Before I start if you are interested in pictures from the event, head over to the gallery I have posted. You might just find yourself amongst the throng of pictures. Then, come back and read my review of the Grand Rapids Comic Con.
Well, folks. Our very own Comic Con had once again visited Grand Rapids and left. The Grand Rapids Comic Con lived up to its promise of being a family friendly event. Not to be derogatory, chauvinistic or misogynistic, there were no “booth babes” luring people in with hyper sexual costumes. No wacky PR stunts in sight. It was basically a gathering of artists, guests, vendors and the passionate fans that are the foundation of geek/nerd culture. Grand Rapids Comic Con stayed away from the hype factory and blatant over commercialization of whatever next big thing on the horizon which seems to be the main focus of conventions as of late. I am thankful for that. When the focus of a convention is on hype instead of the culture of fandom and its multiple facets, I feel that the original reason for gathering at these events diminishes.
Cosplayers were prevalent. My hat is off to all the creativity exuded from the folks who dared to place a costume on. Everyone looked awesome no matter what their skill level was. Anime, comics, video game, steampunk and furry characters were out in full force. From the young man who made his own Darth Vader outfit and the little dude who dressed up as Ultraman (which was a blast from the past I was not expecting) to Papa Emeritus and all of the others in costume, everyone did a good job. If you take the time to place a costume on, you should receive a high five.
The artist’s alley remains a main attraction to me at a convention. Grand Rapids Comic Con gathered a bevy of folks from the comic industry. You had a chance to meet Arvell Jones, Scott Rosema, Tom Richmond, and Allen Bellman among others. My personal highlight was meeting James O”Barr. I would be remiss if left out the local talents of Killustration Studios, Corrine Roberts, Kait Mayne, Will Jones, Roger Scholz and Nolan N. Nasser to briefly name a few of the numerous talented artists that reside in Michigan. Sorry for the name dropping folks but I appreciate art when I see it. Please support and spread the word of ALL of the artists that appeared at the comic con this year.
The guests were appropriate for a convention 2 years into its existence. To expect the biggest names in the industry at a beginning convention would be a little unrealistic. That is not to suggest that the guests we welcomed were B-list by any means. Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame was very gracious and a sweet lady to boot. Her panel on the impact that her role of Uhura had on television and the Civil Rights Movement was a history lesson on a trailblazing actress. Plus, she loved singing Summertime from the Porgy and Bess opera to the audience. Maile Flanagan from Naruto was quite funny during her Q&A. The original Blue Power Ranger David Yost along with the second Yellow Power Ranger Karan Ashley provided insight on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show. Each guest brought a unique experience/background to the Grand Rapids Comic Con.
Every con has its share of problems and the GR Comic Con was no exception. Saturday was a maelstrom of bodies. Awesome that is was that many people flooded the halls and aisles of the DeltaPlex, the main problem of crowding became apparent. Due to the layout of the DeltaPlex, certain areas created bottleneck experiences for the con goers. Throw in cosplayers stopping for photo opportunities and you’ve created a crowd standstill. The aisles between vendors were teeming with people. More space between parallel vendors would potentially circumvent this problem next year. Since the Grand Rapids Comic Con will reside at the DeVos Place next year, the remedy to the crowding problem may have presented itself.
This year was a great success compared to last year. Geeks, nerds and curious people flocked to the DeltaPlex over the weekend of November 21st through the 23rd. The turnout for the event was high over the three day weekend. Friday was a nice way to view the layout of the convention and meet guests. That evening was a busy start to the event. However, it did not come close to the maelstrom of chaos brewing on the horizon of the coming Saturday. Suffice to say, Saturday was insane with the amount of attendance. They had to turn people away for a few hours on Saturday due to reaching max capacity. It’s awesome that many people came out. However, it sucked when others had to wait to get in. Sunday started out busy but slowed down. It was a nice way to close out the con.
For a convention experiencing its 2nd year of infancy, I would say that the GR Comic Con was a success. I look forward to this convention. I can see the Grand Rapids Comic Con becoming a premier event for years to come. Things are looking up for the future.
Gratitudes if I may.
I would like to extend thanks to Mark Hodges and his crew for running this event and giving us nerds and geeks in Grand Rapids a comic con of our own. Your hard work was appreciated.
I, also, would like to thank Scott at People Design for lending a camcorder to me.
Thanks to Cassidy Rae Warner for lending the audio recorder. Check out her artwork: http://www.crwarnerstudios.com/
Finally, a sincere thank you extended to Sandra Webster, Christian VanDuinen and Dan VanDuinen for assisting in the photography department over the weekend. All of their shots were far better than mine.
Please support VanDuinen Photographic at: http://www.vanduinenphotographic.com/
Support your local geek and nerd events. Stay tuned because more stuff is coming down the road.