Just a few weeks after moving to Arizona to open our second office, I attended my first Phoenix Comicon and as a new speaker at the show, I was unsure of what to expect. I quickly encountered great fans, and friendly and organized staff, and a beyond capacity audience at all of my panels. As the show has grown into one of the larger conventions around, we checked in with the Director of Marketing; Jillian Squires about what fans can expect from the 2016 show.
What can you tell us about what is new for the show this year?
We are working on several improvements for 2016, one is moving the night programming from the Renaissance and Sheraton hotels back to the Phoenix Convention Center. After 2015, we got some great feedback from attendees that it was difficult to keep going back and forth from the hotel, so we are working to centralize our programming offerings to the Phoenix Convention Center and the Hyatt Hotel.
The show has really grown in the last few years to be one of the larger Comicons To what do you attribute this growth and how do you balance the growth with remaining true to your core principals and fan expectations?
We think there are several contributing factors, one is our goal to exceed expectations. We work very hard to take feedback from attendees and make our show better, by listening to those who experience our event we can make an event that is tailored to the attendees desires and create a better experience. I also think the rise in Superhero movies helps, it is becoming popular to enjoy Superhero’s and Comic storylines. It means more people are open to exploring these kind of stories and makes it easier to attract them to coming to Phoenix Comicon.
What guests do you have planned and how do you go about selecting them as you have always had really amazing lineups.
Getting Guests is an interesting process, we always start with making up a dream team line up and reach out to Agents who rep those people. We get some that say yes, some that say no and some that say ‘lets talk’ and we go from there, finding alternatives from those we do not get and evolving the Guest Line-up as we get answers.
We are still working with agents for 2016 to bring out more but we currently have several Comic creators like Jae Lee and Marv Wolfman. We are working to bring out several Authors. And of course, there are the Actors, right now we have a few names from the popular Dr. Who franchise such as Alex Kingston, Billie Piper, and Even Myles. We are looking to expand some of our Horror guest offerings by bringing out Basil Gogos and Kane Hodder. We always look at current TV’s shows for fan favorites and are brining out Timothy Omundson from shows like Galavant and Graham McTavish from Outlander. We also look at classic shows of course and this year we are excited to have Gates McFadden from Star Trek The Next Generation.
How many people do you expect to attend and how many come from outside the local area?
We are expecting about 85,000 attendees this year and 85% come from within Arizona, which is an amazing amount of support from the local area.
Why do you think there has been such a burst of city based Comicon’s of late and what do you think is essential for success?
I think there are a lot of reasons, kids who grew up reading Comic Books are adults, who decide what they spend money on now, creating a demand for these kind of events. There is an increase of movies and stories being produced that fit into the genre’s that are at Comicon which creates a bigger base of Actors to bring out. I think every Comicon needs to focus on creating an amazing experience for attendees and the Guests they bring out. Both are key to having a successful event to time should be spent considering how to improve the experience for both.
How much more are you expanding for 2016, as fa in terms of programming?
Well, we are using all the rooms in both the North and West building of the Phoenix Convention Center plus the Hyatt Hotel. At this point, we are using all the space available so we are focused on making sure our programming is high quality. We are looking to change up panels that run every year, make sure we have new and fresh and amazing offerings for our attendees to choose from.
Any special events this year for Star Trek?
Well, we have Gates McFadden! We are still working on deciding what Programming is happening and when, but yes there will be some great Star Trek events, I just don’t know what they are yet. Keep an eye on our website www.phoenixcomicon.com, programming information is put up about 3 weeks before the event.
What can you tell us about the outdoor entertainment options?
We will continue to close down 3rd street and fill it with our amazing geek car show, food trucks, and live bands. We are looking to add some other activities and demonstration such as sword fighting. Nothing is set in stone yet, as we are still in the planning phase.
I have noticed more studios and companies getting involved each year, what can we look forward to this year?
Well, it is still a little early but from what I am seeing, we will have a pretty amazing line up of Comic creators and authors. Actors are always a big hit with the attendees and we all love the programming offerings. We have been digging through feedback from attendees to try and create a show gives what they want, so look for more fan favorite creators, actors, and authors. Plus panels that line up with what people are watching, reading and devouring in their free time. Basically, our goal for 2016 is to give the attendees what they are requesting, at least as much as we can.
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