Saturday at Phoenix Comicon

30 MAY 2015
Today was the busiest, boldest day of Phoenix Comicon. It was also the day it became apparent that the organizers had done a very good thing by expanding to another floor of the convention center and surrounding hotels; with the photo ops, writers, signings, panels, car show and other features spread out, the crowds never became totally overwhelming. In fact, the hallway traffic moved a lot faster than it did last summer. On the whole, it was a very navigable day.
I spent most of it inside the main ballroom so I'll report on that. I missed David Morrissey, Summer Glau and Rocky Horror but I did see:
Jason Momoa
Known for his hulking roles on Game of Thrones, Stargate, Baywatch and Conan, Momoa said at one point that everyone thinks of him "as a big dumb animal" - however the panel showed off his wit and intelligence. It also showcased off his adoring female fans, one of whom gave him a customized jar candle that read "Saint Momoa - Patron Saint of the Lustful." Oh fandom, never change.
Some of the things we learned:
  • He went over Aquaman in the New 52 with Geoff Johns and considers him a friend.
  • The only role he'd play on GOT would be Khal Drogo - but if he had to play another, it'd be the Imp.
  • He studied silverback gorillas for the role of Khal.
  • He views his role as Aquaman as an homage to his Hawaiian background and "Polynesian gods and brown superheroes."
  • He's currently working on a script based on a true story that's being translated from Hawaiian.
  • He read a lot of comics when he was young like X-Men and currently likes Image titles especially.
  • He originally intended to be a biologist and is an art aficionado.
  • If his character had survived on GOT, it would have been a much shorter series because "I'd kill them all. Season 2: Khal jumps on the dragon's back, rides him over the water and kills them all. Season 3: Khal pets the dragon."
 Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof
It's not often you see a married couple having their own panel. Fans asked questions about Buffy (obviously) and American Pie, Denisof being in the Marvel Universe and of course how they fell in love. Things we learned:
  • Alyson couldn't even get the audition for Buffy. She tried and they flat out refused to even see her. Only after the pilot aired and an actress was fired was she permitted to audition.
  • Of all the high-profile roles she's played, Willow is her favorite.
  • She doesn't know who Harley Quinn or Poison Ivy are.
  • Of her "How I Met Your Mother" memories, an episode about she and her husband picking each other up at the airport is one of the most meaningful.
Katee Sackhoff
The gorgeous and always candid Sackhoff was highly entertaining. She also had the longest advance lines for questions. What we learned:
  • She didn't know Battlestar Galactica was a remake when she went in for the audition - and she was femmed out in spike heels to audition for the role of the swaggering Starbuck.
  • Her favorite episode was the one with the boxing match with Lee.
  • In the episode where Leoben is airlocked, she and Mary McDonnell couldn't stop laughing for 4 hours straight during shooting - and they never had another scene with just the two of them again.
  • "I would play Captain America... I think." Later she said she'd turned down quite a few things from Marvel already and added, "Maybe because I was waiting for something else...?"
  • Ron Moore told her from the beginning that Starbuck would never be a surprise Cylon.
  • That she appreciates the roles she's gotten: "You should be so lucky to play such strong women on a daily basis."
  • That she hated high school and convincingly faked notes from her parents to miss a lot of classes.

As for the Con itself. Cosplayers brought their A game, like Twisty from There didn't seem to be as many activities to actually do on the floor as there have been previously. (One simple thing that was kind of incredible: a homemade ice cream booth.) Because the Con was dispersed, it was also harder to run into friends. Some attendees I know skipped most of the day to save their energy for the Red Wedding and other parties tonight. Some friends went to writing and creative panels; reactions were mixed.
Last year I talked to a few artists and writers who'd come to Phoenix under the impression it was a burgeoning Con - a great place to make sales. None of them sold as well as they hoped. Maybe that's why I've seen so few "name" comic creators here this weekend. Of course there are plenty of indie and self-pubbed artists and writers, and some of them have decent fanbases. But overall, it's kind of the opposite of Emerald City, where you can't turn around without stumbling over another comic book supertalent.
If you're going back tomorrow, I'd recommend swinging by booth 15066 and checking out ConQuest. You've probably seen their journals online; designed for Con attendees, they're immensely practical but luxurious and meaningful too. Notes, autographs, sketches, contact information, panel and vendor information - these journals can hold and organize much of your Comic Con existence in something that's beautiful to look at. Below Ted Thompson is holding Doctor Who and Supernatural journals that were both stunning. I think we've all had the experience of coming home from the Con with random scattered papers and sketches that wind up lost or stashed away; these journals provide a way to contain all of that in one collective keepsake.

Sunday should be a quieter day, if only because so many people will be sleeping off their wild festivities tonight. The Sunday sales here aren't always as drastic as they are at SDCC and other Cons, but it's still worth taking a final spin through the Exhibit Hall. And of course, there's the big closing party tomorrow night.

I'll close with a word on the heat. I came across one heatsick attendee today and another attendee who was crying and ill and complaining of exhaustion in the restroom; the sun and high temps can do that to you, especially if you're already tired from traveling and general Con doings. So if you're starting to feel physically off, sleep in tomorrow, drink a lot of water and recuperate. Trying to soldier through isn't worth it.

Hope everyone's having fun tonight. See you tomorrow, nerds.


  1. Can you barter at booths on Sunday? What are your Sunday recommendations?

    1. You can try. I find the vendors here aren't as open to negotiation as at other Cons, but it doesn't hurt to ask nicely.

      As for Sunday recommendations - I really didn't have for today, other than to explore the whole Con. The Horror Hall, Fright House, the Car Show, etc. are all tucked away in different parts of the convention center and surrounding buildings and it's easy to miss them. Today is the day to do a complete tour.