The 23rd annual spring Motor City Comic Con has just wrapped up at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI.
The show featured its usual assortment of media guests, which this year included semi-regulars such actors Erin Grey (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), Butch Patrick (The Munsters), and Bill Mumy (Lost in Space), but also several seen less often like Loni Anderson and Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati), Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back), and Dean Cain (Lois & Clark). This year, however, saw a noticeable increase in the number of comic guests, which included veteran artists Joe Staton, Mike Royer, and Todd DeZago, as well as familiar faces like Billy Tucci (Shi), Mark Sparacio (artist on Omega Paradox for Moonstone Books), and Ken Wheaton (Popeye artist for IDW Publishing).
“We’re going after more comic guests, and we’re going to continue that next year,” said MCCC organizer Michael Goldman. The show has long been better known for its array of guests that include actors, models, and other non-comic media, and Goldman added that this push for more comic creators is an attempt to bring a little more balance to the guest list. “We’re not cutting back on the media guests, but we’ll be adding more comic guests for future shows.”
The show has also been noted for typically very strong attendance on Saturday, and this year definitely supported that. As late as 2:30 in the afternoon, a long line of attendees waiting to buy tickets filed down the length of the convention center lobby. And once inside, exhibitors at the front of the hall enjoyed a rush of potential buyers that tightly packed the aisles, although exhibitors further back also eventually benefitted from the large crowd as it eventually filed its way through the hall.
A staff member from retailer Big Ben’s Comix Oasis stated that they were having a very good Saturday saleswise, and the difficulty in navigating through the retailer’s large exhibit space certainly was indicative of his claim. Many buyers were snatching up large stacks of trade paperbacks at half price, and a few stated appreciation that the retailer’s staff took the time to sort their trades alphabetically; a rarity among retailers who offer large quantities of discounted TPBs.
The show benefitted from another rarity; it received front page coverage on Saturday’s Detroit Free Press. Not front page of the entertainment section, but the actual front page of the newspaper. Goldman was obviously pleasantly surprised, and when asked if the show was starting to get more mainstream recognition, he believed it was and reported an increase in ticket sales for this year. “We sold perhaps 25% more tickets for Friday and Saturday, compared to last year,” Goldman claimed. “And last year’s attendance was somewhere around 14,000 to 15,000.”
And there was yet another rarity that took place at the con on Saturday, and a definite first time occurrence for MCCC: an actual wedding. Artist Eddy Newell and his new wife Kelsey were married at the show, and when the nuptials were announced over the public address system the crowd in attendance offered their congratulations in the form of loud cheers throughout the hall. The wedding was performed by fellow artist Randy Zimmerman, a regular exhibitor who is also an ordained minister. Afterwards, the newly married couple returned to their Artists’ Alley table and went back to work selling prints and doing sketches.
While Sunday appeared to draw its usually smaller crowd than Saturday, it also appeared to be atypically larger than Sundays in past years, as a lengthy line for tickets still streamed outside the building two hours after the show opened for its final day. Speculation as to the reasons for the seemingly larger crowd ranged from the current popularity of the mega-blockbuster Avengers movie to the aforementioned additional comic-related guests.
“It was a good show for me,” replied artist and first-time MCCC exhibitor Jim Calafiore, when asked about his impression of the con. And most retailers and exhibitors echoed that sentiment when also asked. Many attendees were seen walking back to their cars with armloads full of comic, toys, and other related items, indicating that the show was an overall success for those on both sides of the exhibitors’ tables.
Next year’s Motor City Comic Con has already been scheduled at the same venue for May 17 – 19, 2013.