My first experience with the Phoenix Comic Con was back in 2005 when it was held in Mesa and it had the word Cactus in the title. I was told about this new show that he was volunteering for and was given an email address. The address was for Joe Boudrie head of programming and I wrote him inquiring about a pro badge for their show. He responded that they didn't have pro badges but offered me a table. This was two or three days prior to the show. I found myself sitting next to Josh Middleton, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Besides Joe I also got to meet Matt Solberg the convention director. My experience with that show was so positive and I felt so welcomed even as a last minute add that I have returned every years (except one due to illness) since.
The show has grown by leaps and bounds over that decade, to now taking up the big building in the downtown Phoenix convention center. I heard that Saturday they had over 80,000 attendees… but the show has never lost that personal feel that I first experienced in Mesa. And not a year goes by that I don't see Matt and Joe going around personally to make sure the guest and exhibitors are okay and enjoying the show. And the crew they've put together are top notch.
The layout this year was solid. No matter what door you walked in there was something to get your attention immediately whether it was Avatar Press with Max Brooks and Jacen Burrows or Jim Steranko signing autographs at his own table. Valiant, Dark Horse and Zenescope all had set ups and the guest / artist alley tables were well mixed to have big names and new comers constantly getting traffic. To avoid the problem that some cons have, folks stopping to take pictures of cosplayers and blocking aisles, the convention made an area specifically for cosplayers and another for media guests allowing more space on the hall floor for publishers, exhibitors and guests.
The folks directly around me included Adam Yeates, Arthur Adams, Daniel Bradford, Joyce Chin and Mike Miller. I don't remember a time in the whole four days that there wasn't at least a dozen people walking up and down the aisle. And the variety was incredible… you could buy a light saber, Captain America's shield, a Steampunk Green Lantern hat and goggles, horror movies, various artist prints, Pokeman hoodies, corsets, manga comics to even a table of free novels from Del Rey.
This was the first convention for my friend Ashley Simms… she's a big Doctor Who fan, love Outlander and reads books like she's addicted to them. This was the perfect show for her because of the literary talent the convention brings in. She got to meet author Diana Gabladon, author James A. Owens author Peter V. Brett and one of her favorite artists Karen Hallion. So where I'm a jaded old vet still amazed at how well Phoenix Comic Con is run and how well the guests and attendees are treated… Ashley was new to it all and had the time of her life.
Oh… and Ashley took the cosplay photos below.