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Comicon tales

A few of Lizabeth's fun finds from Friday night at Phoenix Comicon 2011

It was “show and tell” at our house this morning — something my daughter, now 17, hasn’t done since circle time during kindergarten at Desert View Learning Center in Phoenix.

She awoke eager to show me her first day’s haul from Phoenix Comicon, taking place this weekend at the Phoenix Convention Center, which is billed as “the signature pop culture event of the Southwest.”

Autographed photos. Freebie like luggage tags and treat bags featuring faces of fan favorites. Posters to line the walls of her college dorm in NYC this fall — including one from a movie called “The Roommate” that’ll hardly make a glowing first impression.

We got our first taste of Phoenix Comicon 2011 while lunching at Majerle’s Sports Grill, across the street from the stage door at Symphony Hall, which we first discovered when Lizabeth performed the role of “party girl” in the Ballet Arizona production of “The Nutcracker.” The streets were dotted with folks wearing superhero T-shirts and other pop culture fare.

James was struck, while picking Lizabeth up after the event Friday night, by the blend of people intermingled in the streets — those finely dressed for an evening graduation ceremony, those donning patriotic garb for the Phoenix Symphony’s “Boogie Woogie Pops” concert and those whose tastes trend more towards Marvel’s “Green Goblin.” The city, like our three children, is growing up all around us.

Having a mom who blogs is a mixed bag. My kids know to offer a disclaimer for arts-related conversations that aren’t meant for public consumption. But sometimes they enjoy the opportunity blogging brings to spotlight the good things we discover during our daily travels.

Lizabeth was particularly animated while describing finger puppets she’d seen at one of the exhibitor booths at this year’s Phoenix Comicon. Finger puppets of cute, furry animals aren’t hard to come by. But “bacon” finger puppets — and even “finger” finger puppets — have a different sort of magic altogether.

Lizabeth took special care to snag a business card for Stacey Rebecca Gordon, proud puppet crafter and performer whose business is dubbed “Puppet Pie.” I was delighted to discover that Gordon — who describes herself as improviser, mom and wife — has a charming, cheeky blog complete with photos of her works.

One of Lizabeth's favorite actors is working to create a culture of literacy

Lizabeth was equally smitten with the “Kids Need to Read” booth. “Kids Need to Read” is a non-profit organization based in Mesa that enourages literacy, promotes social responsibility, fosters leadership and inspires imaginations. Canadian-born Nathan Fillion, one of Lizabeth’s favorite actors, is a co-founder of “Kids Need to Read.”

“I felt like such a geek,” Lizabeth told me during one of her many Comicon tales. I expected her to follow with a story of being the only person at the Convention Center sporting regular street clothes (if that’s what you call a purple “I’m Not Dead Yet” T-shirt from the musical “Monty Pyton’s Spamalot“).

But she was referring to gushing over someone she met at Comicon. Not a celebrity or actor protraying a super-hero, but a real super-hero — a librarian. Lizabeth shared with the librarian how much trips to our local libraries, still a favorite pastime for James and the girls, have meant to her through the years.

Libraries make the world feel bigger and more intimate at the same time, and no child should ever have to do without them. Lizabeth mentioned to the librarian she met at Comicon the fact that librarians she met as a child were always so nice, friendly and helpful.

Lizabeth shared that the librarian seemed genuinely touched by her words. Perhaps she, like many others, feels unappreciated or doesn’t receive nearly the recognition she deserves. It can’t help that so many libraries and other keepers and creators of culture are taking a hit during budget battles that strip pounds while trying to save pennies.

Tonight’s Phoenix Comicon events include the “Kids Need to Read Geek Prom,” sponsored by Bookman’s — with all proceeds benefiting “Kids Need to Read.”

Comicon also includes a film festival — with films sporting titles like “Laptop’s Revenge,” ” Paint-B-Que” and “Peace, Love & Tacos” (plus others with a more offensive vibe). But it’s Lizabeth’s flyer for a 2010 independent film titled “Beautiful Boy” that looks most intriguing. The movie hits Valley theaters in June.

As James headed out this morning to drive Lizabeth to downtown Phoenix for more Phoenix Comicon adventures, I commented that Lizabeth seems to be having the time of her life. He readily agreed, adding an insight of his own…

“She’s with her people.”

– Lynn

Note: Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix is home to the “Arizona Pop Culture Experience.”

Coming up: From Sondheim to South Park, Father’s Day meets JFK