Nearly every weekend in Phoenix has something special going on, but when the artists and cosplayers come together with some of the biggest names in the business, you know a good time is bound to be had by all. I drove up to Phoenix from Tucson on Friday (day 1) with a general anticipation. I never knew exactly how the weekend would go, but I knew that:
A) it would be fun and
B) it would be memorable
I finally got to the convention center fashionably late (about 4p) and I couldn’t help but feel mixed emotions when I saw the line of people wrapping around the south building waiting to get in. I’m glad that so many folks wanted to get in, but the line looked nigh unending. After checking with some of the folks in line I found that this was just for Groupon ticket holders: *WHEW* I have nothing against Groupon, but in this instance, I am glad I dodged that bullet. (Which in all honesty probably would have only made me wait an extra 30-45 mins). I got inside, got checked in and they gave me my wristband for the weekend.
Now, while I generally try to exhibit at these events, this time (due to budget responsibilities mostly) I decided to attend instead. I figured that I need to just attend a con every now and then to remind me why I exhibit every year. I made my rounds seeing folks I knew, shaking hands with new people, making a mental note of future purchases. One of my first stops was at Chris Wood
‘s booth to admire his canvased work and Shelby Robertson’s
table to take advantage of the door-buster deals he had been advertising on Facebook. After making my rounds covering the floor and picking up an impulse buy of “The Art Of Daxiong Collection
“, it was time to head out (which didn’t feel like too long or too short a time at all). Time for a good night’s sleep and gear up for day 2 which started at 10 A.M.
As with most cons, Saturday was expected to be a huge day: plenty of programming going on all day and later in the afternoon, comic book artist Jim Lee would be signing items for fans. Saturday also started the overcast clouds and constant rain that would last all weekend. I wasn’t worried: anything I had bought could fit in a backpack or was stored in a polybag. I took quite a bit of time wandering around the floor again: taking pictures of the cosplayers who had shown up in force and prioritizing my next purchases. One gentleman had dressed up in Gene Simmons’ “Demon” alter ego – I knew I had to snap his picture and I seriously doubt he was able to walk more than a few feet at a time once inside the convention hall. My favorite thing to do at any con (exhibiting or attending) is just stand near almost any table and listen to stories. I’m a huge fan of anecdotes: people’s art process, who they met, interactions with other artists, crazy stories involving chairs in elevators…Anyway! Where was I? Saturday went off without a hitch and once the con closed down came my next favorite part of the con: sitting down to dinner with my creative friends and just BSing in a relaxed atmosphere. As Saturday night drew to a close (complete with battling with Phoenix Monster Jam patrons to exit the parking garage), I barely had enough time to wind down and drift off to sleep so I could complete my attendee’s journey of Amazing Arizona Con 2013.
Sunday rolled in and I got myself prepared to check out of the place I was staying so I didn’t have to double-back right as I was getting settled at the con. Today was also another milestone as I was going to partake in my 2nd panel *ever* (first being at Tucson Con 2012). I was stoked: I never really had a problem getting up in front of people and speaking on a subject (granted that it was a subject I had some
experience in). This time around, it was concerning Kickstarter since I had just successfully funded a small project in November. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. I had underestimated the amount of time it would take to get packed up, checked out, and drive the few blocks to the convention center parking garage so I was left with the minor inconvenience of waiting in line to actually enter the convention hall once it opened. Once inside, it was just a matter of making purchases and killing time until my panel at 2 P.M. (which wasn’t hard at all)
Around 11 A.M. a friend of mine had shown up with a “present” for me: apparently someone she knew was clearing out a bunch of art supplies from their house and I became the proud owner of not only new pastels, graphite and charcoal (which I keep meaning to do more work with), but a 24 pack of Prismacolor markers. Needless to say, I was ecstatic! I immediately dropped everything off in my car (except the Prismacolors, those now stayed in my backpack.)
Wandering around some more, I had finally gotten tired of being behind and picked up “CHEW” Omnivore Editions Volume 1 & 2 so I could be somewhat caught up. By this time, 2 P.M. had finally rolled around and it was time for my panel. I was joined by writer Eric M. Esquivel, artist Mariah Wall, and Top Cow writer Matt Hawkins. Even without a true “moderator”, Matt kept us on topic and made sure to get each of our different experiences in to answer the audience’s questions (to which they had many.) After all was said and done, I finished out the day (and the weekend) satisfied with my purchases, but not with the amount of pictures I took – let’s be honest, when I review them, I’m*never* happy with how many (read: “few”) pictures I took. Grabbed some dinner on the way out of town and headed home. It was a great experience to be sure and of course I quickly remembered why I exhibit almost every con I go to. Actually, I learned that early Saturday. The convention was, as advertised, amazing and I look forward to setting up an exhibitor’s table next year.