Shawn is back and this time he has a review of Phoenix Comic Con!
The Phoenix Comic Con
Although I’ve attended a ton of shows over the last several years, this last weekend was my first venture to Phoenix, for their ever-growing convention. Although I’d heard many positive things about their show, I wasn’t confident that it would be worth the 5 hour drive from Riverside. That being said, it was very much worth the drive. In fact, outside of San Diego Comic-Con (which really should never be compared to any show), this was the best convention I’ve ever attended. Unlike most shows that try to specialize in a certain niche (such as the comic theme or the Sci-Fi theme, etc.), Phoenix Comicon attempts to be all things to all people…and succeeds in nearly every way.
As soon as we arrived, we were impressed with the efficiently organized registration area and found this to foreshadow the organizer’s consistent focus on customer service. Whether it was at the information booths, in the convention lines, or via the constant updates via Twitter, those in charge of Phoenix Comicon exemplified how to run a show. Communication was strong. Resources were abundant (best food options I’ve ever seen at a show). Efforts to make sure the attendees were happy were obvious.
The great care the organizers put into the event showed in the quality of the line-up they put together for their panels, which were headlined by Elvira, Stan Lee, Todd MacFarlane, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, Wil Wheaton, and Billy Dee Williams (who all spoke and signed autographs). From Thursday night through Sunday afternoon, this show had a little something for everyone. Anime, comics, costuming, film, gaming, horror, music, sci-fi, science and television all had dedicated programming strands to provide very diverse offerings. There were panels dedicated to all the typical franchises (i.e. Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.) and more nuanced offerings, like Chuck and Eureka. Furthermore, because of the many offerings, and the size of the halls, there was rarely a need to line-up early for the panels. It was such a pleasure to spend all of our time enjoying the panels and exhibit hall, rather than waiting in lines for access. During our time there, we attended panels that primarily related to comics, sci-fi, movies and television. Even the over 4,000 people attending the Leonard Nimoy panel were able to find seats without the need of arriving an hours early.
To really have an understanding of what this show is about, you need look no further than the way the organizers handled overcrowding, on Saturday afternoon. In order to meet the mandate of a fire marshal, the organizers were forced to have attendees that were re-entering the show wait in line as people exited. This line was run efficiently and in most cases took less than 5 minutes. Despite this minor inconvenience, the convention organizers opted to get on the P.A. system to announce apologies AND to KEEP THE EXHIBIT FLOOR OPEN AN EXTRA HOUR! For those of us that have been complaining about the lack of customer service at SDCC, it was astonishing to be around a group that made customer service such a priority.
For those who have not been to Phoenix Comicon, but have attended San Diego Comic-Con, it should be easy to picture what Phoenix offers. Imagine SDCC at 25% of the size. Next, subtract the freebies. Lastly, add a ton of customer service. Although Phoenix Comicon will not be featuring WB booths or showing exclusive clips to the new Batman movie anytime soon, they will continue to grow because of their approach to providing quality. I know that we will be glad to make that 5 hour drive anytime these promoters hold a convention.