Phoenix Comicon (PHXCC) 2017 – Wrap-Up

I wanted to give myself a few days before posting this review of the convention.

Truthfully, when I first started to get media passes for conventions, I would properly divide up my time so that I would be able to go to things I wanted to go to as well as cover the convention as media.

However, I am starting to find that convention weekends are actually work related for me now. Each time we go, I see it as a duty to cover every aspect of the convention. As such, I have broken down this wrap-up into sections: the issue on Thursday and how it affected the rest of the convention, panels, cosplayers, and staff.

The Issue on Thursday and how it affected the Rest of the Convention

I would like to start off by saying that I completely understand why people are upset. It has gotten to the point where cosplayers are spending hundreds of dollars on their costumes. For some cosplays, their outfits don’t look right without their weapons. Toy props that were almost impossible to be misconstrued as a deadly weapon were banned for the weekend.

However, I also understand why the convention director decided to comply with Phoenix police and ban props for the remainder of the weekend. Just imagine the outrage – not just amongst the convention goers, but regular readers of the news – if something did happen in the following days. We could not, and still do not, know if he was collaborating with someone. Although he was arrested, he could have easily been relaying information to a partner or a group of people.

I’d much rather have people saying, “The terrorists win” than “I lost my brother/sister/mother/father at Comicon because of a gunman.”

The reality is that the ban on props needed to happen for PHXCC weekend.

Understanding the Issue

Now, for those who were saying that security should not have been so lax in the first place. Three or four years ago, they tried stopping everyone at the entrance so they could do bag checks. All it did was anger con-goers and security and it created long lines to get into and out of the convention. By the second day, security gave up on stopping everyone who was walking in.

It can be argued that security wasn’t doing their job, but they had limited staff per door. They tried their best with what was staffed. So, it wasn’t security that wasn’t doing their job, it was the people whose job was to make sure security was properly staffed. It would be like blaming the one cashier at a grocery store for a backed up line. That is not the fault of the cashier – it is a staffing issue.

I think it is erroneous to say that staff wasn’t doing their job or that Comicon themselves did not do enough to prevent this issue. They have tried in the past. It angered people. Those same people who were angered are the same people now saying that nothing was done to prevent something like this from happening.

The quick solution that Phoenix Comicon came up with -- security just to get inside the convention – is perfect. I remember two years ago that there were people without badges who were walking into the convention center. If they were slick enough, they could walk into the vendor hall or the Hall of Heroes quite easily.

This quick solution that Phoenix Comicon came up with helps keep people safe and ensures that the people who bought passes are getting their money’s worth.

For next year, I suggest having one entrance solely for people with props. If you want to enter the convention and you have props, then you must go through that entrance every time. Have this entrance be guarded by PHX PD. Extra staff on hand to deal with inspection of weapons and to bond them. Even if someone has a peace bond on their weapon, they must go through this line again to have their weapon inspected again. This is to prevent anyone from looking at a peace bond, replicating it, and bringing in a real weapon to the convention.

The Mood without Props

I have to say that the mood without props was noticeably different. However, I disagree with the posts saying that Phoenix Comicon was visibly empty. During peak hours, it was just as difficult to get through the convention as any time else. We also have to take into consideration (like I mentioned above) that people who didn’t even pay for badges were getting inside the convention space and wandering around.

With that said, I’d like to talk about the convention as a whole and how MediaSmith operated as media this time around. I have broken this post into two haves: first half is about the convention itself and the second half is about media functions performed by us. The first section talks about panels, cosplayers, and the staff. The second section talks about Bros N Cons and MediaSmith’s function at the convention.

Panels

As I mentioned previously, I did not have a lot of personal time to myself. I spent most of Comicon running around and getting pictures. However, amidst the crazy days and the constant running, I did take notice that there were huge lines for popular panels. That’s not to disregard the fact that “regular”/not-as-popular panels were huge as well.

My suggestion for PHXCC is to move the popular panels to the back of the building. I know that having popular panels near the entrances makes them easier and more accessible, but it causes build-up at areas where everyone is trying to get into. By moving panels to the back, it disperses traffic.

Cosplayers

The cosplayers were tremendous this year. I think it is important for high caliber cosplayers to start attending Phoenix Comicon for reasons I stated in the last few paragraphs of this write-up. The uniqueness of cosplayers is mind-boggling. There are things that people are cosplaying of that I would have never thought to cosplay of. From popular characters like Deadpool to “underground” anime, there was something for everyone.

Staff

I think this is an important part to highlight because I don’t think the staff gets enough appreciation for what they do. Please keep in mind that I go to the convention center for more than just Comicon. I also attend the International Auto Show here. Although this will come across as insensitive, I mean this with the utmost respect – the visitors at the International Auto Show are much more well behaved than Comic Con attendees.

Before going to the auto show every year, I thought that the staff always had to work this hard. It turns out that they do not. Their work load definitely increases at this convention. It’s all in good fun though. Con goers are usually respectful of the staff and the staff are usually respectful towards the con goers.  

Bros N Cons

Check out our collaboration with Bros N Cons:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDxdhzK4pEY

You can also check out their Facebook by clicking the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/brosncons/

It was great working with Victoria, Katie, and Sierra. They did an incredible job on this video – the amount of views on Facebook and YouTube signify that. The trio are extremely talented. Please be on the lookout for them at San Diego Comicon and Saboten Con!

MediaSmith’s Function

Right now, we’re taking pictures, converting videos to gifs to post on the internet, and helping create videos with Bros N Cons.  Next year, I want to tackle a new issue though.

I’m thinking about what we can do to help Phoenix Comicon differentiate between themselves and other conventions. Let’s be honest here: people are not flocking to come here during the summer because it’s really hot. So, what makes people want to come to this heat “just” for a convention?

The role of media isn’t to have a free ride to the convention – it’s to help promote Phoenix Comicon. We have the tools, materials, and knowhow to increase this convention’s presence on a national scale. It is partly due to media that Comicon is what it is now. Long time con-goers can tell that there is a huge difference between five years ago and now.

So, next year, in addition to shooting behind-the-scenes with Bros N Cons, I want to create a video that acts as a testimonial for Phoenix Comicon. I’d like to pull aside a wide variety of people: staff, regular attendees, cosplayers, panelists, guests, etc. It’s important to keep growing this convention and making it more than it already is.

Also, we plan to do more staged photo shoots. The plan is to do more high quality photo shoots in comparison to stopping people in the halls and taking pictures of them. We feel like this sort of content is better for the cosplayer and will signify the quality of businesses that are applying to be media at Phoenix Comicon.

Overall, I would have to say that, despite the terrible incident on Thursday, this was one of the best – if not the best – years I have had at Phoenix Comicon. Getting food didn’t seem like a hassle, there was so much more to do, the convention space was properly used, and guest lines weren’t all that bad.

Thanks for having us, Phoenix Comicon. We cannot wait to be back for Fan Fest and next year’s Comicon!