Review: Phoenix Comicon 2016
For convention goers in Arizona, we know that Phoenix Comicon is the big daddy of geeky events in our state. Every year we all look forward to the big headliners, cosplay debuts, new products sold by vendors, panels, and so much more! 2016 was hyped up like any past Comicon, however it did face it’s own series of challenges with record breaking heat and no major guests to name
a few. So let’s dive in to see what our thoughts of Phoenix Comicon were like!
The high for this weekend was 118 degrees on Saturday, the prime time of the convention. We all know that despite multiple warnings, cosplayers would still parade around in their costumes outside to hang out with friends or grab food. Even standing out in the sun for a small amount of time can wreck the best of us with heat exhaustion. To counter this, multiple water stations were put up to help others beat the heat and stay hydrated. If you have a single empty bottle, you could continuously return to the station to fuel up on much needed H2O. It was a kind gesture by the convention that no doubt helped out an issue that was beyond the convention director’s control.
Security at conventions are always a pain point for cosplayers and fans alike with having to have their bags checked and prop weapons peace bonded to ensure the safety of others. We all know they are necessary but it can be a hassle having to be stopped and forced to remove items from your bag or purse every time yo enter the building. However this year, security was incredibly understaffed and hordes of convention goers were able to slip by without getting checked or peace bonded because the staff could not catch them all. I was dreading security for having my bag filled with camera equipment and my photographer’s gear since she had three times as much stuff to be checked but during Phoenix Comicon, we weren’t searched even once. We could go in and out as we pleased which was a nice change!
We all love our state and all of it’s conventions and want to see them grow to a size that can combat with New York City Comic Con, Emerald City Comic Con, or even San Diego Comic Con. Every year our Phoenix Comicon grows and grows with new geeky fans getting to experience a convention for the first time. This year it seemed as if attendance sky rocketed compared to other years. A majority of my friends showed up to have fun because they knew how incredible Phoenix Comicon was and refused to be on the sidelines of the action this year. It felt wonderful to see just how popular our convention has gotten, especially when talking with cosplayers about it and hear them mention that they were from out of state and always loved it more than their own conventions. I feel as if we can all take pride in the immense growth of our own convention.
As mentioned before, cosplayers wore their best costumes, heat be damned. Local cosplayers such as Kaypickle came out in her updated Rengar for Saturday with complete fur, LED lights, weapon, wig, sword, and even chainmail. Heartless Aquarius debuted her Leafeon cosplay which took over 100 hours of hard work, documented on her own facebook profile, and Shallon Enlow showed off her detailed Harley Quinn: Suicide Squad outfit(Granted, there were a flood of Harley Quinns but only a select few could match the amount of detail that Shallon Enlow did.) and Schrei205 came out with a killer Female Graves. These were only a few cosplayers that I mentioned but make no mistake that other cosplayers like Itty Bitty Geek, Natalie Arvizu, Sara Cosplay etc. did fantastic as well!
From panels to Cosplay Masquerades, Phoenix Comicon has something for everyone. This year was no different as every panel room seemed filled with an interesting discussion, workshop, or meet up. Some of my personal favorites were the fandom meetups so cosplayers could gather together and take photos with one another and the body paint show on Friday night, it was fascinating to see artists take the blank canvas of a female form and turn them into walking art pieces.
*Gets on soap box*
I always love going to Phoenix Comicon so talking about the bad stuff hurts my soul but I have to do it if future con goers can be better informed and convention organizers can learn from the mistakes and improve. I listed popularity as a good aspect of the convention, and it truly is! However, popularity without accommodation leads to major issues. The first one that comes to mind was the intense line for registration Friday morning that wrapped around the building twice. Convention goers we talked to informed us that they, men, women, and children, waited in line for an entire hour in the hot Phoenix sun for their tickets. I did hear of some staff and water station attendees distributing water to folks in line to ward off heat exhaustion so kudos to them! But they reported that last year they had
80,000 folks attend Phoenix Comicon and this year it jumped to 100,000. *UPDATE* With new information presented to me there was actually 75,501 unique attendees in 2015 and the official numbers for 2016 have yet to be released. The number of 100,000 attendees was a approximate number presented in CW 6’s video.
No matter where you went in Phoenix Comicon, you could expect to be in a throng of people, taking baby steps to get to their destination and if you had a cosplayer in front of you, they were going to get asked to stop for a photo, holding back everyone else. The exhibitor hall was shut down a few times due to overpopulation and then was reopened until some folks were released. This does seem odd to me because I feel as though the last two years tickets had been sold out during the week of the convention, which did suck for those who waited on buying tickets but helped
keep the convention under control. Yet this year it feels like Phoenix Comicon allowed ticket sales to continue despite the massive influx of people. This also begs the question as to why they did not utilize the South building which remained closed for the duration of the weekend. Surely having some vendors or events happening there would help thin the crowds a bit.
To credit Phoenix Comicon, they did address and apologize for these issues. I also heard from a friends that they also offered the option of exchanging their Friday pass for a Saturday pass at no cost due to all of the line issues.
Lack Of Security
Again, this is a double edged sword having almost no security checks means faster time to come in and out yet it also means that it would have been easy for anyone to waltz in with a harmful item. Thankfully, there has yet to be a major issue but it’s always better to stop it before it happens rather than wait until we need a reason to do this. I honestly have no idea how to resolve this issue because every solution I can think of simply extends the already long lines for the convention but something needs to change to ensure the safety of convention goers. At all times I was surrounded by a sea of people, often stuck and having to slowly turn around when the exhibitor hall shuts down moments before getting there. I shudder to think how much damage could be done if anyone had any hostile intentions.
Still, I credit both the Phoenix Police Department and the Staff for trying their best to check who and what they could during the weekend.
Lack Of Star Power
I think it’s safe to say that every year we, convention goers, expect Phoenix Comicon to step up their game from last year. Especially if ticket prices increase. The last few years of Phoenix Comicon were filled of so many major folks in the geek community that fans had to make the impossible decision of choosing between Stephen Amell and Nathon Fillion. This year the roster for guests seemed a bit lackluster. I do love Billie Piper, Alex Kingston, Sean Astin and the others who came but they just were not top tier guests. Their Author and Artist guest list was incredible though!
I am not involved with the inner workings of PCC so I have no idea if they had planned for some big star and then they cancelled but I urge the show runners of Phoenix Comicon to look not to Mainstream Movie/ TV stars but instead to YouTube stars for guests. If you had invited Jesse Cox, Game Grumps, Markiplier, Dodger, Total Biscuit, Strippin, Commander Holly or any other big YouTube star, folks would have killed to get the chance to meet them. (Seriously, I would have paid anything to get the chance to meet Dodger) Again, I have little to no knowledge of the inner working of PCC or guest relations but I feel as though having Jesse Cox at Phoenix Comicon would be far cheaper than having some triple A movie star.
*Gets off soap box*
Overall Phoenix Comicon was a blast and a lot of life long memories were made during those four days. Although it did have it’s hiccups I highly encourage everyone to still go and attend 2017’s convention! They have everything that’ll make your heart skip a beat and bring out your inner child. Just make sure to bring water, dress for the sun, expect lines and have back up plans if things go wrong. I want to give a big shout out to Phoenix Comicon for giving us passes to this year’s convention! I apologize if any of my words stung, I just love you guys and your convention and know that you guys can improve.
No matter what state we are in or what convention we attend, Phoenix Comicon is always our favorite since it’s ours!
What did you think of Phoenix Comicon? Post it in the comments below!