Monday, April 10, 2017


Mike DeSantis’ Great Lakes Comic-Con was held February 24 and 25 at the Macomb Community College, South Campus, Sports and Expo Center in Warren, Michigan. Show hours were 5-9 pm on Friday, 9:30 am-6 pm on Saturday. My hard-driving hero of a traveling companion was the legendary Thom Zahler of Love and Capes and My Little Pony renown. Our method of transportation was Monty, the veteran Ford Monterey van that has served me well for years.

From the show’s website:

The Great Lakes Comic-Con, or GLCC, is a comic, toy, and collectible event that runs annually in the Metro-Detroit Area (Michigan). The goals of GLCC are to provide a venue for collectors and dealers to get together, buy/sell some of their favorite collectibles, and support children’s literacy, as well as other child-related charities.

For The Great Lakes Comic-Con, we will be supporting Reading is Fundamental. Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is the largest children’s literacy nonprofit organization in the United States. The goal is a literate America in which all children have access to books and discover the joys and value of reading.

Our first stop in Warren was the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Sterling Heights, just a short drive from the community campus. This hotel has a huge lobby and lots of rooms. My room was comfortable, quiet and quite large. My one-night stay was a good one.

When we got to the Sports and Expo Center, I was impressed by how much space was available for dealers and guests...and that there is clearly room for further growth if needed. Loading in to the show was easy. The convention staff and volunteers were always helpful. The fans were terrific. You can’t ask for more than that from any convention.

We had time to spare before the show opened, so Thom and I went to lunch with our deal pal Paul Storrie. He wrote the wonderful Gotham Girls mini-series several years back - a mini-series crying out to be reprinted. We went to Arby’s.

Arby’s. Because it’s healthier than drinking Flint water.

Great Lakes Comic-Con had a stellar guest list, which included old pals like Randy Zimmerman (publisher of Flint Comix), Dick Manning, Keith Pollard, Alex Saviuk, Misty Knight co-creator Arvell Jones, William Messner-Loebs and Dave Aikens. I also made new friends like the talented writer/penciler Tony Gray of Glass Monkey Studios Inc. and Legacy Comics Publishing.

I was scheduled for two panels during the convention. The first of them was “Tony’s Tips Live!” at 7 pm. If you’ve never attended one of these, it’s basically a live-action version of the columns I’ve been writing for decades. It’s news, views, reviews and questions from the audience. I never plan these panels out in advance. Just like my off-the-cuff bloggy things, I talk about whatever happens to be on my mind at the moment.

At the end of my panel, I got a nice surprise. One of the fans in attendance was Kim Metzger, a former assistant editor at the late, lamented Comics Buyer’s Guide. I hadn’t seen Kim in years and, I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t recognize him at first. But once Kim reintroduced himself, it was great chatting with him before heading back to my Artists Alley table.

My table. You know the drill. Over the weekend, I sold quite a few copies of Black Lightning Volume One. I signed a bunch of Isabella-written comics and books. I answered questions, though I wasn’t at liberty to answer some of those questions as completely as the fans who asked them would have liked. In the fullness of time, I’ll be able to say more.

One interesting and disappointing encounter was with a fan claiming to be an immigration officer. He commented on the “safe space” sign that can always be found on my table at the conventions I attend. He didn’t seem to understand the necessity of this sign at a time when no-question-about-it bigots and racists control Congress and the White House, with the latter emboldening bigots and racists as never before in recent memory.

He identified himself as a federal immigration officer. As someone who understands immigration laws are necessary and, indeed, who had an uncle who was, for a brief time, an immigration judge, I asked him how he felt about the enforcement excess of the new president and his thugs. His response was to deny anything had changed...and to relate horror stories of all these dangerous criminals he could not arrest because their home countries would not take them.

Relax. This is a subject for another day. I will say that nothing the man told me checked out with any of my own government sources and there is considerable evidence that undocumented immigrants who pose no threat to our country, who are working hard to earn citizenship in our country, who support our economy with their taxes, are being targeted as harshly as actual dangerous criminals. Maybe even more so...because they are magnitudes “less likely to resort to violence” that those actual threats to our country.

Such lies only succeed if we fail our civic responsibility to get to the truth of them. Maybe they would have gone over big at some Trump victory rally, but not with this American citizen.

Not to worry. One bad egg wasn’t enough to distort my very positive view of a show like The Great Lakes Comic-Con.

After the show, DeSantis hosted dinner for the guests at the very nice Juliano’s Banquet and Restaurant on Van Dyke Avenue in Warren. The buffet-style meal was delicious, though I had to be moderate in what I ate given the lateness of the hour.

My dinner companions were Zahler, Storrie, Messner-Loebs...and Jim Shooter. Yeah, that’s right. Jim Shooter.

Jim and I avoided the elephant in the room. He’s lied about me on numerous occasions and I’ve pointed out his pants were on fire just as often. Instead, he and I talked about mutual friends like George Roussos and others. It was a very pleasant meal.

That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for the concluding part of my Great Lakes Comic-Con report.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

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