Like New Years resolutions, big changes in January are becoming a thing for what is now formerly Phoenix Comicon. Last year it was the shift from volunteers to paid staff, and a little over a week ago Square Egg Entertainment changed the name of its summer comic convention from Phoenix Comicon to Phoenix Comic Fest. This was announced on their social media platforms in a statement (listed below). And for the most part, since the nature of the show isn’t changing it’s easy for attendees to ask “what’s the big deal?”. When you consider though that this is likely the first of several conventions to begin making name changes to avoid a costly but frivolous lawsuit, it’s a bigger deal than most think.
While Phoenix Comic Fest doesn’t explicitly reference the recently decided lawsuit between San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Lake Comic Con, their comment about the term comic con becoming “litigious” might as well have “we’re changing our name to avoid being sued” in parenthesis. And I get it. If any business owner becomes aware of a risk, they’re going to do what they need to do to avoid that risk. That being said, I have a question or two.
While this may be a bit of a complaint is why Phoenix Comic Fest chose to keep “Comic” rather than “Convention” in its name (or why SDCC is fighting with that particular part of the term. While comics, authors and artists still have a place at comic conventions, they’re less and less why most fans attend. Conventions like Phoenix Comic Fest have been growing because of two interconnected reasons. The first is that nerdy things are getting more mainstream and acceptable (I mean I’m still the nerdiest person at my school, but no one bullies me for it 20 years later), and movies, tv shows and pop culture are why. So when a convention has to change its name, why keep the part of it that is now less representative of what you’re having people convene for?
Also, where does it end? Is SDCC going to find some way to sue other conventions that only keep part of the name? If it’s too costly for a single convention to go up against the biggest con, then certainly there’s a way for cons to band together and fight for the conventions they hold.
Maybe 50 years from now this will be no big deal, and if cons keep including the fabulous fandoms I love then I’ll keep attending, I just don’t know how I’ll explain to my non-nerdy friends that now I’m going to a “fest” that has nothing to do with an actual festival.
What are your thought’s on Phoenix Comic Fest’s name change and statement?