Sunday, October 15, 2017


This year’s Grand Rapids Comic-Con will be held on Friday, October 20 through Sunday, October 22, at the spacious DeVos Place/Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids. Show hours are 2 to 8 pm on Friday, 10 am to 7 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday. There will be late night programming as late as 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights!

Grand Rapids is a nice blend of comics guests, media guests, literary guests, cosplay guests and YouTube guests. The event has multiple-tier programming, costume contests, gaming, celebrity photo shoots and more. As my bloggy readers know, I like that kind of variety.

The guest list is too vast for me to mention all of the cool folks who will be attending. I’ll try to hit on at least some of them in the next few paragraphs.

The comics guests include Jim Steranko, Mike Zeck, Allen Bellman, Jose Delbo, Thom Zahler and yours truly. I’ll be on the main stage on Friday at 3:30 pm to present TONY’S TIPS LIVE! Here’s the more or less accurate synopsis of what you can expect:

Join Tony Isabella, creator of Black Lightning, co-creator of Misty Knight and Tigra, 45-year veteran of the comics industry for a lively discussion of well, everything. I’ll talk comic books, giant monster movies, blogging and the development of my characters for TV shows including Netflix’s “Luke Cage” and “The Defenders” and, on the CW, “Black Lightning,” called the most anticipated new show of the mid-season. I’ll also be talking about Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. My return to my proudest creation will be hitting the comics shops in November and, oh, boy, do I have surprises for you. I’ll share stories from my career, comment on recent events in the comics industry, the entertainment industry, our troubled country and world and, to the best of my ability and considering the scope of the non-disclosure agreements I’ve signed, I’ll answer whatever questions we have time for.

Of course, if, while I’m on the main stage, I don’t get around to talking about what you’d like me to talk about or answer all of the questions you might have for me, I’ll be happy to do so at my booth in the exhibit and vendors area.

Getting back to the guests...

The media guests include Billy Dee Williams, Gates McFadden, Kevin Sorbo, Adrienne Barbeau, Jim Cummings and several other performers from TV shows, animated series and movies. I’m particularly psyched that Godzilla suit actors Tsutomu Kitagawa and Mizuho Yoshida, not to mention actors from Batman: The Animated Series and Star Wars. Fingers crossed, I’ll get to meet at least some of these wonderful guests over the weekend.

Among the literary guests are Ken Johnson and Ray Pointer. Johnson is the author of The Man Who Watched Batman and a leading expert on Batman: The Animated Series. Pointer is the author of The Art and Inventions of Max Fleischer, a study of the legendary animator and and Fleischer Studios. Johnson will be at the convention all three days. Pointer is a Sunday only guest.

The Grand Rapids Comic-Con website shows fifty different artists in Artists Alley. The local artists really come together for the show. You’ll want to check out their work.

Based on my past visits to this convention, there will be lots of great cosplay on display. The website lists five cosplay guests and over a dozen costuming programs over the weekend. And, of course, there will be a costume contest at this family-friendly gathering.

There are YouTube guests. The Harp Sisters, masters of both concert grand and electric harps, will be performing at the convention and discussing their art and videos. Vegan Black Metal Chef writes and performs songs about cooking vegan food. I admit this is a form of expression I never realized existed.

Other events include a car show, a shorts film festival, an anime room, an art show and a large display of comic book and superhero memorabilia from the Hall Of Heroes Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. The latter was a highlight of my 2016 visit to the Grand Rapids Comic-Con. I can’t wait to see what curator Allen Stewart brings to the event this year.

Grand Rapids Comic-Con has eight stages and galleries for panel and other programming. There will be panels with actors, voice actors, cosplayers, comics creators and more. Fans attending the convention will be faced with a lot of tough choices. I figure I’ll be lucky to attend even one or two of the panels beyond my TONY’S TIPS LIVE presentation.

When I’m not sneaking away to check out the comics creators and a few of the celebrities...or playing hooky at a’ll find me at my booth. I’ll be selling Black Lightning Volume One, various Isabella-written comic books and my new book, July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic Book Life of Tony Isabella. I’ll probably have a couple boxes of stuff from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales, but I’ll make that call as I get closer to packing for the convention.

Whether you bought it directly from me or not, I will happily sign your Isabella-written stuff. There is no charge for my signature, but that will not be the case at all of my 2018 appearances. Just keep in mind that, if you have a large number of comics and things for me to sign and there’s a line of fans waiting to have me sign their items, I’ll sign a few of your items and ask you to come back when there isn’t a line.

As at all my appearances, you should consider my booth to be a safe space. Here’s my permanent statement on this:

The recent presidential election tragedy has empowered bigots and racists and misogynists. No matter how hard conventions might try to keep their events welcoming to all, there’s no such thing as a jerk detector. Some of these lowlifes will be at the conventions. They will try to make you feel uncomfortable. For what it’s worth, you are not alone.

If you feel uncomfortable at a convention that I’m at, consider my booth or table to be a safe space. Come to my booth and hang out as long as you need to. If the situation calls for it, I will ask the promoters to deal with whoever is making you feel uncomfortable. I have stood up to bullies my entire life and I’m not about to stop now. Word.

I’m looking forward to this, my third appearance at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. If you’re attending the event, please stop by my booth to say “hello” and chat for a bit. I wouldn’t be where I am today with the support of my friends and readers. I’m honored to do what I can to make your convention a little more special.

For more information on the Grand Rapids Comic-Con, check out the event’s website. Better bring a snack when you do so because there’s a whole lot of goodness to be found there.

After Grand Rapids, I have one more scheduled convention for 2017. The Akron Comicon will be held Saturday and Sunday, November 4 and 5, at the John S. Knight Convention Center. We’ll be celebrating 40 years of Black Lightning with original artist Trevor von Eeden, original editor Jack C. Harris, second series artist Eddy Newell,  Mike W. Barr, who wrote my creation in Batman and the Outsiders and the fine folks from WBNX-TV, Cleveland’s CW. You can count on the WBNX booth to have all kinds of great CW swag. I’ll have much more to say about the Akron Comicon in the near future.

I don’t have any other appearances scheduled for 2017, but there’s a possibility that could change. 

Given the pace at which I've been working and dealing with all kinds of stuff, I'm thinking I might like to get away in December for a weekend at some convention some distance from chilly Ohio. The con would have to provide airfare for me and an assistant and a hotel room, but I wouldn't charge them an appearance fee. I would sign for free - assuming the event itself didn’t want to charge for my signature to recoup some of their expense of having me as a guest. I would appear on up to three panels a day as long as they weren't back to back...and would also consider being part of other programming during the convention. I wouldn't be a cheap date, but I'd be a fun one.

If you're a promoter, email me and I’ll get back to you as quickly as humanly possible. I’m only looking to add one con in December, so crunch those numbers and contact me as soon as possible. If no one contacts me, I guess I’ll have to fill the time with a shift or ten at the North Pole.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back tomorrow with movie reviews. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

No comments:

Post a Comment