Motor City Comic Con to celebrate fandom with flair

By: Jennifer Sigouin, | Troy Times | Published May 3, 2016

NOVI — Fans of all things pop culture will have a chance to chat with comic book creators, meet film and TV icons, and walk among superheroes at the 27th annual Motor City Comic Con May 13-15 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

This year, more than 300 artists, writers, illustrators and actors will be on hand to showcase their work, greet fans, sign autographs, take photos and participate in panel discussions. More than 50,000 guests are expected to attend the convention, which is the largest event of its kind in Michigan.

Some of the celebrity guests on this year’s lineup include TV’s original Batman and Robin — Adam West and Burt Ward — in honor of the show’s 50th anniversary; Lena Headey from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”; Josh McDermitt, Michael Cudlitz, Seth Gilliam, Alexandra Breckenridge, Jon Bernthal and Sonequa Martin-Green from AMC’s “The Walking Dead”; Ian Ziering and Tara Reid, who star in SyFy’s “Sharknado” movies; and the the Four Horsemen, of professional wrestling fame. The full list of  celebrity appearances, along with a schedule of autograph and professional photo op sessions, is available at www.motorcitycomiccon.com.

 There will be no shortage of costumes at Motor City Comic Con May 13-15 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

There will be no shortage of costumes at Motor City Comic Con May 13-15 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

Photo by Brandon Nagy

Attendees also can browse a huge showroom of exhibitors and vendors offering comic books, toys, collectibles, artwork, crafts and more. And, of course, it will be hard to miss the costumes — from simple to over-the-top — as many fans come dressed up as their favorite comic book, TV and movie characters. Those wearing their Comic Con best are welcome to take part in the event’s cosplay contest on Saturday, when celebrity judges will determine the best costume winners for a variety of prizes.

Motor City Comic Con will also spotlight some of the talent that’s right here in Michigan, with a number of local artists, illustrators, writers and crafters participating.

St. Clair Shores resident Dan Phillips, a special effects and prosthetic makeup artist, and owner of D.P. Studios, plans to offer fans an experience that’s both visual and interactive.

“We’re going to be doing a really cool zombie photo booth,” he said, explaining that visitors can have their photo taken with zombies he created. “Last year, the line never ended.”

Phillips has worked on feature films including “The Hobbit” trilogy and Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful.” He also put his skills to the test in 2014 on season six of SyFy’s “Face Off” reality series, where he competed against other makeup artists in a number of elimination challenges. While his main focus is special effects makeup, he also does medical prosthetic work and provides traditional makeup services.

“I do everything from the bride to the zombie who kills the bride,” he said.

Fans who remember Phillips from “Face Off” can catch him in the autograph area at various times throughout the weekend for signings and photo ops.

“There’s such a huge fan base for that show,” he said, noting that he still keeps in touch with his former cast members.

Visitors can watch Phillips in action on Saturday, May 14, during a live makeup demonstration, where he’ll transform a model into a White Walker from “Game of Thrones.”

Phillips also plans to have information available about internship opportunities at his studio, which recently relocated from St. Clair Shores to a larger building in Ferndale. Having worked on films of all sizes and budgets, including many filmed locally, he knows the industry firsthand and can advise up-and-coming artists — especially those who want to stay in Michigan.

“I’ve made opportunities for myself here,” he said. “If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen.”

On the comic book side, Royal Oak resident Dominic Riggio, creator and writer of the graphic novel trilogy “The Arcane Awakening,” and founder of Mess Bucket Comics, is looking forward to sharing his work at the convention.

“Motor City Comic Con gets bigger, as far as foot traffic, every year,” he said. “The following here is tremendous and it’s one of my favorite shows of the year.”

Riggio noted that southeast Michigan has a large fan base for comics, and conventions like Motor City Comic Con provide comic creators with a great opportunity to reach thousands of people and get valuable feedback.

At his booth, Riggio will be selling copies of all three installments of “The Arcane Awakening,” along with prints, T-shirts, sweatshirts and possibly even a plush version of one of his popular characters, Ravager. Anyone who buys the entire trilogy will get a free print, and Riggio will sign all of the items.

But even if comic books aren’t your thing, Riggio said Motor City Comic Con is worth a visit, no matter what your age or interests may be.

“There’s something at that convention for everyone,” he said. “You’re going to find something you like.”

Motor City Comic Con hours are 12:30-7 p.m. Friday, May 13; 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, May 14; and 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, May 15. The Suburban Collection Showplace is located at 46100 Grand River Ave. in Novi. For parking information or to purchase tickets, visit www.motorcitycomiccon.com.