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Motor City Con Diaries

Day 1

(A little late, but here goes)

We start out with a delicious IHOP breakfast. Loading up, since we want to avoid buying expensive Con-Food.
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I make a stop at the local Target super store to acquire some provisions (granola bars and fruit) as well as a pack-mule for all the stuffs to get signed. Rolling heavy things on the floor is much easier than carrying them.

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I arrive at the site of the Con, where a line is already formed. Thankfully, they let us advance ticket holders in to a room inside, away from the rain. The crowd sits for a couple of hours while waiting for the doors to open. Pretty awesome of them to have a holding room like this ready.

Once inside, I make a beeline for Artist Alley to take care of commissions and autographs. My first stop was Ivan Reis’ table…which was empty. I head to Todd Nauck’s table, which is conveniently a few feet away (yey!), while waiting for Reis, where there’s already a line 7-deep to be put on the commission list. Thankfully I get there in time to be put on the list. I return to Ivan’s table where he signs my Green Lantern trades. Once again, I’m reminded of how awesome it is that comic creators sign things without charging us exorbitant amounts of money. Well, some of them do, but I guess you’re allowed if you’ve been in the industry for a while.

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(Artist Alley)

I proceed to the next table over where I ask inker Joe Prado to sign some of the same volumes that Ivan signed. Then it’s off to Tom Raney’s table to get on his commission list. I chat a bit with legendary inker Tim Townsend and asked him to sign a few X-Men issues he’s inked. I asked him what he’s working on next and he strongly hinted that it will be a post Secret Wars Marvel title that will involve a certain character that a certain actor will be playing in the MCU: a certain British actor. One who’s played a dragon, a sleuth, and a genetically engineered madman.

WHEW with all that done, I take a breath, relax, then proceed to wander around Artist Alley in a more leisurely fashion.

I come across the table of an artist named “Nen” and am instantly captivated by her work. It’s reminiscent of Yoshitaka Amano’s style, but given a more lush detailing and vibrant color. I buy a print version of the piece below. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Madelyne rendered as beautifully.

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The shameless retail therapy experience continues as I proceed to the many, many dealers selling discounted hardcovers and graphic novels. Obviously, months of anticipation has made me into an out of control spending monster.

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Thankfully my aching arms and back managed to stop me from buying any more things. I also bought my partner this cute Iron Man funko bobblehead. He loves Iron Man and Funkos. So double win!

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I then proceeded to the Gates McFadden/Terry Farrel panel. (Dr. Beverly Crusher and Lt. Dax from Star Treks The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, respectively). Both women are so gorgeous and have aged very well. A lot of the discussion centered around the prevailing sexism in Hollywood in general, and the Star Trek shows they worked on in particular. Gates recalled being fired from TNG after season 1 for speaking up about some of the more sexist and racist elements of the show when it was starting out. She was then asked back to appear for the rest of the series’ run as Dr. Beverly Crusher due to fan demand. Terry recalled leaving DS9 after season 6, due to the producers’ unwillingness to be flexible with her schedule: an issue that she believes would not have even come up had she been a male actor.

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On the more humorous side, I asked both actresses who was the biggest diva on their respective casts. Gates, with almost no hesitation, responded “Marina Sirtis” (Counselor Deanna Troi). The crowd’s laughter indicated that this was not hard to believe. Terry replied that Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko) was the biggest diva on their set, though she did qualify that this was mostly due to Brooks’ outlook that some of the things that the studio insisted upon (like he not shave his hair) was just ridiculous and unreasonable.

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Finally, I pick up my Tom Raney/Todd Nauck and My Mike Mayhew blank variant commissions. Both turned out so well! I’m particularly delighted at how Raney captured Emma’s diamond form. Phoenix 5 Cyclops completes my collection of Phoenix 5 blank cover commissions a year after I started getting them. Sweet synchronicity. The first day of this con ends well.

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Day 2

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the con has instituted a no taking pictures of the celebrity panels rule, for some panels. On the one hand, I guess it’s cool that people can’t ‘cheat’ their way to getting a picture of celebrities anymore…but, honestly, I liked being able to cheat like that. Anyway…

First up was Camren Bicondova, who plays Selina Kyle on Gotham. She discussed about show (of course), her background as a dancer, and how delighted she was to take on the role. She did a good job of interacting with the crowd and being poised and in control, especially considering that this was her first con appearance. I asked her which Catwoman costume she liked the best and she replied that Michelle Pfeiffer’s stitched-up, vinyl look from Batman Returns was her favorite.

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An hour later, and in the same room, Chloe Bennet (Skye/Daisy/Quake from Agents of SHIELD) shows up to what is, quite possibly, the most packed exhibit hall at the con so far. She was engaging, funny, and charming as she took questions from the guests about Agents of SHIELD, her audition process, and working with the cast and crew. Someone stole one of my questions and asked if she was going to appear in the Inhumans movie. According to Ms. Bennett, there is no official word yet one way or the other. She did say that she might just do her own make-up and costume and show up on the set of the movie, whether they ask her to or not. whether she will be in the Inhumans movie. She also confessed that Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson) was the biggest prankster on the set.
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In what might be the highlightiest highlight of the weekend, I asked her to hum a few bars from her little known pop song “uh oh”…which she did. She then decided to treat the crowd with her Britney Spears impersonation (which she claims the rest of the AoS cast HATES. What a bunch of boring peoples…) much to the delight of the crowd and her siblings, who attended the con with her.

Finally, I attended the Emma Caulfield panel, which she shared with a couple of other actresses that I didn’t know. I couldn’t ask her questions since me and my fellow Whedon fanatics were seated in the far back of the room. Ms. Caulfield seemed…exhausted. Some of her responses were funny, though she seemed to be channeling her character Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer a little too much for comfort. It was probably just exhaustion coupled with the a little warmer than is comfortable temperature of the exhibit hall the panel was held in.

Shortly after the panel ended, me and my group of Whedon fanatics (who all belong to a local Whedonverse Meetup Group) proceeded to our photo op with Ms. Caulfield. (I got to touch her!)

Photo Op technology must have advanced leaps and bounds since I did a photo op at Toronto Fan Expo years ago…the process was so smooth and fast! And your picture were like, right there! Almost instantly! Like when they try to sell you pictures of yourself after you get off a roller coaster thrill ride. Very cool.

The picture turned out very well, as you can see.
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I returned to Ivan Reis’ table to pick up my Batman cover commission from yesterday. It was worth the wait, obviously.

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Day 3

I had a late start as there wasn’t much left that I wanted to do on the last day of the con. Con scuttlebutt from the day before was that William Shatner was going to do an impromptu panel (the last of the Con!) so I wanted to be in on that. Who knows if I’ll get another chance, right? ToS cast members have been, sadly, dropping like flies.

But before then…some more retail therapy! Coz why not?!…and I’m still under budget.

I went back to Nen’s table. I really loved the Madelyne Pryor piece I got from her back in Day 1 so…I thought there’s really no good reason to leave Maddie so lonely. So…I also bought her Jean and Emma pieces. Smaller in size than the Maddie piece, but I can work with it.

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Next up, I visited Tom Raney’s table for a much more closer look than the mad rush of Day 1 afforded. He was selling copies of his sketchbook (at a discount now?) with a free head sketch AND a free Con Poster. How can you beat this deal? Answer? You can’t. I bought one. Obviously. Of course the free head sketch thing totally caught me by surprise so my brain went to the automatic go to place of ‘PHOENIX 5 EMMA FROST’. In hindsight I really should have said Captain Marvel. Or Rocket Raccoon. Gotta be ready for this kind of thing next time. Below are some of the highlights of the sketchbook, the P5 Emma head sketch and a glimpse at the con poster he drew.

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(The Tom Raney poster at the far left…a couple of prints from Buzz)

Being at budget now…with enough cash left over for a soda and some delicious MI fudge, I head over to the Shatner panel room with my drink and treats. It’s an hour long-wait and the room is already full.

Finally, the man of the hour comes out. The panel starts out with the usual Shatnerian-jocularity and machismo, with Bill regaling us with tales of his recent motorcycle riding accident and how he lost a poker tournament hosted by Donald Trump. He then entertained the panel audience by sharing a few Star Trek anecdotes. One involved an incident wherein he prevented Leonard Nimoy from being first at the lunch time commissary line by hiding his bike.

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A young woman asked him why Captain Kirk was such a womanizer…which lead to a pretty awkward, uncomfortable moment (for me). He responded by saying that there isn’t anything wrong with a man who dates many women, as long as he isn’t committed to one. A little dudebro’ish…but I guess harmless? Of course, things took a turn for the even more awkward when he followed that up by saying that if the woman in question was the young woman currently in front of the microphone, Captain Kirk might just have to rethink his liberal dating policy. Bill has basically started flirting with the 13 year old girl. He probably didn’t mean it. I hope. But it was still pretty creepy. Like this is our creepy old Uncle-creepy. I guess it was harmless, but the young woman still seemed pretty taken aback by Shatner’s demonstration of Kirk-ian method acting

The highlight is probably when Shatner tried to keep a parent-audience member from leaving by trying to entertain his child. I can re-tell the exchange, but I think I’ll just let the video speak for itself.

Thus endeth this year’s Motor City Comic Con. It was an exhausting weekend, but one full of comic book geeky accomplishment. Gotta recharge the batteries. Phoenix is in two weeks!

BONUS:

Here are the front (drawn by Neal Adams) and back (drawn by Mike Mckone and Tom Raney) pages of the 2015 program.

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May 20, 2015
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