When Phoenix Comicon debuted back in 2002, it officially had one special guest in attendance: renowned indie comic book artist Jim Mahfood.
Suffice it to say, a lot’s changed with the event over the past 15 years, especially the size of its guest list.
At this year’s edition of Phoenix Comicon – which runs from Thursday, May 25, to Sunday, May 28 – more than 160 special guests are scheduled to appear at the famed pop culture event and geek extravaganza. That includes a slew of actors and actresses, several dozen authors and comics creators, and many nerd icons.
And, as per usual for any Phoenix Comicon, there are plenty of famous names. There’s television icon Dick Van Dyke, for starters, as well as Karen Gillan from Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy, Alan Tudyk of Firefly and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Brat Pack actor Anthony Michael Hall, Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill from Star Trek: Voyager, Harry Potter's Bonnie Wright, and even Machete himself, Danny Trejo.
And the actors behind the superheroes of both the Marvel and DC television universes — including Jon
Comic book aficionados can get their fill as well, as the four-day event includes a ginormous amount of artists, writers, and other creatives from the field. And fans of geek authors like Timothy Zahn, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Elizabeth Bear, Amy K. Nichols, and Alan Dean Foster will get a chance to interact with said scribes. There's also going to be tons of notable fantasy writers at Phoenix Comicon 2017, too. Tons.
Curious about who else will be making the trip to Phoenix Comicon this year? Here’s a complete look at every single guest that will be at this year’s event.
That's right. Every. Single. Guest.
Film and Television
Numerous movie stars, character actors, and geek icons famous for their roles on both big and small screens, as well as many web series, take time away from showbiz to attend Phoenix Comicon each year. As is the norm, there are folks from a wide variety of nerdy franchises, ranging from Star Wars and Star Trek to both the Marvel and DC television universes.
This Scottish-born actress and geek favorite Karen Gillan was companion Amy Pond on two-and-a-half seasons of Doctor Who, Nebula in both Guardians of the Galaxy films, and a special guest of Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest in 2015. She's coming back our way later this month, which will undoubtedly delight the Who faithful of the Valley. (Panel: Sunday, noon, West 301BCD)
Jason David Frank
Not gonna lie: Like many Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fans back in the day, we crushed hard on Tommy Oliver. Played by real-life martial artist Jason David Frank, the character was originally the bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold Green Ranger, who started out evil but later went legit. Then he became the White Ranger, Red Zeo, Red Turbo, and even the Black DinoThunder Ranger, earning the distinction of the longest-tenured character in the franchise. (Panel: Friday, 2 p.m., West 301A)
Don't let the fact that Rachel Skarsten appeared in both American Pie Presents Beta House (bleh) and Fifty Shades of Grey (double bleh) diminish your opinion of her skills as a thespian. The Canadian-born actress stood out as Dinah Lance (a.k.a. Black Canary) on the girl-centric and DC Comics-inspired TV show Birds of Prey and was even better as the Valkyrie-turned-bounty hunter Tamsin on Lost Girl. (Panel: Sunday, 11 a.m., West 301A)
Dick Van Dyke
Put simply, Dick Van Dyke is a national treasure. He’s a part of pretty much everyone’s fond childhood memories, be it when he
We sorta grew up with Elden Henson. Not literally, of course, but we’ve been seeing him in memorable movie roles for ages now, dating back to Turner & Hooch or when he played the strong-armed slapshot king Fulton Reed in the Mighty Ducks trilogy. As an adult, he’s been in a bunch of flicks both bad (The Butterfly Effect, Dumb & Dumberer) and good (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Lords of Dogtown) and is now a regular on Daredevil as Foggy Nelson. (Panel: Sunday, 3 p.m., West 301BCD)
Neal McDonough first landed on geekdom’s radar in 1996 after appearing as the ill-fated Lieutenant Hawk in Star Trek: First Contact. Since then, he’s traded blows with Tom Cruise in Minority Report, battled The Rock in Walking Tall, hammed it up as a dapper version of M. Bison in Street Fighter: The Legend of
Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill
Trekkers are very familiar with Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill for their respective roles on Star Trek: Voyager as the wide-eyed Ensign Harry Kim and hotshot Lieutenant Tom Paris. Both characters, who were basically intergalactic BFFs for life, played a big part of all seven seasons of the show and got into myriad adventures both comical (like role-playing '50s pulp sci-fi characters on the holodeck) and dramatic (getting stuck in a
If you caught Jon Bernthal’s memorable Q&A at Phoenix Comicon in 2012, you’d probably agree that the dude’s charming, likable, and funny as hell. Back then, he’d just wrapped up his run as Shane Walsh (R.I.P.) on The Walking Dead. These days, he’s got an even better gig as Frank Castle in Netflix’s Daredevil, which begat a separate show devoted to the character that premieres later this year. (Panel: Sunday, 3 p.m., West 301BCD)
Were you shocked and dismayed when they revealed on The Flash last season that Jay Garrick was actually the evil speedster Hunter Solomon (a.k.a. Zoom)? You weren’t alone. Teddy Sears, the dude who played both characters on the popular show, was apparently taken aback by the decision. We’re guessing it will be one of the many questions he’ll field during his Q&A at Phoenix Comicon 2017. (Panel: Saturday, 2 p.m., West 301A)
Falk Hentschel and Ciara Renée
And, as it turns out, Sears won’t be the only person behind beloved Arrowverse characters that will appear at this year’s event. That's because Ciara Renée, the Broadway singer and actress who donned the mask and mantle of Hawkgirl on such CW shows as Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow, will also swoop into the Valley to attend Phoenix Comicon and
On ABC’s Monty Python-esque fantasy show Galavant, Karen David plays Princess Isabella, a quick-witted and resourceful heroine trying to free the land of Valencia from the evil King Richard. Meanwhile, on the Disney-esque fantasy program Once Upon A Time, also on ABC, she portrays Princess Jasmine, a quick-witted and resourceful heroine trying to rid the land of Agrabah from the evil Jafar. Confused? David will be happy to explain the differences between the two during Phoenix Comicon. (Panel: Sunday, 12:30 p.m., West 301A)
Alan Tudyk’s geek cred is beyond reproach. In addition to playing Wash in Firefly, Van Wayne in the DC
Veteran television star Brian Krause began his career as a teen on shows like TV 101 and a CBS Schoolbreak Special before moving on to such adult fare as Tales from the Crypt, Another World, and High Tide. However, he's best known as Leo Wyatt, a guardian angel-like "Whitelighter" on Charmed. (Panel: Sunday, 10:30 a.m., North 221ABC)
Besides starring as Piper, the most grounded of the three spell-casting sisters/witches on Charmed, Holly Marie-Combs is known for playing Ella Montgomery, the artsy high school teacher with relationship probs and mother to Aria and Mike Montgomery on the cable TV teen melodrama Pretty Little Liars. (Panel: Sunday, 10:30 a.m., North 221ABC)
This German-born actor has appeared in both the Marvel and DC television universes, specifically as Marcus Scarlotti on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hawkman on The Flash and Arrow. (Panel: Saturday, 2 p.m., West 301A)
David Anders is good at being bad. After all, he was the psychopathic supervillain Mr. Sark on Alias, as well as the equally evil Josef Bazhaev on 24, the immortal Adam Monroe (a.k.a. Takezo Kensei) in season two of Heroes, and currently chews up the scenery as dastardly brain-harvesting baddie Blaine "DeBeers" McDonough on iZombie. (Panel: Friday, 3 p.m., West 301BCD)
The fourth season of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. probably wouldn't have been as good as it was without the inclusion of Robbie Reyes (a.k.a. the latest version of Ghost Rider). And that was due in large part to the skills of Gabriel Luna, the actor who helped bring the tormented anti-hero to life on the show. Then again, Luna has been good at most everything he's done in showbiz over the last several years, including Miguel Gilb on True Detective and Eddie Hasha on the biker-oriented miniseries Harley and the Davidsons. Guess the dude just can't get away from motorcycles. (Panel: Saturday, 4:30 p.m., West 301BCD)
If you were compiling
And speaking of DC-related cinematic atrocities, Uma Thurman’s daffy portrayal of Poison Ivy in the execrable Batman & Robin couldn’t hold a candle to the animated version of the villainous vixen that Diane Pershing memorably voiced in Batman: TAS and several of its spin-off cartoons. She’ll make her first-ever appearance in Arizona at Phoenix Comicon 2017. (Panel: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., West 301A)
Osric Chau not only played a nerd on Supernatural (specifically the geeky Kevin Tran, who became a prophet of God on the long-running show), he’s sort of one in real life. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see Chau in costume at Phoenix Comicon, since he’s been known to cosplay during many of the events he appears at as a guest. (Panel: Friday, 12:30 p.m., West 301A)
John de Lancie
Believe it or not, John de Lancie has a few things in common with Q, the god-like being he portrayed in the Star Trek franchise, particularly his wit and penchant for humor and drama. Thankfully, the esteemed character actor (who’s had a celebrated career on both stage and screen) doesn’t share Q’s penchant for cruelty, mischief, or universe-altering tricks. In other words, feel free to ask him questions without fear of being called a “miserable piece of flotsam” or transformed into a block of ice. (Panel: Sunday, 3:30 p.m., West 301A)
Ryan Hurst is a character actor who you've seen in a number of your favorite films and shows. As a teenager, he played team captain Gerry Bertier in Remember the Titans (a.k.a. the flick you watched countless times in high school) and also made a couple of appearances on Saved By the Bell as Crunch Grabowski. In more recent years, Hurst has been on JAG, CSI: Miami, Medium, Law & Order: SVU, and several other dramas, including starring as the late Chick Hogan on Bates Motel and the equally ill-fated Harry "Opie" Winston on Sons of Anarchy. (Panel: Friday, 11 a.m., West 301A)
Every Batman needs a Robin, a role which Loren Lester happily played in a couple of different cartoons. The noted voice-over artist starred as the Boy Wonder in both Batman: TAS and the direct-to-video adventure Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. It wasn’t his only heroic role, as Lester was also Nightwing in The New Batman Adventures, Barbecue in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, and Hal Jordan (a.k.a. Green Lantern) on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. (Panel: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., West 301A)
Anthony Michael Hall
Long before Michael Cera and Jesse Eisenberg had the whole awkward geek thing on lock, this Brat Pack actor perfected the archetype back in the '80s playing cinematic nerds in flicks like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science. He also had a one-season run on Saturday Night Live, starred in the TV remake of The Dead Zone, and played that one news anchor in The Dark Knight.
Any child of the '80s will remember this actor for his memorable turn as Dudley "Booger" Dawson in all four Revenge of the Nerds films. Armstrong's played several other notable roles, of course, including Herbert Viola on Moonlighting, Mr. Ralph in DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, and Charles De Mar in Better Off Dead. (Panel: Friday, 10:30 a.m., West 301BCD)
If you’re a fan of Dragon Ball Z, you’re heard the work of Sean Schemmel, who’s voiced King Kai, Nail, and Goku in the anime’s Americanized version. (Panels: Friday, 1:30 p.m., North 221ABC; Saturday, 3:30 p.m., West 301A)
As an employee of Industrial Light and Magic, John Giang’s epic artistic efforts have made it into a slew of blockbuster popcorn flicks. He created some of the monsters of Pacific Rim, as well as crafting Michelangelo’s rocket-powered skateboard in 2013’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and was one of the designers of Ironman’s Hulkbuster armor in Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Booth: AA1631)
Tracee Cocco has done what many Trekkers have dreamed about doing: don a Starfleet uniform and hang out on the U.S.S. Enterprise. As a stuntwoman and actress, Cocco played a background character, later known as Lieutenant Jae, on multiple episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and in such films as First Contact and Insurrection. (Booth: Exhibitor Hall lobby)
Danny Trejo is a total badass, both in real life (he’s a former convict and boxer) and on the silver screen (he’s played assassins, thugs, kingpins, and killers). Don’t let that dissuade from talking to the dude at Comicon, though, as he’s quite personable and humorous. He even sells vegan tacos at a couple of taquerias he owns in the LA area. (Panel: Friday, noon, West 301BCD)
Christopher R. Sabat
The longtime voice director of Dragon Ball Z, who’s also the dude behind Vegeta, Shenron, Piccolo, Zarbon, Yamcha, Mr. Popo, Korin, Burter, Guru, and dozens more. (Panels: Friday, noon, North 221ABC; Saturday, 3:30 p.m., West 301A)
Vic Mignogna is a double threat when it comes to anime. He’s lent his voice to more 60 different roles in films and videos since the late '90s, ranging from Full Metal Panic! and Yu Yu Hakusho to One-Punch Man, and has released a few albums containing English-language covers of songs from various anime soundtracks. (Panels: Friday, 4:30 p.m., West 301BCD; Sunday, 2 p.m., West 301A)
Jesse Eisenberg ain't got nothing on Michael Rosenbaum, at least when it comes to portraying Lex Luthor. And we’re certain that fans of Smallville, the Superman-centric television show that featured Rosenbaum as the bald billionaire supervillain, would agree. It ain’t the actor’s only exposure to the DC universe, however, as he also starred as The Flash on the Cartoon Network’s animated Justice League series. (Panel: Saturday, 5 p.m., West 301A)
Bonnie Wright is renowned for portraying Ginevra "Ginny" Weasley, the on-again/off-again love interest and eventual wife of Harry Potter. That much you know. What you may not be aware of is that she also played a young Agatha Christie in a BBC docudrama and has a burgeoning career as a director. (Panel: Saturday, 3 p.m., West 301BCD)
Voice Actress/Internet Personality
Sorry RWBY fanatics, but the voice actress who plays Weiss Schnee probably won’t drop any big spoilers at Phoenix Comicon, either about her role or the upcoming season of the popular web cartoon. Everything else about the character (a rapier-wielding student and heiress who defends the fantasy world of Remnant along with her fellow classmates) is probably fair game. (Panel: Sunday, 1:30 p.m., North 221ABC)
Pop quiz, anime fans: What do Allen Walker in D.Gray-man, Attack on Titan’s Marlo, Yuichiro Tajima in Big Windup!, and Fairy Tail’s Natsu Dragneel all have in common? (Other than the fact they’re all from anime, of course.) Every single one is voiced here in the U.S. by Todd Haberkorn. Ditto for Viscount Druitt in Black Butler, Ling Yao in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Hayato Mikogami in the Sekirei series, School Rumble’s Kentaro Nara, and
Ken F. Levin
Fans of the television versions of Preacher, which is based on Garth Ennis' landmark comic book, and Quarry owe a debt of thanks to Ken F. Levin, the executive producer of said shows who helped bring 'em from the page to the small screen.
As its name portends, Phoenix Comicon features a ton of special guests and content devoted to the sequential art form. This year is no exception, with appearances from a mix of famous names from the comic book world, as well as numerous local creators. Oh, and there will be loads of actual comics, too.
Josef “Joe” Rubinstein
Despite what the Internet says, Josef Rubinstein does not hold a world record for inking the largest amount of pencilers ever. That’s not to say he hasn’t partnered with a mind-blowing number of artists since his debut in the ‘70s, however. By his estimate, he’s inked the drawings of between 400 to 500 pencilers – including such heavyweights as John Romita Jr., Dan Jurgens, and Todd McFarlane – while working for, as he puts it, “nearly every major company and on nearly every character.” Bravo.
While he’ll forever be known
In addition to his many accomplishments in the comics industry, including creating Booster Gold and notable runs on Green Arrow and Justice League of America, Dan Jurgens has a rather infamous distinction: killing the Man of Steel. In the early '90s, Jurgens was writing and penciling Superman when DC infamously decided to off Kal-El for its now-legendary story arc. And while the character came back to life a few months later (no one really dies in comics), Jurgens was the dude who got to envision how Supes would bite the dust.
There’s a reason why Arthur Suydam has been dubbed the “Zombie King.” The famed illustrator is renowned for his portrayals of pop culture and comics characters as members of the undead, including his covers for the phenomenally popular Marvel Zombies series from the mid-aughts. His non-zombified work, which runs the gamut from gigs with Heavy Metal and National Lampoon to runs on Conan and Ghost Rider, is also impressive and tends to evoke an epic and almost painterly feel.
Ron Marz has been quite prolific during his 27-year career, accumulating a list of credits that rivals the Book of the Vishanti in terms of length. He’s written for practically every noteworthy publisher, like his notable stints in the ‘90s on Silver Surfer (which intersected with the “Infinity Gauntlet” saga) and Green Lantern (which included the controversial “Emerald Twilight” arc). He was also responsible for a couple of famous crossovers: 1997’s Batman/Aliens and 1998’s Marvel vs. DC, which he co-wrote with Peter David.
Few comics industry figures are as prominent as Jim Shooter, the editor-in-chief at Marvel who
If you think all comics inkers are merely tracers, a couple things are apparent: one, you should stop watching Chasing Amy, and, two, you should see the outstanding work of artist Randy Emberlin. Over the last 30 years, he’s added depth, definition, and his own distinctive touches to such landmark books as The Amazing Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, the original G.I. Joe, and Venom: Along Came A Spider.
As a comics creator, Tom Raney has pretty much done it all – penciling, inking, writing, coloring ... you name it. And he’s done it all with aplomb, earning him mad respect in both the industry and fandom in general for his dynamic work. Raney’s gigged for DC (where he relaunched The Outsiders and co-created Threshold) as well as Valiant and Image, but has mostly been a Marvel man over the last 30 years, including co-creating Mutant X and drawing for Alpha Flight, Ultimate X-Men, and Thor.
Scott Koblish has been a fan of Deadpool for years, long before geekdom went absolutely gaga for the “merc with a mouth” in 2016. He’s drawing Wade Wilson off and on since
If you consider yourself a fan of the DuckTales cartoons, be it the original from the '80s or the recent Disney XD revival, you really oughta check out the work of Don Rosa. He's world-renowned for his work writing and illustrating characters and titles associated with the franchise for decades, including creating the award-winning and well-remembered 12-issue series, The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
Jae Lee's astounding work on Inhumans won him an Eisner Award in 1999, but that's far from the only honor he's earned during his 27-year career. He started out at Marvel in 1990 (reportedly becoming the youngest pro artist ever to be employed by a major comic book company), had a memorable stint on Namor the Sub-Mariner, collaborated with the legendary Grant Morrison on Fantastic Four: 1234, and not only helped illustrate The Dark Tower series, but was picked by Stephen King himself to create the cover and interior art for the novel The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole.
We could spend hours listing the countless comics and literary projects that the ultra-prolific Peter David has been involved with over the last few decades. And, frankly, everything he does is great. He's also contributed with a host of fantastic Star Trek novels (Q-in-Law and Imzadi are our personal favorites), had landmark stints on several comic books (including a 12-year stint on The Incredible Hulk), and written for geeky TV shows (Babylon 5) and cartoons (Ben 10, Ultimate Spider-Man).
If you stayed through the closing credits of last year’s Doctor Strange film (most likely to catch that post-credits scene featuring Thor) you just might’ve spotted Geof Isherwood’s name listed. That’s because the artist’s work on Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme in the late ’80s helped influence the look of the film. It’s not the only contribution that Isherwood, who’s also drawn for hundreds of DC and Marvel titles, has made to cinematic adaptations of comics, as he also worked on X-Men: Days of Future Past.
You’ll find plenty of phenomenal pinup-style portraiture and art gracing the booth of this Valley illustrator at Phoenix Comicon, as well as his online store and sizable portfolio. In the past eight years, DeBalfo’s has created covers for such publishers as Zenescope Entertainment and Big Dog Ink, as well as titles like Zombies vs. Cheerleaders and Lady Death, not to mention inside pages for Aspen Comics.
Norm Rapmund has been around the world of sequential art for decades, dating back to the early days of Image Comics, where he laid down the ink on Bloodstrike, Supreme, Team Youngblood, and Brigade. He also had a stint with
It wouldn't be a Phoenix Comicon without Brian Pulido, the famed Valley resident who frequently finds time in his busy schedule for his home con. And believe us, he stays plenty busy. When he isn’t running Coffin Comics or handling some of his signature titles – including Lady Death and Evil Ernie – Pulido is working on any number of multimedia projects, including making films like The Graves, the 2009 indie horror flick that was shot in Arizona.
Chris Bachalo is the man behind the quirky and almost cutesy look of Death, the gloomy and gothy psychopomp created by Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg that originated in Sandman. Bachalo’s also famous for co-creating Generation-X, which focused on a teenage X-Men team, along with Scott Lobdell.
If you happen to dig any of the numerous comic books put out by Devil's Due Publishing since its debut back in 1999, be sure to say thanks to its founder, Josh
Die-hard Iron Maiden fans know the work of Derek Riggs. After all, he created the legendary metal act's iconic mascot Eddie the Head and designed several album covers in the '80s and '90s.
Brian Augustyn has been in the comics industry since the mid-'80s and has had lengthy runs on The Flash and Justice League. He’s also written for several dozen notable books over the last few decades, ranging from Ash to Zombie Tales.
If you’ve attended Phoenix Comicon any time in recent memory, you’ve seen the work of Val Hochberg. You’ve also worn it, flipped through it, or pinned it to your costume, as her colorful, cutesy, or cartoonish art has adorned badges, program guides, and other official ephemera. You can also spy it in issues of her indie comic book, Mystery Babylon, or on any of the prints, sketch cards or posters that she sells.
Mark Kidwell and Jay Fotos
Collectively, they’re the co-creators of the popular Vietnam War-themed zombie comic ‘68 (think Platoon meets Night of the Living Dead). Individually, they’ve contributed words, ideas, and drawings to a number of memorable titles. Kidwell also created Frank Frazetta's
The tortuous tale of Faust is one of the more influential pieces of legend and literature that's been adapted countless times over the last several centuries. And when horror-oriented artist Tim Vigil transformed it into a series of graphic novels in the ‘80s and '90s, it earned him a Bram Stoker Award nomination and became the basis of the 2001 flick, Faust: Love of the Damned.
Inkers, according to Mark Morales, make great art even better. "Your [role] is to help the penciler’s work look the best it can," he stated in a 2014 interview. And Morales, who studied under the late Will Eisner, has done just that in the pages and on the covers of hundreds of titles for both Marvel and DC, frequently tag-teaming with pencilers Olivier Coipel, Leinil Yu, and Jim Cheung.
The galaxy far, far away has inspired a few of Mark Brooks' projects, as he's illustrated Star Wars-related sketch cards, covers, and interior art for the Han Solo series, and several prints. His evocative and epic works
Jenevieve Broomall is best known for her skills as a cover artist. Just ask any of the comic book fans who scoop up the issues of Grimm Fairy Tales, Joan of Arc, and Critter that she's worked
David Finch has been involved with projects in comics, films, and elsewhere. His gritty style of art has been seen in the pages of Ultimate X-Men and Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America; on the silver screen (he helped design the Nite Owl's airship in Watchmen); and even on the cover of Disturbed's 2008 album Indestructible. Since 2010, he's been exclusive to DC and has written and drawn for numerous Caped Crusader-related books, including the epic Batman: The Dark Knight in 2012.
Raven Gregory’s first name is rather apropos, considering he’s made a killing writing hordes of spooky, monstrous, and macabre yarns for Zenescope’s Tales from Wonderland and Grimm Fairy Tales. He also tells personal stories, too. In 2011, he wrote Fly, a cautionary tale about teens who experiment with a designer drug that allows flight, which was based on Gregory’s own battle with crystal meth addiction.
When you've been in the comics biz for as long as Rick Leonardi (38 years to be exact), you're probably going to have worked on some significant titles. And he's done just that, including for both Marvel (Cloak and Dagger, The Uncanny X-Men, Spider-Man 2099) and DC (Batgirl, Green Lantern Versus
When this local artist puts either a pencil or pen to paper, as he’s done for issues of Escape from Monster Island and Grimm Fairy Tales, it typically results in some dynamic, stunning, or action-packed artwork. You can also see his efforts in the upcoming crowdfunded indie comic book Transgenesis.
Valley native Mike MacLean has written for a few of Coffin Comics’ freaky-
Brian Miller and Kristy Miller
Brian Miller has been coloring inside the lines on comics like Doc Savage, Justice League, Superman: Day of Doom, X-Men,
Sherard Jackson had a hand in creating the rotoscoped animation in the groundbreaking cinematic adaptation of A Scanner Darkly. He’s also worked for such publishers as Devil’s Due, Publishing, Image Comics, Antarctic Press, and DC online.
Theo "Teddy" Tso
A self-taught artist, lifelong comics fan, and member of the Las Vegas Paiute, Theo Tso has been drawing superheroes since he was a kid. And after years of recreating the adventures of caped crusaders and super-powered beings, Tso came up with a hero of his own: Captain Paiute, the Indigenous Avenger of the Southwest. The character appeared in his own title in 2013, which was published by Indigenous Narratives Collective, the Native American-centric comics collective co-founded by Tso.
Tucson resident Adam Yeater has a particular yen for curious creatures, colorfully adorable monsters, and horrifically cute scenarios. You can spy all of these in many of the mini-comics he self-publishes, not to mention the various paintings, prints, custom-made toys, and other creations he sells online.
Bill Willingham's career stretches back the
It's hard to miss the work of Jeff Pina, considering his style — which is influenced by both anime and super-deformed art — is both eye-catching and adorable. It's been featured in any number of self-published titles he's created for more than a decade now (including Dr. Oblivion’s Guide to Teenage Dating and Bosco & Fleet: Detectives of the Occult Sciences) as well as projects for Hasbro Games, Valiant, and Moonstone Publishing. He's even contributed art to The Smiths-themed trade paperback, Unite and Take Over.
Marat Mychaels started out as Rob Liefeld’s assistant, which, if you’re familiar with the Deadpool creator’s colorful vocabulary, was probably a memorable experience for him. That isn’t his only association with Liefeld, however, as
The Fillbach Brothers
Matt Fillbach and Shawn Fillbach spent close to 15 years creating Dark Horse’s Star Wars: Clone Wars series. They’ve teamed up on many other projects as well, including several off-kilter and out-there comics as Frickin' Butt-Kickin' Zombie Ants, Safety-Belt Man All Hell, Werewolves on the Moon: Versus Vampires, and The Naughty Necropolis.
Ash Maczko’s series Squarriors, which is published by Devil’s Due, features one of the most original premises in comics and involves animals taking over the world after the extinction of mankind. It’s also proved to be a popular one, too.
You can find the breathtaking art of Dave Beaty on trading cards and sketch cards (including ones featuring legendary characters like Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and Batman), as well as in the pages of comic books of both the mass-market (Justice League of America, Batman Inc.) and independently produced (Stargodz, Bushi Tales, Red Skirts) variety.
Livio Ramondelli's painterly renditions of Optimus Prime, Megatron, and other famed Cybertronians for the covers of IDW’s various Transformers series are a thing of beauty. Ditto his efforts on Star Wars: Legacy and Classic Battlestar Galactica.
Any aspiring comics artist would be envious of the laudable career that this writer, inker, penciler, colorist, and
Hit up the Deviant Art page of Ryan Kincaid and you'll see why such companies as Big Dog Ink, No Gravity Studios, and Zenescope Entertainment have tapped him to create covers and pinups of their buxom and bikini-clad characters. His portfolio isn’t limited to cheesecake material, however, as he’s drawn sketch cards for Upper Deck and Rittenhouse Archives.
Tom Hodges has provided art for a few geek-friendly franchises, including Lord of the Rings sketch cards, Star Wars
Would-be comic scribes eager for advice would be wise to seek out Dan Wickline at Phoenix
Scott Godlewski and Ryan Cody
Every week, you can hear these two locals chatting about a variety of subjects, both geeky and otherwise, during the latest episode of their podcast, The Illustrious Gentlemen. A frequent topic of conversation is the comics industry, a subject that's very familiar to both of them. Godlewski's an artist who helped co-create the Image Comics title Copperhead and has worked for DC's Vertigo imprint. Meanwhile, Cody has his own book, F.O.E., and has been employed by Dark Horse, Dynamite Comics, and IDW.
It’s no secret that we’re fans of Brad Dwyer’s breezy, slice-of-life cartoons, considering we regularly featured his strips in our issues and on our site. The local artist and onetime punk rocker
There’s a glowing letter of recommendation from Todd McFarlane on the website of Jason Gonzalez, which should be your first clue that the local graphic designer and illustrator
This local comics creator, who resides in Mesa, has done artwork for IDW, Upper Deck, Arcana Studio, and Marvel. The thing we're really interested in checking out, however, is his current work on
An editor for Chicago-based published 1First Comics, Megan Sloane has edited numerous titles by Bill Willingham (including The Known Magical World and the upcoming Lark’s Killer) and has been a special guest of such conventions and geek events as SiouxperCon 2017 and the New Jersey Comic Expo.
Mark Dos Santos
Mark Dos Santos collaborated with some of the most significant names in the comics community, including Garth Ennis on A Train Called Love, Steve T. Seagle on Imperial, and Bill Willingham on the soon-to-be release Lark’s Killer.
Eric Mengel's self-published titles have been spotted in record stores, comics emporiums, and even head shops over the past 22 years since he became a part of the Arizona comics community. Our favorite of his is the long-running Ocho, the quirky and funny series about a blue-skinned alien missionary.
As the 8-bit look of his cute and colorful website indicates, local artist Reset Survivor is a die-hard geek at heart. Video games and other bits of geek culture also inspire the indie comics he creates, which will be available for purchase at Phoenix Comicon.
K. Lynn Smith
K. Lynn Smith has a pretty wicked sense of humor, as evidenced by a morbidly hilarious online comic strip (which involved gunning down a snowman during Christmastime) that she did in 2014 for Cards Against Humanity’s website. Her work for the Devil’s Due webcomic Plume is equally as memorable.
As one of Zenescope Entertainment’s many scribes, Dave Franchini has contributed stories to some of its signature titles, such as Zombies vs Cheerleaders and Grimm Fairy Tales. Additionally, he edited Hellchild: The Unholy, E.V.I.L. Heroes, Death Force, and Satan’s Hollow.
Renee Witterstaetter's had an extensive career that’s stretched into several mediums. She’s edited at both Marvel and DC on books ranging from She-Hulk and Conan Saga to
Ashley Witter’s taste in comics ventures into the macabre, as she’s previously adapted Interview With A Vampire: Claudia’s Story and Anne Rice’s Wolf Gift as graphic novels and handled the artwork for Bloodthirsty: One Nation Under Water. Her talents aren’t just limited to zombies and vampires, however, as Witter is a longtime contributor to Squarriors.
Travis Hanson is an imaginative fellow who’s spent more than a decade creating colorful comics, cartoons, and games for kids and teens, including his long-running online comic strip The Bean and the children’s book Tanner Jones and the Quest for the Monkey Stone.
Over the last 20 years, David Baron has contributed his words and art to such comic books as Green Lantern, Justice League of America, Detective Comics, and Green Arrow, not to mention his creator-owned series Stained.
If you’ve attended such local geek events as Game On Expo, you’ve probably encountered local artist Albert Morales at his booth or perused some of his many works, including Ultra Spider-Man and Captain America trading cards, various prints, or his creator-owned title, Super Impacto vs. The World.
Cannibalism is a very much a reality in John Layman’s CHEW, the darkly humorous alternative comic that he co-created with Rob
Billy Tucci’s modern-day samurai series Shi, which has sold 3 million copies worldwide and racked up a slew of awards, is his most prominent creation, but it ain't his only contribution to comics. The artist and cartoonist
John Stinsman started his 20-year career drawing Vampirella before serving as an artist for similarly horror/fantasy comics as Bloodstrike, Lady Pendragon, and Avengelyne. His stuff even appeared in the music video for the 2006 Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey track, “Where I Belong.”
Sheldon Mitchell has worked on a variety of comic books over the years, such as Vampire Hunter D, Witchblade, Freshman, Kaboom, and Cable.
D.B. Stanley is the artist and writer behind last year’s Lord of Gore, a one-off title from Devil’s Due about the villain of a blood-soaked ‘80s slasher film coming to life.
Swords and sorcery are the focus of Steve Argyle's work, which has
Adam Orndorf has absolutely no interest in drawing “bright and shiny sparkly” vampires like the ones seen in Twilight. Hence the reason why the 16-year veteran of indie comics contributed to the horror series Blood & Dust: The Life and Undeath of Judd Glenny and its sequel Blood & Dust: Glenny Family Values, both of which offer a more “jagged and dirty and nasty and scummy” look at the bloodsucking creatures of the night.
Sebastian A. Jones
The career of Sebastian A. Jones has included co-founding MVP Records, launching indie publisher Stranger Comics, and writing several books for kids, including Dusu: Path of the Ancient, Ruining Christmas, Tales of Asunda, and Niobe: She is Life.
Damon Begay is an Arizona artist who writes, draws, and publishes the ultra-colorful indie title Interstellar Comix.
Books & Literature
Word nerds and book geeks can also get their fill at Phoenix Comicon each year, as numerous authors of books featuring science fiction, horror, fantasy, or any combination thereof will make appearances and discuss their craft. You can even share a snifter or two with a few of 'em, courtesy of the annual "Drinks with Authors and Creators" mixer.
Timothy Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson, and Michael Stackpole
It was something of a shame when the Disney-owned Lucasfilm decided in 2014 to marginalize the various Star Wars novels, comics, and games in its "Expanded Universe" (read: anything not seen on screen) to make way for The Force Awakens and its new canon. The move essentially nullified 23 years worth of epic stories, including many fantastic works by these three authors. Timothy Zahn, of course, penned several incomparable novels centered around Grand Admiral Thrawn. Meanwhile, Kevin J. Anderson penned the "Jedi Academy" trilogy and a zillion different comics, as well as editing a couple of entertaining Star Wars anthologies. And Michael Stackpole was the force (pun intended) behind the action-packed X-Wing book series and
Claudia Gray is the scribe responsible for the popular YA-oriented Evernight series, which depicts a boarding school that's secretly run by vampires (think Harry Potter meets Twilight). She also wrote a pair of Star Wars novels, Lost Stars and Bloodline.
Beth Cato has a yen for fusing elements of fantasy with other literary genres to create an engrossing melange of styles. To wit: In her
This iconic fantasy author has sold more than 21 million books and is renowned for his voluminous Shannara series of epics, which
Many of the tales crafted by Robin Hobb in the last 34 years – including the best-selling "Farseer," "Liveship Traders," and “Tawny Man” trilogies – take place within the fantastical Realm of the Elderlings. Said novels have sold like hotcakes and have helped influence the fantasy genre considerably over the years, and no less a source than Orson Scott Card has said as much, as he’s stated that Hobb "arguably set the standard for the modern serious fantasy novel.”
Whether she’s writing as herself or under her pseudonym Kinley MacGregor, famed author Sherrilyn Kenyon has had absolutely phenomenal success as an author. More than 30 million copies of her works (many of which delve into the realms of fantasy, sci-fi, and the paranormal) have been snatched up by readers worldwide. Her most successful projects include the "Dark-Hunters" universe, the "Brotherhood of the Sword" novels, and the six-book "Lords of Avalon" series.
As we've previously noted, cheeky local author Gini Koch is nothing if not prolific. She's written tons of novels from a multitude of different genres, most notably her 12-book "Alien"/"Kitty Katt" series, either as herself or under a pseudonym, including Anita Ensal (A Cup of Joe), Jemma Chase (The Disciple & Other Stories of the Paranormal), and A.E. Stanton (When Josie Comes Home, Deacon's Ark)
Diana Gabaldon is the homegrown author of the phenomenally popular Outlander novels, which is a hybrid of fantasy, romance, and history, as well as the nine-book Lord John series.
Brent Weeks is the acclaimed fantasy author of the "Night Angel" trilogy and the ongoing "Lightbringer" series. The former is a dark fantasy featuring the adventures of Azoth, a former thief and anti-hero who strives to become a magical assassin. Meanwhile, the latter involves a pre-industrial society where badass characters called Drafters use a form of light-based magic called
Elizabeth Bear’s oeuvre could best be described as “epic,” both in its scope (she created a few galaxy-spanning sci-fi series) and sheer enormity. In the span of two decades, Bear has penned 20 novels, including her "Jenny Casey" and "Jacob's Ladder" trilogies, not to mention three novellas and scores of short stories and fiction pieces. She’s also nabbed two Hugo Awards and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Amy K. Nichols
Amy K. Nichols has only been in the novel trade for a comparatively short time (since 2014, to be specific) but has already racked up two hit books, Now That You're Here and it's sequel Since You've Been Gone. Both books involve a dystopian version of Phoenix, as well as wormholes, alternative worlds, and other sci-fi twists and turns.
Yvonne Navarro describes herself as a “bionic writer and high desert action heroine,” which perfectly encapsulates the thrilling exploits and fantastical verve seen in some of her novels, including Red Shadows, AfterAge, and Final Impact. She’s also big on the supernatural and powerful female protagonists, as she’s written several Buffyverse tie-in books, and her Dark Redemption series stars Brynna, a fallen angel in human form who battles demons.
Suzanne Young does YA novels with plenty of teenage angst and does them well, often with a sci-fi or horror bent. Like The Program, which involves a dystopian future where the government forcibly erases bad memories in adolescents to curb an escalating teen suicide problem. It's become her most prominent work to date and has led to a number of sequels, including The Treatment, The Epidemic, The Adjustment, and The Remedy. She's also dabbled in horror with Hotel for the Lost and Hotel Ruby.
The work of Myke Cole includes books inspired by the military (the upcoming nonfiction Legion Versus Phalanx), fantasy (his "Sacred Throne" novels), and ... um, military fantasy (his continuing "Shadow Ops" series).
Jim Butcher's been busy lately. He's currently working on Peace Talks, the 16th book in his famed Dresden Files series of contemporary fantasy/mystery tales, as well as a cooperative card game and RPG based on the franchise. And fans of his steampunk-inspired Cinder Spires series will be happy to hear that the latest novel, The Olympian Affair, comes out next year.
Alan Dean Foster
Alan Dean Foster has the distinction of writing the book on Star Wars ... literally. Back in 1975, George Lucas paid the author $5,000 to ghostwrite the novelization of A New Hope, the first-ever
Good friends become bitter enemies in V.E. Schwab’s YA-oriented 2013 superhero fantasy Vicious, a vengeance-filled tale about two pals who both gain superpowers and become arch rivals. It’s been optioned by Hollywood, as has her "Monsters of Verity" urban fantasy
Pierce Brown is best known for his "Red Rising" series of dystopian sci-fi novels, which are set 700 years in the future when mankind has colonized other planets but has been enslaved in a color-based caste system where individuals who are physically superior reign supreme.
The bibliography of Joseph Nassise contains more than 25 different novels, many of which are best-sellers, like his popular "Templar Chronicles" series. All of ‘em are from geek-friendly genres, including urban fantasy (the "Jeremiah Hunt" trilogy), zombies (his "Great Undead War"
Scott Sigler’s been fascinated with monsters most of his life, dating back to a childhood spent watching creature features with his dad and writing scary stories in grade school. So it isn’t surprising that a great deal of his creative output over the years – including 15 novels, six novellas, dozens of short stories, several screenplays, countless blogs, and his PANDEMIC podcast – has been about things horrific, ghastly, and terrifying.
Ryan Dalton’s been a frequent visitor to Phoenix Comicon over the years, dating back to when he was an attendee and volunteer. After his breakthrough young adult thriller, The Year of Lightning (the first book in his "Time Shift" trilogy), proved to be a hit, however, he got to level up to “special guest” designation. Good work.
Despite what his website claims, Wesley Chu isn't really a "Death Star technician." He is, however, a former stuntman, the star of a funny Orbitz
Katie Salidas is one busy individual. Besides co-hosting the book-oriented YouTube talk show Spilling Ink, she’s a wife and mother of three and an avid Doctor Who fan who attends a variety of geek events like Phoenix Comicon. Oh yeah, and she's a prolific novelist, too, who’s authored multiple paranormal fantasy series (like Immortalis, Olde Town Pack, and Little Werewolf), as well as romance novels “with a naughty side” as Rozlyn Sparks.
Authors should always write what they know, as the saying goes. And given Robert Reid’s background as a tech executive and founder of streaming site Listen.com, it’s only natural he’d write Architects of the Web, a nonfiction account of the rise of the internet, and Year Zero, a satirically Swiftian romp about how Earth
If you're the sort who found the more macabre elements of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland appealing, Christina Henry's Chronicles of Alice series, a dark reimagining of the Lewis Carroll classic, might be up your alley. You'll probably also dig her Black Wings books as well, which focus on an acerbic grim reaper-like agent of death named Madeline Black, who accompanies souls to the afterlife.
Yes, Aprilynne Pike is indeed working on a sequel to her latest YA novel Glitter, which involves decadent and aristocratic teens in a near-future version of Versailles becoming addicted to a drug-like lip gloss. Feel free to ask her about it during Phoenix Comicon, or any other questions you might have about her previous hits, like her best-selling "Wings"
Bradley P. Beaulieu
Like many fantasy authors, Bradley P. Beaulieu is skilled at building vast and imaginative realms. In the "Lays of Anuskaya" trilogy, he envisions a mountainous archipelago of seven islands called Khalakovo populated by rogues and adventurers traveling in
The works of L.J. Hachmeister, specifically her epic "Triorion" space opera saga, boast some action-oriented female characters who kick a lot of ass during their adventures. It's something that Hachmeister knows plenty about, considering she's a world champion martial artist.
Dan Wells rose to prominence in the literary world in 2009 with his thriller, I Am Not a Serial Killer, which kicked off his "John Wayne Cleaver" saga, and also earned rave reviews and a big screen adaptation. Since then, Wells has written more than a dozen novels and novellas, including the post-apocalyptic YA series "Partials" and the "Mirador"
Quincy J. Allen
Quincy J. Allen calls himself a "cross-genre author," owing to his love of mixing and mashing up
Though local YA author Tom Leveen has penned a few horror novels, including the zombie-focused Sick and the recently published Hellworld, and also written for the Spawn comic, the dude has a softer side, too.
He's also penned such novels as Zero,
The action taking place in Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage universe of stories and books, including the recently released Sins of Empire, offers the sort of stuff that fans of flintlock fantasy enjoy, like enormous battles, a pre-industrial setting, spies and intrigue, and plenty of gunpowder going off.
Jason M. Hough
The sci-fi writings of Jason M. Hough feature action, alien technology, and otherworldly secrets. In his "Dire Earth" cycle (The Darwin Elevator, The Exodus Towers, The Plague Forge), the survivors of a post-apocalyptic plague on our planet in the 23rd century deal with the sudden appearance of orbital elevators built by enigmatic aliens. And in the techno-thriller Zero World, operative Peter Caswell travels through wormholes and across multiple worlds to unravel the mysterious murder of a doomed spaceship crew.
James A. Owen
Situations both fantastical and fabulist can be found in the works of Arizona’s James A. Owen. He authored the best-selling Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series, which involve younger, fictionalized versions of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and H.G. Wells traveling to
Science Fiction/Fantasy/Alternate History
As an astrophysicist for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Alan Smale is keen on rigorous precision and empirical data. And it shows in his writing. In his Clash of Eagles trilogy, for example, Smale used detailed historic research to formulate an alternate history where the Roman Empire battled Native American tribes after invading North America.
If the militaristic aspects of the Weston Ochse's sci-fi and horror works, such as Grunt Life and SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest, seem true to life, it's because the author spent 20-plus years in the U.S. Army. Highlights of his career also include winning a Bram Stoker Award for his first novel, Scarecrow Gods, and the fact that The Rock is producing a
In Scott Lynch's Gentlemen Bastards universe, the criminal underworld of a Venice-like land of Camorr is rife with thieves who rob from the wealthy, including the dashing Locke Lamora and his gang. It’s an intriguing yarn that spans six books so far – including The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies, and The Republic of Thieves – and has proven to be both critically acclaimed and popular with geeks.
An Arizona native who prefers writing fantasy epics like Bring Down Heaven and Aeon’s Gate that are a bit bloodier than your average fantasy tale and boast a darkly comic influence.
Arizona-born writer Mark Gardner has a penchant for fiction of a speculative or sci-fi bent that tackles a variety of subjects, including soul transmigration (Body Rentals), alien invasion (War of the Worlds: Retaliation), steampunk (Brass Automation), apocalyptic climate change (Forlorn Hope), and eternal life (Paradox).
John J. Rust
When he isn’t working in the local radio industry, John J. Rust spends his time writing novels of the sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, or thriller variety, including Sea Raptor, Dark Wings, and Fallen Eagle: Alaska Front.
Neo Edmund has pretty much done it all. He’s created comic books (including the techno vampire title Clan of the Vein), television episodes, novels, and movies. Plus, he’s played a costumed minion in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and a few other similar shows (such as Superhuman Samurai
If your interests include horror, comedy, cosplay, or actual science, Phoenix Comicon will also have a variety of special guests from those disparate fields as well.
Teagan Wall, Dante Lauretta, and Bertram Jacobs
If you'd like a chaser of science fact to accompany all the science fiction you’re likely to digest at Phoenix Comicon, this year’s event will feature talks from a few local academics and researchers eager to share their knowledge. Chief among them is Teagan Wall, a
Chris Gore has put his geekdom to good use over the years. Back in the ‘90s, he founded Film Threat magazine and oversaw niche publications like VideoGames, Sci-Fi Universe, and
A significant amount of Rebekah McKendry’s professional life has revolved around things of a spooky, scary, and horrific nature. A former director of marketing for Fangoria Entertainment, she’s the current editor-in-chief of horror studio Blumhouse Productions, the co-host of the Shock Waves podcast, and an award-winning filmmaker in her own right who directed such short films as 2013's Witches Brew and 2015's Exquisite Corpse.
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Gabrielle Donathan/Maise Designs
A veteran of the local costuming scene, Gabrielle Donathan specializes in creating gear and getups inspired by both comics and gaming. She's created both for prominent cosplayers like Jessica Nigri and Amie Lynn, as well as numerous other geeks.
Phoenix Comicon 2017 takes place from Thursday, May 25, to Sunday, May 28, at the Phoenix Convention Center and Hyatt Regency Hotel. Daily admission is currently $20 to $45 and a full event pass is $75.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version to reflect recent guest additions and cancellations.