From scantily clad anime babes to wiry Boba Fetts, geeks from all over the Valley flocked to Phoenix Comicon to celebrate both the 35th anniversary of Star Wars and the nearly religious monument to pop culture that brought them to downtown Phoenix. It's over now, but the memories will live on in all of our hearts -- OK, and in our slideshows of Phoenix Comicon.
Conventions are typically common grounds for professionals to talk to other professionals under the pretext of learning something. Lucky for us, the only skill required at Phoenix Comicon is liking to watch/play/read stuff that jocks love to hate. Here are the five life lessons we're taking home from the largest comicon to date.
5. There is a time and place for everyone to go hog wild. Getting used to cosplay (in which folks dress up like fictional characters) is a bit like jumping into a lake. It's cold and jarring at first, but then when the guy manifesting the unspoken spirit of masturbation slams his phallic staff against the ground: There are things that, once seen, cannot be unseen. Stroke shamans aside, comicon is a place where freak flags fly unabashed.
4. Charity and comics mix well Costuming, the aforementioned staple of Comicon, is more than just occasional appearance at kid parties. The Arizona Ghostbusters and the Star Wars 501st Dune Sea Garrison both boasted wonderful booths, and provided attendees literature on how to donate to various charities that the groups supported. The Star Wars guys also made some really cool R2-D2 replicas.
Kids Need to Read, a national nonprofit focusing on literacy, was featured prominently near the front of the front of the enormous exhibition hall. The group began when Firefly star Nathan Fillion joined forces with Valley creatives to get a spot at the 2008 comicon. Since its debut, the group has participated in numerous events and charities across the Valley.
While celebrities attending Comicon received top billing, a large showing of burgeoning creatives showed up to plug their work. We met up with Nathan Blackwell, creator of the independently producedStar Trek
Blackwell made his debut at Phoenix Comicon and kept up a steady production of short films. Voyage Trekkers is the culmination of years spent gathering a community of cinema-minded geeks to create something with "a sense of yay."
2. Comics can (and always will) bridge the generation gap. The most heartwarming stuff we learned was the cuteness of the Satan-worshiping D&D generation's children. We watched a precocious little pirate beat the heck out of a Predator with a foam sword in a crosswalk, and the group-costuming alone was enough to trigger a neurotic breakdown.
The next generation of Comicon attendees was a heartwarming reminder that the family-friendly nature of the event provides tikes with the memories they'll need to carry the Trekkie torch for their folks.
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1. Shatner doesn't always have to be the star. William Shatner is the best space grandpa a nerd could have, and his Saturday keynote address gave the rest of the convention a warm wrap-up. "You're not here for us," he said, referring to the celebrity signings and other fan-service, "you're here for you."
During a series of impromptu interviews outside the convention center, the resounding answer was, "I came to meet other like-minded people." We don't go to comicon for the comics; we go to comicon to meet other people who won't react to "Who's better, Kirk or Picard?" With a raised eyebrow and a sarcastic smirk.