Phoenix Comicon 2014

Phoenix Comicon 2014 has come and gone. It seems that I wait all year for this one weekend and suddenly it’s here and just as fast it’s gone. I’ve referred to it as the 3.5 longest shortest days of the year. The days whip by being surrounded by amazing talent and in my case, friends..yet, at the end of the day, the physical exhaustion (and my fitbit!) tell me just how long the day actually was. In fact, even on the shortest day, I averaged walking about 4+ miles each day! No wonder I had some sore feet and legs!

Now…on with the good, the bad and the summary!

The Good –

  • Phoenix Comicon got it’s fire drill out of the way on Thursday. Granted, it wasn’t planned, but it made me chuckle hearing that it not only happened again, but also seeing the jokes regarding Throw Back Thursday – PCC fire alarm.
  • Expansion – Over the past few years, the convention has grown and had begun to stretch the fabric of space and time..or at least the sections of the convention center that were rented for the event. This year, the good folks in charge made some pretty big changes! Entire sections of street outside the convention center were closed off for various events. Registration was moved over to the South building and I believe that they even held a few panels over there. On top of that, there were still things happening in the North and West buildings as well as the Hyatt and the Sheraton. It meant for more walking but helped a lot with crowd control issues.
  • The App! – I was super excited when I heard through the grapevine that there was a conquest app for this year. I’ve loved the conquest in the past, but being able to have it on my phone and not print things out was fantastic. I did hear some complaints about it not working, but it did for me and was really handy.
  • Scheduling – I am a huge fan in the fact that PCC places a 30 minute gap between all of their panels. This allows for some movement time. Also, if you look at their schedule within the programming guide, it’s laid out in categories, so if you’re only interested in anime,  you look at that column. If you’re interested in comics, you look there. It saved me a ton of time when I was sleepily trying to decide which panels to attend the following day.
  • Friends – For me, this convention has become a where’s waldo adventure of trying to find where various friends and folks that I enjoy are located. It can be frustrating, but when I do find them, there are hugs and laughs and lots of catching up being done. 
  • Costumes – Holy canole do people come out with the most amazing things! I could spend hours just looking at all of the amazing costumes that people come up with. I don’t always recognize the characters but I appreciate the time, effort and passion that goes into making one of them. Not to mention the dedication of wearing some of them in 108 degree temperatures!
  • Variety – I love that this show covers anime, steampunk (Tea dueling, anyone?), comics and writing. There’s a bit of everything for everyone. I do hope though that they never forget that they’re a comicon and the core of that is comics. Otherwise, it will be time to rebrand as an entertainment expo which will make me horribly sad.
  • Great attendees – This year I only signed a few autographs (yes, I grin ear to ear over that) and I

    was asked when I’m going to do a panel regarding reviewing and what it takes to be a good reviewer. I told them that all I’m waiting for is an invitation. Seriously, I am. 😉  This show has some of the best attendees..they’re fun, they love their fandoms and even on the hottest days, I’ve never encountered someone who didn’t have a smile in them.

One of Angelwolf’s fans!
My first autograph for the show.
The Bad  – 
  • Expansion – While it does help with crowd control, it does mean for a lot of extra walking and for those of us unfamiliar with the area, it also sometimes means us getting completely lost. Thank goodness for the bike cab gentleman who sent me in the right direction after I’d walked a block in the wrong!
  • The App! – I heard quite a few complaints this year that the app wasn’t working for them. Like I said above, I didn’t have this problem but if others did, it’s a problem. What I would love to see for next year is the ability to set alarms on the app that go off before a scheduled event. I lose track of time and this would help me to actually get to the things that I want to be at. Perhaps an option to connect your Google Calendar might help with this. 
  • Exhibitor Floor – Everyone that knows me knows that this is my favorite place to be. However, this year, it left a lot of people confused. I had a tough time finding people and I heard more than one complaint that the numbering system was confusing this year. I more than once commented that I needed a con floor gps where I could plug in a booth number and it would guide me to where I needed to go.
  • Exhibitors – From what I heard, there was a wait list to get a table this year. I’d like to congratulate the convention for getting to a popularity level where that happens. The problem with this? You need to start being selective in who you allow to have a table. It can’t just be anyone who is willing to pay for one. This year, I saw not one but two ladies selling Scentsy. While they sell great products, there are more appropriate venues for them to sell their wares. I would have rather have seen a great table selling custom costume pieces or figurines/statues. Yes, even geeks and nerds like their houses to smell nice, but I can get Scentsy-like products just about anywhere. I live in the middle of nowhere, with no local comic book store…so conventions are my place to buy up all my geek goodies.
  • Safety – Last year, the bag check system was smooth as can be. This year, it was hodgepodge and random. Over the course of the weekend, I had my bag checked once. I’ll be honest and say that it annoyed me to a minor extent. With a media badge, I feel as if I’ve been vetted and shouldn’t have to do this. That being said, I’d rather they search everyone if it keeps everyone safe. 
  • Safety Part 2 – Every single weapon like item that comes through the door must be checked and tagged. This is awesome. What isn’t so awesome is the fact that you could buy real weapons on the convention floor. I’m not talking about the amazing light sabers but that at least one place was selling knives. While I personally love ornamental knives and blades, it doesn’t make much sense to put a ziptie on an obvious toy gun, just to have that same person go downstairs and buy a very real knife.
  • Loved these guys and their metal parrot!
  • Communication – 
    • Badges/Media – I had to go to 3 different locations because nobody had told me where mine would be located. I also gave directions to no less than a dozen people over the course of the weekend because they didn’t know. On the media side, I was also very frustrated because I was never given the opportunity to sign up for interviews. I received my email saying my badge had been approved and that another email would be coming but I never received any further communication. I also keep hearing rumors that there’s a press/media room, but I’m never told where it’s located.
    • Geek Prom – Every year I comment that the convention does little to promote this event. It disappoints me since all proceeds go to a very awesome charity. This year was worse than others because not only did they change the location of the event, they also changed the day that it’s held on. I lost track of how many people didn’t realize it and then missed the event because of it.
    • The App – Most of us found out about this from folks who were actually part of the convention staff. I would have loved to have seen a press release or something on the site about this.
  • Parties – One of the things that is very loved about this particular show is that there have always been after parties for each night of the convention. However, for whatever reason, every single of the 3 well known parties was moved to the same day. This just doesn’t work. First of all, every single party has a different theme and for those of us who like to dress up, 3 costumes in one evening is just too much. On top of that, holding Geek Prom on Friday night was rough. I quite literally did not get out of there and into my bed until about 3am…followed by Saturday, which is always an exhausting con day. If I had a vote, I’d suggest rearranging the parties: Party Like a Time Lord (Thursday night), Captain’s Cantina (Friday night) and Geek Prom (Saturday night). Let everyone enjoy their fandoms without running themselves into the ground.
  • Badge Art – I loved the badge art this year (yay for my Jeff Pina badge!), but one of the things that I used to brag about when it came to this show was the badge art contest. It gave unknown artists a chance to show off what they can do. It gave the fans a way to feel involved in the con planning. I missed it this year and I know that others did too.
Are you my mummy?

The Summary –
I know that my list of bad looks pretty darn long this year, but honestly, this is still one of my favorite events every single year. I love the guest lists, the panels and the chance to visit with friends. I love that during the day I have absolutely no excuse to say I’m bored. There is always something going on and since escalators are the easiest way to get up and down, I get to work on my fear of the darn things. I love that the convention really seems to care about the fans and does its best to bring in the best. I won’t hesitate to still recommend this show to anyone who is looking to check one out. With an attendance of 77,818 this year combined with someone new at the helm, growing pains are to be expected. I’ve already been told that next year they’ll be opening up even more convention center space, so I’m looking forward to another year of awesome! Phoenix Comicon 2015, I’m already looking forward to walking your halls, listening to your panels, interviewing your guests and just having an amazing time.

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