By A.D. Beal

I’ve been rather burnt out on geek culture and fandom for a while. Not from the amount of content we’re getting, that’s certainly not the problem. We’ve had plenty of great media for fans of sci-fi, fantasy or comic books, whether it’s in film, games, graphic novels, you name it. It’s how we’ve reacted to that content that’s gotten me down. To be more specific, it’s the way certain fans of that media have treated the creators of said works, or those that have opposing views, be it positive or negative.

Some fans have felt that harassment and death threats against a filmmaker, developer, writer, etc. because of their dislike of a thing they made is justifiable and constructive criticism. I’ve seen folks like these also lose their minds when a creator (rightfully) responds and tells them that they’re being unnecessarily hostile, and this group acts like they’re being persecuted, accusing the creator of hating the fans or even the thing that they made. This loud group overshadows those with legitimate and thoughtful criticisms, and unfortunately, they are often grouped in with extremists.

The more positive side of fandom hasn’t been much better, because, as of a result of hostile fans, extremists on that group have assumed that anyone with a negative or just critical opinion is a horrible human being, leaving those who want to actually discuss something respectively hung out to dry. I’ve seen this happen in many fandoms last year and in the current year so far, some noticeable, others that flew under the radar. But they’ve all done one thing, and that’s how they’ve made me ask this question a lot: “What’s the point in discussing things I love when it’s just gonna turn into a shouting match?”.

So, as cliche as it sounds, Phoenix Comic Fest did reignite some of that love of discussion of films, games and graphic novels. Walking through the show floor, checking out the different booths, there was much to see. You had artists do much with iconic characters, whether it was recreating well known scenes, showing two versions interact with each other, or just doing everyday activities. There were cosplayers of course, with highly detailed and fun costumes. And of course, there were just some folks that came in casual clothing, like me.

The energy was really what made it for me. Walking through the aisles, there wasn’t any blatant negativity to be found, no talks of something “ruining their childhood”, just enjoyment and appreciation of the things they love. In an online age where negativity runs rampant, this actually felt refreshing. Again, it might seem really overly dramatic, but it is nice to be in a group of people where the goal is to talk about how much you enjoy something instead about how you felt personally insulted by it. There was also plenty of nice memorabilia to buy, including a booth dedicated to posters (where I acquired some Halloween ones).

The Phoenix Comic Fest has done what it has always done best, which is providing a comfortable and positive atmosphere for fans and critics alike. For 2019, the name will be changing again to Phoenix Fan Fusion. Despite the name changes, it’s still the same con that you know.