Hundreds of special guests and exhibitors are flocking to the Phoenix Convention Center this Memorial Day weekend in honor of Phoenix Comicon, a celebration of fans, fandoms and all things pop culture.
The convention, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, will feature escape rooms, zombie tag and more than 600,000 square feet of programming and events, according to Kristin Rowan, Director of Marketing for Phoenix Comicon.
Rowan said Comicon's tagline, 'Discover Your Inner Geek,' was inspired by the idea that 'nerd culture' is prevalent everywhere.
"Our tagline... was born of the idea that there is a little bit of geek in all of us," Rowan said. "Whether you love the Star Wars saga, read every Harry Potter book, can't get enough comics, or spend every weekend playing video games, some aspect of the geek culture is prevalent in all of our lives and we spend the weekend celebrating all of it."
Rowan said Comicon brings financial benefits to the Valley as well.
"Rough estimates show Phoenix Comicon brings in roughly $10 million dollars over the course of the week," Rowan said.
ASU professors and students also play a role in bringing the convention to life.
"We have many ASU professors who are participating in and presenting as part of our accredited science track," Rowan explained."We are also very excited to welcome back the ASU Quidditch Team this year. Of course, we'd also love to see the ASU e-sports team come down and show us their skills and maybe help us run a tournament one year."
Makenna Baum, social media and outreach chair for ASU Quidditch, said the team is attending on Friday and has attended for the past three years.
"We hold a demonstration match to show everyone how Quidditch is played," Baum said. "After we do that, we invite kids and whoever else to come and play with us."
Baum, a senior and nutrition major at ASU, said audience turnout and participation was a success last year.
"We've had a lot of kids participating and being excited about it," Baum said. "There's actually a few (incoming) players who learn about Quidditch by going to Comicon... They've seen it there, and that inspires them to play Quidditch too. It has impacted younger kids and some people playing right now."
Baum said both ASU and Comicon allow people to embrace their unique interests.
"Even ASU has a lot of clubs where people are able to express their interests," Baum said. "Both that and Comicon allow for people who are into 'geeky things' to have a place (to come together)."
Jonathan Nguyen, a sophomore majoring in business management, has attended Comicon for years and enjoys meeting the eclectic mix of people that Comicon has to offer.
"I go mostly because my friends are there," said Nguyen, who is planning to cosplay as Snow Day Bard, a character from the multiplayer game League of Legends. "You meet a whole bunch of people who have the same interests, and it's the one time of the year where I can spend a lot of money to have fun."
However, Nguyen has one complaint: the merchandise that the exhibitors sell is expensive.
"That's my only thing about Comicon," Nguyen said. "Everything is overpriced, guaranteed."
Regardless, Nguyen said that plenty of ASU students attend Comicon, and he has overheard the classmates in his business classes discuss the event.
"As a whole, I say its one of the few things that Phoenix has that everyone wants to go to," Nguyen said. "It's like one of the biggest events of the year."
Phoenix Comicon will take place at the Phoenix Convention Center in Downtown Phoenix from Thursday, May 25 to Sunday, May 28. Tickets can be bought here or at the door.
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