Interview With Joe Boudrie of Phoenix Comicon On Their 2011 Show

Joe Boudrie, program director of Phoenix Comicon, recently took some time to answer a few questions about the signature pop-culture event of the southwest.

What is the Phoenix Comicon and how did you get started?

Phoenix Comicon is a Pop-Culture Convention built around all things “Geek”. Our mission is to be the signature Pop-Culture event of the Southwest and we’ve been growing steadily towards that goal for 10 years. The Convention was founded by Matt Solberg and we’ve been adding more and more volunteers every year as we’ve grown. Matt started the convention because he enjoyed the shows he went to when he was young and thought that Phoenix should have a fun place for geeks to hang out and share our passions.

How the show has grown and what have you learned over the years from putting on the show?

For the first several years, Phoenix Comicon was a single day event and growth was fairly small, but in 2006 after a presentation at San Diego Comicon given by Dragon-Con organizer Pat Henry, Matt decided it was time to really focus on growing the convention and he put out a call for more volunteers. He booked a bigger facility for a full weekend show and we put together the first elements of what would become the Phoenix Comicon today by adding guests and programming from both Comics and Anime and bringing in Gaming as well.

What are the biggest challenges with putting on your show and your greatest triumphs?

One of the challenges has been keeping up with our amazing growth. We have an exciting and dynamic fan base here and we strive every year to make the event bigger, better and more fun. As we continue to add new guests and develop exciting and unique signature programming like our Zombie Beauty Pageant, Wil Wheaton Rock Band (first hosted at Phoenix Comicon 2009), Steampunk Fashion show and Elegant Lolita Tea Party to name a few-we’ve also found that people are coming from farther and farther away. This year we have attendees from as far away as Belgium and Australia. It’s a lot of work to imagine and organize so many events and to host so many guests, but it’s also the best kind of challenge- one that always keeps our creative juices flowing and generates lots of enthusiasm. Our greatest triumphs are definitely the strong friendships and sense of family we’ve developed from working together. It’s also very rewarding to get such amazing and positive praise from the guests and attendees, many of our attendees enjoy the convention so much, they volunteer and help us grow the team and we have many, many guests who love to return year after year because our event is so enjoyable and because we take such great care of them.

What guests do you have planned?

Almost too many to count. We currently have 135 guests listed on our website and more coming in!

How many people do you expect to attend and how many come from outside the local area?

We are expecting more than 20,000 fans to attend. I’m not sure how many are travelling, but I do know we’re getting close to selling out our host hotel the Phoenix Hyatt Regency.

What is the date of new show and locale?

Phoenix Comicon 2011 occurs May 26th through the 29th at the Phoenix Convention Center with additional programming including all day gaming and evening and late night programming and live bands at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

How does your show compare and contrast to other comic conventions?

Many of our staff love attending other conventions throughout the country and they all have great features and different flavors. Our show focuses very much on community, the fan experience and having non-stop events and opportunities to get engaged and involved with all the different elements of pop culture. We have dedicated teams that work all year putting together one of the most impressive programming schedules I’ve ever seen. Over 600 hours of programming encompassing Anime, Comic Books, Costuming, Fantasy, Film and TV, Gaming ( both tabletop and console), Horror, Music, Science, Science Fiction, Steam Punk and all the different things in between. Attendees at our convention always have lots of exciting opportunities throughout the event!

What are some of the new features of this show and what is to come?

This year we’ve focused on making fundamental improvements to our infrastructure including vastly more space for our exhibitor hall and programming. We’ve added and reorganized our staff so that we can do an even better job of making the event run smoothly and be fun for all of our attendees. We’ve done extensive planning and preparation to streamline lines and make the registration, autograph and photo opportunity processes as quick and easy as possible. We’ve added even more night time parties and events at the Hyatt and for all the events that filled up last year, we’ve expanded into larger rooms so that fans will be able to get into their favorite events. We’ve invited more guests than ever before and are inviting bigger stars and guests who haven’t been to Phoenix before or who haven’t been her in a very long time. What’s sure to come from all of this planning and preparation is a weekend of unequaled fun and Geek-dom!