Well, the convention formally known as Phoenix Comicon (which was formally called Phoenix Cactus Con) will be going through another name change after the first con under the Phoenix Comic Fest banner. Phoenix Fan Fusion was recently announced for 2019 but we have plenty to talk about the first and last Phoenix Comic Fest.
The event kicked off Thursday with a whole host of changes from 2017. The convention center was a closed campus, meaning you couldn’t even get to near the entrances without going through security. With three entrances that offered a handful of different lanes to get through security, it was pretty smooth sailing from my experiences. The other big change was moving away from badges to RFID wristbands. I wasn’t a big fan of having to wear the wristband for four days but it wasn’t that big of a deal honestly. I did find it odd that you had to tap in but not tap out any time you left like you had to do during Phoenix Fan Fest last year. I left twice to eat off campus, once on Friday and again on Saturday as I was confident I wouldn’t have to wait long to re-enter. The benefits of having a closed campus style convention is that it really kind of felt like a block party atmosphere (though that was have been double the truth had the music stage been moved to where the sponsor tents were which were always empty anytime I walked by). The other benefit for some was the amount of alcohol stations there were. Alcohol was readily available at all sorts of locations, even signs that just simply read “BEER” with an arrow pointing were posted on the entrances of the exhibit hall.
Other big changes to the convention this year were both tabletop gaming and console gaming were moved to different locations. Tabletop gaming was moved out of the Hyatt for security reasons to the 2nd floor of the West building. Console gaming was moved from the West building into the exhibit hall where it took up the majority of the Hall 1 entrance area. The 3rd floor Hall of Heroes returned to be a bigger focus of costuming groups and guest autographs/photo ops but some vendors still managed to end up there.
Panel and programming still offered a wide variety of things to attend when you were done wandering the exhibit hall. I attended a few different panels (guest panels I attended were Sean Gunn, Sean Maher, Charles Martinet, and Michael Rooker) and events such as the Saber Walk during the Friday evening. I tweeted about it already but the panel Michael Rooker put on was simply awesome and will no doubt end up on my Top 10 Moments recap for 2018. Some of the programming and panels were cut short Saturday evening due to a fire alarm that has been well documented during the weekend so no reason to beat a dead horse. Attendance was down compared to years past which prompted a loud speaker apology and a renewal discount offer from Comic Fest staff on Sunday to the vendors according to a few different vendors I spoke to on Sunday evening. The convention wasn’t a dumpster fire that I saw a few different people claiming. If you waited until the convention to purchase your wristband, then yes, it was a little pricey but there was still a value if you enjoy multiple facets of the con. I would gladly pay for Phoenix Comic Fest over Ace Comic Con 10 out of 10 times, it’s not even close.
And of course, as usual, there were some great cosplayers all four days of the convention which you can see some of the photos below. Thanks for reading and see you another a con down the road!