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Phoenix Comicon 2014: Cosplayers, crowds, and comic book legends

Garrus cosplayer (left) gives a thumbs up while lady Loki and Thor look on.
Garrus cosplayer (left) gives a thumbs up while lady Loki and Thor look on.
Christen Bejar

Phoenix Comicon occupied several square blocks of downtown Phoenix this weekend and likely smashed previous attendance records if the crowds were any indicator. The comic convention spanned four days and hosted numerous guests such as Stephen Amell (Arrow), Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead), Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar of the 1966 Batman television series, and Marvel character creator Stan Lee with many more.

The guest list and variety of activities no doubt lured the thousands of attendees to the event over the weekend, and the foot traffic definitely showed for it. On Saturday the convention had such a traffic issue with convention-goers that they enacted a new flow of entry and exits in the middle of the day. This unfortunately led to long lines full of people waiting in the heat outside, waiting to gain entry. Thankfully to combat the heat, Phoenix guides provided free water to those outside and there was a cosplayer recovery area for those that needed an area to rest without sitting in hallways.

The traffic and line control appeared to be the roughest parts of the convention, as many guests ran late to their panels (due to motor traffic, rather than the foot kind) and lines for signings often overlapped their designated areas. Luckily the exhibitor hall had much more space this year but even that wasn't enough to combat the insurmountable crowds on Saturday. However, the inclusion of more horror and sci-fi programming events such as an ongoing haunted house and laser tag, as well the closure of Third Street for outdoor convention events and food trucks, served as fantastic additions to a con overflowing with people.

That being said, there are still ways that Phoenix Comicon can improve. Having most celebrities participating in a single spotlight panel felt severely limited for opportunities for convention goers to see their favorite guest, even though that celebrity would be present for other days of the con (solely for charged signings and photo ops). Having predetermined foot traffic routes would also help for the inevitable overflow of attendees over the weekend.

Phoenix Comicon made many improvements from last years' problems and appears to have made progress in accommodating the numbers it continues to pull in.