We’re only a few weeks removed from the long-awaited return of Phoenix Fan Fusion and local geeks couldn’t be busier. There are costumes to prep, artwork to finish, schedules to arrange, and myriad other tasks to accomplish between now and Memorial Day weekend.
As large as Fan Fusion might loom over the Valley’s geek scene during the month of May, it’s not the only nerd-friendly event taking place this month. There’s also Free Comic Book Day, appearances by icons like author and humorist David Sedaris and B-movie guru Joe Bob Briggs, a geek-themed burlesque/drag/sideshow revue, and the debut of a new anime con.
So if you can find some spare time between frantic sessions of crafting thermoplastic armor, here’s list of the biggest nerdy events in metro Phoenix over the next few weeks.
Somewhere out there in that unreachable plain of existence lies a place where the abnormal is the norm. Three suns rise and fall over the desert landscape. The sheriff has a secret police force to do his bidding. Hooded figures occupy the school playground. Visitors and fans who are lucky enough to listen in on the town's only radio broadcasts know it as Night Vale and it's headed to the Valley. The weekly podcast Welcome to Night Vale shares the strange and surreal goings-on of the town through the community radio show host by Cecil Palmer, played by Cecil Baldwin. A touring live show version of the podcast called “The Haunting of Night Vale,” which stars Baldwin, Symphony Sanders, and Kate Jones comes to the Van Buren, 400 West Van Buren Street, on Friday, May 6. It will feature an original story, as well as live performance by indie-folk artist Erin McKeown. The haunting begins at 8 p.m. and tickets are $35. Danny Gallagher
The geeks behind local retail chain Toy Temple are stepping out from behind the counter to put on Anime Arizona, their first-ever con. The two-day event runs from Friday, May 6, to Saturday, May 7, at the Mesa Convention Center, 263 North Center Street, and (as its name portends) focus on anime and manga. A modest selection of voice actors are scheduled to appear and sign autographs, including Christopher Sabbat of Dragon Ball Z and One Punch Man’s Zach Aguilar. You can also attend panels, check out an exhibitor hall, or enter a cosplay contest for prizes. Hours are from 2 to 8 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m to 7 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $20 for Friday only (Saturday is sold out) or $40 for both days. Benjamin Leatherman
Comic books for sale at Gotham City Comics and Collectibles in Mesa.
Free Comic Book Day 2022
Comic book fans of the Valley will want to clear their schedules this weekend and make room in their collections. This year’s Free Comic Book Day is happening on Saturday, May 7, and allows geeks the chance to pick up any of 50 different commemorative issues being given away at stores throughout the Valley and across the U.S. Comparable to Record Store Day, Free Comic Book Day is an annual celebration of the sequential art form that’s taken place for decades (this year is the 21st edition). It’s a big event for both comic book lovers and store owners alike. Locally, more than a dozen stores will be participating, many of which will offer exclusives, signing appearances by local artists, and other activities. A list of this year’s titles and participating businesses can be found here. Hours vary by location. Benjamin Leatherman
David Sedaris writes spittingly funny essays and books. They’re even funnier when he reads them aloud. It’s hard to say which ingredient in the Sedaris breakfast burrito is more choice. You’ll also find palatable insight into issues of family, marriage, and identity within that tortilla. And something we call mordant pissiness, fortunately served on the side. His depictions of his neighbors, parents, and siblings are not universally flattering, but they’re absolutely interesting and memorable, and maybe that’s the best they can hope for from a writer from the neighborhood. Sedaris himself admits to some non-exemplary behavior, which somehow warms our feelings about him. Though the world he observes is often bizarre (go figure), it’s an oddly cozy, relatable one. Sedaris, who’s new book Happy-Go-Lucky comes out later this month, will read from some of his recent works and answer fan questions on Monday, May 9, at 8 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams Street. Tickets are $29 to $69. Julie Peterson
Legendary composer John Williams helped score the soundtrack to your childhood.
TashTish/CC BY 3.0/Wikimedia
Jurassic Park in Concert
It’s an event 65 million years in the making. The Phoenix Symphony will wind down its current season with a trio of blockbuster concerts celebrating Steven Spielberg’s landmark 1993 film Jurassic Park. Led by conductor Tito Muñoz, the orchestra’s musicians will perform John Williams’ triumphant score live to picture as an HD version of the movie is screened. There will also be themed activities before each concert, like the chance to dig up fossils or get photos with a roaming dinosaur. Performances will take place at Symphony Hall, 75 North Second Street, at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14, with a matinee show at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 15. Tickets for each concert are $34 to $102. Benjamin Leatherman
Joe Bob Briggs, the B-movie buff who celebrated blood, breasts, and beasts on his ‘90s TNT television show MonsterVision, will bring his one-man show, "How Rednecks Saved Hollywood," to two of the Valley’s Majestic Neighborhood Cinema Grills this month. Briggs' show will examine how the white trash lifestyle helped make movies awesome by giving Hollywood an archetype for use in bloodthirsty monster movies. The show will also feature a multitude of film clips from redneck cinema sure to please those who enjoy seeing a monster biting into a human torso. Briggs is scheduled to appear on Thursday, May 19, at the Majestic Tempe 7, 1140 East Baseline Road in Tempe, and on Saturday, May 21, at the Majestic Gilbert 8, 5478 South Power Road in Gilbert. Both get going at 7 p.m. Admission is $43.12 per person. Danny Gallagher
Over the past few years, the performers of Pain Proof Punks – the local sideshow, burlesque, circus arts, music, and drag collaborative – have put on revues inspired by such subject matter as lust, despair, the supernatural, and Alice in Wonderland. Their latest production, which takes place on Saturday, May 21, at the Alwun House, 1204 East Roosevelt Street, will draws from the world of geekdom and fandom. Performers like Pepper Mint Schnapps, Britni Bloodshed, Kinky Kirra, and Rumor Hasset will dress as titillating versions of characters from comic books, sci-fi films, and pop culture. “We will test your boundaries and transport you to a world of the creepy and comedic, the beautiful and bizarre, and the gentle and grotesque,” says Pain Proof Punks member Rusty the Clown. There will also be astounding sideshow acts involving glass walking, staple guns, and a bed of nails. The show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $25 for VIP. Benjamin Leatherman
The Lost Boys Night
Tim Cappello has worked alongside legends like Tina Turner and Ringo Starr, but it was his minute and a half of screen time in the 1987 vampire flick The Lost Boys that cemented his eternal legacy. Early in the film, the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist is seen playing the sax and singing while shirtless, boasting a ripped, oiled-up physique and suggestive gyrations that would make Elvis blush. Cappello’s performance helped him stick out, even in a film that offered not only one, but two Coreys. Come see him live and in living color during The Lost Boys Night at Thunderbird Lounge, 710 West Montecito Avenue, on Saturday, May 21, and party like you're on a Santa Cruz boardwalk among an audience of ruggedly handsome bloodsuckers. The dance party starts at 7 p.m. and will feature an ‘80s soundtrack spun up by DJ Rad Dude. Admission is free. Michael Palladino
The crowd inside the Phoenix Convention Center on during last year's Phoenix Fan Fusion.
Phoenix Fan Fusion 2022
Geeks of Arizona, we feel your pain. After enduring the three-year absence of Phoenix Fan Fusion, it’s finally happening. The three-day geekfest and pop-culture extravaganza will make its return to the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street, from Friday, May 27, to Sunday, May 29, with the same mix of celebrities, cosplayers, and activities its featured in year’s past. Special guests include actors and actresses like Anthony Rapp, Christopher Eccleston, Patrick Warburton, and Diane Guerrero, as well as such famed comic book creators as Bob McLeod and John Romita Jr. Thousands of hours of programming is planned, including panels, Q&As, gaming sessions, and workshops. Basically, if you can’t find something to squee about, you’re probably not a geek. Daily admission is $40 to $55 and a full event pass is $90. Benjamin Leatherman
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