Phoenix Comic Fest 2018 Wrap Up

Phoenix Comic Fest (formerly Phoenix Comicon) took place over the Memorial Day weekend.  2017 was a rough year for the event: staffing issues, near shooting incident, and taking on SDCC over the use of ‘comic con’ name. That’s all in the past now and they have revamped the con for 2018 in many ways. Now wristbands are mailed in advance, far more security checkpoints/entrances, and a slew of minor improvements throughout the convention center.

Really great energy and vibe this year.  Food, refreshments, and seatings were more accessible.  There were several soda wagons inside and outside of the convention center that were selling really nice metal mugs; if you purchase one you could get unlimited soda refills, this was insanely popular.  Plus you could keep the mug and go home and make moscow mules!
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Outside was lively with stage for DJs and bands, a beer garden, and saber walk.

outside Collage

Happy to see the return of swag!! A Playstation truck giving away loot like sunglasses and beer koozies. Inside the truck you can play games, God of war looks incredible! There was also tables giving away Incredibles 2 posters/masks, and Solo swag.

Inside Collage

Comics guest line up was one of their best in years. Attending was Scott Snyder,  Todd McFarlane, Frank Cho, Brian Azzarello, Greg Capullo, and Jae Lee to highlight a few. I didn’t have as much time this year for celebrity panels due to all of the signings I went to. Let me SHOW YOU WHAT I GOT:

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PANELS

My favorite comics panel of the show was the “Making the Modern Batman” panel with Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and James Tynion IV. There was no moderator for the panel, as Capullo announces “thats okay, I’m italian so I never shut up!” (lol)

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Tynion discussed his current run on Detective Comics. He wants to bring back strains of characters who have fallen by the wayside. Sort of an X-men-like take on the bat family.

Scott Snyder stated that his run on Justice League will have more of the dark multiverse and Batman Who Laughs (one of the coolest new characters created in the last year). He said there will be a big payoff for those who read Metal.  He wants to bring back the Hall of Justice and have it play a big role to show how all of the heroes need to work together due to the size of the threats coming. The Hall of Justice is supposed to be connective to the DC Universe, all characters are invited. Scott wants his Justice League run to be cumulative like Infinity War, where it feels like all these previous stories and easter eggs all come together.

Capullo spent some time talking about designing the Metal characters. Scott describes the characters to Greg, then Greg gets to go create, striving to capture the essence of a character.  Red death, for example, had spoilers to look like a race car. Greg wanted a alternative version of Flash that looks crazy fast, and to avoid previous versions of the Flash.

Snyder is also working on a final Batman book with Capullo. It will be a black label for mature readers. Coming out later this year, the story takes place 20 years ago. He said that this book is basically going to be the end of ‘their’ Batman they worked on during the Snyder/Capullo run on the flagship title. Snyder left us off with a vision of what the opening pages will look like: Batman wakes up young in a wrecked Bat-suit. As he looks around trying to figure out when/where he is, he finds a talking Joker head that says “I’ve been waiting for you”….  

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Michael rooker was crazy!  It was the only celeb panel I could attend but was one of the most entertaining I have been to. He knows how to work the crowd.  He runs onto the floor for a Q and A, moderates himself. He scrambles all throughout the crowd for people with questions. His answers were witty and hilarious.  When asked what his favorite moment on Walking Dead was, he replied “When Norman stabbed me to death and I knew I wasn’t coming back, so I could go do Guardians of the Galaxy!”

THE EXHIBIT FLOOR

The sprawling exhibit floor is my favorite place to be, there is a great mix of vendors year after year.

Looks like comics talent charging for signatures is a sad trend that’s not going away. It’s not that I don’t budget to spend some money.  When a creator/artist doesn’t charge me for a signature, I will always buy something from their booth. Everyone probably doesn’t go by my little “code of honor ” so I see why they charge. But it still feels like double dipping. What grinds my gears is I buy their product off the shelf which is when they really need fans to buy to keep their income flowing, now being charged again to have them sign it. I’m not going to spend extra money after paying for a few drops of sharpie ink, and may even question buying more of their product off the shelves. There’s gotta be ways to make it more digestible. Maybe offer a COA if you charge. Or maybe offer a discount at a certain point (e.g. First 1 free, then $5 per sign up to 5, 10 signs for $25, etc).

If you read my past articles, you know the party is at the Lady Death booth! Creator Brian Pulido is one of the most affable people in comics (and he will sign whatever you want without charge!).  I heard him mention it was a record show, and I am not surprised. I went straight to his booth on opening night and there was a line around the booth for show exclusives. He was selling out of stuff left and right.  I also picked up his mystery flash exclusive which was an amazing holo foil cover by Bully Tucci. Yet another line and sellout and sellout for that. The daily raffles draw quite a crowd as well.

Check out Pulido’s newest Kickstarter for La Muerta. It’s not exactly Lady Death, more of a hardboiled crime revenge noir. I think it has a big future as the storyline expands, keep an eye on it. It’s also more grounded in reality, so it’s ripe for other forms of media. The cheapest shipped option is $24 and the stretch incentives alone are worth more than that.  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brianpulido/b-pulidos-newest-graphic-novel-la-muerta-1-retribu

LD Booth

Every year becoming a bigger fan of Ashley Witter.  She has been delivering stellar work on her variant editions.  I brought my Doctor Aphra 1 for her to sign and picked up a few more books and prints from her booth.  Hope she comes back next year! http://ashleywitter.com/

A new discovery for me was David Harrigan.  I saw some of his work around the con at the Brian Pulido and Marat Mychaels booths.  He was a super cool guy and we spent some time jamming out over our love for the band Ghost.  Hope to see him next year, maybe I can score a commission from him. Check out his work! http://artassassin.com/

Another artist I discovered from the vortex of Lady Death exclusives was Brian Miller.  He has a very cool and vivid style, coloring is incredible. http://www.oktopolis.com/

I used CBCS for the first time to compare the overall experience to CGC.  I would have to say the customer service experience was superior, the guys running the booth did a good job of making sure everyone was getting helped in a timely manner.  I was less than thrilled with the estimated 12 week turnaround time. Additionally, if I wanted anything pressed they said it would add ANOTHER 12 weeks. So CGC seems to have them beat on lead time.  Let’s see how long it really takes, and what kind of packaging I receive.

I heard mixed reviews from vendors sales.  Some suffered low sales due to smaller crowds this year, yet I heard several that were very happy with sales. Still tons of mystery box booths (please find better things to spend your money on, these boxes are filled with bargain bin junk), and Funko products are everywhere. The comic booths I spoke with said Venom was hot, and anything with Thanos on the cover.  I also heard Walking Dead was selling well, but that’s basically every con over the last 7 years. Here are some prices I found:

Venom Lethal Protector 1 – $25

Amazing Spider-man 361 – $80

Amazing Spider-man 300 – $400

Most Metal books – $5-7 each

The Realm 1– $10

The Fix 1 – $10

Gotham City Sirens 1 – $95

Supergirl Artgerm variants – $4-7 each

Totally Awesome Hulk 22 – $79

Seven to Eternity 1 – $59

Amazing Spider-man 799 – $4

Amazing Spider-man 798 – I could only find 1 in the whole exhibit hall, marked at $10

Overall, it was another great year at the big show in Phoenix.  I think this year could be a new beginning for the show, they made some much needed improvements to the experience and should build on it for next year.  Just recently, they announced another name change as many people gave feedback that “comic fest” doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Yet, they can’t go back to comicon unless they want to spend some time in court with SDCC.  So next year will be Phoenix Fan Fusion! Come out if you are in the Southwest next May! https://phoenixcomicfest.com/

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17 Responses to Phoenix Comic Fest 2018 Wrap Up

  1. Dave says:

    I love Wild Bills Soda. They frequent the Big E in Springfield Mass. I have a few tins of theirs from the expo.

    • louierobm says:

      By Saturday, the Wild Bill’s stations had some of the biggest lines of the con!

  2. adam wonders the blind comicpimp says:

    thanks for the write up. maybe next year for this show. I still need to try wild bills soda. love you guys blind adam out

  3. Joseph Altnether says:

    I thought the changes they made this year made the experience better. Security lines moved quickly for the most part, although they seemed to change how they would check bags from day to day. That really was the only frustration I encountered.

    I agree that Lady Death booth was far and away the most exciting of all the comic booths. Something going on every day, and the exclusives were disappearing quick. I enjoyed the signing by all the creative members of La Muerta. I picked up the hardcover last year at SDCC, found it to exceed my expectations, and have been a fan since.

    I wasn’t thrilled by the $5 charge for autographs (even Frank Cho!) but most of them would allow first three free then charge for autographs, so I made multiple trips to visit. A bit more enjoyable, and allows more time to chat with the guests. Marguerite Bennett was especially nice to talk to as we discussed her run on Batwoman.

    The surprise hit for the con for me was Stranger Comics. Everyone at this booth was knowledgeable about all the comics, extremely nice and polite, and just a pleasure to talk to. Sebastian Jones, though, stole the show. I think I talked to him Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I ended up purchasing the five trade run of their books, and spent time with Sebastian discussing the stories and meaning. He was extremely gracious with his time, autographed everything for no charge, and really went out of his way to win new readers. I’m still reading the trades, but have enjoyed the Untamed series much more than some of the new books that come out. I know Niobe has been mentioned on this site before. I mentioned this to Sebastian, and he was extremely grateful for the attention to his books (and I got the impression he was aware of this site). Highlight far and away of this con was discovering Stranger Comics, and getting to know Sebastian Jones.

    I didn’t notice too many comic dealers at this show. A lot of dollar discounts. Most of the key books I saw were on the high end of prices, although the Metal books were plentiful and could be had for a decent price, as mentioned above.

    Because of all the great comic guests they brought in, Lady Death booth and Brian Pulido, and Stranger Comics and Sebastian Jones, this was, to me, the best comic con Phoenix has had in several years. I would still like to see more comic dealers at the show, something I have heard mentioned by a number of people both at the show and outside, but that is minor compared to all the friendships and new acquaintances that were made this year. An enjoyable experience.

    • louierobm says:

      Man we had a lot of the same experiences! I was bummed too about Frank Cho charging, he used to be super liberal about it, and I always bought his prints. Now he charges for every single sign.

      I loved meeting Marguerite bennett, very sweet person and I will keep supporting her books.

      I discovered Stranger at the con as well, think it was last year. They run a very large and fantastic booth.

      Glad u hear u had such a good time and I agree, best Phoenix Comicon Fest Palooza Fusion Fiesta in years!

      • Joseph Altnether says:

        If you go next year, we’ll have to meet up. I’ll definitely need to start taking more pictures. Should have taken pictures of the lines for Snyder/Capullo on Friday, and McFarlane on Sunday. Both were crazy, but definitely worth the wait.

      • CRUZZER says:

        Yeah it wasn’t so much that the artists themselves charged for signatures, it was much more who represented them. Before the con I was told Art Adams sigs were $5 for graded material. Come con, it changed to $10. That was because he was being represented by Comic Sketch Art. Anyone under that banner has a charge on sigs. Hope to meet you next year come around. I took a grip of photos that I am still uploading to my Instagram. (http://www.instagram.com/cruzzer2)

      • louierobm says:

        Awesome! My email is louie.rob.m@gmail.com if any of you locals want to get together. We can do a CHU meet up at the next con!!

  4. Scott says:

    Nice write up about this show!

    I was happy with the change to wristbands, and the security changes were pretty smooth. There were definitely less comic vendors this year, but unfortunately that’s the trend right now. More and more fans want their celebrity pictures/autographs, and comic sellers are feeling some of the financial pain from it. I’d love to hear your outcome with the CBCS stuff. I still haven’t convinced myself to slab anything yet, but I going to do it one of these days.

    As for vendors/artists…

    Coffin Comics is badass! You could see and hear their booth from all around the floor, and they are totally cool and accessible. Plus, they have such a vast stable of artists that work with them, it’s hard not to run into one of ’em at the show. That being said, I completely missed Ashley at the show, so I will have to look for her at the next one. I picked up a great Eddie (from Iron Maiden) sketch from David Harrigan, and multiple prints from him, Marat, Mike DeBalfo, Joel Gomez, and Billy Tucci. Side question for you…what is that Lady Death exclusive in your picture? I don’t remember seeing that one. 😛

    It was awesome to catch Frank Cho to have him sign some my Lady Death Kickstarter exclusives, and I also lost the battle with my wallet and purchased his Batman/Harley/Joker giclee.

    Moto Glass was there again, and he does some pretty amazing work with his etching. I definitely recommend checking out his stuff.

    The signatures thing is a tough one to swallow but I understand why they do it. In this day and age of eBay/CGC, I’d bet that at least 50% of those signatures they hand out end up for sale on eBay or in a comic shop somewhere, so I understand them wanting a piece of that. It’s a bummer for those of us who actually keep our signed copies, however. I agree that if you buy a print, they should include a signature with it. I’m glad that there are still some people signing for free and some that will ask you to donate to Hero Initiative for additional signatures.

    Overall, it was a fun show and I look forward to next year’s. I think by cancelling Fan Fest in the fall, they will hopefully be pushing more funding into Fan Fusion and make it even better next year!

    • louierobm says:

      Thanks Scott! Dang you got the Cho Lady Death?!?! Nice man, that kickstarter cover disappeared fast. The cover in my pic is from the kickstarter mystery envelope. I actually picked up almost all of his con exclusives but the pic is just a sample of my loot. See my post above, we all should do a CHU meetup next time!

  5. Aww… no one must have found our booth.. we had all the new books for cover price unless it was a key issue. We had the ASM 798 and 799 at cover for the first 2 days and then marked them up to $5 bucks. But it’s okay we were in a location where many didn’t find us. (Next to mystery boxes and gaming tables…haha) But we did have a large 13′ banner of Harley!

    • louierobm says:

      Hey CMS! I definitely saw your booth, picked up a few back issues at great prices. I did not see the ASMs, but loved that huge banner. big fan of the Natali Sanders covers you have been putting out.

      • Hi Louie! Yea we brought too many books to display and people seemed to be clamoring over $1 books so we removed 4 Marvel boxes and if anyone asked we were bringing the boxes up. Amazing Spider-Man was in the first box.
        Hope you pick up our latest Natali book, Batman #50 that goes on pre-sale tomorrow. We’re going to stop a bit with the Natali books until we can figure out how to top this one now…haha

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