I was off to Great Lakes Comic Con this weekend – I think I mentioned this last year when I went for the first time, I really wish this convention was closer to home – it’s a great mix of media and comic guests… but they keep the guest list short and inexpensive, the event doesn’t feel like it’s gouging you – especially with an admission price of only $10 on Saturday. They also go with a theme every year, last year being the 80s and this year being a celebration of Spider-Man – as a result, I decided to bring out the Doc Ock suit (at some point I have to fix that right arm so it no longer looks like I’m running around with a dislocated shoulder….)and ran around the convention center with the infamous Ock selfie stick!
I mentioned last year at Hall of Fame City Comic Con that I don’t think I can do Ock again without a handler. Even though I added some hidden windows for my fingers to come out of in the octupus arms, it still would have been a challenge… Maddie was going to come out but changed her mind. In the end, I was fortunate enough to enlist my friend Mike May to be my hands for the day, handling my money and opening doors as well as getting the phone clutched in one of my grubby little Octopus mitts to go into selfie mode.
I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the things I’m really beginning to enjoy at conventions like this is running into familiar faces. Now to be fair, Detroit is quite a ways from Cleveland so at this show I expected that those familiar faces would mostly be vendors, folks like Sean Belles and Dirk Manning. However I did also run into a gentleman who remembered me from the previous year! I remembered really liking his flash costume the previous year and was very pleased that his daughters Hawkgirl won in the kids costume contest. He was decked out in a marvelous Dr Strange suit… one that he’d really added his own flair to, using brass and gold buttons around it and giving it a more leathery look. I could see this being a Doctor Strange costume from after the movie, after he’s grown a little bit and moved on – say an alternate outfit. Included in it were several lighting effects that were activated when he gestured in certain ways, flashing, making sounds and giving the illusion of casting spells. It’s actually electronics from a think geek product that he’s ripped out, rewired and repurposed for this suit… A very good use of the technology. I love seeing stuff like this, and I’m all about using things in new and interesting ways.
Speaking of costumes, the show attendees really upped thier game this year… From what I can see, Great Lakes always brings out the best in people, but the competition was fierce this year – the decision was so difficult for the judges that they had to make two passes; with a semi-final round before they’ve finally made the decisions. The lovely Hawkgirl that I’d seen around all day placed and it was a well deserved win, along with the Mecha Godzilla that I did battle with while waiting in line for Jim Shooter. I was also taking note of the Lego Boba Fett that managed to snag one of the top prizes – I want to make my own Lego character later this year and his suit was a good example of what I’m going to need to do. I only wish he had been around longer! Fett seemed to show up about half an hour before the costume contest… That’s one of my pet peeve’s – an amazing costume like that I’d love to have seen walking the show floor all day! Perhaps he was suited up there all the time and I just missed him all day. We’ll assume the best.
Deals – Great Lakes may have just replaced Lake Effect Comicon as my go-to for deals… In fact, I should have brought a little bit more cash with me – I saw a gorgeous Super Powers Joker, complete with hammer for $15 – Mike nearly smacked me when I passed on it, and he would have been right to do so… I regret leaving that behind, kind of like I regret not picking up that Bow figure from She-Ra last year. Even stuff that was out of my price range, I could see was still going for amazing prices… A Super Powers Batman for $35, a Darth Vader that Mike had never seen before (and that’s saying something, his house has at least one Vader in every room!) for 35 which he handled down even further, 50 Cent bins, and essential trades all over the place for five bucks. Deals are one of the reasons I go to conventions, that and to find things that I won’t find anywhere else – Great Lakes Comic Con has both of those things, and in abundance.
One of the other big reasons I go to conventions is for panels and I’ve always loved that Great Lakes really goes out of its way to do genuinely good panels… They’re not over the top they’re not deep dark secrets and big reveals, but they are fun and they manage to spotlight people that I don’t get to see elsewhere. Dirk Manning did his Write or Wrong talk, which interestingly enough was preceded by Jim Shooter doing a panel on writing – Shooter was my main reason for coming to this convention, as he was the founder of Valiant comics and the editor in chief of Marvel for many many years. His panel was a great primer on story structure, pacing, perspective and storytelling. I was amused that he kept using Doc Ock in his examples.
“It’s got to be more than just Doc Ock fights Spider-Man again…”
*I raise my arms and eyebrows in mock outrage* “why you got to hate?”
Nicholas Hammond was fun to listen to as well. His experiences in The Sound of Music should have been the focus, but let’s face it. This is ComicCon. We want to hear about his short run on Spider-Man. For me one of the most interesting things to hear him speak on was the potential of a crossover with Bill Bixby’s the Incredible Hulk on television – years before such a thing was fashionable. It was on the schedule for the second season, except there wasn’t a second season. Spider-Man was one of the casualties of the management shake up where CBS decided to get rid of all the super shows like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and the Hulk. It was interesting for him to Skype watching Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield in the role as if it were him watching his children.
Shooter and Hammond were also both very gracious and fun to meet in person – the line to meet Jim Shooter was actually longer than the one for Hammond, but then again he was a bigger deal to me in the first place! Mike, Jim and I chatted about the rise and fall of Valiant, as he signed our books and took a photo with me! Taking photos with the actors who portrayed Spider-Man was one of the highlights of my day – Hammond had a hard time figuring out where to stand and just hung up behind me into a relaxed stance. The most fun though, was Paul Soles; the voice of the animated Spider-Man. Soles was so excited to see my Doc Ock and you can see him grinning with unbridled delight as we post for a photo. he signed his autograph “To Matt and his friend Doc Ock!”
The other great thing was how much all the kids at the con loved me. I found myself in battles with little superheros everywhere I ventured at the con. Little Spidey’s would shoot imaginary webs at me. Little Flash wanted a race. I’d snap at kids with my claws and they would throw stage punches and I’d knock back. It was great. I don’t get that nearly as much at other shows, but the Spider-man theme of this convention seemed to encourage it.
I left with a handful of comics – a lot of 90’s spidey I didn’t have as well as a Punisher essentials (I’ve got about a third of that book in floppies, but it’s still worth it – those issues I have are all signed. I can frame them and keep them as collectors items). I even found some criterion DVDs for two bits that I pulled the trigger on.
Other swag I came home with were a couple of posters. The CW had a booth there as well, one very much like the one we see regularly at Akron Comicon. There was a wheel to spin where you could win a prize…posters, shirts hats and various other junky swag. Doc Ock walked up, grabbed a hold of the wheels pegs (Why? Because I CAN) and spun, and won a new flash drive.
Literally. A FLASH drive. I was dying when I saw these! it’s tiny, a mere 2 GB, but that’s enough to hold my work tools on it and make me the envy of all my friends. (Mike got sunglasses). It may just be my favorite thing I brought home.
The arcade was still a blast as well. This year Big Toys brought in a SHADOW pinball set! Man, I could stare at that thing all day…I couldn’t play it with my arms though. I did however get a quick arcade game in. The claw could hold the joystick while the other claw mashed buttons. It was over quick though. Ock arms aren’t very dexterous.
I’m seriously considering making this a regular stop, no matter who is appearing. It’s a great show and I just really dig the vibe here. Ock himself was a big hit taking tons of selfies (you should have seen Jake the Snake crack up when I was taking pictures with these guys!) and generally wrecking havok…and heres the pics to prove it!