Nerd Culture

10 Must-See Guests at Phoenix Comicon 2016

Phoenix Comicon is going to be absolutely fantastic for Doctor Who fans this year. After all, two of the most iconic actresses from the legendary British sci-fi series – Billie Piper and Alex Kingston – are scheduled to appear at this weekend’s event along with a few other actors from the series.

Needless to say, there will be plenty of Whovians squeeing in delight this weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center during Comicon.

They won’t be the only ones, however, as fans of Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lord of the Rings, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, The Goonies, Star Trek, and even Mighty Morphin Power Rangers will probably get giddy when they get a chance to meet and interact with beloved stars from each of these shows and movies.

Just like with previous edtitions of Phoenix Comicon, this year's event – which runs from Thursday, June 2, to Sunday, June 5 – is loaded up with geek favorites, as well as numerous authors, artists, and icons.

Here's our list of who we're eager to see.

Maurice LaMarche
If ever there were a successor to the late Mel Blanc for the title of "Man of 1,000 Voices," it'd be Maurice LaMarche. During his 37-year career, the famed voice actor has brought characters to life on dozens of iconic cartoons, like Transformers and G.I. Joe, as well as Inspector Gadget, Ducktales, The Real Ghostbusters, Captain Planet, Hey Arnold!, and Rugrats. In essence, if you grew up in the '80s or '90s, you probably heard his voice a lot. Ditto for anyone who watched The Critic, which featured LaMarche famously parodying the late Orson Welles. Then there’s his stint on several Warner Bros. Animation shows, including his breakout role as The Brain on Animaniacs and, um … Pinky and the Brain. Are Phoenix Comicon attendees going to request he perform many of these voices during his spotlight panel on Saturday? Most likely. Will we enjoy hearing him do so ourselves? Absolutely.

Billy Zabka
As you may have heard, three of the stars of the original The Karate Kid — Ralph Macchio, Martin Kove, and Billy Zabka — are scheduled to appear at this year's Phoenix Comicon. With all due respect to Mr. "Wax On, Wax Off" and the Cobra Kai's dreaded dojo master, we're much more interested in meeting Mr. Zabka. Back in the '80s, he pulled off the pompous prick hat trick by playing the arrogant bully in The Karate Kid, Back to School, and Just One of the Guys. And he played it well. So well, in fact, that we flat out hated the dude whenever he appeared onscreen. In recent years, Zabka's habit of poking fun at his most famous roles multiple times (be it in commercials, music videos, or on How I Met Your Mother) has endeared him to us tremendously. Heck, we'll even refrain from making reference to sweeping the leg.

Oded Fehr
Back in 1999, Oded Fehr was something of an "it" guy, particularly after playing Medjai assassin Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and menacing "man-ho" Antoine Laconte in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. In fact, so popular was the Israeli-born actor at the time that he nabbed People's "Sexiest Import" award that year. These days, Fehr is still playing badasses, most notably in the Resident Evil films and on shows like The Blacklist and Covert Affairs, and he can still make people swoon. You can witness this for yourself, and even ask him some questions in German, during his Q&A on Saturday afternoon.


Gates McFadden
One of the many tragedies of Star Trek: The Next Generation's seven-season run is that Gates McFadden didn't get to fully show off her considerable acting talents as Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher. Granted, the producers threw her a bone every once in awhile in the form of one or two Crusher-heavy episodes a season, but the quality varied wildly. ("Remember Me" and "Attached" were fantastic, while "Sub Rosa" was awful.) And then there was all the behind-the-scenes drama during TNG's first year that caused her to miss the second season entirely. We hope to hear her opinion on such matters during her Q&A on Saturday, as well as the fact she once worked as a choreographer on such Jim Henson films as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.


Tony Todd
Not going to lie: Tony Todd's given us more than a few nightmares. He’s been flat-out terrifying in each of his horror film turns over the years, like starring as the titular slasher in any of the Candyman movies or the ultra-creepy mortician in the first two Final Destination films (best line: "You don't even want to f**k with that mack daddy"). Todd’s been just as memorable in less menacing roles, whether it's playing Top Dollar’s henchman in The Crow, Lieutenant Worf's brother on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the diabolical Cecrops on both Xena and Hercules, and a Vietnam War veteran with psychic powers on The X-Files. So charismatic is Todd that, frankly, he could read the phone book aloud during his Q&A on Friday and we'd dig it. 
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.