Phoenix, AZ, May 30, 2017 — Despite arrest of a fan, whose prop guns turned out to be real, new security restrictions, and long lines, Phoenix Comicon 17 was a success. While, when Comicon started in 2002, the words “business” and “comicon” would not have been used in the same phrase, this year’s annual Memorial Day weekend event proved it has become a major economic engine for downtown Phoenix. But it is also a needed and guaranteed good time for Arizona fans, during a usually slow time.
This year, two of the main celebrity draws could not have more different screen personas or be more beloved by fans. Dick Van Dyke, who joked about movie cosmeticians trying to make him up to look like a 91-year-old man, when he is already a 91-year-old man, was sharp, charming and fun. The dancing and comedic star of Mary Poppins and the Dick Van Dyke Show, and former Cave Creek resident, beamed throughout a strenuous Saturday of autographs, speaking, and photographs. He was gracious and humble, saying that all his successes were surprises and serendipity.
Danny Trejo, who said he is usually identified as “the Chicano bad guy with the tattoos,” in person, is the opposite of his scowling, murderous on-screen image. He was funny, honest, and down-to-earth. Trejo talked about his affection for dogs, as much as he did acting. He loves action movies and his image. He also acknowledged his importance as a Latino role model, and discussed his businesses (e.g., Trejo’s Tacos in LA) and his work with drug addicts and AZ prison inmates.
In addition to filling the coffers of local hotels (sold out), coffee shops (overflowing), and parking lots (some scalping going on there), Phoenix Comicon provides income for local presenters. Of course, there are the artists, like April Reyna, who spoke on the Wonder Woman TV 40th Anniversary panel, and had one of the 900 exhibitors’ booths. But then, in the Movie Fight Scenes: Reality vs Film workshop, representatives from East Valley Krav Maga in Tempe revealed that the only thing that trying the head bump you see in the movies will accomplish is knocking yourself out!
Despite the fantastic programming, the greatest assets of Phoenix Comicon are the attendees. They come in all sizes, ages, colors, professions, and sexual orientations. Chris Fultz, from Phoenix, spent 360 hours making his 7’3” Chewbacca costume. He was covered in fur from head to bottom of his foot-high stilts. On the other extreme, there was a Poison Ivy, who wore only…well, a few strands of fake ivy. Arizona fans ranged the gamut from first-timers Bryan Lee and Joe Marquis, wanting to learn more about the history of Wonder Woman, to regulars, like Karinne Feher, who came early to get a good seat for Trejo’s talk. There were ASU faculty, like film and television professor (and Batman expert) Joe Fortunato, and students, like civil engineering student Nathan Haeussler, who sat in line to ask Van Dyke a question.
Last year, the attendance was over 106,000, and, with the unexpectedly large crowds on Thursday, this year may set a new record. The benefits of four days for Arizonans, of all ages, to have fun, living out childhood fantasies cannot be measured.
About Denise Meridith Consultants Inc.
Denise Meridith Consultants Inc is a community & public relations firm. CEO Denise Meridith is a long-time journalist, who has written for the Arizona Republic, Business Journal, Examiner.com and others for 20 years. She has written innumerable articles about and covered Phoenix Comicon for the past decade.