The recent guest announcements from Phoenix Comicon have been exciting. I’m a huge fan of the various Marvel Netflix series’ and just this past week, the con announced a third guest from that world; Elden Henson who plays the Foggy Nelson in Daredevil. I promptly tweeted about it and then I got a reply from Ash Ave. Comics, one of our well respected comic book stores in the Valley.
As I readied my reply, it dawned on me that I only knew one name: Jim Shooter. Mr. Shooter has some big titles to his credit including the popular Marvel crossover event Secret Wars. That’s a big comic guest right? I pull up the comic book guest list and some decent guests are listed but no one that headlines a convention. Not to mention that nearly every name on the list you could have seen somewhere in Arizona in the past 12 months. Was this the reason Ash Ave. tweeted that question? Was it a rhetorical question because there really wasn’t any big name comic book guest? How does the biggest “Comicon” in not just the southwest as well as one of the largest in the country not include any of the leading names in the industry they are trying to put front and center for 100k+ attendees to see and meet?
Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Comics sold in 2016 (Direct Market) which was put together by Bleeding Cool. What’s important here is not the titles but the names of the creators who worked on the titles. 32 names contributed to those 10 titles and guess what? Not a single one will be in Phoenix. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see what other conventions were being held the same weekend as Phoenix Comicon. Only one large convention is being held compared to two the past several years before Phoenix Comicon moved back to Memorial Day weekend. Looking at the comic book guest list for MegaCon, the competing con on the same weekend, shows at least six names from the list of names from the Bleeding Cool article.
What’s the reason for the lack of big name comic book creators? Arizona comic book fans do exist, the state boasts more than a dozen comic book stores that are still thriving. Amazing Arizona Comic Con, despite popular belief, was a profitable convention that was nearly exclusively comic book focused. Movies and television shows that come from the comic book universe are the latest rage but people still read comics and still appreciate the people who are at the forefront of creating those comics.
This whole article could become irrelevant by the time Phoenix Comicon rolls around. You can argue that the convention has never really put a huge emphasis in the comic portion of their name, relying heavily on locals and names that no longer grace the cover of current comics. Either way, someone will figure out that Arizona doesn’t get the cream of the crop comic book guests any longer because of the absence of Amazing Arizona and they will capitalize on that. Let’s just hope we comic book fans don’t have too wait long.