Phoenix Comicon 2012

Posted May 29th, 2012 (6:09 pm) || 3 Comments

I have attended my first Comicon.

I’ve been attending several local game and sci-fi conventions, most notably Hexacon (which unfortunately seems to have died), but I’ve never attended a “real” convention. That is to say one which is too large to remain contained within a single hotel and must be held at a dedicated convention center. Phoenix Comicon was HUGE. I’m sure it may not be as large as GenCon are similar large national conventions, but I’ve never been lost upon entering the door of a con before. Fortunately I was able to get my bearings by the end of the the first day.

DeAnna and I were able to attend due to the generosity of a friend of ours who has also attending the con. We’ve been short on money since my unemployment ran out, and while donating plasma is keeping us in gas and groceries, things are tight. So I from both DeAnna and myself, thank you, Wade, for take us with you!

I’ll note now that I don’t have any pictures. This sucks. There is a camera on my phone, and I did take many pictures, but as I discovered my phone’s camera is made of fail. So I have several dozen blurry, out of focus, dark, or otherwise useless photos of all the fun things I did. So with this lack of evidence, you’ll just have to take my word. This should be no problem as nothing really spectacular happened, other than maybe when Wil Wheaton dropped by the gaming tables in the Hyatt to chat for a bit. But that wasn’t until until Saturday so I’m getting ahead of myself.

Day One: Thursday

I’m used to attending cons on only the core Friday through Sunday schedule, as nothing usually is happening on a Thursday. For Comicon, I wasn’t going to miss anything. Registration started around noon-ish, but due to donating plasma around that time we didn’t arrive until closer to 4pm. We didn’t miss much. After meeting up with Wade, we headed straight for the convention center, grabbed some schedules and then headed for the Exhibitor Hall to check out some of our favorite webcomic artists.

The artist(s) we had in common were the authors/artists of Looking For Group, so we stopped there first. The artists were cool, though I’m never sure what to say after “wow, I love your work!” because everyone just says “wow, thanks!” and I’m left looking at their stuff to buy, which I don’t. Wade and DeAnna seemed to figure out how to talk to the artists though. I wanted to buy a t-shirt but they didn’t have any I felt were my size. They were nice and offed to let me try one on, but it was late in the afternoon on a hot a sweaty Phoenix so I opted not to.

Other artists we stopped by, that I recall were those of Templar Arizona, Bean and Peter S. Beagle. I’ve read Templar Arizona on and off, and Spike was probably the most personable artist we came across the entire con. Bean I had never heard of, and only stopped because the artwork caught my eye. Not too sure if the story will keep my interest but I’ll give it a shot. For those of you who don’t know, Peter S. Beagle is the author of The Last Unicorn, of which there is probably more popular animated film. We didn’t get to meet Mr. Beagle at his exhibition booth due to schedule conflicts,  but we did get to meet him on Friday during a panel.

In the evening we attended our first panel, titles “How to Survive Comicon.” Though convention veterans we all are, we thought it would be a good idea to attend this even if only for the entertainment value. Turns out there was a huge amount of useful information to be had, though we found out Friday about half of it was total crap. Most notably was the absence of any kind of bag check-in at the convention center. The idea is that at a convention, you should expect to receive a lot of “SWAG” (something we all get), not to mention it is very easy to forget other bills and go nuts buying stuff in the Exhibitor Hall, and you’ll not want to make half a dozen trips across downtown Phoenix to your car throughout the day. So check in a bag or two with the convention staff, attend that last panel or meet and greet with the TV star you want to autograph of, and pick up your bad when you are ready to leave. This would have been awesome if the convention staff actually did that. Certainly the hotel staff of the Hyatt and Renaissance do, but Exhibitor Hall wasn’t at the Hyatt or Renaissance, and you kinda have to be a guest of either to use that service.

After a break for food and some random wandering around Exhibitor Hall, we attended the “Steampunk on a Budget” panel. Steampunk is ultimately more of a style than any sort of official setting, and it’s almost always found in cosplay rather than in fiction (though there are a few). It’s basically a Victorian (or alternately Old American West) look, combined with industrial themed accoutrements consisting of lots of copper and brass, gears, clocks and various bits which attempt to recreate an anachronistic technology using what appears to be period science and materials. Another way to look at it is to think “cyberpunk” set in the 1800s. The panel itself was very useful, emphasizing the use of discount and second hand stores such as the Goodwill and other thrift stores, though it always helps to know people you can get things from for free.

Day Two: Friday

Friday we got an early start but ended up running late anyway due to traffic, then found the cost of parking had doubled. Despite this, we parked and attended anyway. :p

We missed our first panel, which was Cosplay 101, but since there were several of these throughout the con we weren’t that upset. At noon was the How to Be a Voice Actor panel, where non of the panelist bothered to show up. At least none of them were there during the first half hour, so DeAnna and I crossed the floor to How to Dress Like a Doctor just in time to here advice on Peter Davidson’s outfit on up through Mat Smith.

Despite missing out on the Cosplay panel, I did manage to pick up some cat ears and a tail in the Exhibitor Hall. Not exactly the perfect cosplay outfit, and certainly more of a furry thing, but I love cats. I guess all I need now are some pointy teeth, which some vampire teeth will probably work. DeAnna says I need a cat nose, but I think I’ll settle for the teeth when I find them.

Next up was “Worldbuilding”, which had a number of web artists I’d never heard of, but also Peter S. Beagle. This one was fun, especially the panelist’s views on the Tolkien copies and those who try to break free from it, and those who manage not to have any elves and dwarves at all.

“How To: Writing Fantasy Comics” came next, though at the same time was the Steampunk Ball. I have in interest in steampunk, but not enough to attend a ball I had no outfit for, but DeAnna wanted to go. As the ball continues for several hours, we both attended the panel and she went to the ball after. This panel turned out to be not as informative as I thought it would be, as it concentrated on the function of writing/drawing rather than on the industry and how to go from written/drawn story to having a published website with recurring updates.

“Webcomics: Building Believable Characters” was next in line. This was fun, despite having only a single panelist. The panelist was Sarrah Wilkinson of Red Nebula Studios, artist and co-author of the webcomic “Planes of Eldlor”. I’d never heard of her, but got to like her as the panel went on. It was a cross between a simply discussion on the various traits which go into creating a character which is more than a bundle of dialog and a few descriptive words, and a cooperative building exercise in which the audience collaborated to create an entirely new character.

At 6pm would have been “Spotlight on Colin Ferguson”  but as much as I love Eureka, I’m not going to stand in a line that wraps around the convention center to meet the star. Sorry Mr. Ferguson. At the same time was the Party Like a Time Lord party, which I had an interest in but had already dedicated my time to Ferguson. DeAnna and Wade had already gone, so this left me with pretty much the rest of the day and evening with nothing to do. So, I grabbed something to eat and heading over to the Hyatt to check out what the gaming was like.

I was not disappointing by the gaming. Apparently the Pathfinder system by Paizo has an organized play option called the Pathfinder Society which I knew about, but didn’t realized how popular it was in Phoenix. I spend the next hour rolling up a new character and the rest of the evening playing Pathfinder.

Day Three: Saturday

I also spent all of Saturday playing Pathfinder. I imagine I missed out on some really fantastic panels, but I didn’t care because I got to play a game I love and with one exception, had never got to actually play. During the day there were three events, and I played in all three, eventually advancing my human bard up to 2nd level. The character is Reindeer Rothslinger, who is a human raised by gnomes, and thus shares there whimsical and playful nature, as well as their magic.

DeAnna and Wade joined in on Saturday as well, though we didn’t get to play the first few sessions together. Seems the event organizer had a number of other new to Pathfinder Society players and placed them all at the same table for a bit. By the evening we were all together though.

Many of the scenarios we played were very nice, though a few seemed a bit clunky or forced. This may have been a necessity for time they are intended to play in, or just that they were somewhat rushed due to the convention and its distractions. They all were fun enough to keep my interest, and DeAnna and I intend to continue play with the local chapter of the Pathfinder Society which meets at Imperial Outpost several times each month.

Day Four: Sunday

Sunday was the Iron GM competition. If you’ve heard of Iron Chef, it’s like that only with table-top role-playing. Wade, after hearing of it, immediately signed me up as a GM, and him and DeAnna as players. I like to think I’m the stuff which a fine GM is made, but I’ve never considered it a competition. I discovered as the event started the default system would be 4th Edition D&D, which I knew, but hated. I figured I’d give it a shot, especially since there was a chance I could convince my table to play using Pathfinder instead.

I did not convince them, so was stuck with 4th. As it turns out, only one person at my table was familiar with 4th Edition, and he ended up leaving do to some unknown emergency about a half hour into the competition. This did leave me with the ability to fly loose with the rules a bit as no one would know the difference. Overall, it was a bit of a frustration and I had pretty much keep a pile of book open in front of me, but I had a blast and my players seemed to do the same.

I didn’t win, which came as no surprise really. This was my first competition of this sort, and I had no idea what I was doing. I’m just happy I had fun. Simply by participating I received a huge pile of prizes, including a brick of Pathfinder minis and other Pathfinder supplements, which I found ironic since I was ultimately prevented from using Pathfinder rules at the table.


After the con, there was a few hours wind down and then an early sleep. Normally I’d have been up early to donate plasma, but I’m thinking I’m skipping my first donation this week due to exhaustion and dehydration (at least as much as donating plasma requires). I should be fine by Thursday.

So that was Phoenix Comicon. I am now not an Iron GM, but I am a cat furry, and I have plans on putting together a Colin Baker cosplay outfit (God help me) and some sort of Western themed steampunk outfit which I intend to include my cat ears in.

Wish me luck!

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