Recently I had the pleasure of attending the tenth annual “Great Lakes Comic Convention” at Macomb Community College right here in the Detroit Michigan area. This was the third time I’ve been to the show and although it is relatively small by some standards it always packs a lot of punch.
The event started in 2009, and they had just 24 dealers and an attendance of a whopping 63 people. According to the website the founders of the convention:
“…weren’t dissuaded with the outcome. We were surprised that we had 63 people show up! So, yes! We saw there was some interest in what we were trying to do”.
Since then, the floor space for the con has more than doubled, and attendance for last year was over 5,000 fans of comics, games, cosplay, sci-fi and more. That’s a big accomplishment and over the years the annual convention has become known in our area for a unique combination of family friendly activities, excellent media guests, charitable causes and yes… thousands of comic books both old and new.
I’m a big fan of cosplay and my 5-year-old son typically joins me in the fun. This year, we decided to go as Spider-Man and Peter Parker, which was honestly designed with a purpose – I could take a lot of pictures and spend time seeing everything the convention had to offer. There is always a lot to look at, and from a comic book standpoint it can be a wonderful place to dig through long boxes, check out vintage keys, or pick up the newest and hottest books from comic publishers both large and small.
First, we visited the “Old Guys Who Like Old Comics” booth. The table was manned by a friendly gentleman named Jason R. Mink who was happy to give us a free copy of their exclusive comic “Yeet Presents: Storm Owl”. This was a double cover book that featured art and stories by some of the talented comic guests in attendance. These guys are an extension of a Facebook group that boasts over 17,000 members and focuses exclusively on old comic books.
“”I founded OLD GUYS WHO LIKE OLD COMICS in 2016 with the idea of sharing my love of classic comic storytelling with my peers. The intent was simple — create a place where like-minded people might gather and discuss their appreciation of comics circa 1933 to 1986. Honing in on this most influential of eras would allow the group’s focus to be on the work itself, and not its position in any contemporary social contextual construct. Think old comics as Art, not art in service of Social Engineering.
We here at OGWLOC love the medium of comics for what it is, an immediate and direct method of communication between creator and reader without third-party moderation or censorship”, Jason told me. “We produce our own comic, YEET Presents, which strives to emulate and exemplify the most vital aspects of the art form, while at the same time sending up some of it’s more humorous aspects. Old Guys Who like Old Comics is yesterday’s news Today, the geezers you thought you forgot about taking over the silver screen and the front page. Come on board — we’re expecting you!”
It’s a fun group with a specific purpose, and it was a great surprise to see them in attendance at Great Lakes Comic Convention.
Independent comic publishers were there as well, and we were happy to see one of my personal favorites Source Point Press with a table at the event. They were also featuring many of their original titles including Greg Wright’s Monstrous, Bob Salley’s Ogre as well as the new title “Haunted High-Ons”- a one-shot based on the Michigan Hip-hop act Twizted. Source Point Press has been putting out some serious quality books the last several years, and they just secured the first theatrical release of their title “Rottentail”, which will be showing in local movie theaters this spring. It’s great to see an independent publisher like this putting out so many exciting products.
Greg Wright, the writer of the runaway Source Point Press book “Monstrous” had this to say: “The success of Monstrous has been phenomenal! The third issue was chosen as the Halloween ComicFest free giveaway, and there are developments underway right now to have the series adapted into a TV show. There are lots of new issues on the way and the possibility of a new tabletop game as well. I am so glad to see so many people receptive to the comic, and the weird, wild world that we have developed with it”. With regard to being a part of the Source Point Press family, Greg said:
“It’s really great working with SPP, as they are very creator-focused. With them, I get the opportunities to travel all across the U.S. and Canada to go to horror and comic conventions, meeting fans and selling my books. They are very invested in me and vice-versa”.
Many popular comic artists and writers from the “big two” publishers were in attendance at Great Lakes Comic Convention as well including Keith Pollard, co-creator of Marvel’s Black Cat, Arvell Jones of Iron Fist fame, Marvel Comics writer and artist Al Milgrom, the legendary William Messner Loebs of Wonder Woman and The Flash, Tom Orzechowski from Uncanny X-Men, Spawn and Black Panther, and even bronze age powerhouse Bob Layton, writer of the award-winning Iron Man story “Demon in a Bottle”. Many other writers and artists were there to do commissions, sign comics and just chat with devoted fans of all ages.
Wandering through the aisles of the convention, my son and I homed in on huge booths of comic sellers with everything from modern age comics to bronze and sliver gems, huge rows of long boxes, vintage toys, giant spreads of custom Lego style mini-figures. There were also old magazines, movie posters and independent artists, as well as men and women who were selling hand made crafts with all different varieties of sci-fi and fantasy themes. You need to bring cash with you because I guarantee you’ll see things you never knew you needed at a convention like GLCC.
Of course, a lot of convention goers love to meet their favorite stars in person. The media guests this year included some of the original cast of Sesame Street including Caroll Spinney (Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch), Bob McGrath (Bob), Roscoe Orman (Gordon), and other cast members from the classic popular children’s show on PBS. Other media guests included WWE hall of fame wrestling legends “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (Hooooo!) and commentator Jim Ross. David Newell (Mr. McFeely from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood) was also there, Guy Gilchrist (original Jim Henson cartoonist) and more. Nostalgia and the classic 80’s vibe were strong this year, and I’ll never personally object to that.
A Little Cosplay?
Amazing Cosplayers were in full attendance for both the contests, and the fun of it. Some fan favorites included The League of Enchantment – a Jackson, MI based non-profit dedicated to helping children’s charities and causes by spreading joy through both Superhero and princess themed events. They also do regular visits to children’s hospitals and other worthwhile causes. They were in attendance with a Wonderful group of Wonder Woman cosplayers, meeting kids and adults and promoting their organization’s fantastic work in Michigan communities.
Another consistent favorite of mine is the Michigan chapter of “The Finest: A G.I. Joe Costume Club” who also raises money for charities including veterans’ causes and the USO through G.I Joe and Cobra themed appearances. This year C.O.B.R.A. was in full force and truly representing the finest characters the Hasbro Toy franchise has made popular over the years including Zartan, Storm Shadow, Destro, Cobra Troopers and more. Jeremy Krause (Destro) of JFK Costumes and John McKee of GodzillaSoup Cosplay are award-winning cosplayers who attends several shows each year representing all different kinds of characters. Krause says one of his favorite things about events like this is making new friends that you see at all the other conventions. You can see more of Jeremy and John’s work at JFK Costumes and Godzillasoup on Facebook and Instagram.
Also in attendance were the Great Lakes Ghostbusters Coalition, The 501st Great Lakes Garrison and Rebel Base Star Wars costuming group, The Saber Legion and the R2-D2 Droid Builder’s club.
Sterling Heights company “Big Toys” had an awesome area set up in the corner of the floor with an arcade style layout of playable vintage arcade games and pinball machines for everyone to enjoy. It was cool seeing young kids playing the games I grew up on in the arcades of the 1980’s.
Of course, there were lots of cosplayers walking around, showing off months of hard work with their best versions of characters they love. I know some purists don’t care for cosplay at cons but It’s always one of my favorite parts of a comic convention because it really adds fantasy, color and excitement to the atmosphere. Most people love seeing the creativity and fun when the characters they love come to life in front of them.
As far as comic book collecting goes, a show like Great Lakes Comic Convention really gives you a chance to get great books from dealers at fair prices, and to see a lot of rare stuff that you won’t be able to track down online. There are always the big displays of popular keys above the tables at the shows but once you start flipping through boxes you never know what you’ll find. BagsUnlimited.com has all the supplies you’ll need for those new treasures you’ll find including all different types of standard bags and boards, crystal clear backers (so you can see the back-cover art), archival grade supplies, hanging frames, top loaders, storage boxes and more.
Great Lakes Comic
Old Guys Who Like
Old Comics Facebook Group-
Source Point Press-
The League of
The Finest: A G.I.
Joe Costume Club-
Big Toys Arcade
Sales and Supplies-
More links can be found on the GLCC website