Review: Motor City Comic Con 2013

In 1996 I made friends with a woman who took the nickname Leonardo on TMNT-L. Before knowing her, I went to SiFi conventions only, though she introduced me to comic book conventions. The first Comic Con I went to was Mid-Ohio Comic Con, I’ve only been to that event a few times. In 1997 she introduced me to Motor City Comic Con, which has become a yearly event for me. I have not missed Motor City Comic Con, hard to believe it’s been 16 years. While this convention barely ever brings in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle guests, it has some good dealers and a lot of good friends. I was very surprised when I heard a few TMNT guest names appearing on the list for Motor City Comic Con this year, which made me a lot more excited. Here is my review of Motor City Comic Con 2013.

I started the day off by myself heading over to the convention center. I got what I felt like was a far parking spot from the convention center. Little did I know what was in store for us this weekend. I went in and met up with my friends at Art-Toons. My history with them goes back to my very first Comic Con in 1996. I hung out at their booth for a little bit then started to walk around, heading to the guest area I found Brian Tochi pretty fast.

Brian Tochi was the voice of Leonardo for the first three live action movies. To my surprise I learned he also did some voice work on the original cartoon. This means that both Robbie Rist and Brian worked on the cartoon, and they were the only two voice actors to stick with the movies for all three of the live action films. This is my first time meeting Brian, so I was excited to get the chance to go up and say hi. What impressed me with his table was all of the Ninja Turtles he had displayed as his banner had three movies he’s worked on displayed on it the centerpiece was TMNT. On the table he had different photos for autographs. What surprised me there was that he only had pictures of Leonardo from TMNT 1 and 3, there was not one picture of the TMNT 2 Turtles there.

I took this chance to introduce myself to Brian, and talk a little bit with him. I asked him about doing an interview for Cowabunga Corner, he said maybe while we’re in LA. I am hoping that he gets in touch with me to do this interview. I told him I had something that would surprise him, which I would bring in later. While talking to Brian, RJ showed up and I got some time to talk with him.

RJ is a good friend who use to run a website called “Behind the Shells” that was about the voice actors of the original cartoon series. RJ helped in getting the voice actors interviewed on the original cartoon DVD releases. RJ and I got to talk a little bit, before I split ways and noticed Jon Provost, Timmy from “Lassie”. Oh some years back, Jon was a guest here at Motor City Comic Con and I was volunteering for the convention. One of my jobs was being a gopher for Jon, we got to talk a lot when he was here that time. So I went over to say hello, they had a collie there, who was 7th generation to Lassie, so her name is Lassie. She was so friendly.

I walked away from there and headed towards Stylin Online’s tower of shirts, this is a normal stop and my favorite place to buy TMNT T-Shirts. Though as I was walking towards the tower of shirts I noticed a Michelangelo costume walking around. I went up and was surprised to see it had a sign that said http://www.teenagemutantninjaturtles.com/. This is the website that sponsored a T-shirt review that I did here on Cowabunga Corner. It was really good getting to meet these awesome Turtle fans behind the website and learning about some of the other websites they ran, as they were running a Brony booth at the convention. I spent some time there talking to them, before heading off into the con to find other friends.

I got over to Artist Alley and said hi to Dave Akins, artist of the TMNT book “Four's a Crowd”.  From there I went and found family friends, Al and Megan who had a booth set up selling Megan’s art. It was nice getting to see so many friends so early in the convention. While at Al and Megan’s booth, other friends found me and said hi, Lacey whom I met the Michigan Action Figure Expo 2012. While talking with Lacey, Ben a good friend from Youmacon found us over at the booth. We started to walk around together, Ben disappeared into the crowd so Lacey and I hung out for awhile.

Walking around with Lacey, we found some cool items including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Squirtles Shirt. We were looking at other items as well, as she found a cool Gremlin toy. While out walking we bumped into my friend Joker, whom I have not seen in about six years. Our friend Jen showed up at this time as well. It was truly an event for finding friends, which made this part of the event a ton of fun. Lacey and I split from the others and made our way around the event a bit more, till Miki showed up with another friend, Kayleigh. Kayleigh and Miki joined me over to the Art-Toons booth as we looked through and found some more cool stuff. After visiting with Art-Toons we ran out to the car and got my Leonardo head from the car, as we brought it in to see Brian.

Here is video from when we got Brian to see and autograph the Leonardo Head.

It was cool getting to see him, though the convention was closing and we promised to show Leonardo to a few other people at the event. We made our way through seeing friends, I pulled out the prop to show people along the way through the event. Till it was time to leave. Friday night was done, with two days left of the convention.

Returning to the convention on Saturday I found myself surprised. As I mentioned I’ve been coming to Motor City Comic Con since 1997. I know this convention. The crowd. The dealers. The Artist. The location. This is an event which people can normally get into very easy, the crowd is thick at times but never over crowded to where you can’t get around or park. So I was not ready for what was about to happen, as I knew the crowd was going to be large for Stan Lee, I did not realize just how large.

We hit the traffic Jam on the expressway. This part of the road usually gets backed up because we hit a ramp for merger onto the next expressway, and have to merge two lanes to the right to get to the first off ramp. Once we get off of Novi road though, things usually clear up for clear driving. Not this time, just getting into the lanes we needed was hard, as cars were not letting other traffic merge in easy. Everyone wanted into the same lanes, everyone was turning towards the convention center. After turning onto the road, the traffic was totally stopped in the right lane, as people wanted to turn into the convention center parking lot which was at least a mile down the road. I got into the left lane, knowing there’s a second entrance. My plan worked, as we got past the huge crowd of stopped cars.

Once I pulled into the second entrance I was surprised to find the back parking lot, where usually it’s just the dealers and artist that park there, was full. While trying to make circles of finding an open spot I came up to an area where cars were being sent through an area opened up in the gate. We were lead into a large dirt parking lots where Semi trucks are all parked around the edges. Workers pointed for us to keep driving as we went through another gate into another big dirt parking lot which looked mostly full. I found a spot, with a long walk back to the convention center. There was a large line, outside. Not something I had to worry about, though Kayleigh who was traveling with us needed to get into the advance purchase line. It was a bit shorter than the other line.

Miki and I headed in, and the size of the crowd was just a shock to my system. I tried to say hi to Art-Toons, they were swamped. I went to try and see other guests and people I knew, but the normal hello to people was not going to happen. I ended up going to the back of the convention center, getting out of the crowd and just watching as the place was buzzing with people. I called it the Stan Lee crowd, others said that it was also because of Norman Reedus. I was sure that it was mostly Stan. I pulled out my laptop and went to sit in the back of the convention center, not wanting to work my way through the crowd.

Sitting back there worked as friends started to find us. One friend that found us was Michelle, she’s a staff member from Youmacon and is a great person to hang out with. We were also found by our friends Nicki, who had a few new friends with her. Kayleigh found us back there. As we all found a really bad thing about this crowd, our cell phones were not working. Texting, calls, there was just too much going on here and phones were dropping calls, text messages were failing. As we were talking with our friends about these differences and how we do not really want to travel through the crowd to much, some guys came up to me knowing me from the VH1 show. So I stayed and talked to them a bit about Ninja Turtles. They mentioned that they saw me talking to Brian on Friday, and had to go home and check out the video of Totally Obsessed on youtube to see if I was me.

While talking with these two new friends, Miki disappeared with Nicki and the others for a little bit. Around this time a friend from Detroit Fanfare showed up, Steven. I started to talk with Steven, as he told me about his Casey Jones costume he was going to wear on Sunday. I had some of the autographed cards that we give away on our contests here, and gave him a few. To my surprise he gave me enough cash to get one more item signed by Brian. Miki returned to where I was. So once we went our own ways, Miki and I went straight to Brian’s booth where I got my TMNT III Production team shirt signed.

After getting the shirt signed, Miki and I made our way through the crowd a little bit before finding the next exit to hide next too. This one was near Al and Megan’s booth. So I left my stuff there and rested a bit. Not wanting to go into that crowd unless I had too. After resting a bit we made our way back to the guest area at the convention and talked with our friends. We were surprised as the convention stayed open almost an hour after it’s closing time. We let people leave before we decided to clear out, to avoid the traffic.

Saturday Motor City Comic Con holds a party, so Miki and I met up with Nicki, Dana and Diane for dinner then headed over to the party. At the party we hung out and talked with some people. Sometimes I really enjoy the party, other times it’s just runs long. For me, it just ran long this time and I just wanted to head home and get some sleep before returning for the last day of the convention.

Sunday we headed back out to the convention. Norman Reedus was still there on Sunday, though Stan Lee was gone. The difference was huge. No traffic jam, could drive right now. While we did not make it into the normal parking lot, we were in the first of the dirt parking lots instead of the second. I could walk around and breath. We did have some different goals this time around as Kayleigh had a bus to catch so we had one hour to get around so she can say goodbye to friends, then we could get her out for her ride to the bus station.

She wanted to meet Colin Baker, so that was our first real stop. We got over to Colin and she was able to get her photo with him. We found a lot of her friends and she got to say good bye to everyone. Then we brought her out to the meeting spot for her ride and said our good bye. Heading back into the convention, we just walked around and talked to people on how they did over the weekend. The crowd was great for a Sunday, and it was good to see everyone for one last time.

Now I have to say I love big conventions which have a bigger crowd than we faced this weekend. New York City Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con International are great examples. The difference is that they have big events to counter the weight of the crowd. From events on and off site, panels throughout the building. A larger dealer room where you can’t get through it all in one walk. The lines are handled better. And people know what they’re getting into, going into the convention. Their crowd is much bigger than what we faced at Motor City Comic Con, and I really do enjoy them without hiding away near exits. For me Motor City is more of a friend meet up and hang out at a dealer room with some guests signing autographs.

The crowd did not help me with enjoying the event. What the crowd did do is help the dealers make a good profit. Depending the booths. Some were bringing in the money here, while others did not get as many bites. A lot of the dealers realize it was because of the big names who were brought in, that they were not selling as well. More people were spending money on the guests.

While I personally did not have any issues with the crowd other than the lack of working phones. I did hear other complaints, as the staff of Motor City Comic Con was not totally ready to be slammed with this many people. I heard different stories, but the one that stood out most to me was from an advance ticket purchaser. MCCC does not give a weekend pass to the people who buy a three day badge, each day you have to go through the line and get a new wristband. With the crowd on Saturday, the had people toss their print out into a box and slap the wristband onto them in line. Never giving them their ticket for Sunday. On Sunday they wanted to know how to get their wristband and was told they could not even print up another printout that they bought the ticket. It sounded like a headache, but they finally got in.

This is not a count against the convention, as they had a lot to deal with. The staff of the convention did a good job at keeping things in order, keeping things moving as well as they could and not letting anything fall out of control. It is hard on an event when they get hit with a bigger crowd than they’re ready for. I’ve watched conventions crash, to where security would snap hard at the crowd. I did not see this here. Most I heard about security was that Steven’s bat he had for his Casey Jones costume was not allowed in, while other people’s costume weapons were let in.

I look forward to see if Motor City Comic Con can keep their growth up by bringing in just as strong guests next year. Though more than checking out the size, I look forward to seeing all of my friends next year. There are a lot of great people at this event, which is what I always look forward to the most.

Did you go to Motor City Comic Con 2013? What did you do while at the convention? Buy anything cool? Meet anyone interesting? Share your stories here! All reviews, comments and questions are welcomed below.

I want to say a big Thank you too:
Art-Toons
Golden Age Radio
Kayleigh
Nicki
Steven

Entertainment Earth

 

Comments

Great review, I read the whole thing. I especially liked and want to say thank you for the photos of yourself.

I had a such great time at the Motor City Comic Con! It's cool to see the photo of me as Casey Jones as the first photo at the top of this article. And I want to say thank you to Michele Ivey again for the signed cards. I love the cards and can't thank you enough.