Jesse James wrote from Amazing Arizona Comic Con;
Rain and no Stan Lee but the show must go on!
As Phoenix prepared for the Amazing Arizona Comic con this past month, retailers and fans were quite nervous. AACC didn’t really do that much advertising other then a few local stores and some social networking on Facebook and their web page. As opening day came closer the jitters were maxed out when Stan Lee canceled his appearance! If that wasn’t enough, that first day the storm came and heavy rain hit a normally dry city that freaks out when the merest drop of rain hits pavement.
The worries escalated once the doors opened on Friday and the stream of fans entered the building almost in a constant flow that seemed to go on for a very long time. The actual line wrapped around the building to get into this Con that many thought would maybe half-fill the hall at the beginning of the show.
The fans seemed ready to spend and even spend some more. Many dealers and creators boasted at after parties they had already made their weekend nut in that first 5 hours. The one thing you learn at any convention in Arizona is that the fans spend money. They are a special breed and they just don’t like to go to a event without taking something home.
Probably the biggest highlight of the con was the presence of a vast number of well-dressed and ready-to-party Cosplayers. Most of the time cosplayers roam the floor and take pictures with the fans. This con, almost every cosplayer had her or his own table and brought a lot of product to sell; from calenders, to prints, to comic books,CosPLAY moved aggressively into the business of selling beyond keepsake photos. Arizona has some of the best in the world; Jessica Nigri, Toni Darling, Cara Nicole and Brieanne Brock seemed to be everywhere and anywhere they could get their material out to the fans. We also were introduced to Ivy Doomkitty as well and the public really seemed to be ready to move her to Phoenix from L.A. Almost every DC or Marvel Character was represented at this con as the Cosplay groups brought their best teams as well. I have said this a lot on my blog that Cosplayers are here to stay and Emerald City has the best. I’m now almost ready to change that to Phoenix. However I will wait for Emerald 2013 before I decide who will reign supreme.
In Arizona, the pin-up comic publishers own this market. So it was no surprise to see this con dominated by Aspen, Big Dog Ink, Zenescope and of course my favorite Brian Pulido’s Coffin Comics. The floor also boasted some of the best in the cover art world; Mike Debalfo, Eric Basadula, Natalie Sanders and Nei Ruffino. In fact this con had the top five dealers in the variant edition comics world in attendance as well. All picking up every cover-girl cover they could find. This included Zenescope’s new and exclusive ‘Black Diamond’ line.
The real excitement for me was the attendance of Boom Studios at this show. I love what this company is doing with its hot new line of Adventure Time comics, which seemed to be selling their comics to almost every demographics you could think of. They had an awesome team of creators, including one of their new writers, Arizona’s own, Eric Esquivel. His new Freelancers project was a big part of the convention scene. I got to spend some time with Vincent Frederick their Event Coordinator as well. He seemed to be gleaming with excitement for the rest of the year to come for the fans and their new product lines.
I was a tad disappointed in the Golden Age and Silver Age comics scene, as there were very few national dealers there. In fact one major dealer didn’t even show up on Sunday. I’m hoping that this year just wasn’t the year for this genre and look forward to a stronger presence in 2014.
One local favorite artist, Big Chris Wood, had the strongest showing of all with his table being so packed on Sunday that they had to move it over to a programming room to have room for the fans. Its great to see a local guy make it big in the con scene. His Lovely wife Beth was there too, and the really big news is that they are expecting a new little one to the family. It was good for to see Beth hanging out with the fans.
Jim Lee’s line was tremendously long. In some cases fans had to wait up to 4 hours to get a autograph. It was well worth it since he was offering sketches for free as well. However there has to be a way to get the fans on the floor spending money with dealers or creators instead of standing in line for that long. Lots of V.I.P bags were late, so there were a lot of fans yelling and screaming during the con. Thankfully, all were taken care of in the end, but I’m hoping future AACCs may bring a call-number waiting system to make this a more fruitful event for the fans. It should also be noted that Mr. Lee was ill as well. He however made sure every fan enjoyed their time with him.
Programming is a convention aspect that still needs work at AACC. Though every hour had a panel every hour, those panels didn’t seem as compelling to a lot of fans. The program booklet itself was a tad smaller then normal and most people forgot they had it in their bags. Again, I think as this con grows you’ll see a program director come in and help them get things up to an A+ status, as it should be.
The after-parties were off the hook and all creators showed up to theses very-well attended events. One event on Saturday night was booked by Toni Darling and myself for 30+ creators and ended up with over 100+ filling the back room. This is were the fun is after the con. Relaxed creators hanging with each other at dinner can be very entertaining. I was able to hang out with John Layman for awhile just talking about anything that came to mind and ended it with him talking about a Lego set he is looking for.
Overall I enjoyed the con. For me cons are a place to network and have fun with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I do believe that Amazing Arizona Con continues to have a lot of growth potential and will hit bigger numbers in the future. Their Facebook page was peppered with complaints, and hopefully Jimmy and his team can look at this as a opportunity to make the con better in 2014. So neither rain nor Stan Lee’s absence kept AACC from being the place to be this past weekend. I look forward to Amazing Arizona Comic Con rocking it out even more at the Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2014.
As many of you know, I plan to double the number of Cons I’m attending this year. So I’m very happy to get this first con behind me. I cant wait to continue this roller coaster ride across this great country and around the world of comic fandom in 2013. I’m also excited that Alex Wilson has joined the Bleeding Cool team as well in Arizona…