Louie M. writes for comicsheatingup.net and covers conventions in the South West.
I have professed my love for Phoenix Comicon here before; the atmosphere, the organization, guests, etc. We are fortunate in Phoenix to have a local group put on a show of this magnitude. It was another great year despite a heat wave that had temperatures as high as 115. The crowds were the biggest ever and many vendors I spoke with had a great show if not their best.
Here are the highlights-
I tried to track down issues that have been discussed recently on CHU, here is what I found:
I asked every vendor for DC Rebirth #1, and only found two. One vendor sold out on day 1 and the other steadily increased the price from $8 to $20 by Sunday. The black and white variant was priced between $50 and $90. Rebirth is a hit!
Monstress 1 was going for average of $30
Beyond Watchmen Dr. Manhattan 4 – $30
Ms. Marvel #1 – $35
Batman #1 (New 52) – $100
Zenescope Death Force #1 Phoenix Comicon Exclusive (Sexy storm trooper cosplay cover) $20 and going for $60 on ebay.
No Henchgirl anywhere
Brian Pulido of Coffin Comics knows how to draw a crowd. He is gracious with his fans and treats his booth like it’s a big Lady Death event. He holds raffles, flash exclusives, instant exclusives (art drawn onsite and printed overnight), and Kickstarter parties.
You have seen some other reports here on the resurrection of Lady Death comics, I echo the sentiment – order Lady Death and La Muerta from your LCS! Also, keep an eye out for a new Lady Death Kickstarter in August, it’s loaded with killer exclusives. CHeck Brian out at http://coffincomics.com/
Miles to Go is by far my favorite place to pick up shirts. First, the staff is the friendliest at the con and always a pleasure to talk to. The shirts are inspired by literary works and the art is striking. I found the shirts to be better quality than most other con shirts, I wear them year round and still look great. Check them out! https://www.shopmilestogo.com/
Stranger Comics is another booth that simply gets it right. A young publisher should try to fully bring you into their line. Not only does the Stranger Comics staff do a great job of educating you about all their titles, they smartly offer a great introductory bundle to help readers get familiar with Stranger Comics. I bought one including a beautiful hardcover of The Untamed and issues of Niobe, Erathune, and Dusu. Mel has mentioned Niobe before and don’t forget about that gorgeous CHU exclusive cover of Niobe #2. http://www.strangercomics.com/
One disappointment I had – Skybound was there but sadly no exclusives or surprises to mention. Mostly TPBs, TWD toys, hats, T-shirts. I am surprised they didn’t bring something special with such a big crowd and other publishers seem to do well with exclusives.
DC Rebirth Panel
The DC Rebirth panel featured Dan Jurgens and Chad Hardin. When asked how many DC comics he had touched, Jurgens was unsure and I am not surprised with his epic career. He stated that the intention of DC Rebirth is to get back to the core of what makes the characters work. Action Comics will be going back to its original numbering and Dan said the title will be playing around with the idea of who can and can’t be Superman. Dan couldn’t predict if he would be writing AC through #1000, but did say that Action Comics 1000 should be treated as our industry’s Superbowl and we should build toward that.
Hardin will be continuing with Harley on Rebirth and stated that he doesn’t plan to shake things up – if you like the book now, you will like Rebirth. A fan asked his thoughts about fan outrage on modern Harley. He gave a very articulate response about the inherent fun of introducing new concepts to characters, and it doesn’t take anything away from the original material (agreed!). Lastly, adding that you wouldn’t be happy with the same story recycled over and over again either. Hardin is a total rockstar!
Valiant covered their big upcoming summer with 4001 A.D. (Valiant universe 4000 years from now) and the rest of their awesome line of books. I didn’t know this but Valiant has not been late on an issue for their entire 4 years of being back, which is impressive for an independent publisher. A few other highlights:
-Faith and Archer will be going on a date
-Deathmate (a retired registered trademark) is being brought back to life in Bloodshot
-XO Manowar 50 is what Venditti has been building to since issue 1. Issue 50 will be polybagged with a trading card and 1:60 chance of getting original art.
I attended the spotlight on Caity Lotz who is as beautiful in person as she is on Arrow. One thing I haven’t seen before is a female fan coming up who had Caity’s name tattooed on herself. You see some crazy stuff in the world of fandom.
While crowding and heat was wearing some people down, it was the usual fun atmosphere at PhoenixComicon. Cosplayers were in full force and totally undeterred by the heat. You thought Harley was popular before, wait for Suicide Squad, I think Harley fandom is just getting started. Check out the Cosplay Gallery!
I have reported on the mystery box phenomenon before and it has truly proliferated. There was about 8 booths dedicated purely to mystery boxes. The big mystery box booths were stacked sky high and selling like CRAZY! I thought the word would have spread that they are mostly filled with bargain bin Lootcrate style merchandise (random Pops, stickers, buttons, plushies, candy, lanyards) and they might struggle. Nope, they were selling out of product before Sunday.
An informal survey I took of con attendees showed that most people were happy with their $30-$40 purchase, and felt they received the face value or more.
These boxes have two things going for them: 1) People seem to like the suspense of possibly getting something valuable or a voucher for a big item. 2) Customers are satisfied even when they lost the ‘raffle’ and may even buy multiple. I’ll be interested to see where this goes.
One positive is mystery boxes lead to a new con social aspect or “trading parties” for people to get together and trade merch they don’t want.
George Perez is a machine. He does sketches and chats with fans on his clean table, one after another, open to close. There is a constant line, and he is always energetic. Legend.
Billy Tucci is coming out with a Kickstarter soon to bring back Shi. Count me in!
There was a widely reported snafu on Friday morning that caused a massive registration line and it even stretched outside in the 100+ degree heat. The Director of PHXCC offered a full apology and explanation on Facebook including a commitment to no further lines outside (which PHXCC delivered on). I admire this considering you see many other cons play blame game or stay silent, he fell on the sword. Our local con may not be as local anymore, but the organizers are doing a great job of managing the daunting growth.
If you are coming out this way; Keen Halloween is in September (http://www.keenhalloween.com/), Fan
Fest is in October, and Phoenix Comicon 2017 will be in May (http://www.phoenixcomicon.com/).