Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.
Phoenix Comicon kicks off this Thursday and goes through Sunday. I’ll be attending every day; my panels and signings are listed online.
I’ve attended Phoenix Comicon for four years. The first two years, I was just another fan in the crowd. Last year I sat on panels for the first time (for the first time ever), though my book wasn’t out yet. This time, I am doing All the Things since The Clockwork Dagger is out. The Clockwork Crown will even on sale early at the Poisoned Pen event and at Mysterious Galaxy inside Phoenix Comicon!
[Last year: Me and Rachel, all dressed up and ready for heat strokes!]
My point is, I’ve experienced the con from all sides. Here’s the scoop on the good, the bad, and the annoying at an otherwise all-star awesome event:
– Saturday has the most going on, but it’s also the busiest. Introverts beware.
30,000+ people on Saturday. Imagine most of them trying to get to the basement exhibition hall, all at once. Yeah. It can be a 30 minute trek just to get down the stairs/escalators, and that’s in an intimate pack of costumed humanity, and then it’s hard to even look at the goodies for sale because it’s so busy.
If crowds get to you, go on Friday or Sunday. It’s still very busy, but it’s not quite as bad. Also, if you need alone space, going upstairs from the main level is a much quieter place. I speak from experience. My second year at the con, as just an attending fan, I had a panic attack and required about a 30 minute walk outside to calm down and face the cacophony again.
– Phone, internet, and messaging services are not reliable.
Last I heard, the convention center was working to improve this, but this must be mentioned as a precaution: service in past years has been BAD. Anywhere around the center was unreliable, but going downstairs to the exhibition hall meant entering an internet dead zone. A few years ago, this caused headaches for me as I kept messaging a friend to meet-up and didn’t know our messages kept failing. Vendors had huge problems if they used things like Square. Last year, I switched my phone to airplane mode most of the time so the battery wouldn’t suck dry in the search for a connection.
I really, really hope this isn’t as much an issue this year, but be prepared. If you’re splitting up from friends, arrange a time and location to meet. You know, like days of yore, before cell phones.
[Taco Guild – from left, chicken, lamb, duck]
- As River famously pointed out in Firefly, food is problematic.
It’s a convention center. It’s not fine dining. Expect meh food that’s expensive and requires a long wait in line. The one bright spot in past years has been the frozen yogurt stand, but even that has had long lines (with melting yogurt), and the toppings are pretty well pillaged by afternoon.
Bring snacks and a water bottle to continually fill. Heck, pack a lunch box. If you want to eat out, do some research. I use Yelp to look at menus and bookmark promising places. I have only been to a few places within walking distance, but I really liked La Piazza last year. Great salad and pizza. It’s a few blocks west of the con. Some of the best dining in the whole country is just a block away–namely, Pizzeria Bianco and Nobuo at Teeter House, though I haven’t tried them for myself. Someday…!
[Taco Guild’s amazing grilled romaine salad]
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wondrous Taco Guild
. It has the best tacos, frozen margaritas, AND best grilled romaine salads I’ve had in my life. It is a few miles north, but it’s well worth the drive if you want something that is quintessentially Phoenix.
Speaking of walking or trekking outside…
– It’s hot outside. Phoenix is NOT cosplay friendly if you wear layers.
This is where I was stupid last year. I consider myself pretty well adapted to heat, but that heat is a whole lot worse when you’re in insulated boots, a long and tiered skirt, and a corset all day long. Plus, my steampunk costumes made using the bathroom very awkward (petticoats are EVIL), so I didn’t drink enough water. Even if you’re indoors most of the time, your body will be taxed because of the extreme heat. Drink fluids constantly. Be aware of how your body is responding to your environment. Give yourself permission to NOT be in cosplay all day long, every day.
This year, I will have a hotel room close by. I plan to wear more casual, geeky attire most of the time. I’ll save my steampunk gear for an evening or two.
– Those panel rooms are set to Freeze Your Tushy Off.
Here’s the bizarre contrast to the blazes furnaces of hell just outside the building. The panel rooms are smaller and the air conditioning blows right down on the audience. If you’re sensitive to cold, you might want to bring a light cardigan. Author Gini Koch is easily recognizable at conventions because she brings bright pink ear muffs to combat the chilly rooms. She’s a smart lady.
I hope that a few people find this advice helpful. Phoenix Comicon is a wonderful event, run by passionate fans. There’s a reason why I keep going back every year, and why it’s become such a draw for authors from all over the world. Be prepared, take care of yourself, and geek out!