Papparazzi Goes Wild at Phoenix Comicon   1 comment


The last week of May 2010 was a really good one for me. It was a vacation week from work.  I spent two days in the cool north country of Arizona around Flaggstaff. I loafed around the house. I got new books (which I will mention later), new bling (two bolo ties) and a new toy.  I spent Friday, Saturday night, and Sunday at the Phoenix Comicon, and that will be my topic. I took the video camera with me on Sunday, and went crazy taking pictures.

Lady Death poster. I believe artist Brian Pulido hung out here. Didn’t meet him.

I am really not a photographer.  I don’t care about things like lighting, focus, and composition. Generally, I try to get my image in the center of the picture. I will take motion shots, even if it means the picture blurs. Sunday, the last day of the con, I took pictures of everything I liked. Run around with me now at Phoenix Comicon.

The northernmost row of the Dealers Room was reserved for artists and small celebrities. Mostly they sat behind tables and gave autographs. Many of them were artists who drew sketches and sold them. A few were authors who sold their books. Some were both. I mostly ignored them. I consider myself one of them, but I had no intention of being trapped behind a table at Comicon. And nobody asked me to participate. Guess I’m not that famous after all.


Long shot of Felicia Day signing stuff at her table.

Felicia Day is an internet sensation and a rising star. She has done a 3-issue run of The Guild as a comic mini-series for Dark Horse Comics.  I bought it. For a pretty accurate look at online fantasy gaming today, one couldn’t do much better than to read her comic. There was a long, long line of people waiting to meet her. She was doing a good business in signed glossies. She’s young, beautiful, extremely talented, and seems like a really nice person. I have the utmost respect for Ms. Day, but my fanboy days for anyone are long behind me now.

Another paparazzi shot of Ms. Day.

I really had no reason to get close to Felicia Day. This is as close as I came, skulking around behind her table to try and get a good shot. At least, it’s candid. This is pretty much what being trapped behind a celebrity table looks and feels like. I hope she had a guide to Phoenix, and that someone took her out and showed her the sights and got her some food and some fun.

Wonder Woman.

The Con was full of people in costumes. It’s called Cosplay, and I should get into it, but I have no comic costumes, and haven’t ever been quite motivated enough to make or buy one. On the whole, cosplay is a game for much younger people than me. Still, I admire those people who did make the  effort to dress up, and many of the pictures that follow are of the best costumes that I saw.


Corencio and Harley looking for magic cards.

I didn’t go to Comicon by myself. I took my son Corencio (not his real name) and his friend Harley. These lads are champion Magic players and when they saw a booth selling cards they had to stop and look. They bought some cards. Harley is the one with the white t-shirt in the center of the picture. Corecio is right beside him in white baseball cap and backpack.

A Wall of Old Comics

 I had to stop and take a picture of a booth just selling comics. To me, this is what comic conventions are all about. Getting good stuff that you might have missed. I have too many comics in my life and my house already, but I still love them, and lust after them. I didn’t buy any this year. You can see that as either great self control, or a wonderful opportunity wasted.

Inscrutable spirit obscured by man in blue who stepped into the shot

I passed a very strange spirit in the crowded dealers room. He wore a gray robe, walked with a staff, had a forked white beard, and had an inscrutable expression. (Yes, it’s a mask). I don’t know if he was a kami, or an incarnation of Gandalf the Gray. I tried to take his picture, and complimented him on his look. He nodded graciously. I know that I would like anyone cool enough to wear this totally anonymous but distinctive costume, but I’ll probably never know who he, she, or it was.

Steven S. Crompton--a friend of mine

It was at this point in uploading all these pictures that I learned how to caption them. Heh. I learn as I go along. This is a shot of my good friend Steven Crompton. Steve is a talented artist, editor, and writer. He is a free spirit, and I admire him very much. Steve had a table of miscellaneous goodies to sell, many of them x-rated. I’ll admit it. I love comic book porn, but I really can’t bring it into my home.  I stood behind the table and talked to Steve, who I see way too seldom, for half an hour or more. I bought the City of the Gods chapbook from him–the only non-food item that I bought at the convention. It was the best part of the Con for me, even including the gaming which was excellent.

City of the Gods Chapbook.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!

Talk about your great costumes. The Shadow stopped by to talk with Steve and me.

The Shadow and Raven

If Raven is really the Shadow’s girlfriend, I have to say, he’s one lucky guy. They seemed to be together.

Zatanna enchanted me.

My most favorite costume of the entire Con was Zatanna. She was beautiful, vivacious, and funny.

A demoness drops by.

When Zatanna left, a demoness came by. Quite a coincidence really. This woman put a lot of thought and effort into her costume, and although she didn’t have Zatanna’s beauty, she had her own witty style. Evil for its own sake, anyone?

Michael Stackpole with award and patches.

Michael Stackpole is an award-winning author, and here he is with another one. Although he is most famous in the world for his Star Wars novels, I think his work as a gamer and a force in the creation of Tunnels and Trolls is more important.  Mike is in the forefront of authors moving into the future through e-books and self-publishing.

Speaking of Star Wars, there were Star Wars figures everywhere. Three different Star Wars fan groups were at the Con, and you couldn’t turn around without bumping into another Storm Trooper. But, I didn’t see any Wookies or Ewoks.

Luke and Leia without obstruction.

R2D2 was nearby.

R2 could really get around.

There were kids at the Con, not many, but some parents were brave enough to bring their toddlers with them. The best kid costume I saw was Captain America. When I asked permission to take his picture, he agreed. Look how well he crouches behind that shield.  Cap was in a stroller. I don’t know if the child had a disability, or if his father was simply being smart and keeping the kid from overtiring himself and getting lost, but in either case I envied the wheels. After hours of walking around taking pictures, my feet were getting really tired and sore. 

Captain America, what has the Red Skull done to you?

Batman by daylight.

Convention centers never have any reasonable food for sale. By early afternoon we were starving, and so headed out to find the downtown BurgerKing. I don’t know if they coordinated with the convention but the drink cups there featured Spider-Man.

The streets of downtown Phoenix  are mostly deserted on Sunday afternoons. It was kind of surreal to see costumed gamers traipsing all over the place–probably in search of food just like me. 

Miss Marvel on the streets of Phoenix.

 I met some of my friends at the Con. It was only natural that Corencio should also meet some of his. This girl had the biggest boomerang at the show.

Boomerang Girl, a friend of Corencio.

 We saw Jazz dancing it up at the Saturday night masquerade. We also saw Bumblebee. The Transformers roll amonst us.

Jazz posed but wouldn't transform for us.

 The star of Phoenix Comicon was the immortal Stan Lee, head of Marvel Comics, creator of the Fantastic Four. He flew in just for Sunday afternoon. I was briefly in the same room with him.  That’s him on the right at the table far far away.

Stan Lee is at that table in front of the room.

 Corencio, Harley, Paul Tanton and I sat and listened to Stan answering questions. He’s a great talker and pure fun to listen to.  When people asked him who would win in a showdown between DC and Marvel characters, he answered frankly, that it depended on whose writer was telling the story. If it was a DC writer, then DC would win. If it was a Marvel writer, then Marvel would win. Stan has a very realistic approach to comic book writing.

If you could see him in my pictures, Stan Lee would look like this:

Stanley Martin Lieber--better known as Stan Lee.

The Con organizers dragged Stan Lee off to his photo-ops and expensive autograph sessions all too soon. I did not try to follow him. Stan is great, and I could only hope I’m half the entertainer he is when I’m as old as he is.
The four of us went to the game room to see if we could play some Shadowfist before the day was over. Magic is an incredible card game. Shadowfist is, IMHO, better. Shadowfist was overshadowed by Magic in much the same way that Tunnels and Trolls was overshadowed by Dungeons and Dragons. The games have their similarities and differences. I simply know that if I have a chance to play either D & D or T & T, I’ll play T & T. If I have a chance to play either Magic or Shadowfist, I’ll play Shadowfist.

The dueling card game of Hong Kong action movies.

 We got to the game room–there was only one at Comicon–and it was pretty full, but my friend Jesse was sitting and guarding an empty table. I wheedled him into letting us use it for our game.  For a more complete review of that part of the afternoon, see my earlier blog about Cthulhu Dice.

Jesse, the best all-purpose Game Master in Phoenix.

Here are some close-ups of our players. I’m getting to the end of this blog, now, so I guess I can let you all see what we look like. 

Harley Kluttz, crazed gamer.

Paul Tanton, Shadowfist master of Phoenix.

Corencio St. Andre, Son of the Trollgod.

Ken St. Andre and hat.

 Yes, this goofy-looking guy is me. A week earlier I had a beard not much different from Jesse’s except that mine was whiter and a bit fuller. Three days after this picture even the mustache was gone. It was making my nose itch. You know if facial hair was just there, and didn’t irritate the skin below it, I’d stay bearded all the time, but sometimes the stuff just drives me crazy and has to go.

Daniel, a Shadowfist player.

Jesse shows off Zombie Dice and Cthulhu Dice.

 We played both games and had a great time with them both.  Thank you, Jesse, for GMing and demo-ing those games for us.  It was a blast.

Cthulhu Dice package and Harley's t-shirt.

 Just as we were almost ready to leave, a goddess appeared in our midst. I talked her into doing a few shimmies for us. Have I ever mentioned that I love and admire dancers also? Well, I do. In my next life, I’m going to be one.

A belly dancer in the game room. Be still, my beating heart!

 There was a Pokemon tournament going on in the game room that afternoon. I don’t know if this player won or not, but the effort really tired him out.

One tired Pokemon.

 My group had to get home, but the Steve Jackson gamers were going strong when we left.

Half of the Steve Jackson crew playing Revolution.

The other half of the Steve Jackson crew playing Revolution.

 On my way out I ran into Spider-Woman.  I wonder if her powers are beginning to fade again.

Spider-Woman, out of focus.

 Superhero or terrorist–I guess it all depends on your point of view.

V for Vendetta!

 It was after 5 p.m, but the day was still bright and hot. We rode into Phoenix on the light rail, and we rode out the same way. Lots of other people had the same idea. The City of Phoenix runs very short trains on Sundays, not ever thinking that a major convention is going on downtown and thousands of people are counting on the train for transportation. It was standing room only on the train. Poor planning, Phoenix. Bad! Bad!

Waiting for the train.

Light Rail driver. End of Con.

And that’s the end. Phoenix Comicon was an excellent Con. The price was a reasonable $35 for the whole Con even at the door. The facilities were adequate. It begins to remind me of San Diego Comicon back in the day when the San Diego Con only had a few thousand attendees and it was a reasonable thing to attend. I don’t know how many attended in Phoenix this year, but my guess is at least 5000 people crowded the halls of the Convention Center. There was so much to see and do that no one person could see even a tenth of it. Something for everyone, and that’s good.

What could improve the Con? Only thing I can think of is for it get more support from the actual comic companies. D.C. wasn’t there–although Mike Carlin took a booth and flew the flag. Thanks for the Sparta USA comic, Mike. Marvel wasn’t there, although many of their artists were.  Dark Horse wasn’t there. Top Cow wasn’t there. If the actual comic companies put in the kind of big time appearance that they do in San Diego, the Phoenix Con would explode onto the national stage with the best of them.


Posted June 6, 2010 by atroll in Uncategorized

One response to “Papparazzi Goes Wild at Phoenix Comicon

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  1. Great photos! Jody and I really need to get to a comic convention some day….she’s a recovering LARPer and SCAer and would love to go to one (a big one, with lots of cosplay stuff going on) and me, I just like the comics….!

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