As most folks know in Arizona, Phoenix Comicon is by far the greatest comic book convention every year. It made many con goers sad when it’s time came and went then we had nothing but 12 long months to wait before the next event. However, when Fan Fest rolled out a few years ago, this changed! It was originally held in the harsh Arizona winter where geeks would travel through clear roads, sunny skies, and brave the freezing temperature of 60 degrees(It’s currently 100 degrees in October for us, so 60 degrees we start getting frostbite). The venue chosen was the Cardinal Stadium over by Westgate where folks could go and get a more intimate experience with vendors and embrace the wonders of food trucks!
I personally loved Fanfest in past years because it just felt so unique compared to the other conventions held through the year. Saboten has the Sheraton, Game On/Taiyou are held in Mesa and Phoenix Comicon was held at the Phoenix Convention Center. So having a convention at the Cardinal stadium
was awesome since I hardly ever get to travel to that side of town for anything.
However, this year Fanfest changed up their routine and placed their convention in October and moved their location to the Phoenix Convention Center. So how did it do? Let’s jump right in!
As expected from a convention, there were some big names on the docket that included Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Tahmoh Penikett and more. The guests mainly consisted of actors from popular shows, which is to be expected and appreciated. The unique aspect of this year’s Fan Fest was the fact that they their WWE superstars into the mix! Wrestlers, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, The Bella Twins, Honky Tonk Man, and Jake The Snake all came to visit their biggest fans and take photos.
Initially the response by convention goers was mixed. Reading through the comments of various announcement posts folks could be seen asking why wrestlers were entering the convention scene. My personal favorite comment read along the lines of “What is this, Wrestle Con?”. Admins of the Phoenix Comicon page responded to many of these comments and explained that while Phoenix Comicon does focus on Comics, Fan Fest is meant to celebrate all sorts of fandoms, wrestling included. Kudos to them for taking the time to respond!
For me, I tend to be a progressive person and would rather than try new things than to keep getting the same experience every year. I also love wrestling so I could appreciate the sports entertainers who came!
Absolute shout out to the staff of Fan Fest, they were wonderful in every single way! Everything my staff and I needed, they helped us out as much as they could whether they knew we were staff or not! I had been approved for four press passes for the event and went up to their desk to collect and was informed that the list only showed I was down for a single pass. My heart sank as my bank account was dangerously low to the point where I could hardly afford con food let alone three all weekend passes. Thankfully, the woman behind the counter, I wish I got her name, chose to trust me and gave me three additional passes. My weekend would have easily been ruined had she stuck to her guns and obeyed the list she had.
The security team also worked hard to ensure anything potentially dangerous was peace bonded for the protection of others. It’s not always a fun process but I seriously appreciate the hard work of both the staff and the Phoenix Police Department!
So many cosplayers killed it but my personal favorite was Amber Skies cosplay of the Forest Spirit from Princess Mononoke! Check out our photo gallery for more great photos!
The vendors of Fan Fest were great this year! As always, the Anime/Comic booths were packed of figurines of our favorite characters who called out to us to just not eat for a week in order to purchase their wares. I loved seeing the various costume groups out and about, informing others of their causes or just discussing their love of a certain fandom with their fellow geeks.
In the art department, I actually had a chance to talk with incredibly talented artists like Jason Gonzalez, Joshua Green, Sew Ashtashtic, and Kiki Jenkins! Admittedly, I am a sucker for Anime figurines more so than artwork but this year I decided to dive into the world of art and I was blown away by the hard work and dedication of many artists. We were able to interview a few folks, which are available on our YouTube channel!
Food is always a major attraction for me when it comes to conventions. When I, like many con goers, spend hours upon hours hunting the convention for cosplayers, art, and panels you tend to starve. The wonderful thing about Downtown Phoenix is that they have multiple restaurants that welcome geeks with open arms! Even the food inside the convention is not bad at eat as they serve everything from chili cheese dogs to burgers, although they are overpriced, you do pay for convenience.
The biggest disappointment this year was the lack of food trucks. I absolutely love food trucks and having them parked right outside of the convention in previous years was a blessing for the con gods. But this year, there didn’t seem to be a way for the food trucks to sit anywhere for an extended period of time, if there was any at all. It had felt like a major perk of the convention had been removed.
I had a lot of fun at Fan Fest this year! The change of location and date both helped and hurt the convention. I’m unsure as to why they made both changes but Fan Fest, for me, has gone from being original and unique to just another convention. It felt like a lackluster Amazing Arizona Con that could, potentially, turn into a mini Phoenix Comicon. If this is the intention of the convention owners then that is great! I have no idea if there were issues at the stadium that most folks were not aware of or if they felt in order to get bigger guests they needed a better venue, or if folks hated the cold and had to move it up. I just don’t know! I hope they are able to accomplish their goals! I’m just sad to see that Fan Fest, the convention I looked forward to because of the location and food trucks has been stripped of it’s originality.
That being said, this was not a bad convention at all! They did a great job! Would I recommend Fan Fest to others? Yes, I would!