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Phoenix Comicon 2009: Zombie Events

The 2009 Phoenix Comicon is over; the last of the attendees has stumbled away from the Mesa Convention Center, heavy with trade paperbacks, collectibles, and anime DVDs procured on the convention floor. This was my first year at the convention -- in the past, my own experience with such events was limited to San Diego's massive Comic-Con International, which annually boasts more con-goers than my old hometown of Davenport, Iowa had people. The Phoenix Comicon (sometimes known as the Phoenix Cactus Comicon) is a much much smaller event by contrast, but it uses that to promote ground-level fandom, experimenting with events like Zombie Beauty Pageants and holding panels expressly devoted to fans talking to other fans about their favorite fandoms.

Over the course of three feature articles, I'll be looking over my experiences at the Con, illustrating my own hazy memories with some great photographs. This first feature focuses on three zombie-related events.

Zombie Walk

If you have a yen for zombies, Phoenix Comicon was overrun with them. Thursday's Preview Night started off with a Zombie Walk, which ambled around downtown Mesa before cutting a swath through the convention floor. Zombies came in all shapes in sizes -- SWAT zombies, housewife zombies, and socialite zombies. One zombie looked like a cop, but I later discovered that he was meant to be a stripper (more on that later). Keeping an eye on the whole bunch were a couple of vigilant Starfleet officers.

Zombie CopPunk ZombiesThe Final Shamble
Click on a photo to open a larger version in a new window

Zombie Beauty Pageant

Later on Thursday, comic book writer and The Graves director Brian Pulido presided over the Zombie Beauty Pageant. The six contestants were judged on their undead prowess in three ways: their overall look, their answer to a question on zombie issues, and the presentation of their zombie talent. The talent section was the most lively, as we saw two musical performances, a dramatic performance, a zombie haiku, and an unexpected striptease (so now you know how I learned the real identity of the zombie "cop"). To keep the audience engaged between the Q&A and the talent portion, local Rocky Horror troupe Come As You Are performed The Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite. In the end a zombie beauty queen was crowned, prizes were awarded, and much fun was had by all.

Setting Up
Your Host Brian PulidoStalking Towards the Crowd
Talent Section: Alice in ZombielandTalent Section: Alice in ZombielandA Rocky Horror InterludeCrowning the Winner
Click on a photo to open a larger version in a new window. Photography in this set by Erin Dow.

Brain-Eating Competitions

Hungry zombies had the chance to win prizes in two Brain-Eating Competitions -- one held Friday afternoon and the other Saturday evening. In each, eight contestants sat around a table and, at the command of the helpful Arizona Ghostbusters, began gnawing at one lobe of a "brain" made of peach Jell-O™ and non-fat evaporated milk.

The eventual winner of Friday's competition, Nick described the brains as "really dense, really thick." Although he couldn't determine the taste, he chowed down happily, mostly because he hadn't eaten yet that day. "As it turned out, that helped," he said. A big fan of zombie movies, he named Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Zombi 2 (1979) as his favorites.

Dig In!
Zombie Liu Kang loves brainsZombie Liu Kang loves brains
Brains are fun!
Keeping it downThe eventual winner in the home stretchThe eventual winner in the home stretchA mind is a terrible thing to waste
Click on a photo to open a larger version in a new window. Photography in this set by Erin Dow.

Saturday's competition was close, with the winner beating out the runner-up by little more than single bite. Amongst the competitors was ICanSmellYourBrains.com's Danny Northside, who gave up when he found the taste and texture of the brains to be a bit too much for him. But as nothing goes to waste when zombies are about, the long-finished winner and runner-up immediately picked up his leftovers and continued their munching.

Nate passes out tickets for the second brain-eating contestNate passes out tickets for the second brain-eating contestChowing downThe Winnah!
Click on a photo to open a larger version in a new window. Photography in this set by Erin Dow.

Tomorrow we'll look at the various horror movie panels from the convention, including two where I contributed my own thoughts on the genre.