the Little Red Reviewer

Grand Rapids ComicCon!

Posted on: November 28, 2014

2014-11-22 15.24.41-2

My first Comic Con!

 

Tickets were quite affordable, Nichelle Nichols was a special guest, the drive was only 45 minutes, and a few of my friends were already planning on going.  Heading up to Grand Rapids Michigan on Nov 22nd for the Grand Rapids ComicCon was a no brainer.  I’d never been to an actual ComicCon before, so I had no idea what to expect.  According to their website, the media guests (including Nichelle Nichols, Alaina Huffman, Justin Kohn, Chad Rood, Peter Shinkoda and Maile Flanagan) would be doing presentations on the main stage, and would have autograph areas. There would be a costume contest, a gaming room, a violin concert, there would be food stands everywhere, there would be a huge dealer room, there would be a car show, the famous Star Wars 501st group, a few Tardis models, a huge Lego display, and of course tons of comics and superhero artwork.  Designed to be a very family friendly event, strollers were welcome, and there was a family quiet room for a quiet space for nursing mothers and/or overexcited kids who needed a break.

 

massive Lego Town

massive Lego Town

there was a train! two trains!

there was a train! two trains!

The Lego/Robotics area was my favorite section of the convention. Designed to be an area attractive to children and adults, much of the space was given over to a car show of famous Batmobiles. The rest of the space included a massive Lego city (complete with trains!), a robotics area that had a singing tesla coil, a TARDIS, the actual shield Captain America used in the movie, an animatronic dinosaur, a guy in a massive transformer suit, a beautiful art gallery, representatives of the 501st, and a few local fandom and science clubs.  This was where all the fun was!  I was all about the Legos and the Transformer guy.  I got to watch him climb into the suit, and once he got the helmet on you couldn’t tell if there was a person in there or if it was remote control. He scared the poop out of a lady who didn’t realize there was a guy in there!

 

This is a terrible photo, but this is a "singing" tesla coil.  I heard it do "Here Comes Halloween" and the Imperial March from Star Wars

This is a terrible photo, but this is the “singing” tesla coil. I heard it do “Here Comes Halloween” and the Imperial March from Star Wars

 

There's a guy in there!

There’s a guy in there!

Most of the media guests were TV stars, and since I don’t watch much network TV, I wasn’t familiar with most of them. But everyone knows who Nichelle Nichols is!  On Saturday afternoon she took to the main stage along with a local media celebrity who guided the conversation and took questions from the audience. I always knew Nichelle Nichols was incredible, I just didn’t realize how incredible. She talked of her childhood, of growing up in a community outside Chicago that was founded by her grandfather for the purpose of being welcoming to mixed-race families, she talked about her early love for singing andperforming on stage, and she proved that she’s still got an amazing vocal range She told a beautiful and touching story about being star struck meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  and learning he was a fan of her work on Star Trek.   When asked about that famous kiss between her and William Shatner, she said a kiss between a black person and a white person wasn’t anything usual to her, as she’d seen her grandparents kiss each other all the time.  When asked if there were any unexpected consequences of the famous midriff baring “Mirror Mirror” costume, she said they got so much fanmail about it that her costume was changed to show off her belly button.  When asked what the defining moment of her career was, she said it was when she got involved with NASA to help recruit women and minorities for the space shuttle program.  She recruited Sally Ride. During the Q&A time she was incredibly gracious with fans who were invited to line up at the microphone and ask questions until we ran out of time.

 

Nichelle Nichols is 100% pure amazing.

Nichelle Nichols is 100% pure amazing.

My day at ComicCon was not without its frustrations, but they were all worth it to be in the same room with Nichelle Nichols.

Someone joked online (on the facebook page? twitter? i don’t remember) that this convention could have been called Grand Rapids Cosplay. Tons of people were dressed up, with Doctor Who and assorted companions being the most popular choice.

Doctor and ..... Donna?

The Doctor and Donna (or maybe Clara??)

Adventure on Pandora, anyone?

Adventure on Pandora, anyone?

There were about a hundred Homestuck teens, lots of Star Wars, DC Comics characters, Teen Titans,  Avengers characters, tons of people in Star Trek uniforms, characters from Fullmetal Alchemist, and a few Disney princesses and villains.  I also saw a Skeletor, The Rocketeer, a Na’vi, lots of steampunk outfits, Mario and Luigi (and Wario!), Waldo,  and Harry Dresden among others.

the photo does do justice to this amazing cosplay

the photo does do justice to this amazing cosplay

Ahri from League of Legends (i think?)

Ahri from League of Legends (i think?)

it was great to see such a variety cosplayers – all ages, new characters, older characters, popular, obscure, purchased outfits, completely home made outfits. It was great to see so many  fans of all ages so passionate about their fandom.

 

Hard to tell in the photo, but her Dax markings are "spot on".

Hard to tell in the photo, but her Dax markings are “spot on”.

 

The Rocketeer!!!

The Rocketeer!!!

Not unusual for a ComicCon, there were a lot of activities that cost extra, such as getting your photo taken with a media guest, getting autographs, getting up close to the Batmobiles, professional cosplay photography, etc, but I stuck to the free stuff. This wasn’t the type of convention to have a consuite with free snacks, but as advertised there were concession stands all over the place with standard arena food (soda, burgers, fries, etc), and the prices were very reasonable.

 

The never-ending vendor room and artist alley featured mostly local artists and vendors, with everything from action figures to art for sale, to t-shirts, custom made puppets, steampunk jewerly, media-tie in novels, plushies, and of course comics and collectibles.  I even got chatting with a local author and the Grand Rapids Science Fiction book club!

 

nice!

nice!

And now we come to the challenges this burgeoning ComicCon is facing, challenges the organizers will need to come up with solutions for in the upcoming years.  When the Grand Rapids ComicCon facebook page suggested that people buy tickets ahead of time because they expected to sell out on Saturday, they were not kidding. By 3pm on Saturday the building was at capacity, and people planning to buy tickets at the door were turned away for a few hours until some people had left.  I can tell you from personal experience that “at capacity” means the front of the building was wall to wall people, you could barely move from the front hallway area to the other areas of the building. The traffic jam was made even worse by a group of homestuck teens claiming a portion of the hallway for their improve activity, and everyone crushing to one side or the other to let wheelchairs and stroller pushing parents through. The crush of humanity lasted well into the dealer room. It’s hard to describe how big of an issue this was for what I suspect was a large portion of attendees.  I’ll say it again: This was the only way to get from the entrance to the dealer room, and the only way to get from the dealer room to the main stage area, and it was not designed for that quantity of people. If there was another route, the staff needed to encourage people to use it.

Although the program came with a map, the signage in the building could have been much better – it was hard to tell what areas were off limits, how far you had to walk to a concession stand or restroom, or where the autograph and photography areas were.  Better signs and more signs on the walls and doorways might not have helped the people crush issue, but it would have helped people know where to go for what.  This crush of people was my biggest issue with the convention, and I look forward to the convention getting a larger location.

Crowding issues aside, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first ComicCon.

 

The rest of this post is photos!

I snapped a photo of these ladies right as the costume contest was setting up

I snapped a photo of these ladies right as the costume contest was setting up

 

he makes handmade custom muppety puppets! Too fun!!

he makes handmade custom muppety puppets! Too fun!!

Belle being interviewed

Belle being interviewed

Not sure who she is, but she looks cool!

Not sure who she is, but she looks cool!

it's Batman!!

it’s Batman!!

These are the droids we're looking for

These are the droids we’re looking for!

Spiderman, Asuna (from Sword Art Online) and Raven (from Teen Titans)

Spiderman, Asuna (from Sword Art Online) and Raven (from Teen Titans)

Look! I found Waldo!

Look! I found Waldo!

Starlord from Guardians of the Galaxy

Starlord from Guardians of the Galaxy

The Doctor and Rose

The Doctor and Rose

Wolverine!

Wolverine!

Until next ComicCon, May the Force be With You

Until next ComicCon, May the Force be With You

9 Responses to "Grand Rapids ComicCon!"

Nichelle Nichols is absolutely amazing. I havent met her, but her and Nimoy are two Trek actors I would love to meet. I really need to get myself to *a* convention here in the UK or over seas. Great cosplaying pics!🙂

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you should totally get to a Con! I’m not sure where you are compared to where any of these are, but here’s start for events in the UK.

http://lotna.org.uk/cons.htm

Liked by 1 person

Thank you. Im in Kernow (right at the bottom.) I know I shall have to do it soon, I simply must. Until then I shall live vicariously through others who attend them🙂

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What fun! There is really nothing like a Comic Con. I’ll be going to my third San Diego Comic Con next July and I’m already excited about it!

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Ha. You didn’t really go to Comic-Con, you went to a SPIN-OFF con. San Diego is the only REAL one. Plus, all you’re showing is the dressup, costume, cosplay stuff. Where are the books, the comics, the graphic novels, the artists and writers? I’m really glad you had fun, but the person who made that comment about the convention could have been called Grand Rapids Cosplay was apparently spot on. Seems like the name should be changed to MEDIA-Con, COSTUME-Con, etc. The comic part is sadly lacking, at least in your report. And Legos? What on earth do they have to do with comics… in spite of that movie?

Sorry, I’m a purist here, and it’s not matching up with your experience at all.

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Richard, i think you’re mixing up the words “purist” and “jerk”.

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Ouch! Wasn’t that a little harsh? In all the years I went to S.D. Comic-Con (and Wizard Con in L.A.) it was about comics, writers, artists, publishers. A costume contest Saturday night was pretty much that part. When I was in the business, the Hollywood angle was avoided when possible. Okay, drop “purist” but say “old fashioned”.

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the comment I didn’t edit was harsher. Old fashioned i’ll accept.

this convention had plenty in the way of comics and comic book artists. There was an entire “artist’s alley” that was all comic related artwork. there were a few authors there as well, but I didn’t see much in the way of publishers. The costume contest was getting starting as I was leaving on Saturday. I’m not super into comics, so I spent my day in areas that I found more interesting. By including other types of media and fandom, the organizers of this event were able to attract a larger audience and their families.

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If you said that, the last two sentences, near the beginning of your post, my comment would have been very different, I assure you.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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