Review: Motor City Comic Con 2015

In 1997 I learned of Motor City Comic Con.  Since that year, I have been going every year to this local event.  Most years there are no real Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles connection, so it’s not the guest that I go for, I go for my friends.  For the past 10 years, I get in by helping friends at a booth, so I can enjoy this convention.  As long as I am in Michigan, during Motor City Comic Con, I will attend.  Here is my review for Motor City Comic Con 2015.

I got to Motor City Comic Con a little early on Friday, and went around to see my friends right away.  With Tim the Balloon Man being the first on my list.  Tim makes these amazing balloon creations. I first saw him at D-Lux Expo 2014 and have started to notice him at many events since.  Each year for Motor City Comic Con he makes a costume out of Balloons, last year he made a Ninja Turtle.  This year, he made Mario riding Yoshi.  He was still working on it, when I came by his booth.  The next artist I visited was Tiffany, from Attack of the Penguin Studio.  Tiffany is an artist who does some cool drawings that are made into stickers to sell, but she also does commission drawings all weekends of people as chibi.  She’ll draw you, your favorite character or even your favorite character beating up your less favorite character at a great price.  I also met Tiffany at D-Lux.  The last artist in Artist Alley I visited at this time was David Peterson, who TMNT fans may know from his cover work with IDW.

Next, I stopped in at my favorite booth at Motor City Comic Con, Art-Toons.  Art-Toons sells animation cels from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Gargoyles to Ghostbusters.  If you were a SpongeBob SquarePants fan, this con was a great one to attend. You could get your animation cel at Art-Toons and have it signed by one of the guests there this weekend, Tom Kenny, the voice of Spongebob.  I have known Art-Toons since November 1996 and I love meeting up with them every chance I get.  I visited their booth a little bit before heading off to see another artist friend.

The next friend I stopped to visit was Dave Aikins.  I first met Dave at Motor City Comic Con in the mid 2000’s for his work on a 4Kids TMNT Children Book, “Fours a Crowd”.  A Raphael story, where he takes off and learns a lesson about life.  This book later made it into a collectors book that had a handful of those children books published in a hardcover book.  Dave does a lot of other children books, really well known for his work on Dora and Spongebob.  He also does art for many other things, including a Zombie game which I see all over the place.  He has also done some other really cool work, which you can see if you swing by his booth at any convention!  I spent a long time talking at his booth, before Miki joined me for us to start exploring the rest of the convention.

The first place I went to explore was to Judith Hoag’s booth.  Judith, for those who don’t know, is April O’Neil from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  To this day, I do feel she was the best live action version of April O’Neil we’ve had.  She did great in that first movie.  She’s one of the few people from that movie that I have not had the chance to greet and express my thanks for everything she did.  I know it was a job, but it did touch a lot of our lives. 

Once up there she talked about a time where she learned why not to promote that she’s April in public, as it got her attention she was not excepting at a Toys R Us event.   She autographed two things for me, my autograph shirt which has had three new autographs this year now, and one of the photos she was selling at her booth.  A cool black and white photo of all four Turtles with her that I have not seen before.  I also got one photo with her.

After visiting with Judith, I moved on and found myself at Robert Englund’s booth.  There was a long line for him already, I asked around for the price of his autograph.  Once I learned of the price I backed away, realizing I needed to figure things out before going in for more autographs.  My family has been having major money issues as of late, and the cost of things like this is hard to even think about covering when you don’t know if you’re going to have a roof over your head.  I worked out my funds, with a little help so I could do the few more autographs that I wanted.  I came back to Robert Englund’s area where I got a ticket and was told to come back around 5pm.

With that, I walked around looking at the other tables and figured I’d find where Tom Kenny was going to be.  I finally found his table was set up near this car done up for Spongebob, which was not far from Dave Aikins.  Realizing I had a few hours to walk around, and my coat was hot and I did not need to carry a poster around we stopped at a friend’s booth and asked them to watch my stuff for a few hours while I explored waiting to go back to Robert’s booth. 

During this time of exploring, I found the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles booth.  We learned some cool things they’re doing like the #TMNTBox, got to see their Turtle out waving to the kids, checked out their group of T-Shirts, and other TMNT merch.  Right near them was Stylin Online, which is a booth where I LOVE to get TMNT shirts from when I can.  The guy who runs Styline, James, is a really awesome guy to talk to.  I also went around looking at the other guests in the area.

One of the fun things we noticed there was that some of the DbsTurtles, these are the Turtle costumes that danced for T U R T L E Power at the “Epic Party”, they’ve been to many events with the TMNT Van out in the Los Angeles area.  They’ve traveled to many different states for other Ninja Turtle events.  I went up and asked them if they were with the LA group, though this Raphael and Michaelangelo came in from Canada.  Michaelangelo is good friends, with Dan, the creator of the DbsTurtles and did get their costumes from there.  They got in line, at the same time an April O’Neil cosplayer went through the line.  We got some photos, before going on our way.

At this point, I bumped into my friend Ryan, who ran the old BehindTheShells website.  A great guy, and good friend.  We talked a little bit, though realized it was time to go get my stuff from our friend’s booth and get into line for Robert Englund’s autograph.  In line everyone else had Freddy stuff for Robert to sign.  I had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles print I got from New York City Comic Con 2014 already signed by Ciro Nieli, Brandon Auman, Greg Cipes, Rob Paulsen and Eric Bauza. 

Once I got up to get the autograph, I set down the poster to where Robert could see it.  He got excited “I just worked on this!” He said, pointing at the poster.  We talked a bit, as he expressed how much enjoyed working on the Ninja Turtles.  This was great, I really enjoyed getting to talk to him, and Miki got to show him some of her art work.  Robert is an amazing guy, and I do highly recommend meeting him to anyone who may get the chance.  I didn’t want to talk too long, as I knew there was a line behind me.  Though this is a talk I will not forget.

We went around saying our goodbyes for the night not too long after that as it was nearing the end of the day.   This was a good day, as I truly enjoyed getting the chance to meet Judith and Robert, and best of all get to hang out with so many of my friends before the weekend got busy.

We got in early on Saturday, going straight to Tom Kenny’s line.  We got the line started, and he was a tad late for opening.  The line got to a nice size before he even got there.  He signed the same Ninja Turtle print that Robert signed.  We talked a little about Talkin Toons, then Miki and I went on our way. 

It got crowded there for Saturday, as that is Motor City Comic Con normal busy day.  Though we still managed to find a lot of our friends.  We gathered just near artist alley with a group of friends for over an hour of just talking.  It was funny, because as soon as one friend would have to move on to do something, someone else would show up.  One of the friends we were talking on and off with here is Chris Brown, the owner of “Comics & More”.   I brought Chris over for him to see the Art-Toons booth.  It was too busy to do a real introduction, though he at least got a good look at what they had to offer.

Once we split ways with Chris, Miki and I were off to find our dad.  He was invited there that day to be at Wolfman Mac’s booth.  After a bit of a search with no luck we called him, and found he made his way out for a lunch break.  My dad’s health has not been well lately, so when we found him we were hoping the break would do him good.  Though not long after he returned to the booth, I received a phone call from my dad saying he was going home.  He was overheating and having a hard time with his breathing.  This had both Miki and I worried, until we heard he made it home safe and was with our mom.

Miki and I wanted some food, though food at Motor City Comic Con seemed to be a problem this year.  The attached hotel had a restaurant, which is where we choose to eat.  Though we never got seated, ended up sitting ourselves down.  Then it took forever just to get attention to our table, got a busboy to bring us menus.  Then it was another long wait just to get a waitress to take our order.  It was over 2 hours in there to get the service, eat and pay.  The food was not something to be too excited about. The service was just too busy as they were not ready for the convention rush and the prices were like they are at Red Robins.  We did not feel this was worth our time or money.  Though the best part was that we made friends with the guys sitting at the table near ours.

Once we returned to the convention, we walked around a bit more and talked with more friends.  One of the interesting conversations we had was with the people at the Motor City Comic Con booth, where they sell a lot of comics and such. They got an area of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle stuff that is very high priced.  Some items just blew my mind that they wanted those prices for.  The ones that shocked me the most was some freebies from the TMNT cereal back on the day, these little flip books for TMNT 3.  I got a bunch of these that I've been tossing into boxes while packing up my house.  I was amused seeing them for sale on the shelf next to the rare Ninja Turtle Comic books so I asked to see the price, it was marked at $175.  Really surprised me that they would ask that much for a cereal toy!  It was the set of three, but the most I would even think of paying for those would be $30 in mint condition. 

We talked with the man at this booth for awhile.  He was a very nice guy, and fun to talk to.  I know the stuff on the wall was not his, nor did he price the stuff.  I personally feel that the books on that shelf is put at the “I don’t want to sell, but if you’re willing too I’ll take this” price.  What was fun there was when some kids dressed with TMNT gear came over to the booth and saw a Donatello book with the red mask on the cover, they’re like “Donatello does not wear red”, so I got to inform them of the Mirage comics. 

After leaving that booth we found Ryan again and he told me of a great Shredder costume walking around.  So Miki and I went to see if we could find the Shredder for a photo, though we never did see him.  We got back over to Dave Aikin’s booth and asked if he got to see Tom Kenny yet.  To our surprise he did not have the chance, so we agreed to watch his booth so he could meet Tom.  Once Dave got back, he had a few things signed and things seem to go over well.  Tom told him that people were bringing his sketches of Spongebob to autograph.  I know Dave was happy to hear this.

Miki and I went back to Art-Toons and hung out with them until the booth was taken down for the night.  After that, Miki and I went and hung out in the lobby until the Saturday night party started.  The party was okay, we enjoyed some snacks, talked with friends, danced  to the Time Warp, and I checked to see if they Karaoke set up had “T U R T L E Power”, sadly they didn’t.  We headed home around 1am.

Sunday we got back to the convention early again.  This was all about hanging out with friends now.  We did get to talk to a lot of people as we went around.  I tried to see if I could get any deals on some cheaper autographs for buying more, but the price was just too high.  While I do love getting things signed, I know I can’t keep it up at the prices they’ve got set these days.  I walked away, and used the little bit of spending money I still had saved up to get food for Miki and I instead.

The best thing that came out of today was when we went by Dave Aikin’s booth and found out that he was going to be the moderator for the Tom Kenny panel.  Miki and I went and got front row.  We were originally told that no photos or videos were allowed.  Though, right as the panel was starting, we were told photos and such was allowed after all.  I wasn’t going to set up in the front row while the panel was going.   Dave asked Tom a bunch of questions about how he got into his acting career all the way up to Spongebob.  Tom shared a lot of answers that I’ve heard him share before when I saw him at the Live Podcast for “Talkin Toons” in the summer of 2013.

There were a lot of new jokes and I enjoyed that both guests up there have worked on both Spongebob and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  There were a lot of laughs between the two of them.  Miki did get a bunch of photos with her camera and I know the fans around me were enjoying the stories.  I laughed a lot, as there were some really good voices and reactions up on stage.  I know one person recorded the panel, though I do not know who they are or if they’re going to post it online.

At the end of the panel, Dave opened the floor for questions.  There was a little girl in the second row with her hand up in a green Turtle shirt.  She was so hyper wanting their attention.  I watched as the first few questions were all taken from people in the second row right near her, but not her.  Then they started to call other areas in the panel room, as they’re being rushed to end the panel.  The girl jumped up and down, raised both hands, and really had that look on her face pleading to be picked.  They said one last question and picked her sister, on the other side of her, skipping over the little Turtle fan.  Thankfully they did let her ask her question real fast.

The young TMNT fan asked Tom “Who is your favorite Ninja Turtle?” so Tom goofed around with her a little bit, then answered that his favorite Turtle is Leonardo.  He did a Rockwell’s voice for everyone as he mentioned that he’s Rockwell on the new Nickelodeon series.  So the panel ended on a TMNT note, which made my day.  Loved the panel, and loved that Turtles did make their way into it.

We went out and I decided to try for food again at the convention center.  We don’t want to lose our parking spot.  So I walked over and saw the lines for the food in the dealer room.  Though people were walking around with the pizza and it looked good.  I got into a long line, with hope to get Miki and I each one slice of pizza, going all day without eating is not good for conventions.  I did not complain about the line, as this is part of convention life.  I talked with the people behind me, finding out it was their first year coming.  Once I got up to the window to make my simple order, they told me that they are out of pizza, but there’s more coming.

This is when I got a problem with how they were handling things.  I replied. “Okay, I’m willing to wait.  Can I pay, and just wait over here for the pizza?”, “No, we don’t know when the pizza will get here.”   I was in shock, they mentioned that food is on the way.  I expressed I’m not worried about waiting for the food, just want to pay without having to go through the line again, when I already did the wait.  Another lady came over and said no to me paying.  It’s one of those times where you just want to scream “Just take my money!”   All this did was upset me, as I’m not going to sit here and wait to see when the food gets there to wait again in another long line to order, when they could be out again by time I got up to the window.  So I gave up on food.

At this point one of Cowabunga Corner friends, Eric, showed up.  A nice distraction from being mad at the convention center.  I brought Eric over to meet Judith Hoag, then walked up to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles booth.  There we found out Eric has to head out, it was nice seeing him for a little bit. 

At this point I wanted a break as my RSD was really acting up.  We went over to Tim’s booth and watched him make amazing balloons for a long line of attendees.  It came down to time saying goodbye to everyone, as the convention was wrapping up.  We went to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles booth, Tiffany, Dave, and over to Art-Toons where we helped with getting their booth taken down for the weekend.

There was a lot of cosplay this weekend.  My favorite by far goes to a group of children that dressed up.  They had all four Turtles, April, Casey, Splinter and Shredder.  Even though the costumes were store bought, it’s hard to get a full group that size together and these kids were great.  I wish I got a picture of them all in costumes together.  I did see a few home made Turtle costumes around this weekend, as well as the DbsTurtles, and the most people wearing Ninja Turtles shirts, hats, backpacks and jackets that I’ve seen in a long time.

I had a lot of fun this weekend and met a lot of great people.  Biggest problem of the weekend was food, hopefully the convention center will learn how to handle crowds so that the food problem is not there in the future.  If people order pizza and there’s more coming, let them pay and wait.  It’s hard enough getting food for attendees, staff and guests at conventions.  No point in making it harder.    Outside of the food and cost on autographs, this is my favorite Motor City Comic Con in the past 9 years, 2005 with Rob Paulsen was awesome too.

Did you go to Motor City Comic Con?  If so, what did you do?  Did you meet any guests you like?  Did you buy something from the dealer room?  Get artwork from Artist Alley?  Share your stories here!  All reviews, comments and questions are welcomed here!

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