This year’s Motor City Comic Con didn’t disappoint. It had more than its share of superheroes, stars, artists, vendors and just plain everyday comic book enthusiasts. It also had a huge Detroit and Michigan connection, starting with Toyota’s sponsorship of the show.
Michigan plays a part because of the vested interest Toyota has in the region with its tech center in Ann Arbor.
Toyota was onsite all weekend with a car with the Nickelodeon character Sponge Bob painted on it. The exterior of the vehicle resembled a mobile version of the popular television character, while the interior captures the essence of his home – Bikini Bottom.
This was not only the first time it was in Michigan, but the first time that it was on this side of the Mississippi. The Sponge Bob car was chosen because of how much of a cultural icon he has become.
At this year’s Con, Toyota also donated $5,000 to Help for Heroes, the official charity of the Motor City Comic Con. This charity aids comic artists stricken with cancer. As part of its support of local communities, Toyota also sponsors arts education in the Detroit area.
The automaker’s role at the Con was molded by Curt McAllister, Midwest PR manager, who had been an attendee for years before Toyota took a role in sponsorship.
“Motor City Comic 2014 is in the books. Over three days, tens of thousands of people got to experience a great pop culture event and scads of children got an eyeful of the SpongeBob Highlander,” McAllister said on his Facebook page. “Their smiles will stick with me for a while.”
Michigan had its own fair share of exhibitors making up artist alley. One of these is David Petersen. He was born and raised in Flint, moved to the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area for school and currently resides in Ferndale. He is also a three-time Eisner Award winner for his creator-owned adventure comic Mouse Guard.
Mouse Guard follows brave mice that embark on adventures similar to the classic tales of heroes and quests. It also secretly takes place in Michigan, according to Petersen, who apparently based the scenery on the area in western Michigan where his family used to camp. Michigan also is inspirational in the naming of places like Flint Rust and Dawn Rock, which originates from the Petoskey Stone, whose name means light on the rock.
The Con also helped give birth to Petersen’s creation. When he first started going to conventions he got a table at Motor City because there was no judging committee. At the time he had a book of sketches, as people flipped through it they kept asking about certain drawings. From those simple inquiries Mouse Guard was born.
Christina Marin returned for her second year. She is an independent comic creator from across the river in Windsor and is currently working on the third chapter of her comic. Her first year 2013, was a good experience for getting people aware of her work.
A local comic creator named Parisel had another seemingly normal looking table with an interesting twist. He has independent comics for sale … the same as many others. The catch is they are black and white and only three pages long with a cover. That’s it for most of them.
Parisel has been selling these comics for 10 years. The comics may not have a slick look to them, but there are many of them, and he only charges a dollar. That is usually enough to grab a bit of attention.
Also breaking the conventional mold was Rebecca Goldberg selling her handcrafted wire-wrapped jewelry and sculptures. While the ear cuffs she figured would be picked up top complete costumes were not the bright spot she thought, it was hardly a slow weekend. She made her table money half way through the first day, leaving the remaining 2 1/2 days as profit. The Con also provided her with a bonus to the monetary gain … people watching. She enjoyed all the costumes parading in front of her throughout the weekend.
It’s great to have so many Detroit and Michigan connections at the Con.
Postscript: William Shatner was the big guest this year. The Detroit Free Press ran a picture of him chatting with guests at the Con and asked readers to caption the picture. You can read the winning captions by clicking here. My favorite …“You’re from Romulus? That makes you a Romulan.”