Let me get this out of the way right off the bat: This is an article recapping MY experience at Phoenix Comicon 2017. We all are going to have different experiences and encounters.
My Phoenix Comicon weekend started at about 6:30PM on Thursday. This was the first time I didn’t take Thursday off of work but I didn’t realize they had legitimate panels happening that early. Normally the convention has its panels that explain what’s going on during the weekend for different types of programming (comics, gaming, horror, etc). I saw a tweet that showed them at a panel for comic book guest Jim Shooter which was a total surprise. Shame on me for not paying better attention to the panel schedule, maybe I should have taken Thursday off! When I did arrive, I parked in the lot right between the Collier Center and Cityscape for $10. Not a bad location and an easy walk to the con. At this point, everything had already happened with the individual who had brought real weapons into the con. It was business as usual Thursday however. No one was really talking about it and some didn’t even know anything had happened.
I met up with my friend who was attending his first ever convention and he had already spent close to a $100 in the exhibit hall haha. We explored more of the exhibit hall and it was the usual mix of exhibitors and artists (plus fidget spinners everywhere). The mystery box fad hasn’t died down yet, they keep producing different style of boxes and people keep buying them. Shortly
there after we headed up to the Hall of Heroes and I knew there were additional artists up there but to my surprise, it really was like a second exhibit hall. It did feature of course the cosplay groups, a Cobra Arcade area, a Tardis Planetarium, the GEICO Bus, and more. My Thursday just consisted of exploring and taking a few photos, nothing elaborate.
I woke up pretty early Friday morning and made the decision not to drive downtown and just take the Metro Valley Light Rail. After the 45 minute ride, I got to the convention center a little after 8AM and saw the signs right away about the prop ban and bag checks and the entrances. I got into line at 3rd Street and Washington with only a few other people at that point. They were not opening up 3rd Street to attendees until 9AM but someone from security or con staff came over and announced if we walked over to 3rd Street and Monroe, we could at least get the bag check over with and wait indoors. I got inside at about 8:45 and hung out in the open seating area next to registration. They started letting people down into the lobby of the exhibit hall around 9:40 and when I got down there it was a little surprising… there was hardly anyone down there. I waited near the Hall 1 entrance with less than a dozen people around me. Once the hall opened up, I figured it would be a few minutes before it got packed but it never did for the first hour, it was a strange sight to see. I meet up with two of my friends and headed up to the second floor to grab a seat for the Christopher Sabat panel that started at noon. Before it started, I noticed the crazy amount of people that were still outside in line waiting to get in. It stretched and stretched in what seemed like both directions. One of the news stations had a Facebook live aerial feed of the lines and it looked even more chaotic.
I am a huge Dragon Ball fan and Christopher Sabat, who voices Vegeta and Piccolo among others, puts on a very entertaining panel. He dismissed the moderator but kept his notes and interviewed himself for the first half of the panel. The coolest part of the panel is when he introduced a kid and brought him up front, it was the kid who had survived a bee attack by channeling Vegeta. It was a pretty cool moment that I am sure the kid will remember forever (you can check out what I caught of it right here). When it was over, I headed outside to meet up with Parks and Cons for lunch and noticed that huge line from earlier had disappeared already. After an enjoyable lunch at Fired Pie, I headed back and just wandered around the con for the rest of the day.
Saturday! I rolled into Downtown Phoenix around 10:45 and immediately went over to the 301BCD in the West Building to get my wristband and seat for the Dick Van Dyke panel. Had a pretty good seat until the Fire Marshall made the question line all stand up, blocking the view of many. I was still able to get some good photos and the panel only lasted 30 minutes. I’m glad I got to attend the panel though because he isn’t a normal convention guest (it was his first ever comic convention) and he had
some interesting stories to tell. After the panel I met up with another friend and checked out the exhibit hall before going to the Cosplay Dance Off panel. I didn’t recognize a single song or the majority of the costumes but it was entertaining nonetheless. The next panel we attended with more friends in tow was the Awesomely Bitchin panel that showed trailers for underrated film and tv shows from the 80s and 90s and talked about them.
My newest experience at the con was the Dobutsu Lounge. It was an 18+ Lounge who had a Marvel vs. Capcom theme where you play various games with the hosts or participate in the Marvel vs. Capcom tournament. I am glad my friends pressured me into going because honestly I had a lot of fun. Played a little Marvel vs. Capcom as well which is always a good time. This went late into the night, not ending until 1AM and by the time I was done chatting for the night and making the drive home, it was 3AM.
I’m ashamed to say but I didn’t attend on Sunday. I was too worn out and just needed the day to recover. The only panel I wanted to see on Sunday was Jon Bernthal but he is a pretty regular guest on the con circuit and I am sure I will get the chance again down the road.
I know I barely touched on some of the drama that consumed so many over the weekend but honestly, it barely had any impact on me. I know that wasn’t the case for many and I am sympathetic towards those people but I just didn’t want it take over my convention experience. I tweeted a ton about the various topics of the weekend to help get as much accurate information out there as possible. Yes, parts of the con were chaotic (did you see the photo op line in Saturday? Yikes.), some of it was out of
there hands and some of it they controlled. Did the prop ban suck? Yes. Could there have been better security measures to begin with? Yes. Everyone from Phoenix Comicon, the convention center, and the Phoenix PD learned from this experience and I am sure that going forward that things will be a little different but don’t give up hope on prop weapons, I think they will make a return.
Did you have a good or bad time at Phoenix Comicon? You share your thoughts below in the comments or send a tweet to Legion of Sand on Twitter!