Attendees of the fall Motor City Comic Con enjoy a visit with R2-D2 from “Star Wars.”

Attendees of the fall Motor City Comic Con enjoy a visit with R2-D2 from “Star Wars.”

Photo By Patricia O’Blenes

Motor City Comic Con gives fans invaluable celebrity encounters

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published November 16, 2023

 Mark Martell, of Farmington, cosplays as a Viking Predator during the 2023 fall Motor City Comic Con on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Mark Martell, of Farmington, cosplays as a Viking Predator during the 2023 fall Motor City Comic Con on Sunday, Nov. 12.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


NOVI — Thousands of people, from all over the country, converged at the Suburban Collection Showplace for a chance to meet their celebrity heroes at the Motor City Comic Con’s fall show Nov. 10-12.

The show offered people the chance to meet celebrities who are part of pop culture and purchase autographs, photographs and selfies for a fee of anywhere from $40 to as much as $250 depending on the celebrity.

Missy Merchant made the journey to Novi from Petoskey, as Motor City Comic Con is the largest show in the area and offered her a chance to meet up with friends, show off cool cosplay and get the opportunity to meet and interact with Harvey Guillen and Doug Jones. She said it is worth the expense to meet the celebrities, as it offers her evidence of the interaction, which she proudly displays at her home and work. She said her entire living room is decorated with autograph memorabilia

“When I look at (celebrity autographs and pictures) it kind of takes me back to the fun of the moment of being with that celebrity or sharing those moments together. So, it’s a nice visual reminder to que up those memories,” Merchant said. “For me it’s definitely worth it.”

Merchant works as a counselor to those afflicted by addiction and other mental health issues. She said the autographs and memorabilia she has displayed at her office also act as a form of icebreaker and help ease tension with her clients.

“It makes it so they feel more homey and not like they’re in, like, a doctor’s office,” she said.

Merchant said that she feels the time she got with the celebrities she met at MC3 is “pretty adequate” for the amount of money she spends to have time with them. According to Merchant, Guillen and Jones both strive to make sure their fans leave feeling good about the experience. She said that at the May show, Jason Isaacs took approximately five to 10 minutes per fan to make sure they had a “quality” interaction. She said there are usually at least one to two celebrities she wants to see at each show.

“All of the (celebrities) I have met here have (taken time with fans),” Merchant said. “There have been some at other conventions that have been a lot more standoffish, where it is a lot harder to justify (paying to meet them).”

Some attendees, such as Jedidiah Mann, of Warren, and his friend, Keven Schuster, of Roseville, said that the cost of the celebrity interactions deterred them from the opportunity to meet a celebrity.

“They do tend to be more on the expensive side if you do get autographs, so that’s why I didn’t,” said Mann.

Some families, such as the Boughton family, of Livonia, deliberated on what would be the best value for their money. They said that they were fans of Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in the “Star Wars” universe, but the cost of an autograph and photo was too pricey. Therefore, they said they were leaning toward just getting the professional photo with Williams, as the whole family could get in one photo and share the expense. Christian Boughton explained that most of the celebrities allow up to four people in a photo.

“It’s expensive — especially for individuals; like, his is like $250 for an autograph,” Christian Boughton said. “So we’re wondering if we want to spend the money on that or go buy some of this mom and pop stuff.”

“It’s just being able to say that I did it,” Christian Boughton said of his reason to buy the celebrity encounters.

Christian Boughton said the high cost to meet the celebrities is understandable, because they are high-profile names.

“The first time I came here they had William Shatner. His prices were very expensive, but for him to be incentivised to come here, they kind of let him charge what he charges,” Christian Boughton said.

“This is how they make their money,” added Jennifer Boughton.

“Just like anything, if we decide that it’s too much to get an autograph, then we just won’t get the autograph. We’re fine with that because we already got the photograph,” said Christian Boughton. “I think it just comes down to, ‘What does it mean to you?’ I don’t really have any attachment to Billy Dee, but for me, going and getting that autograph from Matthew Lillard, who I grew up watching him as Shaggy in the live action (‘Scooby-Doo’) series, so I’ve been a fan of his for years, so that meant a lot more to me than the hundred bucks I spent. For my dad, $250 for this photo (with Williams) — well worth it.”

Jennifer Irwin, of Wilmington, Delaware, said that the experiences of meeting her celebrity heroes at conventions across the country, such as MC3, are well worth it to her. Irwin  said that her joy in meeting celebrities has also given her the opportunity to meet some good friends from various other states. She met up with her friend Janel Gatten, of Morganfield, Kentucky, at the Motor City Comic Con, whom she met through a convention Facebook group.

“For us, it’s a friendship thing too, because, obviously, we live far apart,” Irwin said.

“It’s, like, really common for attendees of cons to make friends with other con-goers,” Gatten said. “For me, it’s the whole experience. I mean, I wouldn’t go for just an autograph or just a photograph.”

Irwin said that she will only travel to attend a convention if there is somebody that she wants to meet there. She said she will not go just for the atmosphere, or to see the people in cosplay, or for the artists.

“I only go if there is an actor that I want to meet,” Irwin said.

She said that her husband paid around $1,000 to give her the “Outlander” experience package at another convention for her birthday, and it was really worth it to her, but that is the most she said she would pay to meet a celebrity. She said it included a three-day admission, an autograph and photo with Sam Heughan and two other cast members, and two panels. Irwin explained that because she has watched “Outlander” so many times, it was well worth it to meet some of the cast.

“To me, yes. It was absolutely worth it. Meeting him was like a dream come true,” Irwin said. “Just interacting with someone who helped to bring that show to life, I was over the moon and I’ll probably never meet him again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Irwin said she has never been disappointed after she met any of her heroes from the acting world, but she admitted that she has been disappointed after meeting some musicians she admired.

“It’s something that you would otherwise likely never experience,” Gatten said.