Phoenix Comicon so far

29 MAY 2015

So Phoenix Comicon is off and running. Today was my first day there; it started off badly as there were no lanyards when I picked up my badge, and so I was forced to clip it onto myself. The badge fell off within 90 seconds, and was apparently scooped up by someone else and the Con team refused to give me another one.  So what happened? A security volunteer named Felipe gave me his complimentary full pass.

I'm telling this story because it says a lot about the Con community. This year I've had three attendees save me from 1) my horrible luck in the badge sale 2) my even worse luck in the hotel sale 3) my dismal luck in Phoenix. None of these attendees were obligated to help me in any way and yet all stepped up to get me a Preview Night badge, a room at the Hard Rock and a replacement badge. This is why I really believe Comic-Con attendees are exceptional people.

Anyhow. Phoenix Comicon looked to me pretty much like it did last year. Similar/same vendors and booths, same type of panels. From a shopping perspective, it was trinket city, with some indie artists plying their wares and a few big name booths like Dark Horse. Mostly it was the same shirts, buttons, stuffed animals, DVDs and postcards I saw at Emerald City a few months ago. I bought an iPhone cover styled as the cover of Lolita and that was it.

The Skybridge is open, sparing attendees from the deadly Phoenix heat (107 tomorrow!). Also different: instead of holding the celebrity circus in 120, that's now in Ballroom 301 up on the third floor. That's uncharted Con territory. Interestingly, the organizers have promised better line management in terms of markers, restroom passes and clear communication. I'll be curious to see how that shakes out tomorrow when David Morrissey, Jason Momoa, Alyson Hannigan, Katee Sackhoff and the Rocky Horror Show/cast inspire thousands of people to come see them.

In addition to the convention center, some panels take place in hotels - a key difference when it comes to drinking. (It's apparently not allowed in the convention center but is in the hotels.) It was a little weird to see attendees get up and do shots with the panel moderators; it was also weird to have a security guard card me when I went to an 18+ panel. As in, they came up to my seat and demanded I show them my driver's license. Again, these 18+ panels (which abound in the programming) aren't necessarily "adult" in the typical sense - mine simply had gruesome imagery - but the Con organizers are being very by the book so make sure you have ID on your person tomorrow if you're planning on attending one of those panels.

Events that got rave reviews: attendees seemed very excited by the Jim Beaver panel and Sherlock. The DIY Comics panel, Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos, the Rocky Horror reunion (which repeats tomorrow night at the movie) and the Geek Bridal Show seemed to be hits as well. I heard the Fangoria Horror & Sci Fi Trivia Night was fun - and finally, I heard a lot of people talking about the premier of Star Trek Continues: The White Iris. I just haven't heard the feedback yet.

Overall I'm withholding judgment until I see how tomorrow goes - how long the main line is, how crowded the floor gets and just who's in that crowd. The cosplay was good today and tomorrow I'm sure it will be spectacular.

If you're headed down tomorrow, a few things:
  • Consider taking the light rail instead of parking. Local garages are about 15-20 a day. Some want you to prepay so have cash on hand.
  • Yes, it is really hot in Phoenix. Even passing from building to building can tire you out, which is the last thing you want at a Con - so stay hydrated and rested and don't go wandering through the city if you don't have to. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses too.
  • Pace yourself. This Con has a lot of parties and events that go late into the night. If you're going to do a full day of the Con, consider a disco nap at some point so you can enjoy the later parties.
  • The programming is dispersed between several hotels and the convention center, so get organized.
  • Arrive early. Downtown traffic gets very congested on Saturday and Sunday - last year Adam West, Julie Newmar and others in the Batman panel missed half of it because they were stuck in traffic. If you drive in, give yourself time to fight through gridlock and find an open garage. If you have your heart set on getting into the big room to see tomorrow's lineup, I would definitely build a few extra hours into your plans.
See you tomorrow.

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