More and more goodies are coming out of this year’s Phoenix Comicon every day. From the hunt for the wily Wil Wheaton to finding out that Adam Baldwin was 2 doors down from us at the Hyatt Regency to losing “The Game” (yeah, you just lost) during our live podcast, we all had a blast and we’re all looking forward to next year which, as we’re told by the organizers, is going to be even bigger and even better than this year!
What follows is an interview we had with Jillian Squires, Marketing Manager for the Phoenix Comicon.
We all posted up in a meeting room above the exhibitors floor. While we were there, we snapped a few photos of the area below (which was filled to capacity at times). We then sat down for a long and very pleasant interview with Jillian. She was a super cool lady and gave us all the time we needed to ask tons of useful questions (and a few that were completely useless, as well).
And now; on with the interview.
FEZ : My understanding is that this is the second year of the Phoenix Comicon (Jillian gasped at this point) or am I being lied to?
Jillian : Well, this is the second year we’ve had it downtown but it’s the ninth year of the Phoenix Comicon. It started out in Glendale and then moved to Mesa and when it got big enough then we made the transition to downtown
FEZ : And we understand that you’re at 85% capacity right now?
Jillian : In this room, yes.
FEZ : So you seem to be having a very good turnout.
Jillian : We’re having an EXCELLENT turnout.
FEZ : What kind of planning does this take? When did you guys start planning for Comicon 2011?
Jillian : When the doors closed on 2010. (laugh)
FEZ : Ok (we all chuckled a bit, too)
Jillian : The first thing we do is an after-con survey. We try to reach out to as many of our attendees as possible and find out what they loved, what they hated and that takes about a month to gather that information and then we look at that and decide from there “ok, what are we going to do with this” and that’s the first stage of the planning. Then we start transitioning in to “what are we going to do for next year” and then it’s months of discussions and meeting and then we move from that into actively seeking out guests for the next year and things like that.
FEZ : What’s different between Phoenix Comicon 2010 and Phoenix Comicon 2011? What’s the biggest change between the 2?
Jillian : Everything is inside. There are no lines outside…It’s a different mindset. Before we thought we just needed a little bit of space but now we need really BIG space. Before it was kind of casual, we sort of flew by the seat of our pants but this year we hired security and we hired line control, we went out and hired professional companies to take this to a different level. We have a whole new, different level of contract with the convention center to make things as professional as possible.
FEZ : So planning has taken a dramatic turn for you…
Jillian : Yes, it has. Before, we didn’t have to worry about a lot of the planning we have to now. In 2009, we had 7,000 attendees, in 2010 we had 14,500. We’ve already, in the first 2 days here, had over 14,000 people. I don’t know the counts at this point.
FEZ : How many volunteers do you have here?
Jillian : We have over 500 volunteers this year.
FEZ : So it went from “Wow, we’re pretty busy” to “Holy Shit”…
Jillian : (laughs) YES. And so this year we’re thinking “we have to make this REALLY big” and we made it really big and there’s still a huge line!