Phoenix Comicon 2014: Hot Fun in the Summertime
Along with our WatchPlayRead comics editor and her husband, my beau and I traveled south to the sizzling city of Phoenix for their annual Phoenix Comicon.
We marked the beginning of our trip by stepping off the plane into Phoenix’s dry heat, which was the topic of conversation for the entire first day. Arriving Thursday afternoon, we headed directly to our hotel at the Sheraton to drop off our bags and immediately walk over to preview night at the convention center. At Phoenix Comicon 2014, a considerable crowd milled around the convention floor, checking out booths already occupied and open for business. Some booths were still empty as their occupants had not arrived, most of which appeared to be for artists and writers. Phoenix’s con clocked in at over 77,000 people this year and, although busy, Thursday night certainly didn’t feel as though it was at capacity yet. It was nice to have a quieter day to scope out the floor layout before the hordes of fans arrived on Friday. I spent most of my “con money” on Thursday, due to the excitement of beginning my vacation.
Friday was an early morning as I prepared my cosplay outfit, Superman II’s Ursa with her very own General Zod escort. Coming from Seattle, I had packed the smallest and lightest clothes I could find knowing the 104° weather would be my demise if I’d chosen garb more suitable for the Pacific Northwest. However, planning to dress as Ursa meant Friday would be spent in all black. It was probably not the wisest choice of costume for this fiery state, but I braved the heat along with many other con-goers, some of which wore giant furry outfits. Fortunately our walk consisted of only one block from the hotel to the convention center.
Arriving at the convention center proved joyous when I felt the blasting air-conditioning hit my face. Friday began to feel more active and populated. People were already lining up for autographs from celebrities ranging from Bruce Campbell to Cary Elwes. Since Saturday would feature our own celebrity encounter, Zod and I spent most of Friday having our pictures taken and talking with creators. Some of the writers we spoke with included Eric Esquivel, writer of Loki: Ragnarok and Roll, and John Layman, writer for Chew. Both were very kind and appreciative authors who seemed to enjoy interacting with their fans. Layman even gave us some insight into the upcoming Chew animated film, which he revealed MAY feature an Oscar-winning actor to voice Mason Savoy. We couldn’t pry a name out of him, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
On Saturday, we were back to regular clothing, sunblock and prep for our picture with Nathan Fillion of Firefly and Castle. While the line to the actual photo session with Fillion was well-organized, the preliminary queue line preceding it was a bit of a mess. These “lines that get you into a line” never seem to work out, regardless of where in the country the con takes place. Organizers don’t ever seem to account for the number of tickets they’ve sold. I would assume it’s easy math, but perhaps I’m missing something. People scurried around asking comic con staffers whether or not they would be denied their picture with the popular actor. Many began growing anxious (including myself) and it made for a disgruntled start to the day. Eventually everyone was given their turn at meeting Captain Malcolm Reynolds and we even have a fun keepsake to prove it.
If you’ve ever taken a celebrity photo at a con, you know it can rattle your nerves because of the limited amount of time you have to say hello. The beau and I had planned on having Mr.Fillion hold a sign that read “Gettin’ hitched” and using it for our wedding announcement, but we were told this was not allowed because handlers believed we could potentially Photoshop it later. I guess I understand their point, but I was disappointed to say the least. Still, Nathan was gregarious, social, and tall which put me at ease. He said” hello” to us, pulled us in tight, and then our three second picture was over and he was on to the next group. I did feel the con handled the delivery of said pictures really well. We were able to pick them up right away and, although I wasn’t thrilled with how I looked considering the minimal amount of time you get to pose, I was happy to have it in hand.
I spent the rest of my afternoon looking at some small artist’s tables and buying cute knick-knacks, like our new “Wall-E” statue made from recycled materials. Also, I browsed the publisher tables like BOOM! Studios and Dark Horse, who were always helpful and eager to find you that next “good read.” There were plenty of toy shops, where my boyfriend spent most of his time looking for rare Star Wars action figures. There were also a plethora of merchandise booths, which at times made me feel like I was in a shopping mall – though not that it stopped me from buying my share of licensed apparel. When hunger struck, PHXCC offered plenty of choices including the food court, hot dog carts and a number of food trucks out front. You did have to wait on long lines to get something to eat, but fortunately you could wait for something you truly wanted.
I left my group on Sunday to lounge by the pool as they continued on to day 4 of the con. Most of our time was spent waiting for the elevators at the Sheraton. We made the assumption that some of the elevators must have been out of service, but the hotel never informed us either way. Every elevator was packed to the gills and stopped at almost every floor. The hotel poorly handled the situation, but this isn’t a review of the Sheraton.
All in all, Phoenix Comicon was well organized and easily maneuvered. It’s certainly a con I expect to return to again, only this time I might cosplay as Emma Frost to keep cool.