays – Roosevelt Row, the arts district of Roosevelt Street, comes alive for the monthly First Friday night artwalk, when the street is taken over by pedestrians and art galleries are open late. Boutiques and cafes have extended hours. There is live music, an outdoor arts market, free trolleys to transport you from place to place, and a party atmosphere.
  • Third Fridays are a newer addition with fewer crowds and more gallery openings.
  • MADE Art Boutique offers locally handcrafted items.

Desoto market

  • DeSoto Central Market – Food court of great local restaurants, bar, and coffee shop with lots of room to meet up with friends. I like the bao at Adobo Dragon.
  • Pita Jungle is a vegetarian-friendly, Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with a nice, big patio and local art on the walls. They offer specials for happy hour and reverse happy hour (9pm to close).

Lola Coffee

  • Lola Coffee Bar is right next door to Pita Jungle. It’s a warm, welcoming place to hang out.
  • FilmBar – Cinema showcasing indie, local, cult, and classic films with a beer and wine bar.

Phoenix Art Museum

4 stops: Phoenix Art Museum – McDowell/Central Ave

Collections include American, Asian, European, Latin American, and Western American Art, fashion, photography, and contemporary installations, such as the interactive You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies. The museum also hosts traveling exhibitions, like Hollywood Costume and Michelangelo.

  • Extended hours/voluntary donations times on Wednesdays (3-9pm) and First Fridays (6-10pm), plus all afternoon on Second Sundays (12-5pm). During these times, no admission ticket is required for general entry. You have the option of making a donation via a cash box in the lobby.
  • Phoenix Comicon 2016 attendees might want to check out the bold, bright pop art of Fritz Scholder in the Super Indian exhibition, open through June 5.


5 stops: Heard Museum – Encanto/Central Ave

Fantastic museum of the historic and contemporary culture of indigenous peoples of the Americas, especially the Southwest. Collections include work on canvas, jewelry, pottery, texiles, and video interviews.

Downtown Phoenix sunset

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