Amazing Arizona Comic-Con was held Jan. 24-26 at the Phoenix Convention Center in the South Hall. With three programming tracks, cosplay contest and a handful of special guests it did not disappoint.
Amazing! Holds three conventions each year, Phoenix AZ , Las Vegas NV (June20-22) recently added Houston TX (August 29-31). With attendance numbers just under 24,000 and growing every year, this convention has a pull for some bigger name guests without loosing the friendly intimacy of a smaller con.
The Convention space was well laid out with enough seating in most of the panels, with the exceptions being standing room only in the Rob Liefeld Final Word Panel and the cosplay masquerade. The lobby area was not very photographer friendly as the lighting was dark and the ceilings were very low, but there were plenty of wonderful outdoor photo locations surrounding the center, including a really pretty partially shaded ivy and desert foliage garden right by the front walk.
There were some great special guests including Robert Kirkman and Danai Gurira of The Walking Dead, Artists Mark Silvestri, Mat Nastos, Marc Silvestri and Geoff Johns, Alana Schiro from Faceoff. The panels and sketching sessions held by these great guests were very well done. I found the panels to be more intimate Q&A sessions and discussion of the topics at hand then a guest speaking to an audience. Robert Kirkman answered almost every question or comment thrown at him with humor and truth, giving fans answers to even the most obscure of inquiries. Alana Schiro held a panel on SFX Make-up and answered all our questions about face-off, makeup and bacon!
Along with the artists and actors present there were a handful of well known cosplayers in attendance such as Jessica Nigri, Monika Lee, Toni Darling and L.A. Jaze Cosplay with tables, prints, photo ops and panels. Toni Darling and friends held a cosplay makeup panel that was very informative, they invited panel attendees to pow-wow on the floor around the front of the room while they did a demonstration on the importance of good eye makeup in costume. Jessica Nigri, an Arizona resident, debuted two new costumes at the convention that were very well done.
There were cosplayer/costumer events each day of the convention with a Zombie Beauty Pagent friday, Cosplay Contest Saturday and a Kids Costume Parade on Sunday. The show was very cosplay friendly with not only wide isles on the convention floor, but even much of the staff was helpful to cosplayers by holding doors open, helping with redirection of con goers during photoshoots and being patient with cosplayers in bulky costumes during the contest times. The Contest was well organized, with pre-judging in the morning and the masquerade in the evening. Pre-judging was intense, with the judges taking the time with each contestant to flip seams, inspect stitching and check prop construction. They flipped through concept and progress pictures and compared them carefully to the final product and asked many questions about the materials, processes and thought behind it. All the contestants were wonderful, but only one in each category could go home with top bragging rights. The novice category was won by a Rocket Raccoon who hand sculpted, made and painted her furry suit and costume and first in the Experience category went to a duo cosplaying from Pacific Rim that actually entered in the Novice category and were bumped up into experienced by the judges. Jessica Nigri and Monika Lee did a fantastic job MCing the Masquerade and keeping the crowd entertained while the judges deliberated.
Sunday was an official Kids day with lots of fun kid centered programming. Some of the fun things for kids to do on sunday were free sketches by Mat Nastos and Tony Fleeces, a kids costume parade and lots of child friendly cosplay! Big Chris art had free coloring pages and crayons at their booth all weekend as well. Fans were encouraged to color in a b&w print of one of BigChris’ sketches and then hashtag it on Instagram for entries into a drawing with the prize being a VERY large painting he was working on right on the show floor all weekend!
Overall the convention was great. Easy to navigate location with lots of food options nearby. Great official after party hosted by CopperBlues within walking distance of the convention. Friendly and laid back atmosphere. Great panels with plenty of seating. I would recommend adding one or more of Amazings three conventions to your convention calendar if you can!