I had highest hopes to write a great article on Phoenix Comicon.
Despite having the event cut short myself, I had a good time and it seemed to be a success once again.
This was my third year attending Phoenix Comicon and each year it continues to grow. I first went in 2011 on the Saturday only. The group I was with didn’t hit any panels, there was mostly a lot of wandering and soaking in the experience of being surrounded by so many costumes. As Culture Crossfire has a heavy pro wrestling fan base built in, this was the year that had the most wrestling related activity. They had a booth with Ted DiBiase and Virgil, the Honky Tonk Man was there and a local company that was trying to get off the ground had a booth, advertising their shows at Toby Keith’s restaurant complete with stars Val Venis and Rellik. Aside from the overpriced autographs, I’ll never forget Rellik, in full ring gear, with the exception of flip-flops under his kick pads. Just quite the sight. For those who know my basketball columns on this site, I also saw then Phoenix Sun Robin Lopez running around. Kind of hard for a seven-foot guy to be extremely hidden at that event. I can only recall a few people on stilts.
Last year, I went to a panel on Thursday night and it was super quiet. I did see a big, older lady in a motor scooter with a wig and cat ears. That was a highlight. Oh yeah! I still have a picture!
By the way, that was at a panel on creating your own web series. I don’t know what she was planning on making but I’d watch the hell out of it.
I hit Friday night, where the big talk was a “nerd burlesque show”. It turned out that they had placed it in a room that only fit 50 people and turned people away for the bulk of the night. The talk was so big last year, it seemed like something to look into this year. The Saturday I went to a few panels. We ran out of stuff to do and we wandered into some X-rated Anime thing. People got really encouraged when I started making some “when do we get to see the dicks?!” jokes. Turned out it was something called “Yaoi”, also known as Boys Love, known for its homosexual themes. People started describing their favorites and when it got into tentacles and transmorphing and stuff, I just decided to take off.
This year, I had high hopes. The con was growing, a lot of interesting people were coming in and I even knew some people who were going to be working booths and panels.
I went with a buddy of mine that I usually go with every year with plans to make my first appearance at the Friday night. By the time I got downtown from work, I was running a little later than I hoped. I did get a pleasant surprise when I got to get my ticket and I saw this:
She was very nice in posing for the picture, so much love Furry Cheetah Lady.
We went to check out the first panel I wanted to attend, which was a panel on Adult Swim with Jon Schnepp, who has directed episodes of some of their more popular shows like Metalocalypse, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and The Venture Brothers. The room was pretty full and the rules were really being enforced by the Fire Marshall this year, so we weren’t able to stay.
We headed back down and wandered the exhibit floor, which was more packed than ever. Not just the amount of people but there were more booths than ever. We found a stand with some choice 99 cent comics that may appear in future editions of Random Comic Recall, although at the time I passed on an issue of Superman where he angrily stood over a battered woman that I cannot stop thinking about. Guess I will have to settle for the Boris the Bear I picked up…
There was a lull in the action, so we walked down the street to the local Tilted Kilt. For those not familiar with the establishment, it is basically Hooters in school girl outfits. They were doing all kinds of Comic Con specials apparently, as you got a discount if you were in costume. No one heard of my character, T-shirt Man. They offered us the Comic Con drink specials. I asked if the majority of drink specials at Comic Con were virgin and the waitress thought I was calling my friend a virgin. That became her focus of the evening.
We got back to con and while there was some ghost-hunting stuff going on, we went to see what all the hype was about the Talk Nerdy to Me burlesque show. We got to the building about 40 minutes before and found out we were 136 & 137 in line. The room held 200, so we were told we would be alright.
We got in and it was… interesting. The crowd was enthusiastic and the troupe seemed to have their stuff together. There was a guy hosting that probably isn’t allowed within a certain distance from school yards, but everyone was in good spirits. To try to make a difference, BE A STAR, even the girls I was not attracted to, for the most part, at least functioned as dancers. It was interesting to go, probably will not go next time, despite that it sounds they will continue to expand into bigger and bigger spaces. Think a lot of the people just super desperate to see some skin at the door cover price they got in for.
This show would be a few hours and bring us into the end of the night.
I got back fairly early Saturday morning. I ran into someone I knew from work that had been hosting a costuming panel the day before, so I stopped and chatted with them. This time ended up giving me an interesting coincidence. As I went into the exhibit floor before the morning sessions started (or at least the ones on my list), Wil Wheaton was coming in down the escalator. Now, I have honestly never seen anything Star Trek. Not familiar there but I know who he was. People were pretty jazzed about him being there. I was tempted to ask him what I would know him from other than The Big Bang Theory in hopes of seeing a meltdown by some nearby fans but I decided not to.
The first panels of the morning, I couldn’t decide between a panel on the Friday the 13th movie series that included appearances from writers of the series or a panel on the DC Comics Animated Universe. My friend really wanted to wander the exhibit floor some more, so I stuck with him and missed both of those. We did run into a pretty sweet Batman Returns penguin.
When my friend quoted some quotes from the movie, he received a Cobblepot for Mayor badge that was pretty legit.
I walked down to see what was up with WRESTLING SUPERSTAR VIRGIL and the Honky Tonk Man. Honky Tonk basically flagged me down as I was walking by. Virgil’s eyes lit up and he came over and shook my hand. Now, DiBiase was only ever there with Virgil the first. The two years following, Virgil still uses a banner advertised both being there. Honky Tonk Man has a replica of the World Heavyweight Championship that you can pose with. Great stuff. They both started wanting to sell me a signed picture. I asked what they were asking for and they told me $30 a piece. Now, I may have done $10 maybe but $60 for those guys… seemed steep. I said I didn’t have cash on me and the legends of the ring basically offered to walk me to the nearest ATM. I just told them I was late to the Friday the 13th panel and would be back. Sorry if you read this guys, maybe next year.
I made sure we got to a panel during the next session, so we headed over to one on the Rogue’s Gallery of Batman. One of my favorite things in all of comics. A local comic store owner was one of the main panelists, but we also had Kyle Higgins, who is a current writer on Nightwing and will be doing some upcoming issues of the new monthly Batman Beyond book. We got there early and I caught someone’s dad having a good time.
We got seats up close and the room was pretty crowded. Higgins admitted he grew up on The Animated Series and uses that as his definitive resource for which origin story/background for the character that he preferred.
This was pretty interactive, so a lot of the audience got into the common questions: What is the definitive Joker? Mostly a battle with Animated Series and Heath Ledger. Who is your favorite? Higgins loves Man-Bat.
We heard some people ask questions on Harley Quinn that didn’t make sense. Someone talked about The Riddler and being close, I asked about the rumors of Riddler being the focus of a book in the discussed Villain’s Month in September. For those unaware, some comic websites are rumoring, much how DC did #0 issues last fall across every book, this year they are going to change the book titles to the name of the villain. For instance, the rumor has been Batman will be The Riddler #1 for the month. Higgins claimed to have not heard of it and did a little “don’t believe what you read on the internet” thing. The guy who owns the local shop mentioned some sources and his tone changed a little to being news to him. He did point out that apparently there are some interesting plans for The Riddler coming up, so keep your eyes open.
At this point, I decided to chime in with something different than the normal questions of the Rogues Gallery. I asked when will we get to see more Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. I was told not likely until someone chimed in to state they were recently in part of the Mad Hatter arc in The Dark Knight book. Fair enough. I was ignored on my request for Vincent Price’s classic Egghead. I guess maybe in that new Batman ‘66 title.
Someone did ask then about how in Bruce Wayne’s previous death stories, you have him being killed by someone like Darkseid and who should kill Batman if it happens again. Higgins suggested that it should be some dummy putting on the mask for the first time and doing it by pure accident. They gave a fan prize to the person who suggested Alfred.
After the Rogue’s Panel, there was another tough choice. They had the team that wrote and illustrated the Batman Elseworld’s tale Gotham by Gaslight going head to head with a panel with Dean Cain. I really wanted to ask him how he felt inspiring a character in How High. We tried going to Cain but my friend wasn’t feeling well and asked to go find food… so we did.
We cycled through the exhibit floor again after lunch. I had picked up a Nightwing shirt, not bad. We were holding out until the next panel, which was the afternoon dull time. For the fun of it, because I am big sucker for Blue & Gold, I went to a panel called In Defense of Booster Gold. It was supposed to be a mock trial with someone as Booster Gold being defended by Blue Beetle and for some reason, the opposition was Doctor Who.
I figured why not but no one ever showed up for the panel. We sat and sat. Nothing happened.
While that was disappointing, I knew the upcoming Shaun of the Dead 10th Anniversary panel could cheer me up. Until my friend told me he was too sick to continue.
At that point, that really was the end of my con. The parking downtown was ridiculous. I wasn’t going to pay $12 to park again after having to drive him home. That was if I could wind up in that lot again. Some places were charging $40 for parking. Maybe because the Diamondbacks were in town that night too, making Downtown crowded for a few events. Still crazy.
I knew some people that would be there but was unsure about what the experience would be like on my own.
I heard great stuff about the rest of the con. A lot of people had great experiences. I guess there was a short scare on Sunday, as at one point in the afternoon, and I’ve heard varying stories as to the reason, the building had to be evacuated. It sounded like they went ahead and extended everything.
I feel like my report isn’t really doing this budding convention some justice but I am curious where next year will go. It seems like they keep getting bigger guests and doing more each year. I’ve heard reviews saying it is big enough to have a wide variety of interesting things going on but still preferably smaller than the super-cons like San Diego in the sense you have more chance for interactions and personal experiences.
We will see. Come next Memorial Day weekend, we may have a more exciting report heading your way!