Convention Life

All Quiet in the South-Western Front: Day 2 and 3 of Amazing Arizona 2016

Despite a very well reception from the constant con-goers, the turnout was underwhelming to many, especially with ones who are newcomers to the comic cons such as Amazing Arizona. Anthony Phoenix, a local cosplayer, mentioned he had fun as he costumed himself as fan favorites, Spider-Man and Deadpool. Some members of the local charity group, the Arizona Avengers, said even though they met a lot of children and adults, the event got dithered down around the afternoon on both days, mainly around 3 P.M. Darren White of the Arizona Avengers mentioned that even though they met plenty of cool people, it got quiet in the afternoon. Local male cosplayer, Acey McLacey also mentioned that he met several familiar places.

The highlights are these days were Rob Liefeld’s presences on Saturday and only on Saturday. He was hosting a panel and afterwards, he spent the rest of the day signing various items such as comic books and Deadpool merchandise. I should know, I was there. I witness a man who purchased a VIP Fast Pass to get in front of the line before everyone else so that he can get out a myriad of comic books for Liefeld to sign. I thought to myself, “Just pick a favorite and move on!” Even though I was the first ones in line, I stood (more like sat) in that line for an hour due to his panel being a half hour later plus another half hour waiting for the people with VIP Fast Passes to get their items signed by Liefeld. Personally, meeting Rob Liefeld after waiting for one than an hour in a line to meet and signed a Deadpool comic book was the best. In addition, I namedropped one of our own major players in the Circuit 42 family, Ian McIntosh, whom without him, I wouldn’t know the name Rob Liefeld and his contribution to the comic book industry. In fact, I would be the one who would despise him due to his unrealistic artwork which I have to admit has some charm to it. Another highlight of my experience is meeting Chris Claremont as I kept him company for a chunk of the convention weekend.

Through my observations, there were plenty of comics including ones written by Chris Claremont and ones drawn by Rob Liefeld. If only there were wonderful comic book union where the story is written by Chris Claremont and art is drawn by Rob Liefeld. If there is such a thing, let me know.

While cosplaying as Batgirl of Burnside, Kate Bishop, and Jessica Jones, I observed that the cosplay booths got the short end of the stick as every cosplay group from the Heroes United to the Justice League of Arizona were crammed together into small booth like costumed sardines. Booths that seemed unfitted for a group of ten maximum. But each cosplay booth got something to offer to everyone: for example, since it was Valentine’s Day weekend, Heroes United offered Valentine’s cards signed by Heroes United members as characters from DC Comics and Marvel while con-goers donated money for Heroes United’s cause for rescue animals. Meanwhile, the members of the Arizona Avengers offered autograph books and raffles for a chance for some nice Marvel-inspired art. While practically no one got an autograph book, the cosplay group made a mint which will be donated to a women’s shelter for victims of domestic abuse. So it’s a win-win for everyone in the charity cosplay community.

There are also other highlights of the weekend such as new trends in cosplay. One of which is Matt the Technician from the SNL skit Star Wars Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base which is a crossover between Undercover Boss and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In addition, there were a trend of Harley Quinn cosplayers. I know it’s nothing new, but the majority of them were the interpretations of Harley Quinn from the upcoming film, The Suicide Squad.

The second minor highlights of the weekend was zero body odor as it was common annoyance in most conventions. I know it’s not quite a highlight, but it was refreshing from the veteran con-goers.

There were more downsides than there were upsides to this convention weekend. The one of the downsides of these two days were dull in terms of attendance. While it would be quite pleasant for the ones who doesn’t like crowds such as myself. But it was not pleasant for the ones who are trying to make a profits such as the cosplay models, vendors, guests, and artists.

Another downside were the lack of panels as I barely see anyone attending them. In fact, I heard certain panels were switched at the last minute which is confusing for the con-goers who heavily rely on the convention programs to check the schedule. So planning was not Amazing Arizona’s strongsuit.

The third downside was the pricing, the full price for the entire weekend was $65 and barely less than that price if you go onto GroupOn, which in this writer’s opinion cheapens the whole experience. That price can only go to big conventions such as Phoenix Comic-Con where they have plenty of well-known guests, engaging panels, and vendors that captures the con-goers’ attentions and wallets.

The fourth yet minor downside was the limited exhibitor badges for most cosplay groups that some members have to pay a full price at the door.

The biggest grievance I had was the music as the Main Event stage was shared by the cosplay booths, artist alley, and vendor halls. While some of us can hear ourselves think when they play episodes of Teen Titans Go!, trailers for upcoming films and video games, but when they blared upbeat bass-ridden EDM music for the costume contest and a few other panels that requires that kind of music. Some of us can’t hear ourselves think and speak. One male cosplayer have to turn off his hearing aid because of the music was so unbearable to him.

The final grievance was the censorship of costumes which certain cosplayers were asked to cover up their costumes while other cosplayers weren’t asked to cover up. This cries foul over inconsistency.

It doesn’t help that convention’s guests were mainly consist of comic book artists, writers, and cosplay models. Despite some of them such as George Perez, Chris Claremont, and Rob Liefeld being major players in the comic books industry such as Marvel and D.C., these are not the kind of people that non-comic book fans wanted to see and flock towards unless your name is Stan Lee, which he stopped making appearances to conventions due to very old age. Most non-comic book fans flock towards celebrities of all grades from the has-beens to the most relevant ones.

Sandra Le

March 10th, 2016

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