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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. РO 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.

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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‚Äôt 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 РThis 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 РThis guy was cool. Gave us a free poster for buying a couple of his prints.

Julie Fletcher

Katie Cook РFor $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 РHer 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

 

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Phoenix Comic Con ’13: A Wretched Hive Of Scum and Villainy

Phoenix Comic Con was upon us again this past Memorial Day weekend. A four day event of wacky misadventures, cracking wise, and reTARDIS behavior. I was accompanied this year by my usual (or unusual, however you want to look at them) good friends Chris and Curtis, and a noob, Jason.

Quote of the weekend:¬†“Now if the drummer from Def Lepard had NO arms,¬†then I’d be impressed.” – Chris

Let’s get started.

Day 1

Preview day was a great start to the weekend. Much more elbow room and laid back. We got to roam the exhibit hall and search for good deals on comics. Also got a preview of what the costumes were going to be this year. Doctor Who. So much Doctor Who stuff. I also saw the actual Comic Book Guy. Weird ponytail skullet, goatee and everything. Not a costume. Actual person.

Chris picked out the first panel we went to. Something called Avengers Assemble! Sounded promising. Turned out to be fans of the Avengers movie dressed as the Avengers answering questions as if they were the Avengers. Chris lost his panel picking privileges after that. The next panel we went to was the best one of the whole weekend. It was a panel on SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) and habitable planets with Paul Davies and other professors from ASU who were experts in Astrobiology. One of the best panels I’ve been to, it was very educational and cool. The last panel we went to was something called Ultimate Nerd Smackdown where fans debate one another on something like, who is the better team: Justice League or Avengers. It was completely ridiculous and very entertaining. We did get to see a guy (champion from last year’s debate) use the panel to propose to his girlfriend, which was cool to witness her awkward acceptance.

Day 2

Since when do you need a wrist band to see Wil Wheaton’s Awesome Hour? Maybe since always, I don’t know. This was the first time, and last, I tried to go to his panel.

We went through a zombie obstacle course on this day. Sounded cool. We waited in line for almost two hours just to run a few loops through a big ball room at the Renaissance Hotel that took about a minute. So, a group of you would walk through the course of chairs and boxes while zombies (theatre students with makeup) would come after you and try to scare you. Luckily, we the helpless were escorted by the D.O.Z.D. (Department of Zombie Defense) to make it through alive as they would shoot the zombies dead with their orange tipped, plastic guns before they could get to us. Thank God. I’m pretty sure the lady protecting me shot me point blank in the temple. Twice. Chris too. ¬†I lost my event picking privileges after that.

Our Zombie fun wasn’t over yet. Later that night was the Zombie Walk. It reminded me of the parade at Dragon Con, but just zombies and the D.O.Z.D. So a bunch of people got painted up like zombies, clothes covered in blood, gory gashes in their faces, white faces, etc. They all gathered out in the street in a horde and then set off around a few blocks groaning and limping. Sounds cool, except that a bunch of moms with strollers walked among them unscathed. Photographers kept getting into the crowd to take pictures. And a lot of zombies just weren’t in character. Just didn’t feel like they were the walking dead.

We went to another panel that day called the Science of Drinking. I think Chris picked that one, and totally redeemed himself! It was these two guys who came up with a bunch of drinks that were sci-fi related and provided the recipes. They have a blog. Check it out. Anyway, at this panel they mentioned a few of the drinks (Vulcan Mind Meld, Romulan Ale and Sonic Screwdriver) would be served at an after-party called The Captain’s Cantina Party. They didn’t mention the drinks would be overpriced. $9 for a glass filled with too much ice. The party itself was… sobering. Especially the young lady on an acoustic who took the beat poet route to making us feel uncomfortable.

Day 3

Here’s a Con tip: When you go to a Jewel Staite panel and line up to say what you’ve been dying to say, don’t start off with, “I’ve been TV stalking you since you were a little girl.” Especially if you’re a really creepy looking dude. And don’t leave off with, “The Child of Darkness still wishes to see tomorrow.” Or some such nonsense. You tend to come off a bit psychotic. (creepiness at 12:09)¬†She handled it well, though.

Always a pleasure seeing Jewel Staite. You can tell she really enjoys going to these things and talking to her fans. Even The Child of Darkness. I learned at this panel that she has a food blog called Happy Opu. It’s pretty cool. Check it out.

Once we got back from lunch at a great little pizza place called Pizzeria Bianco, we walked the exhibit hall some more looking at art work. Later we went to another panel Chris had picked out about Star Wars, which was run by a group of teenagers who were not creative experts on the subject at all. Just really intense fans. Chris lost his panel picking privileges again.

But then he totally redeemed himself, again, by picking a panel about upcoming movies for the next two years so that I can be prepared not to pay money to see any of them. Basically, everything scheduled to come out in theaters for the next two years is a sequel, reboot, ¬†rehash, unoriginal idea. All of Disney’s plans for Star Wars alone made me sick. Like, seven more movies, an animated series, a live action series, stupid shit like this. Watch that. Let it sink in. Try to keep your lunch down.

Ended the night seeing the first part of the costume masquerade, which was a bunch kids dressed in anime costumes standing awkwardly on stage with some epic TV theme song playing, or a group of kids dressed like the Justice League and for some reason started pretend-fighting each other. Why would members of the Justice League fight each other? Followed that up with Comedy Hour, which was hilarious, and way better than last year.

Day 4

Some yahoo thought it would be a good idea to pull the fire alarm. We had left the con for a bit to get lunch at the Rose and Crown and when we got back everyone was outside. Fortunately, we didn’t have to bare that very long, because they let us all back inside shortly after we returned. Missed all the excitement. As a result, they extended the con hours. Unfortunately, half the vendors left along with a lot of the crowd. The Cosplay girls dressed down (or covered up) and it just wasn’t the same.

I did buy some new artwork. A hauntingly and heartfelt  piece of Mr. Freeze looking on a music box ballerina by Livio Ramondelli.

At the end of it all, we bought alcohol, went back to my place and made our own Sonic Screwdrivers and watched new episodes of Arrested Development. A great end to a great weekend.