8 Ways to Enjoy Grand Rapids Comic Con 2018
One of the largest comic conventions returns to Grand Rapids November 9th through 11th. The Grand Rapids Comic Con 2018 brings the best in celebrities, artists, cosplay, family friendly activities, vendor booths, and after-hours entertainment to the Devos Place Convention Center.
Hours for the event are:
Friday November 9: 2pm to 8pm
Saturday November 10: 10am to 7pm
Sunday November 11: 10am to 5pm
We were lucky enough to attend the 2017 Grand Rapids Comic Con (review here) and continue to be amazed at the great lineup of talent and vendors together in one room. I love bringing my kids to the event and want to remind everyone that there are lots of activities aimed at kids and your kids will absolutely love coming to an event like this. We are also lucky enough to ask some questions with event co-founder Mark Hodges. You can see thoughts from Mark throughout this piece. We thank Mark for his time and also for putting on such a great event in West Michigan. Also check out our photo gallery from last year here.
The 2017 Grand Rapids Comic Con saw attendance hit 22,000 unique visitors, not counting repeat visitors. When asked about attendance expectations for the 2018 event, event co-founder Mark Hodges said he expects the figure to rise by 15%. Guests who attended last year will be happy to learn that the feedback on the long lines was well received. A plan has been put in place to allow those with in-hand tickets to enter through separate entrances, which should allow quicker access to the event and also improve congestion at the main entrance.
Like any comic con, one of the major tasks is selecting the lineup of movie stars, television actors, artists, voices of animated characters, and YouTube celebrities to be featured. Lucky for us here in West Michigan, Grand Rapids Comic Con continues to wow with a great lineup across the board that appeals to most. When asked about getting a good lineup, Hodges said, “I listen to the kids and don’t book this thing for me.”
The big names appearing at the Grand Rapids Comic Con 2018 are:
Walter Koenig from Star Trek The Original Series and many of the movies
John Ratzenberger from Cheers, and the voice in every Pixar movie
Doug Jones from Star Trek Discovery, Hellboy, and The Shape of Water
Along with these big movie/television stars, you also have the chance to meet Kevin Eastman, the creator of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tony Isabella, the creator of Black Lightning, and Michael Golden, a co-creator of the character Rogue.
If you’re a fan of YouTube, chances are you’ve watched a video featuring one of the YouTube celebrities appearing at the 2018 Grand Rapids Comic Con.
Harp Twins – twin duo that covers music across several genres. Check them out on YouTube and also consider attending one of their two concerts this weekend.
TheOdd1sOut – 8.9 million subscribers, 7 videos with 30 million or more views. This YouTube celebrity was pointed out as the guest who has gotten the biggest positive feedback and anticipation going into the event by Hodges. Expect long lines and a big turnout for panels involving this YouTube star.
Channel Awesome – 1.1 million subscribers
SomethingElseYT – 1.4 million subscribers
One of the biggest reasons to go to the 2018 Grand Rapids Comic Con is for the shopping. Rows and rows of vendors feature old and new issues of every comic you can think of. Booths offer unique pop culture collectibles that you won’t find in stores. You can also purchase artwork from some of the biggest artists in the industry today. Several artists will even commission a piece, or draw something specific for you, for a reasonable fee.
While we spent time at many booths over the years, I have to say that one of our favorites is Terry Huddleston Art. Check out some photos below of the great pieces seen at last year’s con.
Another great experience at any comic con is the fan panels. The 2018 Grand Rapids Comic Con has a great lineup of panels aimed to please everyone attending. There are panels all three days. You won’t have time to check out every single panel, as several are going on at the same time, but we highly encourage you to look at the lineup in the program and make a point of attending several and perhaps even participating in a question and answer session.
Here is a look at some of the panels that caught our eye:
Saturday 12:15pm – Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar and others in Star Wars): “It’s a Trap! The Career of a Puppeteer”
Saturday 1:30pm – Kevin Eastman (creator Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles): “The Creation of Pop Culture Legends”
Saturday 3:30pm – Harp Twins Concert
Sunday 11:00am – Doug Jones Talks Shop With Ricou Browning (The Creature From the Black Lagoon)
Sunday 12:15pm – TheOddsOut and SomethingElseYT: “Making a Living on YouTube”
Sunday 1:30pm – John Ratzenberger: “That Voice From Pixar Films”
Sunday 1:30pm – James Jude Courtney (Michael Myers in new Halloween): “My Job is Killer!”
Sunday 3:30pm Harp Twins Concert
When asked for a panel that catches his eye, Hodges tells us the Doug Jones interview with Ricou Browning really catches his eye.
If you like board games, card games, or video games, there’s an area of the Grand Rapids Comic Con for you. Several areas will focus on gaming and offer open play and tournaments of many of the most popular games. Many of the gaming areas go later into the night than the panels and main vending floor. So whatever game you’re into, consider checking out this area to make new friends, play competitively, or learn a new game completely.
New to the gaming area this year will be two Escape Rooms. The rooms will come with two unique themes. One room will feature a theme based on the Firefly television show. This room will allow 8 to 10 people to test their wits for 45 to 50 minutes trying to solve their way out of the room. The other escape room, which can accommodate 10 to 15 people is Harry Potter themed. Both rooms are recommended to guests 13 or older, although kids may be allowed with an adult.
After Hours Events
On Saturday, the after party heads to The Garage Bar and Grill at 7pm. This after hours event includes a Psychoblab Comix release party. The event also features music by several bands.
Other after hours events include Karaoke, which is a favorite of the staff and artists at the event.
On Saturday, comic con attendees can check out the Short Film Fest from 11am to 5pm that will showcase some great shorter movies from great talent. A total of 19 movies will be shown in two blocks split at 11am and 1pm. Awards will be handed out at 3:15.
On Friday night, the Grindhouse Festival takes place 8pm to Midnight. This lineup features eight short movies and a surprise full length movie showing. These movies are listed as being geared towards an R rated crowd, so no one under 17 will be admitted.
All of these movie showings are included with your ticket. That’s right, not only do you get into the event, meet celebrities, and get to shop, you also get to see movies for free.
If you’ve attended a comic con before, chances are you’re familiar with the fact that the majority of attendees dress up as their favorite pop culture characters. Some buy cheap outfits and some go all out, creating their own outfit.
If you’ve never dressed up for the con before, I would tell you to check out guides online for creating your own costume. You should also consider checking out several of the fan panels aimed at creating costumes from several prominent nationally known cosplayers.
The Grand Rapids Comic Con will also feature several cosplay contests. The main one takes place Saturday and it’s great to sit back and watch all the great costumes parade across the stage. On Sunday, there is a kids themed cosplay contest that will also feature some great costumes of characters you may or may not know.
One of the biggest pieces of advice for attending the comic con is to be sure to bring a camera, or make sure your phone is charged and has plenty of room. While photos with major celebrities will cost a little more, pictures with great pop culture items and local cosplayers come in much cheaper or free.
There will be several vehicles that you can get your picture taken with. This includes a Jeep that looks like it was in Jurassic Park, a replica of the Ghostbusters car, and the Shelby Cobra used in Iron Man that even features the imprint left by Iron Man in the movie.
Several local cosplay groups will be on hand and may let you take pictures with them for free or a small fee, which typically goes to charity. This includes the Cosplay Crusaders, The League of Enchantment, Ghostbusters, GI Joe, and several groups from Star Wars. Meeting superheroes and Star Wars characters was a big highlight for my kids last year.
Also, don’t forget to stop by the Giant Robot prop done by BrazenMonkey. This prop stands over 14 feet tall and can be used for photo ops for a fee. Last year, BrazenMonkey featured the popular Toothless that both of my kids sat on and couldn’t stop talking about at the con and at home.
If you haven’t been to a comic con, don’t miss out. Consider attending this small, but large regional pop culture phenomenon. Check out these great starter tips on what you can do to get the most out of the event. Feel free to share your thoughts, questions, and photos with us. We look forward to seeing you at Grand Rapids Comic Con 2018.
Don’t forget to put the dates for the 2019 Grand Rapids Comic Con on your calendar. The event will take place November 8th through November 10th.