For years I have been attending both Anime Expo and Phoenix Comicon and have seen them experience unprecedented growth and all the problems that’s packaged with. This is the first year I won’t be attending Anime Expo in six years so I resolved not to miss everything Phoenix Comicon had to offer. And I am incredibly glad I did.
The atmosphere of Conventions can change drastically from year to year and it seems to me that Phoenix Comicon’s just keeps getting better and better. From the volunteers to the security guards to the guests, Phoenix Comicon is emanating a kind of positivity that injects the whole convention with new life. In my experience, everyone was having a fantastic time at the con and there wasn’t any negativity towards cosplay, vendors or guests.
In comparison, last year I saw two separate instances of people acting inappropriately towards cosplayers and overheard many conversations in the exhibitor hall about why on earth anyone would buy any of the things on sale. This year, however, I had none of those experiences, and I think the “Cosplay is not Consent” movement had a huge impact on that. The movement is helping to make Phoenix Comicon a better environment for everyone by serving as a deterrent for immature behavior and immediately establishing ground rules for newcomers to the Convention scene.
Along with the changes in atmosphere come more organizational changes that were sometimes difficult to catch. For instance, even though the convention had 75,000 people attend this year, I never felt that impact traffic like I did in previous years. Never was it difficult to get into, or even just stroll through, the exhibitor hall. Hallways seemed less crowded, with traffic even between both buildings. Lines for panels, even though they were still incredibly long, felt more controlled. All of this, I think, is thanks to this year’s volunteers, which were visibly better trained and more enthusiastic. The fact that everything ran so smoothly is only something I noticed after the convention, and I think it’s very impressive considering the traffic problems of last year.
As far as the Exhibitor Hall goes, I was incredibly excited to see plenty of artists there that were representing many different fandoms and groups. Not only did I see the awesome Comic Book art that is usual fare at Phoenix Comicon but there was a great variety of subjects and styles this year. One of which is Christopher Lee, who you can find at thebeastisback.com, who has some great chibi-like interpretations of beloved characters. Another great artist everyone should check out is Kevin Eslinger, who does some amazing art of different pop culture icons.
Alright so I have gushed enough about this years Phoenix Comicon, I want to hear what everyone else thinks or if someone had a different experience than me (it’s bound to happen at these bigger cons!). Let me know here in the comments or on our twitter what your experience was!