2021 marked the return of the Grand Rapids Comic Con. After a two year absence, how did the Grand Rapids Comic Con fare? Read on to find out.
I’ll get this out of the way. I’ve never had a bad time at the Grand Rapids Comic Con. It’s an event that I look forward to in my hometown each year. This year was not a disappointment. Two years went by and the GR Comic Con didn’t miss a beat.
The GR Comic Con was the same experience, from what I remembered from 2019, and that is not a bad thing. The main features of a comic con: artists, guests, panels, vendors, costume contest, and gaming all returned. The convention was held in one central location. You didn’t have to travel far to find any of the panels, screening rooms, and gaming areas. Plus, the giant wall divider which separated the attraction’s area from the rest of the convention hall was removed.
You can’t talk about a comic con without mentioning the important people behind the COMIC part of the con, the artists and writers. Jae Lee (Ozymandias) returned to Grand Rapids. Jeremy Clark, of The Last Ronin was present throughout the weekend. I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention Michigan homegrown talents such as K.Lynn Smith (For Goodness Sake), Corinne Roberts (Bug Bites), and Scott Rosema (Space Ghost). Will Jones, Silodraw, C.R. Warner, Dimitris Moore, Bill Embil, Christy McCulfor, and Kel Neveu were a small fraction of the 51 artists featured in Artist Alley.
GR Comic Con didn’t fail on the guest lineup. Honestly, I don’t think they ever had a guest lineup that was terrible. The theme of this year seemed to be based around show reunions. If you were a fan of the Canadian comedy Letterkenny, Tyler Johnston, Dylan Playfair, and James Daly were there to meet fans. Fans of G.I Joe could meet Michael Bell (Duke), Morgan Lofting (Baroness), Neil Ross (Shipwreck) and Sgt Slaughter himself. I briefly talked to Sgt. Slaughter while he was roaming the artist alley. Fans of Pokemon had a chance to meet Veronica Taylor, Megan Hollingshead, Eric Stuart, and Erica Schroeder. Josh Petersdorf (Overwatch), Johnny Yong Bosch (Trigun), Austin Tindle (Tokyo Ghoul), and Marty Grabstein (Courage the Cowardly Dog) were the other prominent voice actors present throughout the weekend.Continuing with a Youtube guest presence, the GR Comic Con invited the crew of Channel Awesome back and ILoveKimPossibleALot made their GR Comic Con debut. Charlaine Harris (Sookie Stackhouse), Nick Martell (The Kingdom of Liars), Jodi Meadows (Before She Ignites), and Derek Padula (Dragon Ball Culture) were a small number of the numerous literary guests present. The GR Comic Con brings a little bit for everybody with their guest lineup each year.
Once again for the media guests, there were signs hanging 30ft above them noting their location at the convention. The signs featured a picture of the guest (or character they are associated with) with their name in bold white letters underneath. If I was looking for a guest, all I would have to do is lookup and find my way to the sign above them.
As always, the cosplayers never ceased to amaze me with their creativity. The Miss Sarah Bellum (Powerpuff Girls) cosplayer nailed the costume, right down to having so much hair, you never saw their face. The Mayor of Townsville was a nice touch too. I was impressed by the Sam Bridges (Death Stranding) cosplayer. He has the clapping Odradek, Monster Energy Drink, and Bridge Baby. If that all sounds confusing, don’t feel bad. You would have to play the video game to understand. Props to Owlman, Superwoman, and Ultraman from the Crime Syndicate of Amerika. Their costumes were a deep cut reference to the JLA: Earth 2 comic series.
Although I did not get a photo of them, I really liked the teenage duo of King Arthur and Patsy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As Arthur was traversing the convention, Patsy followed clapping coconuts the entire time. I did ask them what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow was. They asked me if I meant an African or European swallow. I didn’t know and I was launched into a chasm. After crawling out, I took more photos.
For the first time ever, I moderated a panel. I was asked to moderate: Vince Locke – The Process of Designing Album Covers. For those who don’t know, Vince is the artist behind all of the artwork for one of the most infamous and well known death metal bands, Cannibal Corpse. His artwork was not for the faint of heart due to horrific mutilation and gore. Despite his provocative and controversial art, Vince is a quiet and shy individual who doesn’t participate in panels often. In fact, this was his 5th panel in 35 years. Why was I selected, you might be asking yourself? I’m very familiar with Cannibal Corpse (seen them 5 times) and I’ve interviewed Vince in the past. I’d say that I was qualified for the job. During the panel, Vince went over his process of creating the covers while I got to pick his brain. A cool time lapse video was running in the background while he was answering questions from the audience. Oddly enough, in the panel room next to ours, karaoke was going on. At times, music would awkwardly punch through our conversation. Outside of that, the panel went well.
Once again, I had a great time at the Grand Rapids Comic Con. It was a great way to end my season of convention coverage in Michigan. As I mentioned previously, I look forward to this event each year and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I wonder what will be in store for next year? I’m interested in finding out.