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a dispatch from phoenix comicon 2015

This is the second in a series of articles about Ziggy’s experiences at Phoenix Comicon 2015.  Readers are encouraged to click the hyperlinks inside the article to learn more about the the great organizations being discussed.

“I think we all do heroic things, but ‘hero’ is not a noun; it’s a verb.”

– Robert Downey, Jr.

When one attends a gathering such as Phoenix Comicon 2015, one expects to see people dressed in the costumes of heroes, and indeed, the reality of the experience met the expectation.  At every turn, there were Wonder Women, Captains America, Supergirls, Batmen, Black Widows, Aquamen, Jedi Knights, Guardians of the Galaxy, and more.

But if one looked closer, one could see that the convention wasn’t just populated by people dressed as heroes.  It was populated by people being heroes.

Take a virtual walk with me, won’t you?

Not far from one of the primary entrances to the Exhibitors’ Hall downstairs, one would often find a large crowd of people gathered at a booth to have their pictures taken with some of Arizona’s best cosplayers.  But if one looked closer, one would see that this booth was about more than just photo ops, and that the cosplayers in question don’t just wear their costumes to cons.  This booth belonged to Comicare, a fantastic charity with a heroic mission.  That mission is to bring smiles to the faces of hospitalized children by delivering them donated comic books via the hands of the above noted costumed heroes, and facilitated by the efforts of other heroes behind the scenes.  (Including, in the interest of full disclosure, my friend and podcast cohost Eric, who is a co-founder of the organization.)  During what surely is one of the most stressful and uncertain times in these children’s young lives, those smiles can be worth the whole world; to the heroes at Comicare, they definitely are.  And thanks to the generosity of visitors to Phoenix Comicon 2015, sick children throughout the metro Phoenix area can be sure that in their hours of need, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and others will be there with books that allow them to escape the harsh realities of their hospital beds.

Did you forget the “book” part about comic books?  As it turns out, comics are a great way to get reluctant children (and adults) interested in reading, and as I continued to walk the aisles of the Phoenix Comicon exhibitors’ hall, I regularly saw evidence of that.  Kids were excited about the books they saw at the booths, and parents were just as excited to share some of their favorite comic – and other – worlds with them, and to discover new ones.  It was plain to see that these books weren’t just going to be read in dark corners and closed bedrooms; these books would be shared and enjoyed together by whole families.  And of course, when Moms and Dads introduce their kids to the Justice League, it’s not just the members of the Justice League who come out as heroes: it’s also the parents.  Parents as heroes; imagine that!

Hang on a second; was that an NHL hockey mascot standing amongst the wizards and the Harley Quinns?

As a matter of fact, it was; Howler of the Arizona Coyotes was there to support Kids Need To Read, an organization dedicated to providing books to underfunded school districts, libraries, and literacy programs across the country.  When I walked by the booth, they were just a few minutes away from a “Build A Book” activity that brought kids together to, well, build a book inspired by the sparks of their own imaginations.  At other times during Phoenix Comicon 2015, Howler hosted story times in the Youth Art Room in support of the Kids Need To Read mission.  To quote Doc Emrick from many a hockey telecast, “SCORE!”

I don’t know about you, but anyone who encourages literacy and active reading is a hero in my book.

Heading upstairs to “Hall of Heroes,” I saw a very familiar car parked near the back, complete with in-dash Flux Capacitor.  It was, of course, a DeLorean, lovingly crafted into a replica of the world’s most famous stainless steel time machine by Terry and Oliver Holler to support their To The Future campaign, through which they support the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research through Team Fox.  Any proceeds from photos with the car went straight to the Foundation; a heroic cause to be sure.  Had one come at the right time (one always carries one’s program to be sure to arrive at any given convention event at the appropriate time), one could even catch a photo with not only the car, but Doc Brown himself: Christopher Lloyd, one of Phoenix’s Comicon 2015’s highlight guests.  Now that’s 1.21 gigawatts of heavyweight support.

And that, my friends, is just barely scratching the surface of the heroics to be found at Phoenix Comicon 2015.  Countless other organizations – mainly run by cosplay and other fan groups – could be found at every turn supporting all kinds of charities and worthy causes.  Fandom of all sorts brought them together, and thanks to the support of everyone attending Phoenix Comicon 2015, these real world heroes were able to help make the world a better place, and they didn’t even need to fly.  (At least not without an airplane.)

So, you want to see a gathering of heroes?  Real heroes?  I give you Phoenix Comicon 2015. 

Let’s all try to follow their example and be heroes to others in our own respective corners of the world.

Just some of the heroes of Comicare.

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Howler of the Arizona Coyotes wants kids to read.

- Written by Ziggy Berkeley, June, 2015

With appreciation to all of the everyday heroes of Phoenix Comicon 2015, and to the organizers who made this wonderful event possible.

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


- copyright 2000-2016, Ziggy Berkeley and Cinema on the Rocks, all rights reserved.

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