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Heroes Rescue Phoenix Comicon from Real Peril

Posted by on Jun 17, 2017 in Travel | 2 comments

“Wands, sonic screwdrivers, plushies, masks, fairy wings, empty holsters, signs attached to costumes, fur suits, cardboard made costumes and non-weapon props, dishware associated with costumes, empty quivers, hats and helmets, Power Ranger Morphers, and umbrellas, by example, are allowed.”

– from the updated Phoenix Comicon prop policy

Fairy wings and dishware were not in dispute on the first day of Phoenix Comicon 2017.

By day 2, however, a lot had changed.

Phxcc

The Punisher vs. The Power Ranger

The event started out like past cons. The doors of the Phoenix Convention Center opened the morning of Thursday, May 25, and attendees began filing in.

Among them was a man of about thirty with black clothing concealing body armor, a large bag that no one looked inside, and a full event pass.

Later we would learn that his name was Mathew Enrique Navarro Sterling, but he was under the delusion that he was actually The Punisher, a Marvel Comics character focused on vigilante justice. A reminder on his phone said “kill JDF.”

Carrying four loaded guns, a knife, pepper spray, and throwing stars, he went up to the second floor of the convention center.

Phxcc

Then, in perhaps the modern equivalent of Bond-villain-esque monologuing, Mathew started sending Facebook messages about his plans to an acquaintance.

His alleged targets on site included police officers and actor Jason David Frank, who is known for playing the Green Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and would be at the Con all four days for photo ops, autograph signings, and a Friday panel.

Rayko via http://rayko.com

Cops and Cosplayers

On the receiving end of the messages was Rayko Takahashi (professionally known simply as “Rayko”), a singer, composer, personal trainer, and avid cosplayer in Los Angeles. She’s also the first hero of this story.

The two had only met once, in 2014. Over the next year, they exchanged friendly messages about his fitness goals. Then, one night after a concert, Rayko got off stage to find her phone full of messages from Mathew. His tone had changed, and he was threatening to harm another cosplayer. Rayko stopped communicating with him, gave the woman a heads up, and contacted a friend who is a police officer.

Even though nothing happened then, when Rayko received violence-threatening Facebook messages from Mathew on May 25 of this year, she took them seriously, again contacting Sgt. Scott Nichols of the Hawthorne Police Department in California.

He figured out that Mathew was likely to be at Phoenix Comicon and called the Phoenix Police Department.

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Action

Eleven minutes after the call came in from Hawthorne PD, Phoenix Police had located, subdued, and arrested Mathew without anyone being injured.

He plead “not guilty” at his preliminary hearing and is currently awaiting trial for attempted murder and other charges. His bond is set at $1,000,000.

PHXCC prop ban signs

The Aftermath

The incident made headlines internationally, and Jason David Frank has been using his platform to encourage comic cons everywhere to increase their security procedures.

So. Suspect detained. The citizens of Phoenix are safe again, and Day 2 the Con could resume as usual, right? Wrong.

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In response to the incident, Phoenix Comicon, the convention center, and police department announced that the next day, and for the remainder of the Con, entrance points would be limited, bags would be checked, people would be metal detector wanded, and replica/prop weapons would not be allowed in – including “Weapons from fictional sources (Light sabers, plasma weapons, laser, phasers etc.)” – and could only be sold if exhibitors immediately wrapped them up afterward.

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With fewer entrances and additional security screening, lines wrapped around the building the next morning. Unexpected waiting outside during the heat of the day the Friday of Phoenix Comicon seemed familiar from last year’s registration issue, but this time all con-goers were affected.

Later in the day, more security personnel were brought in and the lines moved more quickly the rest of the Con.

phxcc prop ban

#propban

Because it’s Comicon, and people wear all sorts of costumes with all sort of props, the ban required some amusing clarifications, like the quote at the beginning of this post.

“Ghostbuster proton packs are allowed however the Neutrino wand will need to be disconnected or permanently attached to the pack.”

Attendee and vendor reactions to the prop ban were very mixed. Some saw it as an important security measure, while others felt it was an unnecessary damper on their Con experience. A lightsaber vendor packed up and left.

Some cosplayers came up with creative alternatives, replacing props with funny signs or balloons.

phxcc deadpool with balloon props

One comment thread in response to Phoenix Comicon’s Facebook announcement in particular seemed to exemplify the points of view*:

stomping a bee that already stung you does absolutely nothing to prevent other bees from stinging you. just like this fake weapons ban won’t do anything AT ALL to keep another lunatic from waltzing in like the Punisher.” –Trey Lee Williamson

“I don’t understand how very few commenters on this seem to realize how severe this whole thing is and giving up a stupid cosplay prop for safety measures is not the end of the world.–Salvatore Roulston

“I live in Washington and am appalled and prop ban just lost you thousands of revenue for next years con. Punish hundreds who have worked hours on their cosplays because of one Lunatic.. thanks for your concern for our safety but no thanks for tickets next year. 😡” –Ashley Marie

“I’m a cosplayer from Washington and this is still honestly one of the best shows I’ve attended. I thank them for their quick response in light of the event that took place. Was it inconvenient, yes, but the show could just as easily been cancelled. Instead they came up with this solution. I’m appreciative that no one was hurt and that the con went on for the rest of the weekend. Count your blessings folks.” –Muni Moore

Indeed. Whether you agree with the response or not, our quick-thinking heroes gave us more blessings to count.

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*Comment spelling and punctuation have not been corrected but some were shortened.

Photo of Rayko via rayko.com.

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Phoenix Geekiness + Cosplay Panels #PHXCC

Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

[UPDATED Phoenix Comicon event and panel info: scroll down and watch for asterisks (*).]

image

Have you already started planning your schedule for Phoenix Comicon? It’s coming to the Phoenix Convention Center May 25-28 and ticket prices increase May 1.

We thought we’d share our panel picks early this year, along with a heads up on some geeky goings-on across the Valley of the Sun to tide you over.

Superhero art

Geek Events (April/May)

Caped Crusaders + Everyday Heroes

Now – May 28
i.d.e.a. Museum, Mesa
Hero-themed works by more than 15 national and international artists (like the print above that we spotted in artist Jason Ratliff’s homebase of Indianapolis). Included with museum admission.

Spoiler Alert! Book Club: Handmaid’s Tale

Apr 22, 1pm
Tempe Public Library Lower Level

Discussion of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian sci-fi classic The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Ages 16+. Free.

Create It: Drop-in Sewing Nights

Apr 26 + May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
5pm
Tempe Public Library Lower Level

Bring your sewing project and machine or use theirs. Ages 14+. Free.

Free Comic Book Day on Main Street

May 6, 10am
Gotham City Comics and Coffee and Downtown Mesa
Businesses throughout Downtown Mesa will have over 500 comic books to give away. There will also be live music, a cosplay contest, a scavenger hunt, and the chance to meet national and local comic book artists. Maps of participating businesses will be available at Gotham City Comics and Coffee. Free.

Drawn to Comics Free Comic Book Day Festival

May 6, 9am
Drawn to Comics + American Legion Hall, Glendale
With booths and appearances by comic book artists and booths from groups like Arizona Autobots and Comicare.

  • Festival at American Legion Hall 9am-2pm.
  • In-store event 9am-8pm.

City Lights Movie Nights

May 12, 6:30pm
Patriots Park at CityScape, Phoenix
Outdoor screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Viewers are invited to bring their picnic blankets, chairs, and lightsabers!

Cactus Brick LEGO

Phoenix Comicon: Contests + Events

UPDATE: The Con on Adams will be replaced by Con on Third Street.

*Con on Third Street: fan car show, barbecue + beer tent, puppy adoption, and other activities.
Thursday – Sunday May 25-28, 2017 10:00 am to evening-ish (time TBD)
Outside on Third Street

Con on Adams: food trucks, beer garden, photobooth, and entertainment outdoors on Adams Street. No Phoenix Comicon admission required.
Schedule TBA
West 106ABC

Lego Build Off: LEGO competition.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
West 102ABC

Masquerade Costume Contest: cosplay contest and lightsaber dueling performance. Registration is currently open.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 8:00 pm to 11:30 pm
West 301BCD

*All-Ages Cosplay Fashion Show
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm
West 106ABC
star-wars-cosplay

Maker Panel Picks

Beginner-friendly panels on making costumes, props, etc. grouped by topic, so you can browse by what interests you.

Phxff cosplay

Intro to Cosplay

Body-Positive Cosplay: tips for making costume designs work for your body type, loving your body in cosplay, and dealing with haters.
Thursday May 25, 2017 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 225AB

*Armor for the Post-Apocalyptic World: make armor out of found objects.
Thursday May 25, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 224AB

Prop-Making for Beginners: safety, tools, and strategies for materials including basic paper mache, thermoplastics, resin casting etc.
Thursday May 25, 2017 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 228AB

Cosplay 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Cosplay
Thursday May 25, 2017 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
North 224AB

Budget Cosplay
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 228AB

*Making Large Prize Winning Costumes with Paper Maché
Friday May 26, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 231A

Costuming From Concept to Custom: the steps to make your cosplay idea a reality.
Friday May 26, 2017 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 224AB

*Cosplay 101: From Closet to Convention Floor! : tips for DIY costumes from items you already own.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm
North 232ABC

Costume Wing-Making 101: Design and Construction Basics
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 225AB

Steampunk on a Budget
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 224AB

 

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Foam and Plastics

Foam Costuming: The Bare Bones
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 224AB

*Molding + Casting for Costume Parts 1: Making a Mold: how to create a basic mold from silicone
Friday May 26, 2017 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 228AB

The Art of EVA Foamcraft: Making Weapons + Props
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 231A

Intro to Foam Armor
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

Video Game Cosplay: Movement, Weaponry and Makeup
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 228AB

Cosplay PHXCC

The Art of Mold Making + Casting Props: steps to creating custom molds for prop making.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Molding + Casting for Costume Parts 2: Casting: how to cast plastic in a silicone mold.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 228AB

Don’t have it? Make it! Custom Toys! learn how to customize off-the-shelf toys.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 231A

Making Costumes out of EVA Foam: how to make a pattern and build a complete EVA foam costume.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 225AB

Phxff cosplay

Painting, Illustration, and Make-Up

Maskmaking 101 For All Ages: how to take a basic mask with materials provided. Limited to 100 attendees.
Thursday May 25, 2017 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
West 101ABC Event Area

Dirt-Cheap Makeup: safe, budget makeup options.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Getting Into Comics: where to start with comicbooks.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 127B

Special Effects Makeup: Comic Book Girl: create a classic comic book look.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 131B

Acrylic Academy for Props and Costumes: learn how to modify acrylic paints for cosplay projects.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 224AB

Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC

Sewing

Cosplay for All Sizes: how to alter patterns and clothing to fit your unique shape and be confident in your costumes.
Friday May 26, 2017 10:30 am to 11:30 am
North 225AB

Sewing 101: The Basics: needles, material, patterns, manual and machine sewing.
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
North 225AB

*[time change] Sewing: Pattern Markings: how to read patterns.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
North 225AB

Sewing: There’s a Foot for That: sewing machine feet and how to use them.
Sunday May 28, 2017 – 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
North 225AB

Phxff steampunk cosplay

3D + LED

Cosplay LEDs for the Absolute Beginner: how to modify existing LED products and assemble simple LED circuits to light up your costume.
Thursday May 25, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

3D for Cosplay: 3D printing and design of costumes, accessories, and props.
Friday May 26, 2017 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
North 228AB

3D Printing Props and Costumes
Saturday May 27, 2017 – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm
North 228AB

fan-fest-makers-1

Exhibitors

When you visit the exhibit hall, check out these artists and makers!

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Thank you to Phoenix Comicon for providing media passes for the upcoming Con!

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DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon

Posted by on Sep 22, 2016 in Craft | 0 comments

DIY Costume Hacks

There are lots of reasons to wear a costume coming up: this weekend is Keen Halloween (more on that in the last section), then there’s Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest, followed closely by actual Halloween. Plus, all the various October costume parties and fall festivals and whatnot.

If there’s such thing as a costume-wearing season, this would be it. And, if you were thinking of making your own costume, then costuming panelists from Phoenix Comicon 2016 have some tips to help you out.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon - duct tape panel

1. Duct tape

You can make an entire costume from duct tape. In fact, one speaker, Huntington Keith, won a scholarship contest by making Firefly cosplay/prom outfits for himself and his date. It took about 40 hours of work for him to construct her shindig-worthy dress with its layers and layers of ruffles. He also made himself a tux.

He shared lessons he learned through trial and error that could help with your next duct tape creation.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon

Duct tape dos:

  • Use a flat surface to construct your costume.
  • Stretch it as taut as possible.
  • Use scissors or an X-Acto knife to cut.
  • Covering a t-shirt or other piece of fabric will help the costume breathe better.
  • Create texture by putting things such as twine between the layers of tape.
  • Buy in bulk. 30 yards will typically cost $5-6, but you may be able to find better prices online.
  • Use the color/s you want or find a type of paint that adheres to polyurethane (most don’t).

Duct tape don’ts:

  • Because the adhesive starts to melt at about 175 degrees, you can’t mold it like thermoplastics. A residue will form and the top starts to shrivel off.
  • It will break a regular sewing machine.
  • Permanent marker doesn’t stay.
  • Paint usually flakes off.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon
Making a closure for your costume:

  • The ideal closure is actually a piece of duct tape.
  • You can handstitch a zipper on, but it would need to be lateral because stress is a problem.
  • Hook-and-loop tape may not work when it gets hot.

 Phoenix Comicon knits

2. Knitting and Crochet

Shirley Will‏ (a.k.a. @BooMeringue) had a funny and informative panel about knitting and crochet for cosplay. I don’t actually know how to do either of those things, and I was still entertained.

She brought up the fact that knitting and crocheting can look intricate – but there are only so many kinds of stitches.

Knitting for cosplay

Iconic knit costumes for nerds:

Since she felt the stripe was too large in most patterns for Jayne’s hat, she created her own. She started by measuring a screenshot from Firefly of Adam Baldwin as Jayne. After estimating the width of the stripe was about the length of his nose, she texted several male friends to ask for their nose measurements(!) and based her pattern on the average. The result is a much more proportionate pattern for a hat that, for legal reasons, she calls the Not-Jayne hat.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon
More ideas:

  • Crocheted cogs for steampunk.
  • Make a wide brim on a beanie and fold it up to make a tri-corner or pirate hat.
  • Hood with Ewok ears.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon
Tips:

  • There are tons of craft tutorials online. If the first one doesn’t work for you, keep looking!
  • Make gauge swatches. She says, “People hate making gauge swatches, but it’ll save your life! You can use any yarn with any pattern if the gauge is right.”
  • Have a backup “comfy” cosplay, in case you need a break from your costume or something doesn’t work.

Shirley sells knitting patterns (as well as finished products) in her Etsy shop. There are some free patterns on her site and on gutenberg.org. I also came across Harry Potter knitting patterns on Ravelry and knittingfornerds.com.
Phoenix Comicon 2016 PHXCC No-Sew Cosplay

3. Other No-Sew Techniques

I ducked in to the tail end of a No-Sew Cosplay panel hosted by artist and cosplayer KatDensetsu.

I was just in time for a discussion of cross-play and binding techniques for women who want to make themselves appear less busty when portraying male characters. (Think Éponine disguising herself in Les Misérables.)

As far as making costumes without sewing, certain materials don’t require sewing and can just be cut to size. There’s also a lot you can do using fabric glue, thrift store finds, paint, and/or iron-on transfers.

DIY Costume Hacks from Phoenix Comicon - No-sew cosplay

Learn more about costume-making and cosplay!

This weekend (9/24-25) is Keen Halloween, which has several craft and costuming panels on the schedule.

Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest is October 22-23 (earlier than in past years) and will feature cosplay meetups and panels on topics like costuming mashups.

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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.

PHXCC

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!)

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PHXCC

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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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