I have family and friends in Phoenix and lived there many years before moving to California, so deciding to attend this year's Phoenix Comicon over Memorial Day weekend was an easy one.
The variety of interests at the Phoenix Comicon this year was quite broad, though the main themes were pretty clearly comics (characters, art, artists, authors, accessories) and science fiction (authors, movies, books, costumes). There was a smattering of gaming-related events like freeplay sessions of Rock Band (and Wil Wheaton's Rock Band all-nighter), but gaming was not a main focus.
Phoenix Comicon has been around for nine years, but has not seemed to be very visible until the last several years. None of my friends who still live in Phoenix were aware of it when I told them I was going. I think with the explosive growth and commercialization of the San Diego Comicon, more people are aware of cons in general, and some people may want to find a less crowded, less in-your-face and less commercialized version of the con experience. The Phoenix Comicon provides that alternative and has become more visible as a result.
There were a ton of people in all types of costumes. It was obvious a lot of people were having a lot of fun:
There were writers, artists and actors there whom you could talk to, have your picture taken with, and whom would probably sign something if you brought it to them. Some pretty well-known people were there, including Stan Lee, Levar Burton and the previously mentioned Wil Wheaton.
Unicorn Pegasus Kitten ("UPK")
Wil Wheaton and John Scalzi had a "Super Happy Fun Time" panel wherein they discussed various Internet-related items (as you do), a little about their respective backgrounds, and revealed a certain fan fiction writing contest (deadline for entry was June 30) and subject painting which I have to say I am glad I was witness to. Phoenix Comicon 2010 will likely be remembered as the beginning of the epoch of UPK storytelling. This was the scene just moments after the unveiling:
Here is a closeup of the painting taken after the panel:
There are a number of crazy Internet-Wheaton-Scalzi memes going on here, my favorite being the Wheaton infamous clown sweater. You can read about that, along with what else is going on in that painting, at the link to the writing contest above.
I'm a big fan of Levar Burton from watching Reading Rainbow as a youth, and also Star Trek: The Next Generation. I had hoped to see him at this event, but hadn't planned to have my picture taken with him. There was a portrait service there that scheduled photos with various of the celebrities who were at the con, and I just happened by the photo booth right at the end of the session with Mr. Burton. I thought I probably wouldn't have another opportunity to have a professional portrait taken with him, so I decided to do it. The portrait is on the portrait company's flickr site, linked here. I elected to provide that link instead of posting the portrait here directly as the portrait company has reserved all of its copyright rights.
Overall, this was a really fun event to attend. It ran the entire weekend, starting with Thursday evening preview events. I attended only on Sunday, but it looked like there were plenty of things to see and panels to attend if one were to go for the entire show. The price is right, too. I believe it was only $35 for a full event pass. I'll probably go again next year as it's a great bonus to a summer trip to see family and friends.