Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on May 16, 2014 10:21:47 GMT -6
The doors open today on the 25th annual Motor City Comic Con, held through Sunday in Novi, Michigan, northwest of Detroit.
Comics guests include:Art Baltazar, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Talent Caldwell, Chris Claremont, Matthew Clark, Gerry Conway, Katie Cook, J.M. DeMatteis, Clayton Henry, Mike McKone, Jame O’Barr, Ryan Ottley, Dave Petersen, Don Rosa, Bill Sienkiewicz, Charles Soule, Mark Waid and Skottie Young.
The Detroit Free Press previews the event, and speaks with Claremont, while Metro Times provides a beginner’s guide.
Last year’s construction and traffic snarls that delayed entry and fueled irritation over the annual Motor City Comic Con at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi were absent in 2014 for the event’s 25th anniversary.
That might have contributed to the three-day comic book and pop culture event setting an attendance record: Organizers said 40,000 people attended over the three days starting Friday.
The previous record was last year’s 30,000, which had broken 2012’s record of 18,000.
In 2013, comic book icon Stan Lee and “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus were scheduled to appear for autographs and photos as part of the event’s main Saturday schedule, which contributed to the unexpected attendee boost and the crowded roads, parking lots and gates.
This year, the stars were “Star Trek” heavyweight William Shatner, along with “The Walking Dead” cast members Jon Bernthal and Scott Wilson.
Other celebrities included Ernie Hudson of “Ghostbusters” fame (and a Wayne State University graduate), Lee Majors, Lindsay Wagner, Jason Momoa from “Game of Thrones” and Karl Urban of the recent “Star Trek” movies.
This year's event featured 113 exhibitors, 28 publishers and organizations, and 220 comic industry personalities.
To ease fan entry and enjoyment this year, organizers said they added additional ticket kiosks, more entry lines and more staffing, bolstered concessions, and used the entire venue floor. They also noted that 2,000 more parking spaces were available than last year (when a hotel was under construction on-site and made some parking unavailable).
The event was launched in 1990 by comic book retailer Michael Goldman, who owns Farmington Hills-based Motor City Comics.
Goldman last year called the unexpectedly large crowd a “humanity bomb” and vowed to make improvements.
The show was held at the Dearborn Civic Center until 1998 and the Novi Expo Center from 1994 to 2004 before moving to its current home.
Goldman, who told Crain’s last year that the event has been profitable for many years, rents the convention hall and leases booths to comic and merchandise sellers, artists and others.
The venue collects a small portion of the entry fee, Goldman said in 2013, and the cost to stage the event is in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
This year, ticket prices were increased.
Last year, a single-day ticket was $25 for any of the days. This year, it was $25 for Friday, $35 for Saturday and $30 for Sunday. A three-day pass was $65 (up $5 from 2013). A variety of more costly VIP and special autograph-session passes also were available.
In addition to comics and merchandise, the event features celebrity autograph and photograph booths, contests, games and panel discussions.
A large segment of attendees come dressed as characters, and genres present in costumes and in merchandise include animation and anime, fantasy, horror, TV shows, collectibles, toys (Star Wars and GI Joe are popular) and games.
The show began shifting from the traditional base of comic books and Star Trek in the late 1990s into popular culture.
“I saw it as something of an untapped market and a way to improve attendance,” Goldman said last year. That strategy worked, as “geek chic” has proved lucrative with Hollywood’s super hero, fantasy, sci-fi and action blockbusters.
Most celebrities are booked through convention circuit agencies.
While the Novi event is growing, the granddaddy of such events remains the four-day San Diego Comic Con, founded in 1970.
Last year, the event had a reported attendance of 130,000 spread over several venues (mainly the San Diego Convention Center) in July.
The four-day New York Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in October, which has been around only since 2006, also reportedly drew 130,000.