A Wild Weekend at Phoenix Comic Con – Man Arrested, New Policies Implemented, Vendor Packs It Up

Phoenix Comicon (PCC) has been a been a popular topic for several reasons.

They first started hitting the news last year with their policy change regarding ‘Volunteers’ (and I use that term VERY loosely). Anyone that wanted to ‘volunteer’ at Phoenix Comicon had to purchase a membership in the Blue Ribbon Army, a geek social club and registered nonprofit for $20-100 per year. The membership tier they purchased would be a deciding factor for which ‘volunteer’ team they would be part of.

This weekend was THE weekend for PCC and once again it hit the news big time.


31-year-old Matthew Sterling was arrested Thursday for sneaking into Phoenix Comicon with several real weapons. He was dressed at “The Punisher” in full body armor and armed with three handguns, a shotgun, a combat knife, pepper spray, throwing stars and had numerous rounds of ammunition. While at PCC, he sent several alarming text messages to an acquaintance who reported him to the police. Threats issued including a death threat against Jason David Frank and police at the event.

You can view his initial arrest hearing here:

Jason David Frank attended a Press Conference on Friday to address the issue…

and also went on Facebook live to talk to his fans directly…


As a direct result of this incident, PCC enhanced security which limited the entrances so they could do security screening.

The initial notice also banned all costume props, which I understand was later modified to a weapons prop ban.

The following is the prohibited item list at the Phoenix Convention Center during Phoenix Comicon as determined by the Convention Center and Police Department that has been drafted and approved this morning. This language is direct from them, and we hope will answer many of the questions and concerns that came up in the past eighteen hours.

“In an effort to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our guests, the following items are prohibited at the Phoenix Convention Center during Phoenix Comicon 2017:

Alcoholic Beverages
Illegal drugs

Weapons of all types including Simulated Weapons.
Examples of prohibited weapons and simulated (Prop weapons) weapons include:

Edged weapons (swords, knifes, throwing stars etc.)
Impact weapons (clubs, bats, staffs, nunchaku, shields, hammers and martial arts weapons)
Archery weapons (cross bows and bolts, bows and arrows of all types)
Weapons from fictional sources (Light sabers, plasma weapons, laser, phasers etc.)

Wands, sonic screwdrivers, plushies, masks, fairy wings, empty holsters, signs attached to costumes, fur suits, cardboard made costumes and non-weapon props, dishware associated with costumes, empty quivers, hats and helmets, Power Ranger Morphers, and umbrellas, by example, are allowed.


Unfortunately these heightened measures also caused their own additional problems and PCC did what they could to resolve them. They opened additional lines for those without bags to speed up the process and added ADA lines. They were also distributing water to those in line.

And best of all, they have offered refunds to those that couldn’t/wouldn’t wait in line.

You may request a refund by emailing refund@phoenixcomicon.com. As all staff and crew are on site running the convention we will not begin responding until after Phoenix Comicon and anticipate it may take thirty days or longer to fully process all refund requests. Please be patient and thank you for your understanding.

The entire event was a disaster, but you have to give PCC credit for trying to handle an unexpected last minute fiasco with no notice and a volunteer crew.


And to make matters even more ‘interesting’ at PCC….. there is the Ultrasabers incident.

The initial security notice states,

“Purchased props will be wrapped by the vendors and must remain so while they are on-site. We encourage you to take your purchases to your car or hotel as soon as possible after purchase.”

So one would assume that all vendors were informed of this and pretty much given the option to comply or leave. One vendor, Ultrasabers, claimed that the request was ‘to place every lightsaber sold to a customer into a trash bag” at 12PM on Friday.

Considering the initial post by PCC was on Thursday, I think there might be a communication issue.

I have spoke to a few vendors who were more than aware of the need to ‘bag’ weapons prior to that time and even though they weren’t happy with it, they complied. In fact, there was a mandatory meeting on Friday meeting for the vendors where it was discussed; whether Ultrasabers was there, I don’t know…but typically ‘mandatory’ is a key word.

Also, the fact that they asked for a refund on Friday morning due to severely reduced attendance numbers seems a little fishy to me as Thursday and Friday are typically the slower days of any convention. Yes, numbers were guaranteed to be reduced due to the Thursday incident, but weren’t able to tell how much lower the numbers would be by Friday morning.

On top of everything, I consider it rather petty that Ultrasabers decided to distribute the above flyers on the PCC floor. It is a little underhanded on their part.

And of course, PCC issued their own response to Ultrasabers, which give a slightly different story.