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Phoenix Comicon: Captain Picard and The Cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation are on the 2012 Guest List

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There are exactly 111 days left until this year's Phoenix Comicon, and the time probably can't pass quick enough for some local geeks. Especially since organizers of the annual pop culture fest announced some blockbuster names last night that will be appearing at this year's event.

And it includes most of the cast of landmark science fiction program Star Trek: The Next Generation.

More than 700 geeks let out a collective squee on Thursday night when Phoenix Comicon director Matt Solberg announced that Patrick Stewart (a.k.a. Jean-Luc Picard), Brent Spiner (Data), Michael Dorn (Worf), and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) are all scheduled to appear at the four-day event taking place over Memorial Day Weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center.

A line-up of other big-name special guests were also announced at the event (each resulting in some serious screaming from the crowd), including Preacher creator Garth Ennis, Walking Dead actor Jon Bernthal, Farscape star Gigi Edgley, and prolific cartoon voice actor Phil Lamarr

The biggest cheers, however, came when Solberg announced each TNG actor. He later told me that organizers wanted to bring in as many of The Next Generation cast as possible in honor of the 25th anniversary of the show, which takes place this year.

"It was something we've been thinking about for a couple years as we knew [the anniversary] was coming up, and we just kept working with the agents and the actors to get them out," Solberg says. "And we're fortunate to get five of the original castmembers, which is just off the charts for us."

Conspicuous by his absence is Jonathan Frakes (who portrayed Commander William T. Riker on the show), which Solberg says is due to the actor's wedding anniversary taking place the same weekend as Comicon. He says there's also a chance that perennial Comicon favorite and geek icon Wil Wheaton (a.k.a. Wesley Crusher) might also appear, but only if the stars align.

"We're hoping he comes as well," Solberg says. "He's appeared for four or five years since 2008 and has a standing invitation for Phoenix Comicon. But he's a working actor and has more and more projects these days, so we might not know until two or three weeks beforehand if he'll make it."

If you add in the fact that William Shatner is already scheduled to appear at Comicon this year, this year's event is turning into Trek heaven, which should result in thousands of Final Frontier fans geeking out at the convention center come May. And there's going to be a lot of extra space for them the do so this year.

Organizers are increasing Comicon's floor space for the 2012 edition by adding an additional 69,000 square feet of room, as well as additional entrances and exits. Solberg says it will alleviate the capacity problems that plagued last year's Phoenix Comicon (particularly on Saturday, when a gargantuan throng of geekdom crowded into one hall) which made it difficult to breathe, let alone move.

He says they're adding in a huge amount of uniquely geeky programming for 2012, which were also announced last night at the kickoff, based upon suggestions from Comicon attendees. That includes such social mixers, get-togethers, and late-night events like the Doctor Who party, Geek Speed Dating, an old-timey carnival event, something called "High School of the Dead, and even sidekick training sessions.

Also new this year is the Bleeding Cool Fan Awards, which is run by the popular pop culture site and will be exclusive to Phoenix Comicon. Solberg equates it to other venerated award events presented at other prominent comic book conventions, like the Eisners in San Diego or the Harveys at the Baltimore Comicon.

"We're finally getting our own awards," Solberg says. "How cool is that?"

The Phoenix Comicon will be held May 24 to 27 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Click here to purchase tickets.

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