From comic books to anime to sci-fi and horror, Phoenix Comicon 2016 has it all. I got to attend last weekend as press (thanks to the wonderful folks at Movie Pilot), and I had a blast walking around the convention center.
Starting things off on Thursday, I got there a couple of hours before the event began. Everyone was in the convention center plaza, waiting for security to open up the golden gates (i.e, the escalators) so that we could all be let in.
While there, I decided to take a couple of photos of the awesome cosplayers in attendance. From a kimono-clad Deadpool, to a character from Destiny, to the king of Wakanda himself, the cosplayers were out in full force!
After getting some admittedly pricey food (this is a convention, after all), I decided to head up to one of the meeting rooms to find somewhere to sit, since I had about two hours to go before the convention kicked off.
It was there that I met an awesome cosplayer couple dressed as Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen. We started talking, and when I told them I write for Movie Pilot, Spider-Man told me that he knew of the site and that he often shared the content. It's always awesome when someone knows of MP, and it's especially cool to hear that they get a lot of their geeky knowledge from it!
Finally, after two hours of waiting, the escalators were finally activated and everyone was let downstairs. Remember that scene from The Lion King, when there was a stampede of wildebeests running down a canyon? It was just like that, only without the emotional scarring (although I did see someone nearly fall down the escalator, which scared me a bit).
Once I made my way down to the main room, I took some more pictures of the epic cosplay surrounding me. What really amazed me wasn't just the insane costume-making skills, it was the fact that the people were wearing costumes at all, seeing as it was over 100 degrees outside! Truly an admirable skill.
Once the exhibitor hall doors opened after another hour, everyone bolted in, ready to spend! The exhibitor hall was where you could find all the awesome nerdy merchandise, from Funko figurines to classic comic books. I myself was ready to get as much merchandise as I could possibly carry, including souvenirs for my siblings back at home.
The exhibitor hall was incredibly huge. It was like its own tiny city, comprised of different districts for fans of comic books, anime, and more! I don't regret buying a bunch of stuff, but I do regret having to carry it all around for the rest of the day. But after it was all over and I came home with my new toys and cosplay photos, I had a thought: Why do so many people love this?
I told my family about my time there, and they asked me: "So all you did was walk around and buy stuff?" And I realized, yeah, that is pretty much all I did. So if that's the case, why do I and thousands of other people enjoy conventions like this so much? After all, we can walk around and buy nerdy stuff anywhere; we just need to go to a comic shop or shop online.
So what's the appeal behind conventions like Phoenix Comicon? What makes "walking around and buying stuff" in this specific location so much more popular than anywhere else?
Last Thursday, the first day of Phoenix Comicon, I had this thought, but I didn't have a clear answer. Maybe it's because there's so much cool stuff to buy, I thought. Or maybe it's just getting to look at all the cool costumes.
Well, yeah, that's a part of it, but it's not the real answer as to why so many people love conventions like Phoenix Comicon. However, after the convention was over and I came home on the Sunday night, I had a better idea of what the answer could be.
Why Do So Many People Attend Phoenix Comicon?
I looked at all the photos I took, and remembered the great time I had. I recalled all the excited people attending the convention, how their ecstatic voices never wavered and their feet never grew tired—despite trudging around for hours. I thought about why they were so energetic, so happy. About why I was the same. And I realized, it's because of the convention (this is the part where I ask you to go to YouTube and play some inspirational music for the rest of this article).
More specifically, it's because of the existence of a place where everyone can enjoy being geeky. Conventions like PHXCC allow hundreds of thousands of fans of things like comics, anime, and superheroes to meet up with other likeminded souls and share in their love of that certain thing.
It allows fans to dress up as their favorite characters and interact with others who are doing the same. It gives geeky folk like me the opportunity to escape reality for a bit and enter a world where being a fan is more than appreciated; it's celebrated.
That's what Phoenix Comicon is all about. It's not just about seeing the cool costumes, or spending massive amounts of money on merch and memorabilia. It's more than just getting comic books, or walking around for hours.
Conventions like Phoenix Comicon are their own communities in which fans can join together and celebrate what they love, without prejudice or disapproval from anyone, because we're all there for the same thing — to be fans. That's why we come dressed up, it's why we're totally OK with walking around all day long in 115-degree weather.
The point of Phoenix Comicon, the point of any convention really, is to create a safe haven for those who just want to geek out about their favorite stuff. Sure, interacting with other geeky fans can also happen at a comic shop or just about anywhere else. But it's a much more enticing experience when you can go to a place surrounded by thousands of fans, as well as creators who often are fans, just like you!
Without Phoenix Comicon, I wouldn't have been able to talk to so many likeminded people in such a free environment about why they love what they love. I wouldn't have been able to talk to several comic creators about why they love making comics. And I certainly wouldn't have gotten to take so many awesome pictures of incredible cosplay!
The point is, Phoenix Comicon is a place for all fans to go and just be fans. That's why it's so important to literally thousands of people. I had a blast at this year's Phoenix Comicon, and I'm definitely going back next year!
Thanks for reading!
What do you love about conventions?