Last year I was an invited guest to The Amazing Arizona Comic Con, courtesy of Jimmy Jay (he’s a fan of my son’s artwork). I had a blast! I had never been to a con before. I met the most amazing people. I had no idea how warm and wonderful the comic con community would be. Recently, Jimmy Jay and I had a chance to ‘catch up’ for a few minutes to talk about upcoming events of 2013. Here’s Part Two of my interview with Jimmy Jay!
Check out Part One of the interview HERE.
JW: Hello again Jimmy Jay! I can’t believe The Amazing Arizona Comic Con is less than a month away! What do you have in store for us this year?
JJ: Our goal for the 2013 Amazing Arizona Comic Con is very much a continuation of what we set out to do with our very first convention – bring out the VERY BEST, the top pinnacle of comic book creators for the fans to hang out with for the weekend.
While in past two years we hosted the likes of Robert Kirkman of the Walking Dead, Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo, Rob Liefeld, Jeph Loeb, and a ton of other superstars, but it’s a hard job to keep growing and getting BIGGER names than the last time out.
I think we accomplished our goal by bringing out the best-selling comic book artist of all time Jim Lee, who is the head of DC Comics, as well as the top Marvel Comics’s creator of all time in Stan Lee.
I’m sure just about everyone in the state of Arizona has interacted with the likes of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Avengers – therefore they have a direct tie with our convention, and our guests.
JW: I’m sure everyone is wondering, what is it like to sit down and talk one on one to Stan Lee?
JJ: Truth be told I have the VERY best job in the world. I spoke to a main representative at POW Entertainment to see if Stan Lee might be available on the dates of the 2013 Amazing Arizona Comic Con. After that it was a whirlwind of activity from Stan personally calling my brother, and co-promoter Bill, to getting a personal invitation from Stan inviting me to his office to chat about how he wanted to be involved with the convention. Make no bones about it – Stan is extremely hands on, and full of energy. He just turned 90 years old, but you would never guess it!
In our sit down, Stan even came up with the idea of giving away his personal collection of the now historic AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700. This is ALL the covers too, all the variants, all the incentives. That’s over $1000 dollars value. Stan lee insisted on giving this away to one lucky fan coming to the show. More details will be on our official website, but here you can see Stan Lee talk about it himself.
JW: How long has Jim Lee been the head of DC comics?
JJ: Jim Lee has been a part of DC Comics since the mid 90s, when Warner Bros/DC purchased his Wildstorm Studios in LaJolla. This was a huge move as Jim was known as the best selling X-MEN Artist, and a founding partner at Image Comics, and perhaps the most popular creator in the modern era. He has gone on to produce best selling, fan favorite runs on new set of icons with BATMAN, HUSH, SUPERMAN, and the JUSTICE LEAGUE. He designed a number of characters for the DC52 launch last year, and remains at the center of publishing.
For all of these reasons, Jim Lee coming to Amazing Arizona Comic Con is a huge event. Not only is he working on the upcoming MAN OF STEEL book that will debut near the blockbuster movie release, but he has additional corporate responsibilities to balance with a full house family. Jim does not usually go to regional events such as this, and we are pleased that the Amazing Arizona Comic Con made it onto his 2013 Schedule.
JW: The Amazing Arizona Comic Con is in a bigger venue this year, how many guests are you expecting?
JJ: We had a conflict of dates with our previous venue, which forced our move to Downtown Phoenix at the convention Center. The facilities are gorgeous, and much more spacious. From an exhibitors point of view, we sold through the space with vendors and artist alley, quickly, and even had to scramble to get MORE main hall floor space to accommodate the big response from the creative community. As for people coming through the doors, we had 12,000 people walk through the doors over the weekend last year as smaller venue in East Valley. We hope to build on this with a more central location, and increased PR efforts, strong word of mouth, and aggressive grass roots marketing. From our point of view, the most important thing is that we throw an event that is fun for everyone.
JW: When visiting Artist Alley, who is the “must see” of this year’s event?
JJ: Oh – tough question because the artist alley is so much bigger this year, with a great mix of established pros and up and comers, along with great local favorites. While I’m going to fire off some names to start, I think the coolest thing about Artist Alley and the meeting the various comic studios is the “discovery” process. Finding new work, new creators that you hadn’t noticed before. These are some people that I personally found – even if I was coming late the party.
*Chrissie Zullo is an artist I just recently got into. She has done some great cover work on FABLES and other vertigo favorites, and now I can’t get enough
*Ben Glendenning & Denea Frazier- their art styles are completely different, but they are some of my favorite Sketch Card artists working today. They produce fantastic work on trading cards, and are open to commissions small and big.
*James Ninness is an up and coming writer. I met him at the very first Amazing Arizona Comic Con as he strolled into the show with his buddies as a fan. I’ve been following James’ creative writing blog, and he has some cool projects coming out with bigchrisart.com that should certainly rock!
*Eric Mangel & Denny Richelli – they do fun DIY comics. I always check out THE OCHO, and Cousin Harold is a strip I check out frequently online.
*Jon Bolerjack brings an interesting mash-up of Star Wars meets Marvel Comics. Stop by his table and see his Storm Trooper helmets and you’ll know what I mean.
*Marat Mychaels/Jon Goff/Jim Hanna- I lump them together because these AZ guys will be hanging out together for sure. They represent action packed, commercial side to independent. Marat has worked on Deadpool, Army of Darkness and recently on the DC52, and Goff comes from fresh from Spawn and Halo, and Jim – well people should see more of his work because he’s great!
*Jeff Balke – he technically as a Publisher Press booth, and not one of the traditional AA Tables, he’s always a MUST SEE. Jeff is an award-winning colorist, and has worked on Zenescope and numerous Bad Girl books. The stand out part about Jeff, in addition to his enthusiasm and kindness, is that he can custom color sketch covers, or commissions on the show floor. This is a fun aspect to collecting!
*Jon Hughes – super talented Print artist, and a work horse. He always has fresh prints for sale, a great selection of your favorite characters, great interpretations.
OMG – I can go on literally about every person on the Artist Alley list. I look forward to see Karl Alstaetter and Drew Johnson, Jeff Pina, April Grady Reyna, Val Hochberg, and so many more. I’m going to stop with the break downs, and let you guys find YOUR favorites.
JW: Final thoughts?
JJ: We have so much raw enthusiasm for the Amazing Arizona Comic Con and we certainly love the fan community that gathers in Phoenix every year. While comic books are very much at the center of our event, there is literally something for everyone at this year’s convention.
We have a ton of events specifically aimed for families, on Sunday which has become a tradition, Kid’s Day. Not only are Children 10 and under FREE with paid adults, we have the Writer/Artist of Phineas & Ferb- Mat Nastos signing and sketching. Boom Studio’s is bringing out Adventure Time comics. We’ll have video game tournaments, face painting and more!
We’re also boosting up our cosplay activities at this year’s convention. If you are into fun people watching and picture-taking, the Arizona Avengers, Justice League Arizona and the 501st Star Wars troop will all be there. And if you’re looking for something slightly more dark, we’ll have additional panels by Special FX Artist, and winner of Sy Fy Channel’s FACE/OFF reality show Nichole Chilelli. And of course no con would be complete with a big Costume Contest as well.
I hope everyone comes out and experience the Amazing Arizona Comic Con with us on January 25-26-27 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
JW: Well, that’s a wrap! Looking forward to attending my second Amazing Arizona Comic Con! Thanks so much Jimmy Jay! See you at the con!