Nerd Culture

5 Must-See Guests at Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2015 in Phoenix

When it all boils down to it, comic book conventions are ultimately about just that: comic books. While it seems like most 'cons both locally and nationally include every possible aspect of geekdom imaginable -- ranging from science fiction and fantasy to video games, costuming, fan fiction, RPGs, and animation -- the very heart of such events is the pulpy adventures of superheroes and supervillains.

And at the annual Amazing Arizona Comic Con, which has been taking place every year since 2011, the focus is largely on the sequential art medium and the various creators and scribes that populate it. Hence the reason why its lengthy list of guests is heavy on comic book gurus and artists, including many notable names from the trade.

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Yes, it also features a variety of activities and panels devoted to cosplay and a slew other nerdy interests, but they seems more like the side dishes to the main course of comics.

That's certainly the case at this year's Amazing Arizona event -- which runs from Friday, February 13, to Sunday, February 15, at the Phoenix Convention Center -- as it will include appearance from some legends from the comic book world, as well as some renowned artists and illustrators. Here are five such guests that are worth going out of your way to see at Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2015.

Rob Liefeld

When news broke last year that foul-mouthed Marvel anti-hero Deadpool was finally getting his own standalone movie, fans of the character started cheering. However, no one cheered louder than Rob Liefeld, the artist who first envisioned the character in 1991. (It's not his only claim to fame, as he also created X-Force, the futuristic mutant hero Cable, and helped co-found Image Comics.) Just like Deadpool, Liefeld is famous for his controversial and outspoken nature, including criticizing former employers Marvel and DC, getting into spats with fellow artists and creators, and even posting a YouTube video of himself drawing while driving.

Appearing: Saturday, February 14, and Sunday, February 15.

Todd McFarlane

And one of Liefeld's co-conspirators in creating Image Comics was a fellow former Marvel Comics refugee and artist, Todd McFarlane. The indie publisher, founded in 1992, ultimately became the launching pad for his trademark character and title, Spawn, and gave him worldwide fame and acclaim, as well as a small empire of toys and stores.

While McFarlane, a longtime resident of the Valley, and his creation aren't as big as they were in the late '90s, there's reportedly a new animated series and some new titles in the works. Plus, he's still a pretty entertaining guest at whatever cons or geek events he appears at, including last year's Phoenix Comicon where he shared a stage with Marvel icon Stan Lee and Walking Dead star Michael Rooker.

Appearing: Friday, February 13.

Devin Roth

If you've ever happened to watch a single episode of Bob's Burgers, or even glanced at a clip or two of the hilarious FOX animated show online, then you've seen the work of Devin Roth. The artist, illustrator, and animator was a character designer on the program from the very first episode ("Human Flesh") up until the end of its fourth season last year, which means he helped conjure up the look of the entire Belcher family, as well as such favorites as Teddy Francisco, Jimmy Jr., and Regular-Sized Rudy.

Appearing: Friday, February 13, through Sunday, February 15.

Kevin Eastman

If we had our way, last year's execrable Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie wouldn't have been the clamorous and confusing mess that crawled its way out of the bowels of Hollywood and onto silver screens everywhere. Instead, we would've gone back to the original black-and-white comic book that was created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird back in 1984, which was loaded with more authentic drama and comedy and a way better representation of the "Heroes in a Half-Shell."

We plan on asking Eastman for his opinion on the latest cinematic version of his most famous creation (as well as how he'd do a Ninja Turtles movie, if he had the chance) when the artist makes his first-ever appearance at Amazing Arizona Comic Con this weekend.

Appearing: Saturday, February 14, and Sunday, February 15.

Herb Trimpe

Herb Trimpe's credentials in the comic book world are pretty well-known, even to newbs such as ourselves. After all, he was the first artist or illustrator at Marvel to ever draw the mutant known as Wolverine (perhaps you've heard of him?) and is famous for his long-running stint on The Incredible Hulk in the 1970s.

While his fellow Marvel legend, John Romita, Sr., conceived the fictional being that would later become Weapon-X and arguably one of the most famous X-Men in existence, it was Trimpe who actually first put pencil to paper and took the character from a quick and dirty sketch and made him a reality.

Amazing Arizona Comic Con 2015 takes place from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 13; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, February 14; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, February 15. Single-day admission is $25-$35 and a weekend pass is $60.

Editor's note: This blog was updated from its original publication.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.