I spent my weekend in Mesa Arizona. I was a last minute addition to the guest list for the Phoenix Cactus Comic-Con. With no idea what this convention was going to be like, I decided I would drive up early Saturday morning and then shoot back Sunday night. I arrived at the Mesa Marriott at 9:30 AM and was pleased to discover that my room was ready. Not often do you get to a hotel and can check in that early. I got my bags put away in the room and headed back out to the front desk to find out how to get to the convention center. “Go out the front door, make a right and you’ll see it.” The entrance for the convention center was 20 yards from the front of the hotel… nice.
I found a staff member and asked where I needed to check in… instead they got on a walkie-talkie and found the guy I needed and had him come to me. I was then escorted to my table. With being a very last minute add, two days prior, I figured I’d be sitting at a folding card table by the fire exit. To my surprise, I was seated at the end of a row that contained Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Amanda Conner, Brett Blevins, Mike Manley and Josh Middleton. Just a little ways away were Noel Neill, Tim Bradstreet, Steve Niles and Mike Mayhew; a very nice spot to be in.
The convention hall itself is not very large, but it was filled to capacity and the small press tables ran along the outside of the hall in the walkways. I think they utilized the available space perfectly. Also, the convention staff was amazing. Someone was coming by to check on us, make sure we had drinks, make sure we got to lunch, brought by packs of pens to sign with if we needed them. One guest said it reminded him of the early 90s when creators were pampered at shows.
I don’t know the attendance numbers, but there was a steady flow of customers walking by my table all day Saturday. Sunday was a little slower, but not bad at all. The really nice thing was the people there were having fun, spending money and just amazingly friendly. I was able to sell most of the books I brought along with me, and heard other creators doing as well. Multiple times over the weekend I heard people say how happy they were that the creators came out for the show. I’m so used to doing San Diego and Wizard Worlds that I forget this was the first chance for some of the attendees to really see the creators they like.
Matt Solberg and his crew put on an incredible show, one I sure hope to be invited back to in the future. They already have a second one planned for January with Mike Mignola and George Perez on the guest list. This is definitely a show to keep an eye on.