Motor City Comic Con 2015
This past weekend at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Exclusive Magazine went to the Motor City Comic Con 2015. As always, it was an experience that nobody could ever forget!
Indeed, better than that, this past weekend’s Motor City Comic Con broke all previous attendance records! Featuring stars of the small and big screen, such as: a massive chunk of The Walking Dead cast, Robert Englund ('A Nightmare on Elm Street'), Camren Bicondova ('Gotham'), Chloe Bennett (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'), Billy Boyd ('LOTR'), Dean Cain ('Lois & Clark'), Jeremy Bulloch ('Star Wars'), Linda Blair ('The Exorcist'), Robert Patrick ('T2'), Jaime Murray ('Dexter'), Tony Curran ('Defiance'), Lori Petty ('Tank Girl'), John Schneider ('Dukes of Hazzard'), Roddy Piper (WWE), Tom Savini (FX Make-Up Artist), Jimmie Walker ('Good Times'), Ralph Macchio ('Karate Kid'), Denis O'Hare ('AHS'), and so many more, Motor City Comic Con broke it's own attendance record with more than 50,000 fans attending from Friday to Sunday!
On Saturday, 30,000 people attended the event at the Suburban Collection Showplace. Last year's attendance was 40,000 people, which had broken 2013’s record of 30,000 people. This year's event also broke a record of 61 celebrity guests as well as 106 exhibitors, 32 publishers and organizations, 24 crafter guests and 190 comic guests.
That all said, taking a look at the event through the eyes of those attendees / fans, it seems the big noticeable difference to them this year, over last year, was that last year there was only one (1) person "double-dipping" her fans! By that I mean she was charging once for her autograph ($30) and then again for a photo taken with her ($40). This year EVERYONE was "double-dipping," which didn't not go down well with those attendees / fans, because they simply wanted to come meet their favorite stars, have something signed, have a memorable photo with them, and go hope happy.
Sadly though, not many fans had the cash allowance to do such a thing for all their personal favorites. For example, $60 for a signed Lou Ferrigno 13x20 poster, $40 to have a photo with him meant you were out $100 before you had even begun to move around the convention. Robert Englund was $50 for each of them. Robert Patrick was the same, and William Shatner was a flat out $75 per autograph. As one attendee / fan (James Keller, Livonia, MI) simply put it, Comic Con's (in general) were about three things: Artistic Capitalism with Attitude re: Fans vs. Artists.
Ergo, being a member of the Press, I was afforded the chance to chat one-on-one with the stars, interview them here and there, get to known them. Which I did over the entire three (3) days long weekend, trust me! Most all were lovely, truly gracious people, but as with every "grouping" in life, there will always be a bad apple or two. Here, well, I won't shame name her, but one actress just wasn't happy being there. She was always on her phone, turned to the side, denied any conversation with those fans that came up to her just to chat, and when they did get a signed photo, she would flick it to them across the table!
Moving on, and in addition to the en masse of celebrities, there were also en masse of Comic Book guests. In fact, they outnumbered the stars 3 to 1 as they took over two thirds of the convention center in Novi! Including face painters, graphic designers, painters, artists, and even an outlet with a truly fascinating new style of creating comic books ('Ghost Canyon'), this years Motor City Comic Con really lived up to being the biggest coming together of talent yet!
Add to that booths upon booths of comic book sellers along with sellers of collectible items, photographs, animated drawings, tshirts, hats, and so much more, to say you get value for your entrance money at these events is an understatement!
Starting off on the Friday at 12.30pm, this is the day to meet the stars that you've come to meet, trust me! Due to most people still being at work the lines are slack, the stars talkative, the crowds blocking the aisles noticeably sparser. Saturday, with the doors opened at 10.30am, well, it was already madness, as the long, long line of fans began to funnel in. And, if you paid a little extra and became a VIP Guest, well, you not only got in 30 minutes earlier than the others, but you got to walk to the front of the line - any line - for any actor!
Sadly, there was an accident on I-696 right where the exit was for the roads that led to the convention parking lot. That meant a 2 hour + wait in line for all those running-late fans and add to that the parking lot was full to capacity before 1pm, and suddenly it was a bit of a mess out there. Sunday began at 10.30am, and was a bit heavier in foot traffic, due to some cars having turned around yesterday instead of waiting hours in line to get in, but (weirdly) 95% of The Walking Dead stars had gone mid-afternoon! Fans were not happy about that and voiced their comments loudly to anyone who would listen.
Walking around the convention, especially on the third day, it's easy to see which of the stars are their for the fans and which are only there to make a cash grab and run! Celebrities like Robert Patrick decided early on that he didn't want people taking random photos of him from 30 feet away, and so 1) put up a sign saying "No Photographs", 2) when that failed, started staring people down, and 3) ended up putting a secondary tent around his booth so that nobody could see him! [FYI - Although, it has to be said that when I met him he was charming, gave me a great pose for my photo, and even chatted to me about his sons love of penguins!]
That said, and on the flip side, I struck up three day relationships with actors such as Tony Curran (see above photo), the delightful, and gorgeous Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Tom Savini, Chad Coleman, Dean Cain, Dawn Wells, Denis O'Hare (see photo to the left), Michael Welch, John Schneider, and Linda Blair that will last a long, long time (I hope). Having already connected to, and spoken with a few via Twitter since the event, their genuine love for the event, for how it brings them closer to their fans, is something you simply cannot fake.
Each of them were happy to chat away with me, sign some stuff, and just be "normal" with me. I mean, when you're standing in the belly of the money making machine beast, and yet the celebrity only wants to hear what YOU have to say, well, it makes you wish for a smaller venue, with just a core of stars that truly get what giving back to the fans that put them where they are today - quite literally - means.
Last year, the lines to meet William Shatner went on for 2 hours, the lines to have a photograph with him a little longer. This year, well let's just say that coming in on the Sunday for just a few hours didn't best please those fans that had expected him to be there on Saturday also. A last minute entry into the convention, due (one assumes) to the cancellation of stars such as The Walking Dead's David Morrissey ("The Governor") and Katy Sagal, his booth was tiny, he was tucked into the corner, he had slow, sometimes empty lines - and yet his biggest complaint was that he wasn't given his own private bathroom! Personally, I got his autograph, and had my photograph taken with him last year, so this was just "people watching fun" for me this year with his regard!
As always at these events there were plenty of fans walking around dressed as popular characters from movies, video games and comics. This is where the fun begins for them. None of them cared about the celebrities in town for the convention - right there in the same room as them! Nope, they had spent time and great effort getting themselves fully costumed to rock the cameras! Which they did, for the most part, one and all. Of course, there were some that were better than others, some that had spent more money in the process on their designs, but at the end of the day they were all camera ready!
Indeed, there were - as usual - a LOT of 'Star Wars' costumes, a 'Ghostbusters' tribe, quite a few 'Arrow's, but a quite brilliant "stand off" pose between Predator vs. Frozen was the one that did it for most of us! Quite literally face-to-face, hand-to-claw, it was the one shot that summed up the incredible nature of the event! [Photo Credit: Guerrilla Girl Productions]
From the Notepad of Lauren Galasso:
This year I chose my character interviews carefully, because there are just so many people there that it can be somewhat overwhelming, to say the least. But the one that really stood out for me was "Sally" from 'Nightmare Before Christmas.' Portrayed by Kacy Tats, 25 from Fenton, MI, she told me she had spent three hours on her makeup, with a little help from a friend on the body paint. It was her first time at Comic Con and she had already gotten a great response from everyone about her costume; and deservedly so, trust me!
Personally, I was amazed at the attention to detail in her face makeup, as it was so intricate, so precisely done. Her costume was amazing too, don't get me wrong, but wow, she looked AMAZING! There is just something rewarding, as a journalist interviewing such people who put so much time, effort and love into their craft that they deservedly become one of the main stop-for-a-photograph focal points of wherever they happen to be at that time. She also won the Halloween contest at her work with the very same costume! Katy was really enjoying herself and loves doing other makeup for other costumes, so I can see a bright future for her in this world.
"Darth Bane," a fictional character in the 'Star Wars' expanded Universe, was an odd one, for sure! The man behind the costume, Thomas Spanos from Chicago just wouldn't speak in a normal voice the entire time we talked! A man also hiding his age, he did at least tell me that his costume had taken years to make. That said, the costume was very meticulous to detail, especially some incredible attention paid to the helmet and chest piece. Looking at him, from a few feet away, I was amazed at the detail, but close up it was even better! Thomas' work ethic was top class and he also fully deserved the multitude of photographic opportunities afforded to him as he walked around the convention floor.
Thomas also revealed that the helmet and chest piece took almost two years alone to create and get perfect. The helmet is made of resin and the chest was made from acrylic and hot melted glue that he sculpted himself. Thomas, who was super serious about this costume, added that he will never be done improving it and hand making new pieces for it. He is obviously into creating costumes and technical pieces with great skill.
Another great, and really time consuming costume was that of "Ice Man," by Garry McDonald, 49 from Redford, MI. He admitted he hadn't actually made the mask, but that it was made of silicone from a mold and airbrush painted thereafter. Looking at him, his constant stance that of a man truly in character, he was definitely not anyone you would have wanted to meet in a dark alley - or, well, anywhere, to be quite honest! He embodied his character to the tee and was always found out on the floor.
He further told me that he has worn the costume for only two years at various Comic Cons and had put the body part together himself. Garry was excited to be there and watching him sneak up into people's various photographs, you can see that he was also very proud of his costume creation. Funnily enough, the kids that saw him all ran up to him for photos with him, they just were not afraid of his look! I mean, just feeling his face was like touching the real thing - except for the lack of frost bite, of course! The Iceman Cometh, indeed!
Exclusive Magazine's Top 3 Hot Picks!
Creator, director, and a whole lot more, Aaron Warner, has brought forth an incredible conceptual idea for a comic book. Truly something original, this is not your ordinary comic book. Unlike any comic book you've ever seen, Evolved Comics brings you an all-photographed graphic novel complete with characters as real as the world they were photographed in.
Gone are the sketch lines and drawn elements that separate your world from graphic novels, for now you are presented a series that you can sink your teeth into! Deep with complex and colorful characters, each issue boasts 32 pages of dark and mysterious adventure from the Ghost Canyon ten issue series, all in photographed reality.
Inspired by a road trip out west, Aaron began feverishly sketching ideas and collecting notes for a new comic book idea capturing the creepy ghost towns and cowboy folklore that he absorbed along the way.
With hundreds of costumes and props, Aaron reined in a cast of over 35 local actors, 10 different locations, numerous horses, wagons and volunteers for almost a year to participate in this ground-breaking effort.
Tapping into over 25 years of comic book skills and knowledge, Aaron developed the Ghost Canyon universe with a blend of dynamic posing, dialogue, set design, photography and Photoshop.
Indeed, just meeting both he and his partner in crime, Angie, ensure you have a great day, for they are not the kind of people to overly sell you their project. No, what they do is a) let their highly impressive booth speak for itself, and b) unknowingly allow some crazy British guy to vocally go around the convention center singing their praises for them!
As for a stand out cartoonist, well, they don't come much better than Mindy Indy! As you walk by her booth, no matter what she is doing she puts her head up from her sketch book, smiles and says Hello. Always drawing always sketching, always working at her booth, Mindy is the epitome of how hard work can flourish into success before your very eyes in her business. And in general, of course!
In Her Own Words: I'm an energetic independent cartoonist living in Brooklyn New York. Every few months I create a new short story, some of which are "The Misfortune Cookie," "The Lucky Penny," and "Dog VS. Balloon Dog." I sell these mini comics and do custom sketches at comic conventions and art shows all over the east coast, including New York Comic Con, Boston Comic Con, MoCCA Fest, and many more. I'm still working on my graphic novel, "AER HEAD."
I also make Custom Comics that are great for special gifts! Bring your cherished memories to life in comic form - all you need is a few reference pictures and a brief story and I'll work my comic magic! I also do live portrait sketching at events like business parties, weddings, birthdays, and much more!
Work I've done for other companies includes coloring Marvel's Deadpool Max as Kyle Baker's assistant and being lead colorist for Papercutz's Power Rangers Megaforce Volume 3. I also draw, ink, and color "No Tears: Life With FD," a weekly comic for the Dysautonomia Foundation.
'Apartment Hunt' Hot Off the Press!
I've just finished printing my newest comic: "APARTMENT HUNT!!" I made this comic to warn people of all the crazy stuff you may encounter while apartment hunting in NYC. Based on a true story! You may find it helpful if you'll be on the hunt yourself. Be one of the first ones to get a copy!!
For those looking for something a little more, well, "freaky bizarre," look no further than Detroit's very own Theatre Bizarre. Indeed, Theatre Bizarre has been the singular, must-see annual event since it launched (illegally) in the early days of the 21st century. Year after year, its creators return with a spectacular event unlike anything else on earth.
Trust me, I can actually testify to this myself, as back over a decade ago I went with a mate to where they used to hold these "gatherings" (in an old set of houses on Woodward & 8 Mile) where when you walked in, the first thing you noticed was it was pitch black, the next you were (literally) bumping into hanging slabs of dead meat!
Anyway, moving on, and since finding its now permanent home at Detroit’s Masonic Temple (the largest in the world), Theatre Bizarre has been offering progressively grander and more decadent events to those lucky enough to get a ticket. In late October each year, thousands of elaborately-clad and eager attendees fill the carved stone hallways of the labyrinthine tower as they move throughout the night from one indescribable performance to another.
Detroit’s most adventurous souls slipping anonymously past each other as they celebrate their darkest selves into the early hours of the morning. It’s proven to be a very popular formula. In fact, the biggest challenge facing Theatre Bizarre has always been capacity. And now, they’ve solved the problem in grand style.
The Grand Preview Gala offers a whole new, far more intimate Theatre Bizarre experience. With just a few hundred attendees (as opposed to the thousands that attend the main event) the night is an elegant affair with an open bar, strolling dinner and valet parking included in the price of admission.
Gala guests will enjoy selected performances from past shows, highlights from this year’s show, and exclusive sets created especially for that night only. Costumed attendees will follow a trail of fire-eaters, burlesque performers and musical acts as they follow the evening’s path through the historic site.
“The event is based on a world we have created over the years,” explains Theatre Bizarre’s creative lead, John Dunivant. “What started out as a backyard party with a bunch of friends has turned into a critically-acclaimed, enveloping production that has been referred to as a “cultural institution by the Miami Foundation. We have also received grants from the Kresge Foundation, the Knights Foundation and others. We will honor these grants and recognition and continue to push forward to create a new and immersive experience unlike anything else in the world.”
In truth, come the third day and my legs and feet were killing me! But, as I hope I've tried to explain above, it's nigh on impossible to experience and absorb everything this convention has to offer in just one of the days. To fully get involved in it, to give yourself their chance to meet everyone you want to, you really have to plow onwards each day - with an advance game plan, I would suggest! Oh, and money - and LOTS of it!
This event features a ton of great people and very talented artists. Whether it be the costumes on display, you want to buy a collectible toy or comic book, or you simply just want to walk around and see everything and everybody, this is the place to be!
In closing, Motor City Comic Con is a must-have experience for everyone in love with the movie industry and with all-things entertainment, in general. Young or old, this convention is something not ever to be missed!
Review by: Russell A. Trunk
'Predator vs. Elsa (Frozen)' Photo by: Guerrilla Girl Productions
'From the Notepad of' Photos by: Lauren Galasso
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