Ed Harris has been reading and collecting comics since the 8th grade, when he purchased his first issue of Spider-Man. As comics programming director at Phoenix Comicon, Harris gets to share his passion with the masses. We recently caught up with him to discuss the atmosphere at Phoenix Comicon, its growth over the years, and rare comics.
For someone who's never been to Phoenix Comicon, can you describe the atmosphere?
It's not what most people think. A lot of people have a misinformed idea of cons and comics, that they're for kids or they're somehow juvenile. But more comics are being written by professional writers now -- Warren Ellis comes to mind, and Stephen King -- and comics are more adult-themed ... Comicon is a great way to get exposure to geek culture across the board.
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My goal is to own every issue of Amazing Spider-Man, whether it's a different version or a new printing with a different cover.
What are some of the more rare or popular comic books right now?
Every Wednesday is "New Release Day" at comic book stores nationwide, and I remember when Captain America was killed four years ago, people were calling comic book shops and trying to reserve that issue. Also, the Spider-Man comic with Barack Obama was very popular -- they did five printings.
How has the Phoenix Comicon changed from last year's event?
We outgrew Mesa Convention Center last year. It was packed to the brim and a little chaotic, with people dressed in costumes and kids running around everywhere. We've increased our space four times just in the Phoenix Convention Center, and we will also have programming at the [nearby Hyatt Regency] hotel. We've got so much more going on this year -- there will be a lot of one-on-one programming, where people can come to the panels and find out more about individual artists, like Dexter Vines, who's drawn for Marvel and DC, and Supergirl artist Jamal Igle. Saturday evening, there will be an art auction, where people can buy art and signed memorabilia. There are trivia contests, panels on how to create your own comic book, and live music. And there will be adult libations.