Comic-Con, where the fun begins

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published February 19, 2016

 G.I. Joe items, from Mall of Justice in St. Clair Shores, will be popular for the Great Lakes Comic-Con at Macomb Community College in Warren Feb. 26-27.

G.I. Joe items, from Mall of Justice in St. Clair Shores, will be popular for the Great Lakes Comic-Con at Macomb Community College in Warren Feb. 26-27.

Photo provided by Rudy Garza

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WARREN — Holy demolition, Batman, the Great Lakes Comic-Con is coming up.

The comic book and toy convention will delight collectors 5-9 p.m. Feb. 26 and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 27 inside the Sports & Expo Center at the South Campus of Macomb Community College, 14500 E. 12 Mile Road.

The Great Lakes Comic-Con is an annual comic, toy and collectible event in the metro Detroit area. The goals of the GLCC are to provide a venue for collectors and dealers to get together and buy and sell some of their favorite merchandise.

Along the way, fans will be able to meet and mingle with many guests, including Sgt. Slaughter, Larry Kenney, Tom Cook, Arvell Jones and Pat Broderick. This is the fourth time the show has set up shop at MCC. The Great Lakes Comic-Con attracts people of all ages and from all walks of life.

“We have more than 100 comic book or toy-related vendors. It’s always friendly and family-oriented,” show promoter Mike DeSantis said.

“The guests we have coming in is probably the biggest thing for me.”

Admission costs $10 per person per day, or $15 for both days. There could be additional charges for autographs from the artists and writers of the comic books.

All who attend are encouraged to dress for the occasion, as there will be costume contests to win prizes — one for kids 12 and younger and another one for people ages 13 and older. In the past, fans have shown up in all kinds of looks, many of them homemade.

“The level of creativity is just amazing,” DeSantis said.

This year’s show is going retro and will pay tribute to the comic books, toys and characters of the 1970s and 1980s. Here is your chance to relive the golden age of ’80s arcade games — including “Asteroids” and “Pac-Man” — sponsored by Big Toys of Sterling Heights.

There also will be an area for gaming to play “Magic: The Gathering,” “Battle for Zendikar” and “Oath of the Gatewatch.” Games for young children also will be available. Face painting will add to the fun.

Rudy Garza and his wife, Susan, who own Mall of Justice in St. Clair Shores, will be among the many vendors at the Great Lakes Comic-Con. Garza had been collecting toys, including “Star Wars” and “G.I. Joe” memorabilia, for many years, but at one point had to sell them.

It wasn’t easy to part with his childhood possessions, but when Garza saw how valuable the collection was, it piqued an interest in buying and selling. And here’s a tip: Merchandise is worth more in value unopened rather than opened. There’s no doubt about who Garza’s ultimate comic book hero is.

“My favorite will always be Conan the Barbarian,” he said. “He didn’t have any superpowers, so it’s a very simple story.”

Garza always participates in the Great Lakes Comic-Con shows. It’s an “easy way” to spend a Saturday afternoon, he said, and there is usually a hard-to-find toy or comic book that makes the scene.

“Mike does everything he can to make the event family-friendly and accessible to all age groups. There’s just a very positive (feeling) for everyone involved. There’s no telling what’s out there,” said Garza, who added that currently “the market is driven by movies or TV.”

That includes “Star Wars” because of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” released in December 2015.

“‘Star Wars’ toys from 1978-1985 tripled in value in the last year,” Garza said. “As a result, those are becoming unaffordable for the average collector. Marvel is worth a lot of money, especially the earlier series.”

For a complete schedule and more information on the Great Lakes Comic-Con, visit www.greatlakescomiccon.org

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