Amazing Arizona Comic Con is not the oldest or biggest comic book convention in the world, but I assure you, what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in content. From beginning to end this was truly a comic book convention. What I mean to say, is that while some conventions get very caught up in all of the hoopla of combining horror, sci-fi, comics, and various other medias, Amazing Arizona was made for comic book fans. From the guest list that ranged the gamut from local creators to industry legends, the programming and workshops that all revolved around the medium, to the best built in scavenger hunt a convention has ever had. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s just start from the beginning.
Friday was a not as packed as the rest of the weekend, since it started at 3:00 and closed up at 8:00. Alot of the higher profile guests had not arrived yet, but it gave me the perfect chance to browse the vendors. It was far more than your typical con fare of guys just selling mundane back issues. Almost every vendor I visited had a huge stash of comic book gold. Throughout the course of the weekend, I held in my hands books like Hulk 181, Fantastic Four 48, even a copy of Amazing Fantasy 15. And did I mention that everyone in attendance received a limited edition Walking Dead #1 Variant with Rob Liefeld cover art? Which is particularly awesome considering Rob Liefeld and Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman were both in attendance. Also in accordance with the Walking Dead theme, there was a zombie sketch area set up where you could purchase a copy of Walking Dead 115 with a blank cover and have any of the artists sketch you a cover, including yourself as a zombie. We were able to pick up some limited edition Funko Pop! Figures along with the ArtFX statues of Shazam and Black Adam that I needed to catch up my collection. For me, the highlight of the entire convention was picking up my daughter’s Phineas and Ferb as Doctor Who commission from artist Mat Nastos, who did an incredible job, and even gave my daughter a con-exclusive Phineas and Ferb / Star Wars print to go with it. Rounding out the nights events was the Zombie Beauty Pageant.
As with almost any other convention, Saturday was the busiest day. The doors opened at 10:00 and I made a bee line straight for the back of the convention center to get in line for the Geoff Johns signing at 11:00. The wait was bearable, as I got to speak to other comic fans and compare notes about what we were getting signed, and what we were looking forward to after getting through the line. It also afforded me the opportunity to stand still long enough to appreciate the costumes out in the crowd. The Arizona fans definitely did not disappoint with their imagination or creativity. I saw just about everything you can imagine, even a Sharknado costume (my pick for most creative) complete with lights and sound effects. After making it through the Geoff Johns line, it was on to Rob Liefeld. Liefeld, despite being an industry juggernaut, and having a reputation for being one of comics bad boys, was extremely gracious and appreciative to all of his fans. Even after I apologized for babbling and holding up his line, he assured me that there was no hurry and was more than willing to continue talking with me. On a personal note, this was great for me, as I am a huge fan of his.
Saturday afternoon also marked two pretty monumental events. The first was an attempt at breaking the Guinness World Records for fastest production of a comic book, fastest publishing of a comic book, and most contributors to a single comic book. The book is twenty five pages and each page contains four panels. Each panel was drawn by a different artist, as was the cover, which brings me to the scavenger hunt. You could opt to go around the convention and have every contributor (well over a hundred), sign your copy. I only made it about halfway. The second event was the first public screening of The Image Revolution, a documentary about the rise of Image comics complete with a Q & A session with the filmmakers. There were also countless events that I did not get to attend, because, as with any con, you just can’t do it all. There was a panel for writers with Brian Buccellato and Kyle Higgins. There was a Bad Girls of Comics panel with Brian Pulido. There was even a make-up demo with Alana Rose of SyFy channel’s Face Off. To wrap up the evening, there was a costume contest hosted by Jessica Nigri and Monika Lee of SyFy’s Heroes of Cosplay.
Sunday was “Kid’s Day”, and they went all out for the kids. Kids had the opportunity to get free Phineas and Ferb sketches from artist Mat Nastos, or My Little Pony sketches from artist Tony Fleecs. They could also go to the Boom Studios table and get Adventure Time comics or sketches from the artists of the comics. They also had their own costume parade.
However, Sunday for me was about the mission for my wife and I to meet Robert Kirkman. We braved the line, we stuck it out, and dammit we got our comic books signed. Mission accomplished!! After Kirkman, we were off to the Danai Gurira autograph line. The Walking Dead star was nothing like her tv counterpart and was all smiles for her fans. We even discussed how she’s not as scary in person.
The remainder of the day was pretty calm, as I finished up my shopping with a kickass Wonder Woman sketch for my wife from DC artist Norm Rapmund. We continued around the convention floor checking out the various vendors and the art in the artist alley.
The show really had everything you could want. It had tons and tons of comics. It had a great number of con exclusive prints and books. It had a ridiculous guest list that I barely scratched the surface on. It had awesome panels that were actually pertinent to the industry and not just time filler. Convention regular Big Chris did a live painting of a Weeping Angel that he raffled off to the crowd. He even had my daughter help with painting it. It really did have something for everyone, assuming that everyone collects comics. Don’t they?