Review Detroit FanFare 2011

Detroit FanFare, the new show in town, is trying to become as big as Motor City Comic Con fast.  This show did great last year with Stan Lee as their guest of honor so they figured they’d pull in the same type of crowd this year without Stan Lee and jumped into Cobo Hall in Downtown Detroit.  The plan was flawed as the guest list did not include Stan Lee and the event was not free to the public like it was last year.  Though the event was a blast for EVERY attendee that came to the convention.

I did not attend last years event, only heard of it and saw the results. This year they brought in vendors like Stylin Online, artist such as Dave Akins and guest stars like Bruce Campbell.  Fans could come in to see all these artists set up to show their books and original art work, then you’d go through into the dealer section where you could buy shirts, toys, games, and so much more, with the food court right on the end of the set up near the guest stars for those that came for autographs by the big named actors.  The design of this convention was great, it gave everyone the chance to be seen, gave the attendees a good look into the comic world and they even had nice panel rooms not attached to the dealer room.  Over all this convention was the best design for a comic show that Detroit has had for years.

There were a few flaws, like if you wanted to use a credit card to buy the Comic-Con comic books that were for sale only by Comic Con like the new TMNT #1 cover, you would have to go through registration line to use your credit card.  This took a long chunk out of my morning as I had three comics to buy using my card.  And no body else in line was in line for the same thing I was. It was out of the way and could of been an easy transaction at that both since there was no line for the comics.  At a point like this, a person working the booth should of taken the buyer up to the side of the registration booth to pay for it without waiting in that extra long line.  That was the first thing I saw done wrong.

The next was the line on Saturday. The line I speak of is the line for Kevin Eastman’s autograph.  We got into line right after buying our comics and found it to be a very big line, as we were there starting a little before a 11am and didn’t get near the front. Around 12:30, they spoke of Kevin’s panel.  Doing the normal convention curtsy, we asked the people behind us that we’ve been talking to if they would hold our spot in line and I’d pay them back with a burn DVD of the panel since I was video taping the panel.  The guy there agreed to this and we headed up for the panel. What should of happened was everyone in line got a number so they too could of gone up to the panel.

Once we got up to the panel we saw how small the crowd was in there, knowing that everyone else is in line.  The biggest surprise came to me up here was when a convention staffer asked me to host the panel.  This was an honor, as I have hosted a few panels at other conventions I agreed and got to go on stage with Kevin Eastman and Randall Lobb.  Randall is part of the crew working on “Turtle Power” the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Documentary.

 

Kevin got to go over the past of the Ninja Turtles during this panel and we shared why some fans would feel connected to the Ninja Turtles to where it became as big as the TMNT has.  Then Randall shared a 10 minute clip from the documentary, showing some of the different areas they cover from the origin, artist, cartoons, movies to the fans; all of which looked great. I cannot wait for the documentary to finally be released to the public.  After the video clip, we took a few questions from the fans before wrapping up the panel.

We got back down to the autograph line. The folks that we asked to hold our spot for us. Decided they don’t want to hold our spot and said no to us returning in line.  Though Kevin Siembieda from Palladium Books saw this and knew we were originally in line, so he invited us to stay in line with him.  It is sad when people do not keep their word, though for us we had a better time in the new spot that we got in line than we would of being with that first group of people.

The line for Kevin Eastman was 5 hours total, not including the time for the panel.  During this time people got to hang out, share stories of their collections, talk about their times getting to meet Kevin before or if this was their first time, go over their feelings about the new IDW comics and just become friends.

Though this line was alive and buzzing for the day, the rest of Detroit Fanfare was going rather slow, as you looked out there was never a crowd of people grouped around one table. You could walk through the Stylin OnLine T-Shirt booth without bumping into people, artists were talking to each other, and the dealers were feeling this dread of realizing that there was no crowd at this convention.

This was the overall feel of the Detroit Fanfare, a very small event set up to be something really big.  The fans that went got personal time with each of the artist, dealers and publishers that were there.  You didn’t have a rush because of a crowd unless you were in line for Kevin Eastman.  Sunday was no better as we showed up for an even smaller crowd, with still a long line for Kevin Eastman.

I went around and talked with a handful of the different dealers, publishers and artists at the event, asking them their thoughts of Detroit Fanfare.  Each of them said that as a fan they had fun and enjoyed getting to go around and talk with people.  Though on the point of trying to make money they did not make enough to pay back what they spent on coming to this event.  With the agreement that Detroit FanFare tried to grow into something big way too fast, it would of been better for them to build their way up to this.

What will happen with Detroit Fanfare is a question all upon itself.  The fans saying they’ll return while the people who lost money saying otherwise.  I personally would like to see Detroit Fanfare stay around. As an attendee, I had fun and enjoyed meeting all the people there.  I like the idea of more than one comic event a year that are not ran by the same people.  My hopes for the event is that they do return for 2012 in a different location and now take their time to work up to Cobo Hall and get the real following that they need for such a big event.  I want to see Detroit FanFare in 2020 with the 10,000 people they were hoping to have here this weekend and more!

 

Photos by Miki Ivey

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