Record number of fans attend 10th annual Phoenix Comicon

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Photos by Evie Carpenter

Last weekend, the streets of downtown Phoenix saw something they normally don’t see: people. A record number flocked from the far reaches of the galaxy and far-away and distant lands to the downtown neighborhood for the 10th annual Phoenix Comicon.

An estimated and record-breaking 30,000 people attended this year’s convention that was held over a four day span. It started Thursday evening and ended Sunday with events in the Phoenix Convention Center, Hyatt Regency Phoenix and Renaissance hotels. The convention serves as the Valley’s version of increasingly popular Comicon conventions that showcase and hold events related to anime, manga, sci-fi, fantasy and, of course, comics.

Convention attendees had a lot of activities to participate in over the four days from celebrity meet-and-greets to panel discussions. But one could also find a day’s worth of enjoyment just browsing the various vendors and admiring all the people who showed up in costume.

Christine Bedell, 28, a licensed massage therapist from Phoenix, came to the convention dressed as Queen Ashe from the video game League of Legends, a costume that took her 6-10 weeks to make. This was her third convention.

“The first convention I attended, I just gawked at everything, the costumes, everything,” Bedell said. “The second, I volunteered as security for the event. … This year I decided it was time for me to dress up.”

But the convention is more than just a fun time for some. Many showed up to sell artwork and other items in the convention center showroom.

Sarena Palma, 27, an art vendor selling anime-comic hybrid illustrations, said despite the large number of attendees, this year’s convention was very tame in comparison to last year’s convention.

“Last year’s convention was hectic. At one point, the main showroom became so packed that they made everyone leave the showroom and file back a limited number of guests,” Palma said. “They seem to be more prepared this year.”

Palma, who has been to several different comic and anime conventions since 2002, said Phoenix Comicon was one of her favorites due to its size.

“It’s grown to a good size. San Diego’s Comicon is too overwhelming; there are too many people that attend,” Palma said, adding that she hopes Phoenix Comicon stays the same size next year.

Lizzie Lee, an English Literature major at ASU who was dressed as an imperial worker from Star Wars and helped guide Stormtroopers around, said she was glad to see the increase in attendance.

“It’s great to see so many people are interested in this stuff,” she said. “It’s great to come and explore and see everything that is going on.”

Event attendees weren’t the only ones who noticed the increase in attendees. Jack Sword, the manager of Cafe Roma Pizzeria in the Arizona Center, said he noticed an increase in business over the weekend. While he could not give official numbers, Sword estimated sales increased by around 25 percent as a result of the convention.

“We should have Comicon every week,” Sword joked, adding he enjoyed the friendliness of the costumed crowd.

Santiago Quinteros, a hot dog vender who sells on the southwest corner of Adams and Second streets on weekends, responded to the question of what he thought of all the convention guests by flashing a wad of twenty and ten dollar bills.

“It is always good (for business) when you see people around,” Quinteros said.

Contact the reporter at [email protected]

Correction: May 30, 2012

An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to League of Legends as League of Legions.