Phoenix Comicon is definitely jam-packed with things to do. This year's edition of PCC – taking place from Thursday, May 28, until Sunday, May 31 – is no exception, as illustrated by the four-day event's enormous program guide.
Besides all the hubbub and lively booths in the Exhibition Hall, there are several hundred different panels devoted to anything and everything of geeky interest, costuming events, after-hours events, unique programming, and a massive street party going on along Third Street outside the Phoenix Convention Center.
And then there's the army of special guests (including actors, artists, and nerd icons) who will pay a visit to Valley to share stories, pose for photos, or just interact with the estimated 80,000 that will be in attendance at the event.
We've eyeballed the rundown of guests that will be at Phoenix Comicon this year and have a few suggestions of who you won't want to miss when they appear in Room 301 in the convention center, the home for “spotlight panels” (read: Q&A's this year) or elsewhere.
This is purely speculation, but we're of the opinion that Phoenix Comicon's organizers have made it a point to feature at least one actor from cult sci-fi show Firefly every year. Not that we're complaining or anything, but look at the evidence: In 2013, they brought in Jewel Staite, followed by last year's blockbuster appearance by Nathan Fillion (a.k.a. Captain Mal). This year, it's Summer Glau, who's well-known to Browncoats as the genetically altered enigma River Tam. Glau's got a slew of other sci-fi roles on her resume (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The 4400, and Arrow) but one of our personal favorites is her appearance on Adult Swim show NTSF:SD:SUV when she lampooned her geek sex symbol status by playing a vampy “fake nerd girl” who seduces hapless males in order to steal their collectibles. And while it was just a part of that particular role, you might want to securely stow your limited edition Boba Fett bust if you get an autograph from Glau on Saturday or Sunday, just on the off-chance she decides to get back into character.
If you weren't a fan of that tepid cinematic adaptation of celebrated novel World War Z two summers ago, you weren't alone. The uneven zombie flick, while successful at the box office, had many detractors who cited the film's divergence from its source material as one of its many shortcomings. World War Z author Max Brooks, however, wasn't one of the haters. In truth, he dug the movie specifically because it was nothing like his novel, a fact he's discussed at various conventions.
To wit: At San Diego Comic-Con in 2013, Brooks stated the following: "What shocked me was it was exactly because it was so different from the book that I didn't hate it, because it was just somebody else's movie. It had nothing to do with me, so I was completely emotionally divorced from what I saw on the screen.”
In other words, if you're hoping to bond with the author over Hollywood's manhandling of his best-known work during his panel on Saturday afternoon, better come up another topic of conversation. Like maybe his recent graphic novel The Harlem Hellfighters, his lifelong battle with dyslexia, or what it was having legendary director Mel Brooks as a dad.
Rocky Horror Picture Show Cast Reunion
Even if you're a complete virgin when it comes to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, you're probably at least a little familiar with the utter fanaticism that's been built around the beloved cult classic over the decades. This fervor will be building to a fever pitch this year, since its the 40th anniversary of the infamous rock musical depicting hapless couple Janet Weiss and Brad Major's descent in Dr. Frank N. Furter's web of transsexual Transylvanian decadence. (Scores of celebrations are planned worldwide and the Fox network even has a TV movie remake planned for this Halloween.)
Comicon organizers are bringing in a trio of Rocky Horror stars this year in honor of the occasion, including Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn, who respectively portrayed ditzy groupie Columbia and Frank N. Furter henchwoman Magenta. Barry Bostwick, the actor who helped make nerdy protagonist Brad Major such a stuffy dullard, will also be in attendance and will reunite with his fellow castmates for a Friday afternoon panel celebrating Rocky Horror's anniversary and a Saturday night screening of the film featuring local shadowcasters Broadway Bound and Gagged. We're definitely shivering with antici...pation for both.
Most Americans are probably acquainted with Jason Isaacs because of his two most famous roles: the supercilious and sinister Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter saga and the equally prickish Colonel Tavington from The Patriot. But despite the fact that the pedigreed British thespian is quite adept at playing menacing well-heeled villains, he's really quite a charming and friendly bloke...and plenty cheeky to boot (as evidenced by his roles as a drag queen in 2001's Sweet November or his humorous postings to Instagram.) So if you're fortunate enough to get in a question at his spotlight on Friday afternoon or interact with Isaacs during a photo op or autograph session, you needn't fear being run through or hit with a killing curse.
When J.J. Abrams decided to cast New Zealand's Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard McCoy in his reboot of the Star Trek franchise, we admit to being particularly skeptical. Not in the actor himself or his abilities, as Urban's demonstrated his skills in both The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Bourne Supremacy, but rather because it seemed like no one could ever replace Deforest Kelley as the Enterprise's lovably cranky resident doctor. Urban, however, defied our expectations and (pardon the pun) proved to be the real McCoy in both Star Trek films from the Abramsverse. Thus, we'll gladly be in attendance at his panel on Sunday afternoon, if for no other reason than to hear some news about the next cinematic voyage of the Enterprise and to give Urban some props for naming one of his sons after Indiana Jones.
Battlestar Galactica Cast Reunion
If your friends happen to be unreachable late Saturday afternoon, don't be alarmed. They neither have succumbed to the heat nor are sacked out back at their hotel rooms. Chances are they're camped out up in Room 301 of the convention center eagerly awaiting a reunion of three of the stars from the 2004 telvision reboot of Battlestar Galatica. Mary McDonnell, who played President Laura Roslin, and noted character actor Edward James Olmos (a.k.a. Admiral William Adama) will take to the stage with Katie Sackhoff, who piloted a Viper for five seasons as badass starfighter jock Kara "Starbuck" Thrace on the show. If you're a B-Star-G aficionado, it's a chance to have all your burning questions about the program answered. Or, like pretty much any panel at Comicon, a chance to geek the eff out.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a character in the DC Comics canon as polarizing as Aquaman. While the King of the Seven Seas definitely has his supporters (most notably Batman v. Superman director Zack Snyder), the character has been the target of mass loathing in recent years by everyone from über-nerd Patton Oswalt to the boys of The Big Bang Theory. Then came last fall's announcement that Jason Momoa (a.k.a. Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones) would play Aquaman on the big screen in the DC Cinematic Universe, followed in February by a certain publicity photo of the hunky actor portraying a striking re-imagining of the character.
It caused bit of a sea change — not to mention countless squees and swoons — as it seemed like geeks finally had something positive to say about Aquaman. Or, at the very least, how well the costume showed off Momoa's amazing abs. That same photo is bound to be autographed in abundance by the actor at any of his signing sessions this weekend or mentioned during his Q&A on Saturday afternoon. Whether or not he'll dish any secrets about the DCCU is up to him...or whatever nondisclosure agreements he's under.
Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof
Why are we major fans of Alyson Hannigan? Let us count the ways: The actress is admittedly a bonafide nerd girl, was one of the highlights of How I Met Your Mother when you grew tired of the usual Barney/Robin/Ted shenanigans, and was always great in the American Pie films, even as the series dragged on. Then there's here biggest claim to fame — starring as Willow Rosenberg, the Scooby gang's resident geek and Wicca practitioner on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hannigan will appear with her husband and fellow Buffy/Angel star Alexis Denisof during a joint Q&A on Saturday afternoon and a few photo sessions throughout the weekend. Coupled with the fact that Charisma Carpenter (a.k.a Cordelia Chase) is also going to be at this year's event, Buffy fanatics have the chance to round out their autograph collection.
If nothing else, Phoenix Comicon is a way to relive your childhood and maybe engage in some wish fulfillment. Want to dress like a Timelord lark about with Daleks? No problem. How about being an Imperial Stormtrooper for a day or getting a selfie with some of your geek heroes? Yup, you can do both. For die-hard fans of Back to the Future, this year's event offers a pretty big opportunity to geek out: the chance to sit inside a DeLorean DMC-12 tricked out like a time machine with the man that brought Doctor Emmett L. Brown to life. Esteemed actor Christopher Lloyd is not only scheduled to appear at Phoenix Comicon 2015 for a Q&A panel, but will also be posing for the aforementioned photo ops over three days. While you'll have to pay a pretty penny for the experience ($102.75 to be exact) and we're pretty sure that he won't be dressed as Doc Brown, it's admittedly one of those once-in-a-lifetime sort of things that's too good to pass up.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.