Astronomicon 2018 Review

Astronomicon was a brand new pop culture convention, held in Sterling Heights at Wyndham Garden. Detroit Hip Hop duo Twiztid, were the masterminds behind the new event. Did the two rappers create an event that stood out in the huge sea of Michigan events? Or was it a first year event that stumbled right out of the gates? Read on to see what I experienced.

Astronomicon popped onto my radar last year due to the persistent promotion from the street team. I figured it was just another startup event in Michigan. As time went on, I started noticing the guest announcements and that made me pay attention. How was a first year event pulling off an impressive lineup? Initially, I was conflicted because Astronomicon fell on the same weekend as another event that I wanted to attend. Since I believe in having new experiences, I decided to give Astronomicon a chance. To be honest, I’m glad that I did. Astronomicon was a fun event that made a great first impression.

Initially, I thought that bad weather was going to hamper the attendance for the event. I was unable to attend on Friday due to the copious amount of snow coming down. From the reports that I’ve heard (from various friends), the turnout was great for Friday night. When I arrived on Saturday, it took some time to find a space due to all of the snow. Once I went inside, I was greeted with the sight of a well attended event. Clearly, the snow did not deter the patrons for the weekend.

After a few walkthroughs, I felt that the layout of the convention was solid. I didn’t see any issues of overcrowding due to the spacious aisles inside the dealer’s room. Celebrity guests were located next to the vendors on the far right. On the opposite side of the room, the internet celebrities and Magik Ninja Entertainment artists were located next to the artist alley on the far left. A few attractions were located outside of the dealer’s room. The game room was located on the second floor. There was a mix of old and new systems and games. I was surprised to see Beavis and Butthead for the SNES. The newly released Dragon Ball FighterZ was available to play too. Rapper G-Mo Skee was hosting the Super Smash Bros tournament in the game room. Apparently, he won said tournament. Attendees had the opportunity to have a photo taken in an Insane Asylum. Forgotten Photography, would dress attendees in props (straitjackets)and take their photo in front of green screen to simulate being in an asylum. Not a bad setup for Astronomicon.

I did notice a few issues with the setup. The row of artists and vendors behind the curtained off celebrity area suffered from low traffic due to lack of visibility. Plus, that certain section was not well lit either. It was a dark aisle. These folks were essentially hidden. If it wasn’t for the huge towering vertical art display of the talented Erik Hodson, I wouldn’t have noticed that aisle on my first glance. Also, a few of the cosplay guests and vendor tables were located outside of the dealer’s room. Foot traffic outside of the dealer room was lower compared to the inside. They seemed left out. From what I understand, a few of the vendors were relocated outside to cut down on overcrowding in the aisles. Besides the two aforementioned issues, I had no problems with the layout of the dealer’s room.

The theme of horror was prevalent amongst the vendors and artists. Publisher Source Point Press, authors Stefani Manard, and Dirk Manning were selling horror based comics. Rows of creepy and scary masks were available for purchase. If you wanted paintings of classic movie monsters, artist Steven Bejma had you covered. Another vendor was selling taxidermied tarantulas. Not everything sold was horror influenced, but there was a strong presence thematically.

The guest list was a mixture of horror icons, pro wrestlers, internet stars, and artists from the Magik Ninja label. If you wanted to meet Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th), Tony Moran (Michael Myers), and Bill Moseley (Devil’s Rejects), you had the opportunity. Mr. Creepy Pasta and The Game Chasers represented the internet stars. Honestly, I was glad to see this event bring in folks from the internet since they are entertaining too. I was impressed by the list of figures in the pro wrestling industry which included Booker T, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, The Godfather, Road Warrior Animal, and Bruce “Brother Love” Prichard. These were big names in pro wrestling whether onscreen or backstage. Twiztid and the Magik Ninja Entertainment crew were on hand to meet with the fans. As I mentioned before, a solid guest lineup.

Despite the strong guest lineup, a few cancellations occurred. James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd, was unable to attend due to his flight being cancelled because of the snow. Jon Heder, Sid Haig, and Laura Slade Wiggins were absent due to scheduling conflicts. However, the week of the event, two exciting additions by the names of Jason Mewes (Jay from Clerks) and Brian O’Halloran (Dante from Clerks) were added at the last minute to save the day.

All of the guests were easily accessible. There were no long waits threading through movie theater ropes. One would be able to walk up to the guest and take a picture and/or autograph. Since the atmosphere of the event was laid back, you didn’t have to worry about being shooed along for the next person who wanted a picture. The guests seemed to take the time and converse with each attendee that visited their table. Brian O’Halloran, Booker T, Bryan Johnson, and Ming Chen were some of the nicest guests that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I never imagined that I would be able to meet the 5 time WCW champion and WWE Hall of Famer, Booker T. I was able to pick Bryan Johnson’s brain about the metal bands that he enjoys. Not that he needed my validation but his taste in music was pretty solid since he likes King Diamond and Jeff Loomis. Every time I’ve met Brian O’Halloran, he’s been pretty cool to talk to and this time was not an exception. I had the opportunity to interview Ming Chen too.

Astonomicon had a few unique touches that made the event stood out to me. All autographs and photos with any of the Magik Ninja Entertainment artists were free. On Friday and Saturday night, there were concerts featuring artists from the Magik Ninja Entertainment label. When it comes to pop culture/comic con type events, I don’t see a lot of concerts attached to the event. If there are musicians involved, there might be one or two performing. From what I saw in the program, the concerts were stacked with artists. On a different note, I like that all of the banners for each of the guest were custom made to match the graphic design of the Astronomicon font. Most of the time, the guests seem to bring their own banners to a show. Plus, the program booklet was completely in color too. Finally, Sid Haig was going to perform a marriage ceremony during the event. However, due to his cancellation, rapper Blaze Ya Dead Homie became ordained and performed the marriage ceremony. Unique touches like these created quite the impression.

For a first year event, Astronomicon did a great job. For now, the Wyndham Garden hotel is a fine location. However, if the attendance rate of this year is an indication of things to come, Astronomicon might have to start looking for another place down the road. I can only seeing it growing from 2018 onward. I look forward to see what the event will cook up in the future. From what I understand, dates for 2019 will be announced soon. Hopefully, in a month with warmer temperatures. Great job, Astronomicon. Great job.

Big shout outs to Mike, Natalie (of Adrenalin PR),Twiztid, and the Astronomicon crew for creating a nice experience.

I must give a huge shout out to Tim for being my assistant for the day. He has a nice video review of Astronomicon, if you want to check it out here.

If you attended, what were your thoughts?

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