Amazing Arizona Comic Con – 2014 recap
The fourth annual Amazing Arizona Comic Con went down last weekend (Jan. 24 – 26), with a plethora of geeky costumes, fun activities and comic book themed revelry. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the Friday opening, so I can’t report on the those festivities, which included the “Zombie Beauty Pageant” [holds head in despair and weeps], but I did make it out on Saturday and Sunday and had a great time seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
Many of our local artisans were out representing with booths and artist alley tables, and there were several who also participated in the Guinness world record(s) attempt to turn out a completed comic book from scratch with the most creators and in the fastest time, including Shelby Robertson, Steam Crow, BigChris, Russ Kazmierczak, Jr., Heather Martin, Denny Riccelli, April Grady-Reyna, Eric Mengal (and I’m sure I’m shamefully missing some.)
I followed the record attempt throughout the day on Saturday and coordinator Shawn Demumbrum (SpazDog Comics) was busy wrangling artists (including comic superstars like Rob Liefeld) and writers, and working feverishly to try and pull the book together and meet the deadline. Sunday morning, as promised, the completed comics were for sale at the Jesse James Comics booth with all proceeds going to the Hero Initiative.
In the end, 101 artists, 12 writers and 2 editors contributed to the record attempt. It’s my understanding that it may take a few weeks to get the official ruling from Guinness, but the people I talked to seemed to think that they have this record in the “mylar” bag – so to speak. (If you’d like to purchase one of the limited edition souvenir books, you can still buy them on eBay through Jesse James Comics – and it’s for a great cause.)
The public premiere of The Image Revolution, the documentary film about the history of Image Comics, also ran on Saturday afternoon (you can read my full review HERE), and it was followed by a discussion panel with Image founders Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri and the filmmakers.
Great costumes were on display throughout the event. There was a very cool contortionist coming out of a television set (a la “The Ring”), a floating Slimer from Ghostbusters, and a bevy of beautiful superheroines and handsome heroes. But my most surreal moment of the con (the dream-like situations that, for me, makes comic conventions the best places on the planet) was when I had a chance encounter with a very muscular Hulk who was touching up his gamma irradiated green paint in the restroom and asked me politely if I was having a nice day. And so as not to invoke his rage I answered, ‘Yes, yes I am.’
I was able to pick up a few comics that I had missed when they came out at the local shops, including finishing out my run of Six-Gun Gorilla (an awesome six-part series from BOOM! Studios); I also picked up the first two issues of Rex, Zombie Killer, by Nerdvana friend, writer Rob Anderson. Jay Company Comics also had a couple of bargain priced graphic novels that I couldn’t pass up, like the collection of original Guardians of the Galaxy comics with stories from 1967 – 1974.
One of the coolest artist owned creations at this year’s AACC was local hero Shelby Robertson’s preview edition of ’94, with a crazy fun story, also written by Robertson, which involves a team of anti-heroes time-traveling into the past to kill the person responsible for crashing the economy of the future. Oh, and did I mention that the future economic calamity involves baby dentures and nipple replacements? This is an entertainingly deranged and original book with incredible art. (Stay tuned for information on Shelby’s upcoming ’94 Kickstarter project.)
Sunday morning started out with a Robert Kirkman panel and out of the hundreds of convention events I’ve attended, this was one of the best. Kirkman is every bit as witty, smart and personable as you could imagine. He actually showed up about ten minutes before the panel’s start time, by himself and without fanfare, and sat down to start talking to the crowd.
The Kirkman panel was a blast, with over an hour of the celebrity writer talking about everything from katana swords to the amount of guns in Arizona, the logistics of body decay to the lack of restroom breaks on the television show, “24.” There was even a lengthy and uncomfortable question from a lady in the audience about the lack of sex scenes on the The Walking Dead television program, to which the usually unflappable writer could only answer, “…uhhh!?!”
After learning (from The Image Revolution film) about Kirkman’s original pitch to Image Comics involving an alien invasion element, I asked him if this was ever going to actually happen in the Walking Dead story (something I personally think would be awesome.) He assured the crowd that aliens were never going to be a part of the comic or show and recounted the story of how it was the aliens that originally sold the idea to Image, but that he never intended to actually go there with his story.
On the way out of the con’s theater room, the Walking Dead author took time to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans. He really was one of the most humble and affable celebrity creators I’ve ever seen and if you get the opportunity to sit in on one of his panel appearances I very highly recommend it.
I ended my Amazing Arizona Comic Con adventure with a very special screening of the film, Legends of the Knight, a touching documentary about how Batman has had a positive influence on so many people’s lives. (You can read my full review HERE.) This movie is a must see for anyone who’s ever dreamed of being a hero, and you have another opportunity to catch the film on February 20, at AMC Ahwatukee 24, with proceeds going to benefit the Phoenix Children’s Museum. You can get tickets at Tugg.com and learn more about this provocative film and other opportunities to view it at WeAreBatman.com.
The Amazing Arizona Comic Con has the draw of some big name talent, but it is still homey and small enough that the local guys don’t get lost in the mix. I’ve heard a few minor grumblings regarding the event, its pricing, programming (or lack thereof), and some complaints of disorganization; but the bottom line is that you’re never going to make everyone happy and I feel that for all its moving parts, coordinator Jimmy Jay and crew did a fine job with this show and I’m looking forward to attending again next year and seeing how this con continues to grow.
Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2014 – Photo Gallery
Tags: '94, Amazing Arizona Comic Con, April Grady-Reyna, BIGCHRISART, comics, Denny Riccelli, Eric Mengal, Guardians of the Galaxy, Guinness world record, Heather Martin, Image Comics, Jay Company Comics, Jesse James Comics, Jimmy Jay, Legends of the Knight, Marc Silvestri, Rex Zombie Killer, Rob Anderson, Rob Liefeld, Robert Kirkman, Russ Kazmierczak, Shawn Demumbrum, Shelby Robertson, Six-Gun Gorilla, Steam Crow, The Image Revolution, The Walking Dead, Zombie Beauty Pageant