Editor's note: Amazing Arizona Comic Con has announced that because of an illness, Stan Lee will not be appearing.
Remember when comic books cost a dime and you would rush the newsstand every Friday after school for some weekend reading? Batman, Superman and Spider-Man were the big ones, but there were also Tales from the Dark Side, G.I. Joe and probably something about zombies.
Well, those days are gone. The reality is that comic books have become big business, practically overshadowing the larger-than-life characters filling the pulpy pages.
The third annual Amazing Arizona Comic Con returns to Phoenix January 25-27 featuring two of the men most responsible for elevating comic books in the literary world: Marvel Comics founder and creator Stan Lee, and DC Comics mastermind Jim Lee (no relation).
"They're hall of famers," says Comic Con presenter Jimmy Jay, co-owner of Jay Company Comics, one of the largest comic book dealers in the world. "We put these creators first and foremost above everyone else."
While Comic Con offers plenty to see and do--video arcades, kid's areas, vendor and artists booths--the Lees are expected to command the most attention. The 90-year-old Stan, originator of Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, and many other iconic figures, hosts a panel discussion Saturday, and will also sign autographs.
Jay, whose characters include Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, among others, will offer presentations and signing sessions Saturday and Sunday.
Comic Con attendees might want to pack a thick wallet. Having nearly doubled in size since inception, 150 vendors will be selling all forms of comic flotsam: movie posters, dolls and bobble heads, action figures, games and trading cards. But even those on a limited budget should find comic happiness.
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"We have such a diversity of vendors that on the super high-high end maybe you'll find the first appearance of Wolverine (selling) for $15,000 or Spider-Man #1 for $30,000," says Jay. "But on the flip side you're going to have dealers with bins of comics three for a $1, and everything in between."
Besides the Lees, Jay says an additional 120 comic artists will exhibit their work, including Phineas and Ferb artist Mat Nastos, who will be doing free kids sketches.
Amazing Arizona Comic Com at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North 3rd Street, runs 3-8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets begin at $25 per day with weekend passes $50. Check out the Amazing Arizona Comicon website.