Grand Rapids welcomes third annual Comic-Con convention

GVL / Nick Moran

GVL / Nick Moran

Jenny Adkins

Celebrities, artists and experts on all things pop-culture flocked to Grand Rapids this during the weekend of Nov. 9 for the third annual Comic-Con. Comic-Con is a national convention that showcases multi-genre entertainment as well as everything from the gaming and comic realms. 

Comic-Con returned to the DeVos Place on Friday, Nov. 9 and continued through Sunday, Nov. 11. Fans were lined out the door, bearing Grand Rapids’ first snowfall of the season as they waited in anticipation to enter. The guests who attended were fans with a passion for superheroes, anime, collectible merchandise, gaming and comics. 

The crowds of Comic-Con filled the convention center for a variety of different reasons. For some, it was a chance to meet a celebrity. Others wanted to explore an area of interest. Most claimed it was an oasis of z for gamers, comic enthusiasts, artists and cosplayers alike. 

Randy Reynolds, creator of a life-size replica of the scare floor in “Monsters, Inc.,” has been to Grand Rapids Comic-Con several times over the years, and the event has become a place for him to interact with the kids while honoring an important friend. 

“Monsters, Inc. is a project I’ve been working on recently,” Reynolds said. “A good friend of mine, who was a teacher in the Lansing Schools District, wanted to put on a Monsters, Inc. (play) for the children. He asked me to help him out, which resulted in me building Mike, Randall and Sully in four weekends. He started to do shows with me; however, last May he passed away unexpectedly.

“I built the scare floor dedicated to him, and I reached out to his previous students to see if they wanted to get involved. Right now in the scare room, the walls are bare; I’m hoping students will create artwork, and I can then hang it on the walls inside.”

A prominent factor of Comic-Con, and the most obvious when walking the floor, is cosplaying. Swaths of guests participated by dressing up as their favorite superhero, Disney princess, comic book character, movie character or other kind of character. 

Four students anticipated Comic-Con’s arrival as it took them approximately four months to finish some of their costumes. Megan Korff, Alison Farmer, Annika Gibson and Morgan Peckham feel that cosplay is what brought them together, being one of the most underlying and important aspects of Comic-Con as a whole.  

“Cosplay is what brings me here,” Peckham said. “I’ve met a lot of friends through cosplay. These three for example, I get to see them for the first time in a while because of this event. It’s what brings us together.” 

Megan Korff and Alison Farmer dressed as their favorite characters from “Full Metal Alchemist,” a Japanese anime series, while Annika Gibson and Morgan Peckham imitated their favorites from the Star Trek.

As guests explored the convention center, there were various booths and vendors featured along with celebrities from the entertainment world. A few highlighted guests included Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” John Ratzenberger, voice actor known for roles in “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles” and “Superman,” as well as Jen Cohn, voice actor for the extremely competitive and popular multiplayer game “Overwatch.” Among these booths were also several up-and-coming artists and writers using Comic-Con as a platform to showcase their work. 

For Jamie Primack, a comic-writer, illustrator and artist based out of Chicago, this was her first time at Grand Rapids Comic-Con.

“I was recommended by my professor who has participated in the show for several years,” Primack said. “I was hoping that with getting accepted into Comic-Con, I could form a better fan-base and showcase my work to a wider audience in Michigan.” 

Primack mentions that the fans are the driving force behind her motivation to come to Grand Rapids. 

“It’s a gathering of fans for me,” Primack said. “A lot people who come to these shows aren’t from the same fan-base, and being here brings everyone together. I write and I illustrate and most of the time I feel like I’m dealing with two different fan-bases, and Comic-Con brings all of that together — It’s a sense of community.” 

Grand Rapids Comic-Con once again resulted in a huge turnout, bringing people from all over the Midwest.