Nicks Davis works as a Downtown Phoenix Ambassador and attends ASU.
You can tell by the look on his face: He loves this. Scrolling through highlights of past conventions, funky costumes and friends he met along the way — Davis explains the basics of cosplay, a combination of the words costume and play. Besides the star-packed lineup of speakers and panelists, this is one of the driving forces behind Comicon’s popularity. A Downtown Phoenix Ambassador and junior at Arizona State University, Davis loves comic and pop culture-themed conventions, and started cosplaying his freshman year of college. “It’s all about the people,” he said. “The social aspect and the work people put into their costumes is amazing.” Originally from New York, this marks Davis’ first Phoenix Comicon and his first time working the event as an Ambassador. From getting people where they need to go and manning hydration stations to providing local hotel and restaurant recommendations — the Ambassadors help big downtown events like this run smoothly. And they have a pretty good time doing it too. According to Scott Johnson, team manager for the Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors, Comicon grows exponentially each year, with an expected attendance of 100,000 for 2015. The hours can be long, hot and exhausting, but the event proves to be a hit with staff — time and time again.
A group of Phoenix Comicon 2014 attendees pose for a picture.
“For us, there’s a huge entertainment factor,” Johnson said. “Just watching all the costumes, the excitement level — everyone is excited to be downtown.” It also brings in a diverse crowd according to Guy Engard, Downtown Phoenix Ambassador. Different from the business conventions typically rolling through town this time of year, Comicon attracts people from all walks of life. “It’s my favorite event that happens downtown,” Engard said. “That, and our Zombie Walk.” Downtown Phoenix Inc. holds its own pop culture phenomenon known as Zombie Walk every October and helps organize a smaller version for Comicon. During both events, Engard can be spotted wearing full zombie makeup and a blood-soaked Ambassador t-shirt, leading a horde of the undead.
Guy Engard (center) gets into character during the Phoenix Comicon Zombie Walk 2014.
Besides helping plan, collaborate and participate in the Phoenix Comicon Zombie Walk, Ambassadors often dress up in capes or masks (in addition to their orange shirts) to help play into the comic-themed fantasy. Nick Davis said he’ll be wearing his Spiderman mask while providing directions to after-parties and places to find Comicon-related deals, in addition to a host of other services. “I just like helping people — helping strangers,” he said. “It’s really rewarding.” The role of an Ambassador is to help people, and in the case of Phoenix Comicon, it’s to help people have fun.
* In the top photo, Ambassadors Antoinette Chambers (left) and Gerald Wilbon (right) pose with a woman dressed as “Black Widow” during Phoenix Comicon 2014.