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Sad Fat Dragon With No Friends Con

Or, Phoenix Comic Con 2017

Or, Sad Fat Asshole with No Friends Who Ruined An Entire Convention Con

Warning: This is just going to be a long rant. Enjoy!

This year’s Phoenix Comic Con kind of sucked a fat one. The first dead giveaway that this con was going to be lackluster was the announcement of their big guest, Dick Van Dyke!

Seriously? Dick Van Dyke?

I mean, sure. Yeah. Mary Poppins was all right. His old TV show where he would fall on the coffee table was amusing. But a guest at comic con? Pass.

Matt Murdock, or whoever plays him, cancelled his appearance. That wasn’t a good sign. At least the Green Ranger was there, guys! Not that pussy, the Red Ranger, but the Green fuckin’ Ranger!

I don’t really care about any of those people anyway. You wait in line for hours just to maybe speak briefly with these pseudo celebrities and get them to pretend they care you’re a fan and scribble on whatever you brought to them for some ridiculous amount of cash, and that’s it. And that’s all these cons are, really. Lines. Waiting In Lines Con. You rush to wait in line to get your pass. Then you rush to wait in line to get inside the convention center. Then you rush to wait in line to see some celebrity/artist/writer. And that’s not even the basic stuff, like waiting in line to use the bathroom, or use the escalator, or grab a bite to eat at the food truck.

We all love it though, we attendees. We wait all year and save up some spending cash to go see our favorite artists/writers/celebrities, and we put up with the crowds and the lines and the security to hang out with our best friends to people-watch and buy some cool shit. That’s why it sucks when a sad, fat asshole ruins it for everybody. Some psychopathic, pathetic piece of shit has to say he’s the Punisher and bring real firearms, knives, and throwing stars to the con claiming he must kill the Green Ranger and bad police officers on day 1 of the con, thus setting in motion a pretty inconvenient and annoying, and almost infuriating weekend. (The details of that last sentence may be skewed, depending on which source I got them from, because they were all different. For example; ABC said he claimed to be Rambo, other sources said Punisher. Some said he brought swords, others knives. Some say he’s 30 years old, others 29. Yay, journalism!)

I guess this little incident with the sad, fat, asshole, psychopath, douchebag happened earlier that afternoon, approximately an hour or so before I got there. I was wearing a backpack and was able to walk right into the convention center. No one stopped me and asked to check my bag. At previous cons, there was always someone checking at the doors. This time, no one. I even walked up to a table where two of the convention security run by Contemporary Services Corporation were standing and asked them for directions where to get my badge. They answered my questions, but did not check my bag. Instead they were busy pointing and amused by all the costumed folk. Good thing that weirdo’s friend notified the police about his intentions and they were able to apprehend him without incident, because CSC would have been like, “Look at that sad, fat, weirdo! His guns look so real!” (You might think I’m being mean, but look at this fucking guy.)

Well, they made up for it the next day. Came back with a vengeance, they did. No props! Period! Convention Director, Matt Solberg, Phoenix PD, and CSC had a knee-jerk reaction of banning all costume props from Comic Con.

All. Costume. Props. From. Comic. Con.

“Hey, adorable 6-year-old Jedi, get that lightsaber out of here!”

“Hey, 40-something grown-ass man dressed as a Stormtrooper, get that blaster out of here!”

“Hey, teenage Anime something, get that… whatever it is… What is that? What are you!”

A bit of an overreaction, really, and the initial result was having to wait up to 3 hours in security lines to get in, and a whole bunch of upset attendees. Probably a whole bunch of people who just went home for the weekend, and probably won’t come back next year. Not to mention, all the vendors in the exhibitor hall who sell all that crap to people had to jump through some extra precautionary measure hoops and probably lost business. One vendor, Ultra Sabers, left the convention. Because, as security knows, any dangerous person’s first weapon of choice is a plastic light saber.

I’ll be curious to see what the final number of attendees were this year compared to previous years. There were definitely far fewer people this time around. Which was kind of nice, really. Gave you some elbow room, compared to previous years where you were packed in like sardines and breathed in the vaporized sweat, body odor, and farts of tens of thousands of nerds. Let that permeate.

At one point, a CSC security guy was circling me and following me as I was minding my own goddamn business. He followed me to the food court area and became very anxious as I set my backpack down on the table and opened it. I just shook my head at him as I produced a carrying case and put a piece of artwork away. I mean, I know my beard may resemble someone from ISIS, but good guys have beards too. Ulysses S. Grant. John Muir. Early Jimmy Page. Gandalf. Zeus.

I am so sick of being profiled because of my sexy ass beard.

It wasn’t as bad as I’m bitching about. I did get to meet author Timothy Zahn again and he signed my new copy of Thrawn. Also spoke with author Kevin J. Anderson after I went to his panel. Very interesting hearing him talk about how he became a writer. Got my Generation X #1 signed by artist Chris Bachalo, which I had to wait in line for a very long time! And more importantly, I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends and family and seeing all the glory of the nerds.

Despite the weekend setting off on a very awkward note, and there being extremely awkward security measures, attendees took it in stride and made the most of it. Stormtroopers carried baguettes instead of blasters. Westworld cowboys carried bananas instead of six-shooters. Wolverines carried nothing instead of claws. And one very brave man took it upon himself to dress as an extremely drug addicted and stoned towel to put smiles back on the sad faces of all attendees.

Here’s a bunch of pictures of my friend Chris dressed as Towelie from South Park, and some other malarkey from the con.

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Phoenix Comic Con 2016 (Part II)

Despite the seasonably warm weather and bad timing for a convention this size, this con was a lot of fun. I think that had wholly to do with my friends and family who also attended this year. This was the first comic con some of my family members had attended, and I enjoyed spending time with them in the fray. I also spent the weekend with some good friends, two of whom dressed up as a very impressive Walter White from Breaking Bad, and A.W.E.S.O.M. – O from South Park. See Phoenix Comic Con (Part I).

Attending with people in costume creates a very different experience just because of the interaction with other attendees and photo ops. It was a lot more fun than just wandering around. Other than that, the con was nothing but shenanigans.

Enjoy.

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Phoenix Comic Con 2016 (Part I)

The Adventures of A.W.E.S.O.M. – O

At a Con of turmoil and chaos, where cosplayers’ makeup melted off their faces, kids’ obscure anime costumes went by unrecognized, and every other person was dressed as either Harley Quinn or Deadpool, one man dared to change the course of Con history.

He shook his fist at the Sun and defied its heat of 115 degrees. He conquered the tricky steps of the escalators. He successfully faced the hordes of teenage assholes dressed as Deadpool who called him “box man” and gave him awkwardly long hugs. And even though he is not a pleasure model, he attracted all the hot babes. With plenty of bad movie ideas and enough toothpaste to sustain him, he left in his wake all of Comic Con in awe at his, well, awesomeness.

He is AWESOM O!

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Phoenix Comic Con 2015: Geeks Against Humanity

Phoenix Comic Con was another success, despite that there weren’t many comic creators or celebrities I really wanted to see. However, there were many authors, much more than normal, in attendance this year. I actually came home from this very author centric con this weekend with more books than comics or art. It probably helped that most of the books were giveaways.

But before I get into that, what is Geeks Against Humanity? Modeled after the popular Cards Against Humanity game, GAH was an after-hours event put together by a couple of guys where questions and answers are all things geek. Hopefully this new attraction will be continued in future cons. Nowhere else can you hear a room full of nerds chanting “Dildo Baggins.”

I didn’t get very many good pics this year because I was unaware that they had moved all  the cosplay and props to another building. I had missed a bunch of that stuff but still kept busy attending some pretty good panels. A very good panel was an author discussion on self-publishing with Scott Sigler, Delilah S. Dawson, Andrea Phillips, Bennett Coles and James A. Owen. They talked about the merits of self-publication to get your writing out there through Amazon and using kickstarters. It was very inspiring.

Later in the weekend, we attended an excellent event called Drinks with Authors, whish was, by far, the highlight of the weekend. We got a chance to  visit with Sigler and Dawson for a bit about writing and listened to some of Sigler’s crazy stories.

There weren’t many big names in attendance as far as comic book creators, but we did see Arthur Adams (artist for many Classic X-men books) and old school Nick Fury artist and story teller, Jim Steranko, who tells extravagant stories about how awesome he is.

Faith in humanity restored!
I want to give props and thanks to the Phoenix Comic Con staff. After a panel one day, I left behind an Arthur Adams autographed print in the panel room. By the time I realized I left the print behind and went back for it, the art was gone. Just so happened, one of the event staff found the print and turned it in. I retrieved the artwork from lost-and-found a few hours later, and I’m very grateful to the person who found it and turned it in! They could have easily kept it for themselves.

Artists

Writers

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Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2015

Another great weekend at the Amazing Arizona Comic Con! Not just great, the best yet! Some of the best comic book creators were in attendance this year, and not just any creators, the guys who created the first comics I read back when I was a kid in the early 90s: Greg Capullo (Spawn, the New 52 Batman run with Scott Snyder), Rob Liefeld (Deadpool and X-Force), Adam Kubert (Wolverine), Mark Bagley (The Amazing Spider-Man). And some of the newer guys were there as well: Steve Epting (Captain America), Steve McNiven (Old Man Logan, Death of Wolverine) and writer Chuck Soule (Death of Wolverine).

I saw two of the best comic-book-focused panels ever: Greg Capullo and Rob Liefeld. They each had insightful and entertaining stories to tell about how they got started in the business. It was also educational listening to them talk about leaving Marvel, Leifeld starting Image, and each of them working with Todd McFarland.

I have to pay respect to Capullo. The guy is one of the most genuine, down-to-earth, appreciative artists I have met at a con. A lot of these guys who have achieved fame and fortune come off as irritable and arrogant if you ask them for an autograph. Not Capullo. He saw the line of fans waiting to meet him and walked down the line shaking hands and giving high fives and thanked everyone for showing up. He took the time to take photos with people and signed whatever they brought. That alone makes me want to continue buying his work.

I also chatted a bit with some other legends, Adam Kubert and Mark Bagley. Kubert has a long list of work most of us have seen, including one of my most cherished issues, Wolverine #75, with the hologram cover. And Bagley was penciler on just about every issue of Amazing Spider-Man I read back in the early-mid 90s.

I spent some time talking with cute cosplay girls. I had conversations with both AZ Power Girl, Cara Nicole, and Vegas Power Girl. Both of whom did not cosplay as Power Girl that weekend, but were still gorgeous nonetheless. Cara and I talked about costumer (not customer) etiquette because of a blog she wrote. It was an enlightening piece and you can read it here. Vegas Power Girl let me play with her blunderbuss :o

In my opinion, Amazing Arizona Con outdid themselves. Now it’s on to Phoenix Comic Con!

Honorable Mentions

 

Phoenix Comic Con: Fan Fest 2014

This past December, the wonderful people who bring us the epic Phoenix Comic Con every year brought the fans a convention to satiate their appetite for an event in the winter AND on the West side of the valley. They brought us Fan Fest!

This was the first year they did it, and are already planning next year’s. It was a fun and decent show. It probably didn’t need to be a three day event, but was still a lot of fun. I met artist Jae Lee and caught up on some old issues.

I apologize about the quality of the pics. I wasn’t paying attention to the settings on my camera and a lot of them were washed out. But the turn out of costumed fans was impressive. Most impressive.

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Phoenix Comicon 2014: A Review

Never Have I Ever…

Another successful year at Phoenix Comicon with something like 77,000+ attendees. It’s turning more and more into the spectacle that is Dragon Con and San Diego Con. I bought a few comics and artwork, met some creators, saw a celebrity, and witnessed anime girls auction themselves off to the highest bidding nerd. You know, the yoozh.

James O’Barr

First day, I had the pleasure of meeting the creator of The Crow, the cult classic that was one of the most inspiring and influential works of fiction in my youth. I got my graphic novel signed and purchased one of his prints. His panel was great, hearing him talk about his creative process and his work. Best of all, he will have much more creative license over the upcoming Crow film, which means it will be far more promising than every other film since the first one. Speaking of the film, we caught a screening of The Crow on Sunday at the Film Bar, which is a pretty cool place if you haven’t been there.

James O'Barr. Not Konstantin Komardin.

James O’Barr. Not Konstantin Komardin.

 

Authors and Actors

Some big names, like John Barrowman and John Rhys-Davies attended this year, but I really only wanted to see one: Bruce Campbell. Who’s not really a big-name actor, but he is definitely the most popular big-name B actor. Even though I had met him twice before and have both of his books signed, he’s so cool to his fans I had to see him again and got my DVD set of Brisco County Jr. signed.

I had a great conversation with writer Michael A. Stackpole about various subjects. I had seen him talk at a skeptics panel at Dragon Con back in ’09. We talked about writing science-fiction while being a skeptic of phenomenal concepts, and also his views on self-publishing with new mediums like Amazon and Kickstarter. He’s very much in favor of them, but his advice is to get it professionally edited before putting it out there. I bought a hardcover copy of I, Jedi and he autographed it. Tip of advice: when paying him, don’t make it rain. He doesn’t like that.

 

Bunny Cafe

One of the con events that caught our eyes was something called “Bunny Cafe.” It was one of those after hour events held in a participating hotel. The Con programming guide described it as one of those comfort cafes they have in Japan I’ve heard about, where women serve you food and beverage and dote upon you. So, of course, we had to check it out.

After arriving, and then waiting in line for a very long time while a pubescent, voice-cracking teenager counted everyone in line four times before letting us in, we sat at a large banquet table with six other strangers and sat quietly wondering what was supposed to happen. Eventually, cute cosplay girls in Playboy Bunny outfits came to our table and served us coffee and cake and sat with us at the table and attempted conversation.

I say attempted because these girls had a median age of 20 and didn’t really know how to talk to people, or they were completely uncomfortable. Which, I can’t really blame them, because that’s a lot of pressure to be sociable to strangers while half naked. But we paid for that shit. At least a coffee refill would have been nice. Three different girls completely ignored my friend when he asked them for a refill, and then was chastised for getting it himself. At one point, two of the people at our table walked out.

It wasn’t all bad. They rotated pairs of the girls to each table every of 10 minutes, and some of the girls were bubbly and fun. We played a game of never have I ever, which never had I ever played before that, and our table seemed to loosen up a bit because we were learning about each other, and we stopped giving a shit. Then it got really weird. After the girls were done rotating to each table, they had an auction where the highest bidder could spend the remaining time with the pair of girls they liked the most.

I can’t really say this was a patriarchal fauxpas, because the girls put this together themselves, but it was morally ambiguous. Of course we didn’t bid any money on them, because that’s weird, and we eventually left. It was probably one of the most awkward things I’ve participated in, but it’s a fun story to tell.

 

Crossed bunny at the Bunny Cafe.

Crossed bunny at the Bunny Cafe.

 

Overall, it was a great time. It’s always fun to meet the talent and, of course, people watch. Enjoy the pics and check out these links:

Support Your Local Comic Shop

Drawn To Comics – This was their first year at Comicon!

Artist Alley

Edge of December – can’t remember this guy’s name :/ but I bought a piece from their booth.

Gerimi Burleigh – This guy was cool. Gave us a free poster for buying a couple of his prints.

Julie Fletcher

Katie Cook – For $10 she painted you a small water-color of whatever you wanted. Not bad.

Livio Ramondelli – Got a Star Wars piece on tin. It’s awesome.

Megan Wyreweden

NEN

Richard Huante

Sarah Wilkinson – Her art reminded me of Tool. She was also cool enough to knock $10 off a print I bought. You should check her out.

Stuart Sayger

Terry Brown II