The Rise Of The Phoenix Comicon

Jesse James attended the Phoenix Comic Con for Bleeding Cool. In pieces…

The Phoenix might be returning in the New series Avengers versus X-Men this year.  However, the Phoenix arrived this past weekend in Arizona and its here to stay for decades to come.

This weekend I got to do something that is very rare in this industry and probably wont be done again for a long time. I attended Phoenix Comicon as a Vendor, Writer/Blogger, Manager of Comic programming/ Art Auction for the con, and as a Fanboy.  So you can imagine how fast paced the con was for me.  However, at Phoenix Comicon this year there was a calmness also that seemed to flow through me like none I had experienced the last two years at the con.  Vendors and Creators were more active and smiles were abroad as I walked through the exhibor hall.  Handshakes seemed to be the theme as I walked down the halls.  The repeated “We will be here next year for sure” was the catch phrase heard consistently.  Now the great thing about this was it was only Friday when I was hearing this.

The Con itself was simply amazing. The aisles were wider and the creator tables had separation in between each table so the fans could get pictures easily with their favorite creator. Cossie’s were everywhere and at sometimes its seemed to be a Cossie Con all together.

The front lines of the PCC was a Allstar cast.  Leading the was Avatar with its patented all four corners extravaganza of comics galore.  They came in masses with just about everything they could muster for their fans.  A line went down the hall as Garth Ennis made his daily signings. Seeing smiles behind the tables from a company who sells a lot of horror can seem strange at times, however as a Manager of a con its a good thing to see.

McFarlane comics and toys were there.  I know a lot of fans were dissapointed that McFarlane himself couldn’t make it out this year.  However, they were slinging a lot of comics and toys the whole weekend.  Their con exclusive was a huge success and we hope to get Mcfarlane to make a appearance next year if we can.

Samurai Comics was next. They had all four corners with tons of goodies for everybody.  Samurai is our biggest comic store and a huge supporter of the con.  Mike Banks was in the groove and caught him sneaking around the con looking for some goodies for himself as well.  If your in Phoenix visiting, Samurai is definetly a store you want to check out.

We had a first time Publisher to the show. We were very excited to get them the last month before the show.  Aspen Comics made a HUGE splash to the show.  They pretty much brought everybody to the show. Fans seemed to really like the fact that a whole new face entered the PCC this year.  Aspen was active in just about anything the con had going on.  Including, after events when the show closed down each night.  Hanging with fans is not a issue with these guys and as pictures show they were everywhere spreading the Aspen Love.  Their war cry at their panels makes you want more and more. All I can say is Aloha!!!!

Zenescope was next in the front lines.  They should have just moved their office out this way.  They had everything you could think of and then even brought more. They are Cossie extreme and made sure that the fans new it.  Their Variants were huge at the show and had just about everybody signing each one for the fans.  Trades were huge for them at the show as well. I look forward in hanging with them in Philly soon.

Big Dog Ink was jamming and had its best Con ever.  BDI”s whole team was sporting their black shirts and seemed to really focus on their new team of hot artist.  BDI was also recruiting for some creators as well during the con and seemed to very successful at it.  This is one publishers you want to keep a eye out in the future for.
Pulido and his Mega Hit and Culture Icon Lady Death was just sporting the goods like no tomorrow.  Pulido was his trademarked self. Every fan is a part of his Coffin Comics family.  I missed the Lady Death Cossie and will have to make up for it at SDCC.  Brian also was really good at making sure I was always in a sane mood the whole show and I’m in debt to him for his friendship over the years. Amazingly enough I just realized as I’m typing that I didnt get my picture with him.  What the heck was I thinking.  Okay, relax and go back to talking about the show.
Their were so many guest I couldnt even get to them all. So I will just talk about a few.
Greg Horn was just Greg Horn, is the best way I can put it.  He was NEVER without a fan in front of him and we were concerned that he might not get to eat or drink.  Sometimes both guest relations and myself was there making sure he was fine.  Its amazing to see a creator that busy all the time.  I had a couple of minutes to talk to him and he was already mapping out next year.  He is such a funny guy though he never told a joke he just makes you smile as your walking away.
George Perez was freaking awesome.  His line was never ending and he was just happy as a puppy the whole time.  He made my top ten moments of all time.  I was walking down the hall before the show and he saw me and said “Jesse, how are you doing” to me thats golden.  The fact he knew my name and wanted to know how I was just shows how much of a class act he is.  Many people had asked me if he will be back next year.  I cant answer that but I just know his impact to the con was unforgetable.
Arthur Suydam was sporting and slinging so many pieces I thought it was a separate con at times.  He was very pleasant and really took time to talk to his fans.  It was the first time I had met him and was very happy I took what little time I had to get to talk to him.
Billy Tucci was all smiles the whole show.  I don’t know if that’s something new just had to say it.  He is so cool to watch do his work and how he talks to his fans.  You never seemed rushed and he can get a crowd to gather and listen.  His booth was huge and he had so many goodies that you had too go back to see it a couple times more.
David Finch arrived with lines waiting patiently for his arrival.  He is one of those very cool creators where if you have too wait a hour then that’s what you do.  His art work expand more then just his creations but the love for his fans is what makes him one of the best.  I only got about 1 minute to talk to him but that 1 minute will last a lifetime.
So many creators made a huge impact on the PCC this year.  I wish I could talk about every single one of them. They are what makes PCC such a successful con.  Many of our guest are told by their friends in the the comic community about our con.  They help us out by spreading the word.  One of the best things about my position I get to see the guest list grow and cant wait to see the names for next come across my screen.
Of course some of my favorite families were out there.  Starting with the Portacio’s.  The whole gang was there hanging out and just enjoying the crowds.  I took my traditional group photo and got time to talk to Whilce for a couple minutes as well.  Brian and Kristy Miller were there as well sporting some cool Outfits. When I was in a bind they were there to help me out of the crunch.  The Debalfo were just like the quiet superstars of the show.  They had a lot going on during the show but also were everywhere after the show.  Mary seemed to get her self a very nice fan base as well.  There are so many more families that help Phoenix Comicon for what it is. A event for not just one person but for the whole family to enjoy.
I have been quoted as saying “There are Cosplayers and then there are Cossie’s” Cosplayers too me are those that live in the moment they are badass’s at the convention and a big part of the Cosplayer world.  Cossies are the Best of the Best they are the ones who never stop doing what they do.  They are the ones that are always working and doing anything they can do to get their characters to a wider community.  We have some of the best Cossies in the world. Ladies like Jessica Nigri, Brieanna Brock, Lessa Michelle, Victoria Paege, and Jettie Monday seemed to get the camera’s flashing.  Kyle Rayner and JPOOL also lead the guys into battle as well. There are just so many Cossies and Cosplayers I would stack them up against and convention out there.  I know I’m missing a lot of people in this paragraph please don’t go all Ninja on me I love you all.
Programming was stacked very well and we hope we can add some more panels to the comic book tracts next year and also work on getting some into bigger rooms.  Too have so many creators willing to take time to talk to the fans was amazing.  To see Skynet versus Zombies (Andy Bohn and Raven Gregory) rock the house was the bling bling.  Native American’s comic panel was standing room only. I walked in just smiling ear to ear about the excitement in the air.  Though, I had too kick them out for the next panel it was awesome sauce supreme.  Many rooms were jammed packed and one room moved from a 150 seat room to a 400 seat room and was still standing room only.
The Art Auction this year not only broke last years record but it was done with half the items from the previous year. The Auction team was unbelievable this year and really made it a real fun event.   A sword walked out the door for a cool $1000.00 and a sweet Anthony Winn piece signed by Stan Lee almost eclipsed $600.00.  Kids Need to read is a very strong Charity in the community and for the con one of my favorite things to work on.  We cant wait to see the pieces for next year.
The overall feel was excitement and enjoyment from the second the con doors opened till every night when you heard the words last call at a bar.  I remember hanging out Friday night closing up the after party with Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul. We were just talking in the hall.  I don’t know what the conversation was about.  I just couldn’t believe that I was with them just hanging after the first night ended.  Hanging with Joe Benetiz and Peter Steigerwald was a huge highlight for me as well.  However, it was just hanging with fans that made this con my second best con in my 30 years (SDCC 1982 #1)
To all the volunteers that worked so hard for a full year and your sacrifices for this past weekend, you can hold your heads high for a job well done.
In the end though, The Phoenix might fall in the end in A.V.X. However, Phoenix Comicon is here to stay for a lifetime!