It begins on a Friday, a regular work day for most people, so many of the attendees, myself included, arrived in the afternoon, right after the con opened at 3 PM. The con lasted five hours on the first day, and most of the con-goers were in regular street clothes, not having had time to don the elaborate costumes that are now common at all conventions. There were some cosplayers on Friday, but the majority of the people I saw were mostly indistinguishable from anyone you’d see on the street: fat guys in baseball caps and t-shirts, little kids running around excited by the colorful booth displays and plethora of cool toys and collectibles, and teenaged girls in small groups, some of them with brightly colored wigs, groups of young men in shorts and t-shirts, smiling and talking excitedly as they took in the sights.
The big attraction for Friday was an autograph session by Spawn creator and toy impresario Todd McFarlane, whose signature title recently achieved its 250th issue, a rare accomplishment for an independent comic book. I did not see McFarlane myself, but I’m pretty sure he was mobbed by his legion of fans.
The legendary George Perez was also in attendance on Friday, and I observed that the line to meet him and get his autograph was very long, which is a testament to the vast popularity Perez enjoys because of his long run drawing The New Teen Titans for DC, and his creation of Nightwing, Deathstroke, as well as his artistic contributions to the popular and highly successful Crisis on Infinite Earths series. Perez has been largely absent from the con scene of late because of some health issues, but he appeared hale and hearty at the Amazing Con, greeting his army of fans with a bright smile. Perez has always been one of the nicest major artists in the business, which I’m sure is one of the reasons he is so well loved by the fan community.
Because comic books and comic book artists were the intended focus of this con, there seemed to be an abundance of dealers actually selling comic books, new, old, and even Golden Age. This may not seem too remarkable for a comics convention, but in the last decade or so of attending cons, I’ve seen more and more non-comics merchandise for sale, costumes of all kinds, especially steampunk clothing, toys, prop weapons, even things like gas masks, ammo boxes, knives, stun guns (!), elaborate jewelry, wigs, and other items that you wouldn’t expect to find at a comic book convention.
Another phenomenon that has pervaded the world of comic conventions is that most of them aren’t just about comics any more; they are multi-media events, encompassing anime, mainstream films, TV shows, podcasts, and just about every other form of communication you can imagine. While there were some media guests present, including current members of the Power Rangers cast, the American voice actors for the Sailor Moon series, and a number of professional cosplayers, it was nice to see that the emphasis for this show was on comic books, just as it was in the old days, when you’d see very few dealers selling toys or costumes.
The con seemed well attended on Friday, with people crowding into Halls F and G of the South Hall to get as much of the con experience as they could cram in during the five hours the con was in session on Friday.
If all of this sounds like fun and you want to attend next year’s Amazing Phoenix Comic Con, then visit the con website at: http://www.AmazingArizonaComicCon.com for info about next year’s show. Be sure to check it throughout the year to see announcements of future events and big-name guests.