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2013 Phoenix Comicon commentary: The good, the bad and the surreal

Posted by on May 29, 2013 – 8:00 am

Thor Girl

It’s been a couple of days now since the crazy closing evacuation salvo of the 2013 Phoenix Comicon. I can’t believe I haven’t seen any “I survived the 2013 Phoenix Comicon” T-shirts yet – maybe at next year’s Con. Congrats again to the PHXCC crew for managing the insanity as well as they did and to the majority of attendees who calmly took the situation in stride.

Coming down after four straight days of the Comicon is like recovering from an ultra-severe case of jet-lag – that is if you were flying with Superman instead of a airplane. One loses all sense of space and time, and after all of the scintillating non-stop stimuli, the real world just seems like some dull, gray, insignificant shell that you must relearn how to navigate.

After having a couple of days to recover from and reflect on this year’s experience, I thought I would share some personal observations and perspective on the good, the bad and the surreal moments of the Con.

Please use our comments section to tell us about your 2013 Comicon adventure.

Spider-Man at the Fortress of Solitude...?

Spider-Man at the Fortress of Solitude…?

The Good: The entire Comicon event is such a thrill to anyone with even a mild interest in popular culture, but these are the things that gave me the most enjoyment this year.

  • It was great to catch up with old friends, many of which I hadn’t seen since the 2012 Comicon. In particular, it was wonderful to see local author Michael Bradley participating at this year’s event. He has suffered some terrible health issues over the past couple of years; but he was out at this show with his chin up and his newest book, Twisted Nightmares, on hand. Why not give it a look?
  • I hit up a couple of the more educational programs and learned fun new things, like why Raccoons can’t handle automatic weapons, and how Jupiter’s moons could potentially support life. Now I can tell my Mom that all those comics weren’t just a waste of time and money.
  • Seeing numerous nerdy battles of wits, wardrobes and weirdness. Where else could you see Spider-Man taking over Superman’s Fortress of Solitude?
  • Observing kids of every age have their minds blown by all the geeky goodness the Con has to offer. The only place you might possibly see more smiles is Disneyland, but it’s going to cost you 4X as much (or more.)
  • I was able to add another Arthur Suydam Marvel Zombie print to my humble collection, a purchase that has become a Con tradition for me; and this year the amazing artist even took note of the Marvel Zombie t-shirt I was wearing for the occasion.
Comicon Evacuation

Comicon Evacuation

The Bad: I easily give the 2013 Comicon a big thumbs-up. It was a fantastic time and one can tell that a lot of effort went into pulling off this event and its multiple moving parts. I applaud everyone involved, but there’s always room for improvement.

  • I was astounded by the amount of money that some actors and artists were charging for an autograph and/or picture; but I was even more amazed that people were actually paying these prices and positively reinforcing that bigheaded behavior.
  • Bag checks are to be expected in this day and age, but it got really old having to have my bag inspected every time I transitioned from the east to the west building and back again (which was a lot.) Eventually I learned I could make this journey underground and avoid the inspection headache – I just wish Gandolf had provided some guidance on this subterranean route early on.
  • I was very disappointed that there was absolutely no Edgar Rice Burroughs presence at this convention. While the lineage of almost every sci-fi and superhero character in attendance could be traced back to ERB, I don’t believe the author even received a mention. A shameful oversight that I may personally have to rectify at next year’s Con.
  • Thank Superman that Sunday’s evacuation incident was a false alarm, but it did put a damper on the final hour of the convention. It’s still unclear exactly what caused the problem, but here’s hoping it wasn’t just some smart-alecky idiot pulling the alarm. If it was, how do you prevent that?
  • There was an extremely weak wireless connection throughout the convention and while this was merely an inconvenience for me, it cost many vendors untold thousands of dollars because they could not connect to credit-card services. This really needs to be resolved before next year’s event. A hint for attendees, it’s always good to carry cash and your favorite vendor will certainly appreciate it.
Granny at Gotham by Gaslight

Granny at Gotham by Gaslight

The Surreal: These are my favorite moments of a comic convention (and of life in general); crazy weird situations that are so insane they could only come from a dream – but somehow they’re real.

  • While attending the Batman: Gotham by Gaslight panel with writer Brian Augustyn and artist Mike Mignola, I was in the front row next to a very nice elderly grandmother-type lady who was boldly working on her butterfly needlepoint project during the entire discussion. Odd in itself, but stranger yet when she readily adds to the conversation and is very knowledgeable about the subject – while never missing a needlepoint beat.
  • Seeing a 9-foot tall (at least) Wookiee being escorted through the exhibition hall. This creature was enormous, lifelike and extremely cool. I’d love to see the actual size of the person underneath the costume – if, in fact, it was a costume.
  • Taking a photo of a stranger in a really cool costume, then afterward realizing it’s somebody I actually know. (Nice job Amanda . AKA Catwoman!)
  • Seeing a live Superman who nobly has the presence and look of the real deal. (Way to go Justice League of Arizona.)
  • Seeing the 2012 PUGS (Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown) Champion publicly propose marriage to his girlfriend at the conclusion of the 2013 PUGS qualifier round.

You can see all of our 2013 Phoenix Comicon coverage HERE. And stay tuned for our San Diego Comic-Con International coverage, July 17-21, 2013.