Nerd Culture

Here's Every Guest Coming to Phoenix Fan Fest 2017

Local cosplayers at last year's Phoenix Fan Fest.
Local cosplayers at last year's Phoenix Fan Fest. Benjamin Leatherman
Phoenix Fan Fest has changed a lot over the last three years.

Back in 2014, the spinoff event of Phoenix Comicon started out as a three-day geekfest at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale that happened smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season. Two years later, it moved to downtown Phoenix, took place in October, and featured a number of professional wrestlers.

This year, Fan Fest is transforming yet again.

According to Phoenix Comicon director Matt Solberg, the event is an ever-changing thing that’s constantly evolving. In an interview with local geek blog Legion of Sand from earlier this year, he says that Fan Fest will continue to grow each year.

“We have become more focused with the offerings at Phoenix Fan Fest for its attendees,” Solberg says. “Every show grows organically based on feedback from attendees.”

In the case of Fan Fest 2017, the two-day event – which takes place on Saturday, November 11, and Sunday, November 12, at the Phoenix Convention Center – will become a celebration of comics, creators, collectibles, and (of course) costumes.

There will be plenty of celebrities in attendance, too. So far, special guests include folks like Ghostbusters star Ernie Hudson, Mallory Jansen from Galavant, Kevin McNally of Pirates of the Caribbean, and a few voice actors from Steven Universe and other cartoons.

A variety of artists, writers, comic book creatives, and cosplayers are also scheduled to appear at this year’s Phoenix Fan Fest and will be available to interact with attendees.

Here’s a complete rundown of every special guest who has been announced so far.

click to enlarge Actor Ernie Hudson is scheduled to appear at Phoenix Fan Fest 2017. - GAGE SKIDMORE/CC BY-SA 2.0/VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
Actor Ernie Hudson is scheduled to appear at Phoenix Fan Fest 2017.
Television and Movies
As is the norm at any geek event, actors and actress from sci-fi, fantasy, and horror projects will be at Phoenix Fan Fest.

Ernie Hudson
This famed character actor has been a favorite of geekdom ever since he threw on a proton pack in the original Ghostbusters. His lengthy career, which spans more than four decades, includes genre roles (The Crow, Congo) and a few cult favorites (Airheads, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone). He was also excellent as Warden Leo Glynn on Oz.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory stars
In 1971, the now-classic family film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory made its debut and became a cultural touchstone for generations of kids.

Filled with color, wonder, and joy, the movie also served as a candy-coated parable about how wicked children will be punished for their bad behavior. Just ask any of the actors and actresses who played the kids in the film during their appearance at Fan Fest, including Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee), Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregarde), and Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket).

Kevin McNally
This English-born character actor chewed up the scenery as buccaneer Joshamee Gibbs in every single Pirates of the Caribbean film. He started out with a minor role in the Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, before embarking on a career that includes appearances in everything from the old-school Doctor Who to Supernatural. McNally's also been in a ton of quintessentially British shows and films such as Downton Abbey, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Wuthering Heights, and the original Poldark.

Mallory Jansen
On Galavant, Australian actress Mallory Jansen played the spiteful and vain Madalena. And on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she’s played dual roles as the AIDA, an artificial intelligence construct, and Agnes Kitsworth (a.k.a. Madame Hydra).

click to enlarge Steven Universe voice actress AJ Michalka. - DISNEY-ABC TELEVISION GROUP/CC BY-ND 2.0/VIA FLICKR
Steven Universe voice actress AJ Michalka.
AJ Michalka
Besides being a series regular on The Goldbergs, Michalka has also appeared on such shows as The Guardian, Birds of Prey, Hellcats, and Oliver Beene, as well as Super Sweet 16: The Movie and the Disney Channel film Cow Belles. She's also voices Stevonnie on Steven Universe and is one-half of the pop-rock duo Aly & AJ with her sister, Alyson Michalka.

Zach Callison
Zach Callison not only voices Steven Universe on the cartoon of the same name, he's also played characters in such animated projects as Justice League: War, The Legend of Korra, and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. He’s also been involved with a few Disney shows, including portraying Prince James from Sofia the First and Billy from I’m in the Band.

Grace Rolek
Besides playing Connie Maheswaran on Steven Universe, actress Grace Rolek has voiced roles in such children’s films and videos as Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Horton Hears a Who!, and Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch. She also can be heard in several video games, including a few Final Fantasy titles and Guild Wars 2.

Mara Wilson
A former child actor who played the titular character in Matilda, as well as roles in Mrs. Doubtfire and the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street. These days, Wilson is a writer who has penned articles for Reductress, McSweeney's, and Cracked. She also released an autobiography and memoir Where Am I Now? in 2016.

Jed Rees
The Canadian-born actor who played Teb in Galaxy Quest and the insidious Mr. Flynn in the series finale of Castle. Rees is also appeared on any number of television shows over the years, including The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, The X-Files, The Outer Limits, Chuck, and Cold Case.

click to enlarge It wouldn't be a geek event without comics. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
It wouldn't be a geek event without comics.
Benjamin Leatherman
Comic Books
Comic book creators and artists from around Arizona and throughout the U.S. will populate the exhibitor hall and artist alley at Phoenix Fan Fest. They’ll also appear at any number of panels dedicated to the sequential art form both days of the event. Here's who coming:

Marat Mychaels
Artist Marat Mychaels started out as Rob Liefeld’s assistant, which, if you’re familiar with the Deadpool creator’s colorful vocabulary, was probably a memorable experience for him.

That isn’t his only association with Liefeld, however, as Mychaels has gigged for Image Comics, drawn X-Force, and worked on a few Deadpool comics, including a 2012 mashup of Winnie the Pooh with the “merc with the mouth.”

Brian Augustyn
Brian Augustyn has been working in the comics industry as a writer, editor, and artist since the mid-'80s and has had lengthy runs on The Flash and Justice League. He’s also written for several dozen notable books over the last few decades, ranging from Ash to Zombie Tales.

Adam Yeater
Tucson artist Adam Yeater has a particular yen for curious creatures, colorfully adorable monsters, and horrifically cute scenarios. You can spy all of these in many of the mini-comics he self-publishes, not to mention the various paintings, prints, custom-made toys, and other creations he sells online.

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