With convention season heating up, it’s a good time to look at what Michiganders have coming up to keep them occupied.
And there’s a lot. Here are the bigger shows I know about so far, in chronological order (all guest lists are subject to change):
Shuto Con, March 16-18, Lansing: This anime convention is entering its second year at the Lansing Center and Radisson Hotel. Guests include Ann Arbor’s Fred Gallagher, creator of the webcomic-turned-print-manga “MegaTokyo.” In the voice actor field, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (“Ghost in the Shell”) will be guest of honor, along with Richard Epcar, Greg Ayres, Doug smith and Todd Haberkorn. There also will be several bands on hand, plus dealers artists and all that fun stuff.
Motor City Nightmares, April 27-29, Novi: Horror fans will want to be sure to check out this annual celebration of the scream. Not much has been announced yet about programs, but you can expect a big party, costume contest, movie screening rooms and a film festival with local productions. There will also be a vendor room, of course. This year’s scheduled guests include Dee Wallace (“The Howling”), Doug Bradley (“Hellraiser”) William Forsythe (“The Devil’s Rejects”) and Tony Todd (“Candyman”). “The Ded Dave Show” will also be around with zombie comedy.
Penguicon, April 27-29, Dearborn: Fans of fantasy, science fiction, Linux and/or open source programming will all find something to love at this convention. The mix of guests from the various genres so far includes computer programmer Jim Gettys, author John Scalzi (“The Last Colony”) and webcomic creator Megan Rose Gedris (“I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!!!”). Scheduled events include a Geek Prom formal ball, live “World of Warcraft” gaming and a drag show with proceeds benefiting Affirmations.
Anime-Park, May 12, Canton Township: The anime clubs at Plymouth, Canton, Salem and Huron-New Boston high schools are working on putting together a show to be held at Canton High School. They’re currently seeking guests, dealers and artists. UPDATE: The con has a new website with more information. Linkwise Productions, which created the movie “Cosplayers” will be on hand filming … cosplayers. There are also several dealers and artists signed up. Check out the site!
Motor City Comic Con, May 18-20, Novi: The Suburban Collection Showplace is again the location for this annual celebration of all things geeky: movies, TV, comic books, cartoons, toys — the list goes on. This is the place to meet your favorite A-, B-, C- and D-list celebrities, all bringing back fond memories of childhood. This year’s bigger names include Dean Cain (“Lois & Clark,” “Smallville”), Peter Tork (“The Monkees”), Yvonne Craig (“Batman”) and Bill Mumy (“Lost in Space,” “Babylon 5″). From the comic world, announced guests include Todd Dezago (“Young Justice”), Mike Grell (“Warlord”) and Craig Rousseau (“Perhapanauts”).
World Steam Expo, May 25-28, Dearborn: One of Metro Detroit’s coolest conventions returns for another year at the Dearborn Hyatt. Celebrate all things steam punk, aka Victorian sci-fi, at this four-day festival. The best part is always the costumes — and the cool costume pieces available in the marketplace. Announced guests so far include authors G.D. Falksen (“The Hellfire Chronicles: Blood In The Skies”) and Cherie Priest (“Boneshaker”).
Jafax, June 23-24, Allendale: The west side of the state has its own annual convention, which is held on the campus of Grand Valley State University. The free (yes, free) con’s website says organizers have entered the “Stuff is Happening” phase. In other words, content is to be announced. The free event is billed not just as an anime convention but “a truly unique experience, a blend of grass-roots anime club, multicultural event and anime convention.”
Kids Read Comics!, July 7-8, Ann Arbor: If you love all-ages comics, you’ll love this free (yes, this one’s free, too) convention. They’re moving to the Ann Arbor District Library this year and have a great lineup of guests expected: J. Torres (“Teen Titans Go!”), Chris Houghton (“Reed Gunther”), Raina Telgemeier (“Baby-Sitters Club”), Hope Larson (“Mercury”) and more. Meet some of the top artists and writers in all-ages books today, plus there will be costume contests and workshops and classes for kids, parents, librarians and fans.
Go!Daiko-Con, Aug. 3-5, Pontiac: The former Anime Detroit is moving to a larger location this year, the Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint. It’s still pretty early, so the guest list is fairly light: Greg and Christopher Ayres. But expect more announcements in the coming months.
Northern Michigan Anime Convention, Sept. 7-9, Traverse City: The northern part of the state isn’t being left out of the party. This con is being held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. Events include a cosplay swimsuit contest (indoors where it’s warm, I hope), Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and a regular cosplay contest. Not much more has been announced quite yet, but it looks like there are plans for video gaming and tabletop gaming, along with vendor room and artist’s alley.
Detroit Fanfare, Oct. 26-28, Dearborn: The area’s newest comic book convention is moving back to Dearborn this year, which will please folks who preferred the free parking. Sci-fi Speed Dating will be returning to bring single fanboys and fangirls together. So far, though, that’s all I’ve seen. Bookmark the website for updates, which are coming soon.
Youmacon, Nov. 1-4, Detroit: The state’s biggest anime convention is expanding yet again, being held at the Renaissance Center and taking over some space at Cobo Center. There’s still lots of time for announcements, but they do already have some guests lined up: Todd Haberkorn, Jon St. John and Cherami Leigh, to name a few.