In the spotlight: Motor City Comic Con

By: Maria Allard | All | Published April 13, 2015

Fans bring in the coolest memorabilia. I hope we do photo ops. I’ll terrorize the fans a bit."

Robert Englund, Actor

NOVI — While some actors might regret being typecast due to a certain role, that is not the case for Robert Englund.

The California native — probably best known for scaring filmgoers as Freddy Krueger in several “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movies  —  said the frightening character he played actually opened many more doors for him in the U.S., Canada, Israel, Africa and Europe, where he has found steady work.

He first started working in the entertainment business professionally in the 1970s and has been busy making movies, performing in the theater and acting in television shows ever since. Just last month, he was preparing to fly from California to Dayton, Ohio, to continue filming a comedy/horror picture called “The Funhouse Massacre.” Before that, he worked on “The Last Showing,” available on Netflix.

“It’s the best work I’ve done in years,” Englund said.

Englund will be in Michigan next month as he and several other performers — including Katey Sagal, John Schneider, Vivica A. Fox, Ralph Macchio, Dean Cain and Steven Yuen — appear at the 26th annual Motor City Comic Con. Also scheduled is legendary comic book artist Neal Adams, who created some of the imagery for Superman, Batman and Green Lantern. However, guests are subject to change, organizers say.

The pop culture event will bring together more than 300 comic book creators, writers, illustrators and actors from 12:30-7 p.m. May 15, 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. May 16, and 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. May 17 at the Suburban Collection Showplace, located at 46100 Grand River Ave. Many who attend dress in costumes of their favorite comic book or movie characters.

While this marks Englund’s first Comic Con in the Detroit area, he has appeared in similar events in other towns.

“Tell the fans I’m looking forward to coming. It’s always great to meet the fans. It is a gift to me,” he said. “Fans bring in the coolest memorabilia. I hope we do photo ops. I’ll terrorize the fans a bit.”

It usually took four hours to get the Krueger makeup on when Englund filmed the “Nightmare” movies.

“The makeup was very light,” Englund said. “The glove was an old gardening glove with a fish knife on it.”

He got to know his “Nightmare” co-stars pretty well over several weeks of filming, but he would sometimes hide on the set and jump out to scare a crew member just to make sure the character was still terrifying. Englund even once startled himself after falling asleep in his makeup and waking up in the middle of the night during filming.

“I looked into the mirror. I could see this old, disfigured bald man,” Englund said. “I jumped, and the old man in the mirror jumped. That moment scared me so much. I can remember it.”

Englund is familiar with metro Detroit. It’s where he honed his acting skills performing in productions at Meadow Brook Theatre in Rochester Hills, and it’s also where he taught theater, at Wayne State University. Englund was well-known at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, where he also taught. Early on, he spent a lot of time in Ohio while doing live theater, and drove back and forth between Ohio and Michigan.

“I remember going through a really great little town between Sandusky and Toledo,” he said.

Motor City Comic Con has grown over the years, and fans can thank founder Michael Goldman for it. The metro Detroit native, who grew up in Southfield, created the event.

“I saw a need for a comic show. People are always looking for something different,” the West Bloomfield resident said. The event was held in Dearborn during its early years. Goldman has noticed how much more popular comic book characters have become in the last 10 years or so due to many Hollywood movies based on the characters. “It’s become cool to be a nerd.”

Goldman was 9 in 1974 when he discovered his first comic book superhero, Luke Cage. Cerebus was another favorite. The comic book enthusiast became a collector after watching his dad collect coins and stamps.

“Any kind of reading he thought it was great,” Goldman said. “We went to shows together.”

Goldman collected comic books for years but stopped in high school.

“Girls were more interesting than comic books for a while,” he said.

Goldman said planning takes place all year for Comic Con. He is so busy during Comic Con weekend that he often doesn’t have the opportunity to kick back, relax and enjoy the show. But he does get satisfaction from watching attendees have a good time.

For more information regarding Motor City Comic Con guests, their appearance times and events, visit www.motorcitycomiccon.com.