As a teenager, I walked into the Motor City Comic Con for the first time. There I met Mart Nodell. He was a fairly old man, but it was a thrill, which only increased when he remembered me at the show every year until his death.
Most people who read this probably haven’t the faintest idea who Nodell was or what he did. He was the creator of the Golden Age Green Lantern, the original character from the 1940s. The creator of an icon was talking to me.
That was longer ago than I may like to admit, and a lot has changed. Comics have been pushed further and further back on the priority list. That has created a backlash among some comic book fans who now avoid the show. Prices have gone up, too.
While I would like to see comic books rise in importance again, there are new opportunities and people to meet. They may not be for me as much, but people with different interests can now have experiences like mine with Nodell by spending time with other comic and movie icons.
The Motor City Comic Con runs May 19-21 at the Suburban Collection Showcase.
Aside from comics, a wide variety of popular culture franchises will be represented this year. They include The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, The Incredible Hulk, Saturday Night Live, I Dream of Jeannie and many more current TV shows and films like, Guardians of the Galaxy, Arrow, The Walking Dead, Gotham, Lord of the Rings, Sons of Anarchy, WWE, and much more.
In total there will be 300 guests in attendance. There will be a host of creators, writers, illustrators and actors, who will chat with fans, sign autographs, take pictures, and provide panels and Q & A discussions.
Cinephiles may be surprised to learn they are represented as well. The movie It’s A Wonderful Life has become an iconic film steadfast in the annals of movie history.
Among the guests is Karolyn Grimes, who played the daughter, Zuzu Bailey, in the film. Grimes has become the unofficial ambassador of the Christmas icon. There is a good chance she will be more than willing to chat about it to a devoted fan of the film, or share her thoughts on the medium.
You also have chance to meet Michael Rooker from the acclaimed movie JFK and Sean Astin, who is well-known for his role as Sam Gamgee in the Academy Award winning trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Astin also played the title role in Rudy and made his film debut as Mikey in The Goonies.
Kristy Swanson from the movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be there, too. If you are one of the very few people who believe the film version is better than the TV show, tell her that when you get her autograph. She has also been in Pretty in Pink, Buffy Big Daddy, Knots Landing, Nightingales and B.L. Stryker, among others.
Did you spend your adolescence listening to angry punk rock your parents just didn’t understand? Did the music fill you and give you a sense of purpose that made you have to study everything about it?
Good news. Markey Ramone, one of the musicians of the band The Ramones, will be there. In addition to his music career, Marky was also featured in the IDW Comic Book series Alan Robert’s Killogy, and appears in Killogy: The Animated Series. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Here’s a list of some of this year’s Motor City Comic Con media guests:
Allen Bellman: Began his career in comics as a teenager when he drew backgrounds for Captain America in 1942 and eventually worked on titles including: The Patriot, The Destroyer, The Human Torch, Marvel’s Young Allies, Jap Buster Johnson and Jet Dixon of the Space Squadron, and many more.
Amy Jo Johnson: A film maker, musician and actor most known for her role as Kimberly Hart in the series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Julie Emrick on the series Felicity, and Jules Callaghan on the award-winning series Flashpoint. Johnson recently launched her debut feature film The Space Between.
Anthony Michael Hall: Known for his roles as Farmer Ted in Sixteen Candles and Brian Johnson in The Breakfast Club, Hall went on to become the youngest cast member in history on Saturday Night Live.
Barbara Eden: Named one of America’s 200 Greatest Pop Icons of the 20th Century, Eden is best known for her role as Jeannie on NBC’s I Dream of Jeannie television series which ran for five seasons. Her memoir Jeannie Out of The Bottle was recently published and debuted as No. 14 on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Big Van Vader: Known for his early wrestling career in Japan, Big Van Vader went on to also beat competitors throughout Europe and Mexico and eventually, leading him to three World Heavyweight Championships. Following his WWE career, he returned to All Japan Pro Wrestling to form a tag team with Stan Hansen.
Herbert Jefferson Jr.: An American film, television and stage actor best known for his role as Lieutenant Boomer on the original Battlestar Galactica TV series. Jefferson also appeared as Roy Dwyer in Rich Man, Poor Man and its sequel Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, Maxwell Fall in Emmy Award winning series The Law, Muntzy in Knight Rider (1982), among others.
Ilan Mitchell Smith: An American academic and former actor best known as the co-star in Weird Science, Smith has also appeared in The Wild Life, The Chocolate War and Superboy. For the past 35 years, he has been a role-player/Dungeon Master, Miniatures gamer and Indie/Board gamer.
John Barrowman: Singer, dancer, host and actor best known for his role as Malcolm Merlyn in the series Arrow. Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn character has made guest appearances in The Flash as well as on the CW’s Reign. He has hosted ABC’s Sing Your Face Off, among other major events.
Josh McDermitt: Comedian and star of AMC’s The Walking Dead, McDermitt made his television debut on NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2006. He was casted in TV movie Rehab for Rejects and as Brandon on Retired at 35. McDermitt can also be seen in Middle Man and Odious.
Kelly Le Brock: An American actress and model known for her acting debut in The Woman in Red. She also appeared in Weird Science, Hard to Kill, Betrayal of the Dove, Tracks of a Killer and Hard Bounty.
Khary Payton: Known as King Ezekiel on AMC’s The Walking Dead and Aqualad in Young Justice. Payton has been a voice actor for characters such as DC comic book hero Cyborg, Specialist Wasabi from Big Hero 6: The Series, Grimlock from Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Azrael & Killer Croc in the Batman: Arkham franchise, among others.
Lou Ferrigno: Ferrigno is most known as playing the “Hulk” in the CBS series The Incredible Hulk. He has also appeared in other television shows, such as the CBS series The King of Queens and the film I Love You, Man.
Mena Suvari: Dubbed by People Weekly as an “All-American Girl,” Suvari is known for her film debuts in Nowhere, the American Pie film series and American Beauty. She also appeared in Loser, Spun, Rumor Has It, Domino, American Horror Story (2011), among others.
Michael Rooker: Best known as the blue-skinned alien Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy, a role he will reprise in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and his role as Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead.
Rob Schneider: An American actor, comedian, screenwriter and director known for his sketch comedy series on Saturday Night Live as well as his starring comedy roles in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Hot Chick, The Benchwarmers and Grown Ups, among many others.
Robin Lord Taylor: Dubbed as “favorite breakout star of television,” Taylor is best known as Oswald Cobblepot or The Penguin on Gotham. Known for his role as Sam on The Walking Dead, and as Abernathy Darwin Dunlap in Accepted.
Ron Perlman: With a career spanning over three decades, Perlman is known for his roles in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army; biker chief Clarence Morrow on Sons of Anarchy, Norman Arbuthnot in The Last Supper and vampire leader Reinhardt in Blade II, among others.
Sean Gunn: Best known for his role on Gilmore Girls as Kirk Gleason, Gunn can also be found reprising his role as Kraglin (Yondu’s right hand man) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Shannon Elizabeth: An American actress and former fashion model who is known for her comedy roles in American Pie, Scary Movie and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. She appeared in the horror films such as Thirteen Ghosts, Cursed and Night of the Demons.
STING: An American retired professional wrestler, actor, author, former bodybuilder and WWE Hall of Famer, he is regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Sting earned 25 championships during his 30+ year career, including 21 between WCE and TNA.
Thomas Ian Nicholas: An American film actor, singer, musician, producer, director and writer best known for playing Kevin Myers in the American Pie series, Henry Rowengartner in Rookie of the Year and Walt Disney in Walt Before Mickey.
Wil Wheaton: An actor, writer and voice actor known for his roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Flubber, The Guild, Eureka, and The Big Bang Theory. He also appeared in Stand by Me, Toy Soldiers and Criminal Minds, among others.
Zack McGowan: Known for his role as Roan on the CW’s The 100 and as Captain Charles Vane in the Black Sails series. McGowan’s character is planned to recur on Agents of Shield and as Shkelgim in Universal’s Dracula Untold.
But what about the people who started it all – the comic fans? There are comic book creators for us:
Allen Bellman: An artist at Timely Comics, now known as Marvel, in the 1940s, Bellman began his career in comics as a teenager when he drew backgrounds for Captain America in 1942. He eventually worked on titles including The Patriot, The Destroyer, The Human Torch, Marvel’s Young Allies, Jap Buster Johnson and Jet Dixon of the Space Squadron, and many more. Chatting with him gives you a chance meet and speak with someone who was there near the beginning.
Neal Adams returns for the third year in a row. He is the legendary artist who redefined the look of Batman from the campy TV series to what we know now. He also created the realistic world for the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics.
Andy Lanning and his partner Dan Abnett made huge waves with Marvel’s Cosmic line of comics. Lanning works primarily at Marvel Comics and DC Comics as an inker.
Dave Gibbons: A British comic book drawer and writer who has worked with comic publishers around the world, Gibbons was the artist on one of the most well-known comic series of all time, Watchmen. Some of his work also includes Doctor Who, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Hulk, Predator and Aliens.
There will also be a large group of Indie creators selling their work. Don’t forget to check them out. Many of them are local and do great work.
If you want a break from getting autographs or chatting with the media or comic guests take a minute to people watch.
How often can you sit and watch the crowd as people walk by in costumes? Spider-Man, Optimus Prime, and a fully decked out Egyptian princess don’t walk down Woodward every day. You’re sure to see some dressed up in costumes that make you wonder if you should call someone for the walker’s own good.
The cosplay contest is on Sunday where a mix of celebrity judges determines the best costume winners, presenting prizes and gift packages.
The Motor City Comic Con runs from Friday, May 19 (12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.); Saturday, May 20 (10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and Sunday, May 21 (10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Sunday is Kid’s Day and features kid-friendly activities.
For complete information about the event, tickets, panels and VIP passes click here.