Here’s another wonderful interview from Shawn!
Amazing Arizona Comic Con
By: Shawn Marshall
There are few things as exciting to me as a new con. So, it was with great regret that I was forced to miss last year’s Amazing Arizona Comic-Con (AACC). That being said, I won’t make that mistake again and am excitedly counting down the days to this year’s AACC January 6th-8th in Mesa, AZ. In anticipation of this upcoming show, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the masterminds behind the show, Jimmy Jay of Jay Company Comics and Amazing Arizona Comic-Con. Please read on for some of the exciting details of this show:
First off, what is the history of this show? How did the idea come to reality and what was the process?
“History of the Show. Hmm this sounds quite lofty, and I don’t know if we approached the start of the convention as idealists per se, rather than being a product of necessity.
AMAZING COMIC CON’s parent company is JayCompanyComics.com. This is the retail business I started with my family about 17+ years ago. My brother Bill and my mom-until her passing- and I established the largest convention dealership of new/modern books on the comic con circuit.
It became apparent that there was a gaping hole in the convention calendar and my brother and I wanted to fill it. The Phoenix Comic Con prior to this wanted to move their venture out of the Mesa Convention Center, and out of the weather friendly January time slot to compete with the other summer comic conventions.
Our decision to promote and organize a show was very solution based-
We knew there were number of vendors that were abandoned which count on the Q1 cash flow, and a number of fans that got shut out from the shuffle. Of course you can guess that the Phoenix area is gorgeous in the winter time and a bit more appealing here rather than the scorching summer months.
Add to this, JayCompany over the years has found that Arizona has one of the most knowledgeable fan bases and customer bases of any city in the country. We have been retailing at special events since the mid 90s with the CHAOS Fan Fests and other shows, so we felt very comfortable in this market. There’s a huge base of indie creators in this city as well, which further reinforced our instincts for the start up.”
What are some things you are most proud of about your show? What makes Amazing Arizona Comic-Con a must experience for a con-goer?
“The AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON is the annual kick off event for the Comic Con circuit. If the San Diego Comic Con is the “Super Bowl”, then the Amazing Arizona Comic Con is an exciting “week 1”!
The AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON has much more going for it than it’s time slot though. We are committed to bringing an extremely relevant guest list to the fan community. Instead of trying to focus on genre celebrities from yesteryear like many other regional shows, we want to bring the focus back to comic books and the creators. Comic Books, and comic creators at a comic con? In this day and age, this seems like a novel concept?!
The Guest List for this year’s convention is second to none. The most topical movements in comics have been The WALKING DEAD setting ratings records on TV and the New DC52. Therefore we brought Walking Dead creator ROBERT KIRKMAN to headline the AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON. Joining Kirkman will be Batman Artist GREG CAPULLO- which was the #1 top ranking book for the September DC Relaunch, along with a ton of DC52 Creators. We added Deadpool/X-Force/Cable creator ROB LIEFELD. Aspen Comics’ JOE BENITEZ is returning to the show, and we will be bringing on the Bad Girls with many of the ZENESCOPE Creators and more.
The best thing about attending the AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON is the personal one-on-one interaction between the fans and pros. Unlike the monstrous national shows, the AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON offers an intimate setting where you can actually ask questions, chat, take pictures with your favorite creators and personalities rather than having a factory signing environment. The panels and programming reinforce this as well.”
I’d imagine the last few weeks have begun a very busy time leading up to the show. What are some of the things that you are most excited for this year? What are you looking most forward to?
“We’re very excited for the 2012 AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON. The real buzz starts at the pre-show Drink & Draw mixer happening December 8th at the Tilted Kilt in Mesa, where exhibitors, pros, and fans come together and hang out with us before the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the show itself.
While we will be doing a ton of press and PR for the con through the month of December we’re anxious for the event itself though. We have some great programming coming together that marks the event much more than just a collector’s marketplace- although that is available too!
The AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON is the perfect kick off event for the 2012 Comic Convention Season.”
There are many avid comic fans that live in Southern California that might not have made the drive out to last year’s show. What are some things you’d like that audience to know that you think will make them jump in the car and make the drive for the weekend?
“The Phoenix to SoCal connection is much closer than people realize. We have been coming to the Arizona marketplace since the 90s. It’s an inexpensive, quick flight; or a perfect road trip of about 5-6 hours with a couple of your friends. As far as the appeal for the fans- the interactivity with the caliber of comic talent is second to none. We are bringing the top names in comic talent such as Robert Kirkman, Greg Capullo, Rob Liefeld, John Layman, and more without the frenzy and crowds of SDCC. At the AMAZING ARIZONA COMIC CON, we’re all fans enjoying our industry together.”
In addition to the successes you’ve experienced with the Arizona show, I’ve heard that there is an expansion planned to also have a show in Orange County. Is this more than just a rumor? If so, what are some details that you can share with us?
“With the move of WonderCon to Southern California, we took the previously announced Orange County Comic Con off the 2012 schedule.
We are, however, promoting the Image Comic Expo February 24-25-26 at the Oakland Convention Center. This is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Image Comics, and looks ahead to the future of creator-owned comics.
The guest list is growing each day, and we should talk more in-depth about this event in its own space. Already we have Todd McFarlane and all the Image Founders & partners, along with Joe Casey, BK Vaughan, and more.”
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about the show or your company?
“Our start in the industry had Comic-Con at its very center. I remember going to my very first San Diego back in 1986 as a 13 year old kid with my mom walking me to the door. I met the likes of Jack Kirby and Mobius, that year, along with Erik Larsen who sat behind a rag tag DC booth, and a teenage Rob Liefeld who breezed by a Malibu fan table. I was clearly bitten by the Comic Con bug, and it never left. While working in the industry for nearly 2 decades, I’m thrilled about our company’s evolution into convention promotion. I hope to bring the same thrill to each and every person walking through our doors, spending the weekend with us.”
Huge gratitude goes out to Jimmy Jay for all of this information! Although, excited about the show prior to this interview, I’m even more pumped now. Having just made the drive from Riverside, CA to Phoenix, AZ for this year’s Phoenix Comicon, I was very pleased with the short trip. If you are coming from the LA/Inland Empire/OC area, the drive is slightly more than a trip to Vegas and well worth it. So, make sure to add tickets to AACC to your gift list ASAP and send those loved ones that buy for you this link to buy them today: http://amazingarizonacomiccon.com. What could be a better way to bring in a new year of geek fun than at the first con of the year? If you can’t make it to AACC, make sure to follow me on Twitter (@The_Con_Fluence) for updates on all of the fun!