The 2014 Phoenix Comicon began in the same way that the 2013 Comicon ended – to the sound of an evacuation alarm. Approximately an hour before the doors for the event opened on Thursday (or Thor’s Day, as you might prefer) the alarm sounded and befuddled venders, busy aligning their wares in anticipation of opening night sales, were forced to leave their posts until the potential emergency situation could be resolved.
As for the cause of the problem, no one I talked to seemed to know many details about what happened, but most of the exhibitors seemed to take the evacuation in stride; with only a few, who were already late in setting up their booths, that were a bit more agitated. Nevertheless, safety comes first and “Bravo” to the PHXCC staff for getting the show back on the road in short order.
From what I could tell the Comicon doors opened almost exactly on time as thousands of excited con revelers descended on the event. Amazing Arizona Comics creator, Russ Kazmierczak, was already having fun with the minor crisis, showing off his satirization of last year’s evacuation escapade (you can pick up his mini-comic about the crisis at booth #1804.)
Most of Thursday’s activities involved picking-up badges and getting the lay of the land in the expanded exhibit hall while talking to old friends and meeting some new ones. Some of the coolest exhibits on the floor were the elaborate Star Wars photo opportunity sets that were created by the local Star Wars communities including the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion costuming group.
The elaborate Lego world constructed by the Cactus Brick User Group was fascinating and attendees were thrilled at examining its minute attention to details. Costumers were also out in full force and the nearly 110 degree temperatures did not seem to deter them from showing up and having fun.
At lot of the comic book “old-timers” like Len Wein and Herb Trimpe were disappointingly absent from their booths on Thursday evening, but I’m assuming they’ll be there for the remainder of the convention. I did get an opportunity to meet Scrooge McDuck artist/writer, Don Rosa, who was kind enough to pose for a “goofy” picture.
The surreal moment from Thursday was seeing a quote from Nerdvana on the back cover of issue #3 of Rex, Zombie Killer. (Thanks to writer Rob Anderson for making us a part of his awesome comics. You can pick up your copies at the Big Dog Ink booth #628.)
As with every Phoenix Comicon over the past few years, the highlight of Thursday evening was the first round of PUGS (the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown), where nerdy experts debate wacky pop culture scenarios. Here is a quick recap of the evening’s bouts (my apologies to the contestants if I’ve mistaken a name or two – please let us know and we’ll promptly make corrections.)
Superheroes: Cape or no cape? (Lisa vs. Scott)
Lisa was pro-capes and argued that heroes look better with the accessory and are often more polite than their non-cape counterparts. The cape also makes it easier to hide from zombies.
Scott’s position was that heroes without capes were less likely to get tripped up by them and that non-caped do-gooders just have more common sense.
WINNER: Scott (No-Capes.)
Who is better in a pinch, Inspector Gadget or Macgyver? (Brad vs. Scott S.)
Brad stated that Gadget was the first in a long line of cyborgs that keep our country safe; and while Macgyver can fly a helicopter, Gadget is a helicopter; and besides, he has moxie.
Scott S. said that Macgyver can build a nuclear power plant from just a rubberband and some plastic, and he doesn’t need a funny hat to do it.
WINNER: Brad (Inspector Gadget)
Eviler Short Villain: Leprechaun or Chucky? (Richard vs. Mary Beth)
Mary Beth posed that Leprechaun’s shouldn’t be messed with because they are Scottish, and that they are scary as Hell.
Richard countered that if you catch a Leprechaun, all you get is some gold, but if you catch Chucky, you’ll likely get a face full of death.
WINNER: Richard (Chucky)
Better House: Bat Cave or Fortress of Solitude? (Evelyn vs. Joseph)
Evelyn argued that the Bat Cave can’t be found, because it’s underground, it also has souvenirs, and Bat technology. It’s also better because it has air-conditioning and bats.
Joseph countered that the Fortress of Solitude was cooler because it is built from crystals and the last remnants of Krypton.
WINNER: Evelyn (Bat Cave)
Better Godzilla Frenemy: Gamera or Mothra? (Ryan vs. Steven)
Ryan stated that Gamera has a protective shell, while Mothra only has an icky dust residue; besides, turtles are more awesome than insects.
Steven countered that Mothra can level a city block just by flapping his wings and that his dust is poison and not lame.
Winner: Steven (Mothra)
More Fearsome Cranium: Red Skull or Skeletor? (Shannon vs. Michael)
Shannon argued that Skeletor has zero stealth and Red Skull is played by Hugo Weaving. Oh, and “Hail Hydra!”
Defending PUGS champion, Michael, stated that Red Skull was just an incompetent scientist, and that Skeletor doesn’t even need muscles or tendons.
WINNER: Shannon (Red Skull)
Better Canine Companion: Scooby Doo or Jake? (Alexis vs. Mara (?))
Mara stated that Scooby has the best job ever, solving mysteries with Shaggy and the gang while getting to eat snacks.
Alexis countered that Jake (from Adventure Time) can change sizes and is one of the greatest modern characters ever.
WINNER: Alexis (Jake)
More Nefarious Rickman: Hans Gruber or Severus Snape? (Ben vs. Daniel)
Ben argued that Gruber doesn’t need the arcane arts to take over an entire building, and that Snape could never stand up against Bruce Willis.
Daniel stated that Hans Gruber was driven by money, whereas Snape did what he did for himself.
WINNER: Ben (Hans Gruber)
Be sure to see the playoffs and championship round of PUGS on Friday evening at Phoenix Comicon. Make sure you get there early to guarantee a good seat, it will be full.
For up-to-date details about Phoenix Comicon 2014, go to: phoenixcomicon.com. For all of NERDVANA’s Phoenix Comicon coverage, click HERE; and follow our ‘live’ Phoenix Comicon 2014 coverage on Twitter @nerdvana.
Enjoy our gallery of Phoenix Comicon photos from Thursday (June 5, 1014):