This 4 day long event on Memorial Weekend always brings many surprises, and this year the weather in Phoenix was very cooperative with the barometer highs reaching 76, 88, 94, and 85. Normally Phoenicians are already dealing with weather at 97-110 degrees, so it was a blessing to not only cos-players, but the people who didn’t have to put up with smells of sweaty odor, as much, this year. What a change..
Talking about change.
There was ANOTHER name change. Phoenix Fan Fusion is NOW the name. Back in 2002, when 400 people attend it was known as Phoenix Cactus Comicon. Several other names it has gone by is Phoenix Comicon, Phoenix Comic Fest, and now finally Phoenix Fan Fusion, The organizers didn’t want to deal with being sued using the “Comic con” name, plus opinion wise, it’s not just a comic con anymore like it once was, were the focus was “comics,” but now it is more of a “Culture Con” in aspect of what’s going on in TV, books, movies, etc. etc. so yeah I think that name change is appropriate. I just hope they stick to a name since it’s had various name changes over the years. Overall it had really great energy and vibe this year, the security checkpoints moved very quickly. The convention organizers mentioned that this was by far one of the smoothest running conventions they have ever had.
The convention had a food court with various selections of food from Mexican food, Asian, pizza, spaghetti, and others. You could buy a soda for $5, or you could pay a little more (just $8) and get a refillable plastic Phoenix Convention cup and fill you cup all weekend long. When I glanced at the pizza and saw that you could get a slice for $8 I kind of frowned knowing I only pay $2 at Costco, but when I finally saw the size of the slice and bit in to it, the eight dollars was well worth it. I could barely finish my slice.
Now let’s get to it.. the comic book aspect.
I was on a budget so I wasn’t planning on buying ANY comics, but there were some comics I have been currently eye balling the price tag on. I continued to search for Dark Horse Graphic Novel Omnibus books, but didn’t see any among the vendors. New Agents of Atlas 1:50 variant was going $180+, while the 1:25 was only going for $50-80 from some of the vendors. Naomi #5 1st print had a commanding average of $15 but I did not see a Naomi #1 first print at any booth. I saw 2nd and final prints, but no 1st prints. I’m not saying there wasn’t any, I just didn’t see them.
Many comic book vendors brought books created by Gerry Conway, Michael Golden, Denny O’Neil, Roy Thomas as they were in attendance, other booths had many Ninja Turtle items as Kevin Eastman was a LATE ADDITION to the convention lineup. Talking about Denny O’Neil, it was declared by official proclamation by the City of Phoenix as May 25, 2019 by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallegos that it was “Denny O’Neil Day”. Here is a story not many people have heard or know about. Before Roy Thomas hired him, Denny O’Neil was a reporter in a very conservative city. He was also very involved in the Civil Rights movement, and one day he wrote a fake story in the newspaper about Martin Luther King Jr. coming to town the next day for a MARCH which didn’t go over to well with the people (including law enforcement) of the town. The panel I recorded of Roy Thomas and Denny O’Neil is NOT James Cameron-Martin Scorsese quality, as I am new at this, but I wanted to share with the readers of CHU something they would not get elsewhere. Roy Thomas and Denny O’Neil shared their stories of the growth of Marvel and DC through their decades of work. I want to Thank John Cinimo, who is the manager of Roy Thomas and allowing to be part of the select few to spend quality time with both these legends.
Roy Thomas was charging $25 for each signed book getting graded. He was asking for a donation and only signing 10 books at a time before you had to get in his line again. Gerry Conway was charging $5 for signatures, $10 for prints and $10 for witnessed signatures. What a deal. If you are new to collecting, be sure to get some of these guys before they graduate. Many artists in attendance were collecting donations for the Hero initiative, Howard Chaykin was one asking $5 minimum donation for his signatures, also going to Hero Initiative.
I really wanted to chat with Neal Adams, but the discussion I wanted to have with him was not comic book related as I am sure comic creators get burnt out answering the same questions from fans over and over again.. When I talk with people, I don’t try to ask, or I try to steer away from the obvious, I find something that is unique as this is my hook in creating a conversation that will resonate with people long afterwards. Every night before going to sleep, I always enjoy listening to a couple episodes of The Sasquatch Chronicles podcast on Spotify. Back on January 29, Neal Adams tweeted about “Sasquatch” and whether you think the man is nuts, or don’t believe in such a creature, I wanted to hear his take on it.
Bigfoot. 3 year old found after 3 days of subfreezing weather. Kid says a bear kept him company. It’s a sasquatch people. No bear takes a kid into the forest and wraps him up to survive 3 days. If you think a bear did this, you’re nuts.
— Neal Adams (@nealadamsdotcom) January 29, 2019
Neals Adams and I also talked about the “4-11 David Paulides books” (Something spooky is happening in our National parks) in which he invited me to sit down and we had some great dialogue for over 15 minutes on NON COMIC BOOK RELATED stuff, which I am sure was refreshing for him. He also told me about a video project he was working on and I hope to follow up with him regarding his project in the future, and it is NOT COMIC book related.
Here is a small tip for CON-GOERS going on multiple days who are seeking autographs from creators. Be sure and snap a photo WITH some of these creators on the 1st day, and send them via APP (Costco, Walmart, Walgreen) while still at the con to be made in to 8×10 photos. Later on, go grab-pick up that photo that night and take it to the con next day to get it signed by the creator. Trust me, this will make the creator’s day, and also 9 out of 10 times they sign it for free. Gerry Conway was so happy about signing a photo of him and I, that he even invited me around the table to sit and chat with him for a while.
I stayed away from the celebrity stuff this year, but word spread that Elijah Wood had a panel in which the word “family friendly convention” went out the door, as he dropped many “F-bombs” to a “only standing room is left” hall. April Grady-Reyna, who was once a local artist who lived in Phoenix for several years, before moving to Houston drew a commission for a patron of a shirtless Lando on a blank Lando sketch cover. Due to imposing deadlines, she wound up having to finish it during the preview day of Fan Fusion. This turned out to be one of those commissions that gained public momentum as some artists and even the public were posting progress shots on social media. It gained so much traction and attention that somehow word got back to Billy Dee Williams (Lando) who was in attendance. Williams snickered at the commission before signing it, he stated “this is fantastic..” Gossip travels at a con, it would be fun to someday start a game of telephone with strangers and see how far that goes.
Now for the COSPLAYS..
I am sure some of you want to see the pictures of the women posing in some scantily clad costume, but I really want to give a shout out to the young ones, the pre-teen children this year. Every single year the costumes they wear are getting better and better. I never seen so many young kids up there game when it comes to cosplay, and I’m sure parents gave them some assistance in creating some of their costumes, but often times some these kids costumes were better than their grown up counter parts. I didn’t want to seem creepy having to keep asking parents to take pics of their kids and not them, so I didn’t take many.
Aside from your typical anime-manga characters that I can’t even name yet, and your Deadpool, Harley Quinn, Spider-man, and Loki costumes everyone sees; this year Chun-Li and Captain Marvel were a favorite among the women. Lots of guys dressed up as The Punisher. Some of the local cos-players that I was able to recognize from years past, and I’ll give a quick shoutout to @BoomGoesTheDynamite20, @Jaybad16192, @aquavixencosplay, @SteveRogersUSA, @EdBriseida, @ladyemberBSparks, @Wayloncc, aj.creations_az, @AZUltraRunner79 and @DPFulham
I will share a quick anecdote about one of my absolute favorite cosplays I saw this weekend. Professional Wrestler Alexander Hammerstone uses a Tyler Durdan gimmick when he wrestles. Well as I am walking to downwards towards an escalator, I see this muscular guy dressed as Tyler Durden, walking alongside a girl cosplaying as Marla. I mentioned “Hey you look like Alexander Hammerstone.” He replies “I never heard of him,” I then say, “I swear you look exactly like him, you should look him up,” he then says “I’ll google him.”
A couple hours later, I see this posted by him on his facebook status
The best part of comic con was somebody tell me I should look up Hammerstone because I look like him. Told him I’d google him.
While many people take photos, I wanted to do something just a tad different this year. I always love creating face off fight poses between cos-players, but I took it one step farther this year and decided to compile many of those and make a video to share with you all.
I had many bittersweet emotions this year. I had some lows, and I had many more highs. I am slowly closing the comic book collecting chapter of my life and I felt a little down after misplacing some personalized prints I purchased at the con. I really didn’t have a game plan set like in years past, as I felt this was going to be one of my last conventions I’d be attending. The experiences I had these four days reassured me that just because I was no longer going to collect comics in an aggressive manner as I once did, it didn’t mean that I should stop attending. My experiences told me it was maybe it was time to evolve and learn a new aspect like film, and documenting the stories of the convention that are not being told. As I rode the light rail on my way to the con, I met a couple kids, Andrew and Hannah who I asked me for some tips and guidance, I shared some tips like, I told them not to buy anything till Sunday, they could often barter with the dealers. Andrew (@mighty_andy) had invited Hannah (@truantwave._) to attend the con for the 1st time ever. On the 1st day, she attended a panel, and because of the her expertise on the subject, she was able to be invited to be the lead panelist. I smiled with joy upon hearing that news. There were no ordinary moments happening. These are the stories I need to document and tell. From the children who are cos-playing, to the teenagers who are running panels, to the old comic book veterans telling stories they never shared before, The future of Phoenix Fan Fusion looks very promising.