12/12-14: Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest

AZCentral.com: Local passion for comic books, anime, sci-fi, horror, steampunk and fantasy has propelled Phoenix Comicon from a small one-day gathering in 2002 to a three-day festival in June that drew nearly 80,000 people, many of them in costume.

And now the fans have a winter festival to tide them over until the main event next May.

The inaugural Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest at University of Phoenix Stadium this weekend is a thank-you for supporters of the pop-culture event. It’s significantly smaller than Comicon and much more genre-focused. An Exhibitor Hall and Artist Alley will feature 400 vendors, and three programming rooms will showcase actors and speakers. Outside the stadium, such activities as obstacle courses and lightsaber training for kids will keep patrons busy. Marketing director Jillian Squires expects about 10,000 people to attend.

“For years, people have been asking us for a winter event in the cooler weather, and this seemed like the best year to do it with Comicon’s growth, and the staff knows what they’re doing now,” Squires said. “The event will be a lot more focused on costume groups, actors and comics, with a smaller vendor floor and the original things that brought people out to Comicons.”

Actors will be a major draw. The lineup includes David Ramsey from the CW show “Arrow,” based on DC Comics’ “Green Arrow”; Colin Baker and Paul McGann, who have portrayed the Doctor in the BBC’s long-running “Doctor Who” series; and Tom Skerritt, who appeared in “Alien” and “Top Gun.” Linda Blair, who made her name spewing pea soup in “The Exorcist,” also will be attending.

The three-day event also presents comic-book artists, including “Avengers” and “Justice League” illustrator Mike Mayhew; Marat Mychaels, who worked on “Deadpool Corps;” Ivan Brandon, co-creator of “Drifter;” and Mike S. Miller, a longtime illustrator for Marvel and DC comics.

Read more at AZCentral.com.