Great Lakes Comic Con
Maddie and I headed out to Warren Michigan this weekend for Great Lakes Comic Con. I broke a couple of my rules this time around actually, the first one being I don’t like to take the girls out to shows I haven’t checked out ahead of time. I’ve never been to this one, and it’s a bit of a drive. I broke the same rule last week taking Lydia to the Anime con in Akron I suppose, but that one I had a little more confidence in, where as this one I really didn’t know what I was walking into – still, Maddie is getting older and she’s able to hang out a lot longer at one of these things. In fact, she made it through entire show! Eight hours is impressive for a 10-year-old…
The second rule that I broke was a big one. In general you never want to wait until the day of the event to try out a new costume. Unfortunately, I had such an enormous time crunch with Man at Arms that I didn’t have time to really give it a try out. You see, you want to put the whole thing on at least once, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, or half an hour – you just want to see how it feels, what it’s like going on and coming off, what it does to your peripheral vision, can you sit, how big are you….stuff like that. I had in fact, tried on all the parts individually, I knew that the undershirt was stiff, and I knew that the breastplate would squeeze my head going through and that my arm would be a little tight on the shoulder pad side. I knew that I’d have to wriggle to get the belt on, but that the elastic would stretch and contract enough to keep at snug. The problem is, I hadn’t done them all together – and that would come back to bite me later.
The outfit was actually surprisingly comfortable, it seems I learn a little bit more each time and make one of these – I had full range of movement, and because of the fingerless gloves, I didn’t lose my fine motor skills. Kneeling was still a challenge but I could run! That was important considering how cold the day was – trips between the car and the convention centre need to be short, especially since Maddie didn’t want to wear her jacket for fear it would cover her She-Ra costume. The suit was warm but not too warm and the helm would make me perspired a bit, but it kept me well insulated during lunch when I had to eat outside (I was too big to fit in the car). The big problem came when I tried to take it off – the plate on the arms did just fine when I was slipping them through the openings on the side of the chestpiece, but taking it off those panels would catch and my arms didn’t seem to want to go back through the breastplate! I had already got my head inside I was trying to pull from the neck (the way I commonly get out of these pieces of armour). Suddenly, from outside of the darkness I heard voices…
“Hey dude you do you need help? “.
“Here, let me give you a hand! ”
“Come on guys let’s give him some help over here! ”
Nimble fingers pushed the plating on my arm in so that it would clear the armhole while pairs of hands grabbed the sides of the armor and pulled, helping me slide out. I looked up and found myself surrounded by every wrestler from the WWF in the 80’s. Sergeant Slaughter was there, the junkyard dog, Macho Man and Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was a group of cosplayers who I had seen in the costume contest as a WW F group – partly because Sergeant Slaughter, the real one, was one of the guests. they’re actually run out and got into a wrestling match in front of the crowd that it was hilarious!
This is really a great example of the goodwill that I saw in between all the cosplayers at great Lakes comic con – it was an incredibly friendly atmosphere, with people chatting to each other exchanging tips and talking about how they built what. When it’s this kind of an atmosphere, this kind of a friendly group – it just makes things so much better. You can see that everybody is here not so much to really compete against each other, but rather to enjoy everybody and enjoy the hobby and just have fun. It makes such a huge difference!
There was a woman dressed in little powder puffs with the sash that read “Tribble Queen” I love that outfit – it was just such a creative and fun idea. I checked out the Lady Predator as well, she had the actual countdown from the movie running on her wrist. It was an app on her phone and she had created a gauntlet on which she could mount it – just brilliant.
I chatted with an amazing Swamp thing. Seriously, look at this outfit for a moment. He created every bit of it. He covered his face with Rice Krispies, then did a life cast which he pulled a latex mold of. He cast the hands and feet. The amount of detail and work here is amazing.
There there was this one person dressed as Shak-Ti from the Star Wars expanded universe. Johnyaya over at Skeletons in Spacesuits talked with her a bit about the costume; The entire headset was shaped foam with thick paint and some sort of sealer. I didn’t believe her. She replied “No one does. Touch it.”
To my utter shock they managed to get through 50 contestants in the adult costume contest and did it in 20 minutes! Seriously, I love Akron Comicon, but they could learn a thing from the organization and way they pulled this off!
I think the kids Contest one longer actually, fewer participants and a little bit more opportunity to do stuff for the judges. There are some marvelous kids costumes as well, including a Jedi who had an Ewok friend that she puppeteered as a marionette! That was amazing! The little Hawkgirl was beautiful and so well done, her father, a golden age Flash was equally impressive.
Saturday was a little light on panels, although what they did have was marvelous. Most of the talks were held in a little unmarked room tucked away on the side of the convention center by the snack bar – not a lot of space for people, but they weren’t well attended either… It seems like this is a smaller component at this show, and I understand. I give them props on this, that there was a lot of other stuff going on as well – they had an amazing retro arcade set up in one corner courtesy of Big Toys Arcade. The booth was filled, complete with pinball and about half a dozen video game machines all set on free play. There was one Transformers pinball machine set to take quarters, with the proceeds going to charity. Very cool, and a great idea. The arcade was possibly Maddie’s favorite thing to do during the day, and we visited it several times. I had a great deal of fun on the X-Files pinball machine, I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like these days and I miss pinball – Maddie was digging some of the arcade machines, especially the multicade cabinet that was running six different games, which ever one you would choose. All cabinets were up for sale and this just seem like a clever way to show them off as well as provide an activity at the convention. While it is normal for Anime Convention is to have game rooms, it’s not quite as common at comic conventions and I love that they’re lifting this idea from the animation shows.
There were also killer photo ops around the convention center. The 501st legion was there of course, and with them were some droid builders who brought some of thier creations with them. Not just an Artoo, the one you commonly see it is shows – they had several different robots around including trade federation droids and that little weird orange Artoo knock off that we see in the background of a lot of Star War. A Kylo Ren was available for photo ops along with a bevy of storm troopers, and they dominated a corner of the show.
Taking up residence in the opposite corner, were the Great Lakes Ghostbusters. Now I’m familiar with the Ohio Ghostbusters, I see these guys a lot on the convention circuit but the Great Lakes Ghostbusters is a chapter that I have not run into before. They have their own Ecto-1, a car which we were delighted to take photos of and in front of. They also had a table full of paraphernalia, game and props, including the new proton packs from the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot. The Ghostbusters arcade game sat all lit up in the back of thier corner, unplayed. Tthat’s kind of a shame, it probably should’ve gone over in the arcade which was right next door to them…
One of the ghostbusters was wearing a slime blower that actually sprayed soap bubbles – not big ones, but suds. It was hilarious to watch him hose down the kids in the crowd, or occasionally go after one of his ghostbuster brethren. I’ve been thinking about making a Slime Blower myself, and I chatted with them a little bit about the recipe, because I really loved that it was able to shoot something like this that evaporates immediately but has such a dynamic visual impact!
I wanna know what was up with the armored ghostbuster they had with them that dressed all in black… Dude that was the scariest looking ghostbuster I have ever laid eyes on!
Further down, past the artist alley into the guest area stood huge oversize Transformers. What I didn’t realize, was that these were actually costumes – at certain times during the con, Optimus Prime would come to life as somebody climbed in him. They also removed the panel from the Grimlock to show the dazzlingly complicated interworkings that would allow it to walk – just amazing.
Sadly, Tom Cook had to cancel for health reasons and I was disappointed not to get to meet him – but Jeff Lee, the creator of the video game and character Q-Bert was amazingly friendly and a lot of fun to talk to. He loaded my daughter up with flip books and a print, then he signed my Q Bert Atari 2600 cartridge. He was really excited to talk about Q-Bert’s appearance in Wreck-It Ralph and to my great surprise he ended up being one of the judges for the adult costume contest. He does stunning paintings, and has had some really fun at pieces done with Q-Bert as the subject – you absolutely need to check him out over his website http://www.jeffreyplee.com/blog/.
I brought a stack of books for Pat Brodrick to sign, and while I was there I bought a beautiful print of the Shadow that he had done! This was really exciting, as I’d seen this image before but never owned it. I chatted with him a little bit about what it was like to work on Batman year three – he mentioned he had been really excited to be in on that book and doesn’t understand why they haven’t collected it yet, I was just talking to do you see the other day about that.” Broderick was charging three dollars a book to sign, which was a little bit disappointing but still more affordable than any celebrity autographs. I’m not liking this trend, but as long as the prices stay down I can weather it.
Larry Hama, who wrote all of the GI Joe comics for Marvel and picked the series back up just a few years ago had a sign up declaring he would autograph two items for free. I love this – completely reasonable and understandable. I had brought four books (those little G.I. Joe digest size editions that Marvel used to put out with three issues per book – I’ve always had great affection for these) but was utterly content to walk away with only two of them signed. It was great to meet the man who had created so much of what we understand in GI Joe.
Speaking of GI Joe, the main celebrity guest of course was Sergeant Slaughter! He was a nice and friendly enough guy who genuinely seems to appreciate its fans. I wish you get a different handler though, this guy was the epitome of the bad manager. He was intrusive, a little demanding and just got in the way. Good handlers are invisible, they handle the money and keep the line moving. There is no reason to really be noticeable at all when you’re in an environment like this where there wasn’t a line and nobody was trying to take advantage of the guest. Still, when you look at this picture – it’s the epitome of 80’s cartoons!
Fifty cent bins were plentiful at this show– in fact they were even a couple of booths with a ton of quarter bins! You’re pressing my deal buttons right now… But then again, this is really what I show up at these events for! Even at Broderick’s table those prints that I bought were half off. We saw wonderful toys and some beautiful artwork. Maddie found a Pokémon booth and was going nuts! There were items for more expensive tastes as well, I managed to pick up the Walking Dead compendium vol three for my wife, and there are plenty of expensive books and collectables there as well – but let’s face it, I’m there for the deals and actually, I didn’t take nearly as good advantage of it as I should have. I loaded up on a bunch of the Marvel essentials volumes though, these things are running about five dollars each nowadays and usually have about 20 issues in them – that’s a quarter bin right there in your hand! We found a cute little Wonder Woman necklace for Lydia done in the shape of the pop vynal figures. I almost pulled the trigger on a Bow from She-Ra figure, but the girls aren’t really playing with She-Ra toys as much anymore… Still I’m kind of a regretting not grabbing that guy. There is an amazing booth that was creating sock puppets and Muppets style puppets from recognizable pop culture figures like Deadpool, Spiderman and Superman – these were just incredibly cute. *edit* I searched the vendors list on GLCC’s website to find these guys. The vendor is Ruppets! Seriously, go check them out. The FB page has more pictures than their vendors site, so here’s the link. https://www.facebook.com/ruppits
I really would have loved to have gotten one, but I’m not doing puppet shows anywhere right now and I just don’t know what I would’ve done with one… Kind of the same reason I didn’t grab that Bow figure or that superpowers Clark Kent – not sure where I would display them, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be playing with them.
We missed most of the “how to create our own comic panel”. I think Maddie was hoping for more of a hands on experience the way the Elyria Comic book initiative presents it. However, we stuck around for the thunder cats panel with Larry Kenney. This was a real treat to hear him talk about the philosophy of the show and working on it. There was a fundamental idea behind the stories. They wanted to show the characters trying to talk things out and reason with their foes before or instead of physically battling them. I’m not sure that I agree with his belief that it was less violent then He-Man or G I Joe, but I certainly understand the point Larry was trying to make. It was really interesting to hear him talk about coming back to ThunderCats for the rebooted series – and that the series was actually getting decent ratings, however it wasn’t getting great toy sales and that’s what ultimately doomed the show. Kinney seems to have some real affection for these characters and is somewhat protective of them – that’s fun to see. It was also enormous fun to hear him do other familiar voices, things like Count Chocula or the Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird or even the “taste the rainbow” voice that you here at the end of the skittles commercials!
The moderator of this panel was the show runner, who was also present for the costume contests and was very visible in the show. One of the things that attracts me about Great Lakes Comic Con is the fact that it’s run by a fan and it shows. The philosophy feels very similar to that of Akron Comicon, this show is being run for the love of it, not just as an exercise in profit or a giant cash grab like the Wizard World show that was happening at the same time this weekend in Cleveland. Of the two this is definitely the place I wanted to be. We made good time, 2 1/2 half hours out of Cleveland. It’s still a pretty long drive though. If this event were closer it would absolutely be a regular stop for me. From what I heard, the show grew significantly this year. That’s exciting to hear. I’m eager to see where it goes in the future!
Maddie asked me what he was supposed to be.
“Is he like a giant Teddy Bear?”
“Yes” was the easiest answer.
A baby Mandalorian in teal and pink armor!
The winners of the adult costume contest! Huge thanks to Skeletons in Spacesuits for getting photos of it…Maddie took video but no pictures!
“I’m going to need that guy’s leg.”Ratchet and Clank. The gun lights up with strings of LEDs inside as well as the robot eyes lighting up as well.This was a great take on teh character! Maddie took one look at this guy and told me “He’s going to win the costume contest!”
Maddie is a big Calvin and Hobbes fan (In great part because of it’s similarities to Gail Simone’s Gus Beezer and Marc Sumerk’s Franklin Richards) and she found this little guy – The sign reads “As close to Hobbes as available!”
Maddie reading the Marvel Zombies book she got!