Call the fire marshal; Phoenix Comicon 2011 was too hot to handle.
While the size of the convention exploded at last year’s 2010 convention when it was moved to the downtown Phoenix area, this year’s convention on the exhibition floor surpassed its maximum capacity of 10,000 people on Saturday — therefore causing the fire marshal and police department to get involved.
The four day event, which took place at the Phoenix Convention Center, brought in 23,001 people, not including children under 12 who got in for free.
Jillian Squires, marketing manager for Phoenix Comicon, says the attendance was a great success for the convention, as it was a giant leap from last year’s 14,000 attendees. While the overcapacity was an obstacle for the convention committee to overcome, they were thrilled this was the only hindrance.
According to Squires, Matt Solberg, convention director, handled the situation rapidly and gracefully. Although the floor regulation lasted about four hours, attendees waited no more than 20 minutes to enter the exhibition floor, and around 6 p.m., attendees were able to freely enter the area once again.
Solberg posted a formal notice about the situation on the Phoenix Comicon’s homepage, informing the public of what happened and apologizing for any inconvenience.
Squires says that the committee’s largest goal is to strive for honesty with their attendees, and this is what sets them apart from other conventions.
As for the reason for this year’s success and high attendance, Squires says its due to the event’s all-star guest list and four new marketing techniques.
Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy and George Takei, Chuck star Adam Baldwin, and the man who made comics what they are today, Stan Lee, among other guests, transcended different cultures and genres, attracting a wider audience range than ever before, Squires says.
Nimoy proved to be the event’s most popular attraction; his panel “Spotlight on Leonard Nimoy” filled the 5,000 ballroom to its maximum capacity. The other aforementioned guests’ panels attracted crowds almost as large, with popular web series The Guild and Paul Cornell, writer for Doctor Who yielding some of the largest turn outs as well.
“There was not a single panel with no turn out,” Squires says. “There was something there for everyone.”
From science fiction authors to Anime to zombie musicals at the PC Film Festival, the event provided a wide range of events to expand its demographic and attendance.
Through Squires’ efforts, the committee increased attendance further through effective and thorough use of social media, commercials, billboards, a 20-page brochure with College Times — as well as with the support and advertising through local companies in the Valley.
Although it hasn’t reached the capacity of the San Diego Comic-Con, Phoenix demonstrates equal success for its unique goals.
“[San Diego Comic-Con has] a different vision than we do, and theirs is great, but we just have different goals and purposes for our convention,” Squires says.
Squires says Phoenix Comicon aims to be a family event and to ensure accessibility, entertainment and comfort to all those who attend. Phoenix Comicon also intends to keep the prices affordable at $40 for a four-day pass.
Squires hopes to get even “hotter” next year with at least 30,000 attendees.
Want to secure your spot for next year’s conference? Memberships are already for sale online.