2014 Phoenix Con Overview
As you may have seen, the Refs attended the 2014 Phoenix Comicon on June 5-8th. Ref Kevin, Sassy Sarah, and Photographer Jake all showed up and Conned until our bodies ached. After a few days of recovery we finally have enough energy to give a quick overview of this year’s festivities.
Also, be sure to check out our full Facebook photo gallery HERE!
I’ve been going to the Phoenix Con for the past 4 years. In those past years, it has grown exponentially. Last year, although large, was one of the more disappointing visits. It wasn’t bad so much as it wasn’t special. All the guests were tailored around the Babylon 5 anniversary, so if you weren’t a fan there wasn’t much for you. That year also felt a bit “bland.”
What a difference a year can make! With another huge leap in attendance, just revealed to be 77,818, the PCC is now amongst the top 5 in North America. The vendor floor now spanned the -entire- underground floor. Registration was moved to the South building, which had never been used before. The South Building also housed the new Sci-Fi Haunted House and a Lazer Tag arena! As before, keynote panels were held in the massive Grand Ballroom, and the smaller breakout panels were peppered throughout the two story East Building. Perhaps the greatest new addition was they finally blocked off Third Street between the North and East buildings. This section of asphalt now housed an outdoor stage with a variety of performances, food trucks, and a pop-culture related car show. The Food Trucks were an example of a wonderful idea executed poorly. There are already food vendors inside the Con, but it’s expensive and sub-par. I once paid far too much for a phallic piece of pizza that I was told was a “spaceship.” Everyone was excited for the Food Truck possibilities. Unfortunately, the company employed apparently underestimated the demand. There were only four trucks there at any given time, with occasionally very long lines. I visited one around 2pm on Friday. The line wasn’t very long, maybe 10 people in front of me. Unfortunately there was only ONE guy working inside the truck and it took me (and everyone else) over half an hour just to get a couple tacos and some Nachos. (All this while dressed in leather and in 110° heat) That being said, at least my tacos were delicious with a healthy serving of meat. I suspect next year the Food Truck service will be expanded and better staffed.
With a con of this size, there is far too much to see and do than there is free time. Besides walking the floor and getting a few autographs I attended the “Party Like a Timelord”, “Talk Nerdy to Me Burlesque” and panels for the original “Batman” cast, Bruce Campbell, Steven Amell (Arrow), and Nathan Fillion.
Party Like A Timelord
Wow! What a great group of Whovians! This Doctor Who themed party was a blast from the moment we walked in. Almost immediately upon starting both dance floors were filled with Doctors, Tardi, Daleks, and other assorted time travelers showing us their best moves. There was a high level of energy at this party! My only complaint was the Costume Contest Judges.. They obviously weren’t taking the contestants seriously. (We got beat out by Freddy Mercury!)
Talk Nerdy to Me Burlesque
Unfortunately, no photographers were allowed. We were threatened! (“Some of these fine ladies have day jobs that they’d like to keep!) Now, I’ve been to an assortment of Burlesque shows before.. Serious ones, entertaining ones, lousy ones, but NEVER have I been to one that was so much FUN. At nearly three hours long, it was also one of the longest I’ve been to. (Although I only stayed for the first two hours.) Each act was based on some kind of cartoon or video game character and the show featured women of ALL sizes. It’s pretty cool to see that you don’t have to be a bean pole to strut your stuff and have a damn good time doing it. Oh… and there were male performers there too. While I still prefered the beauty of the female performers, I can’t deny I got a little caught up in the fun during the Cinder-Breaking-Double-Dragon act. Highly recommended to those with a healthy sense of humor, if you plan on attending this show next year be sure to arrive in line an hour in advance.
Original Batman Panel
Featuring Burt Ward (Robin), Julie Newmar (Catwoman), and Adam West (nana-nana-nana-BATMAN!) this was an awesome panel to kick off Saturday. Unfortunately they arrived a bit late, and it was shorted by about 15 minutes, but they made up for it with their energy and fun answers. You can tell that this group really had a lot of fun together. Julie Newmar was especially energetic and consistently teasing her costars. One of the best quotes came from the spritely 80 year old Julie Newmar, grinning from ear to ear, “You want to know the secret to living a long life? Have fun!”
The king of B-movies kicked off his panel by asking everyone from the audience dressed as “Ash.” to come on stage. An impromptu costume contest ensued where he both praised and berated the attention they paid to detail. A few truly bad cosplayers were unceremoniously kicked off stage! Eventually he picked a deserving winner and offered him a cash prize! Five bucks from his wallet!
This spotlight session was particularly unorthodox as he invited a few other random people on stage to interact with and occasionally took questions from the crowd. The results were mixed, but never boring. Occasionally humor would hit home, and the crowd would laugh.. other times Mr. Campbell would shake his head and express his desire to inflict violence on others.
The star of CW’s hit show “Arrow”, Stephen Amell hosted a great spotlight session. It’s fun to see an actor who is just as excited about his show as the fans. He’s (mostly) humble and very thankful for the show, and it’s apparent he takes a lot of pride in it. During the Q&A session he revealed that one of his biggest hopes is to have batman on show someday. He also revealed that “if you like Batman’s villains, then you are gonna love Season 3!” Discussing how he likes to do as many of his own stunts as possible, he told stories on a few that gave him second thoughts, and one he injured his arm on.
On his first visit to an AZ con, Natahn Fillion’s spotlight session was one of the best I’ve ever been to. Hearing his stories it’s obvious that he’s a nerd first, actor second. The guy even makes his own elaborate Halloween costumes! The audience was treated to a description of his Grim Reaper costume that he assembled from various sources, including some landscaping trimmings from his yard.
Nathan Fillion gave the watch off his wrist to the person who asked the first question. This nice gesture was eventually revealed as a running joke as we all realized he had nearly 20 watches on his person. Once he ran out of watches he continued giving away random items, including the envelope the watches came in and water bottles. Unfortunately he was stopped prior to giving away the chairs on stage.
Asked about a sequel to “Dr. Horrible” he told us that he knows the title, roughly how it starts, and the name of two songs. Unfortunately Joss Whedon is tied up with Marvel at the moment. So, Yes, it will happen, no one is exactly sure when, though.
I could write an entire article on this session. It had so many great questions and fun stories. If you ever have the chance to see him in person, I highly recommend it. The highlight had to be the adlibbed exchange with a guy in the audience dressed as Dr. Horrible which ended in a short duet!
This year’s Phx Con was EPIC in every sense of the word. And while there were a few hiccups, they were vastly outweighed by the good. Considering how big it’s grown since last year it’s rather amazing it ran as smoothly as it did. The Refs (and family) are already looking towards next year’s con! (May 28-31 2015)