Oct. 20 and 31 of this year found Detroit area comic book fans swarming upon the Hyatt Regency Dearborn for the first ever Detroit FanFare comic book convention. I had the opportunity to cover this event, and had exclusive behind the scenes access that few were granted. The constant burning question on the minds of many that saw me creeping around with my now infamous, “Yahoo!,” notebook was, “What did he think?”
History of Detroit FanFare
I should point out for those that do not know, the original comic book convention was the Detroit Triple FanFare. The Detroit FanFare hopes to carry the torch that went out in 1978 when the last Detroit Triple FanFare was held. The goal is to bring the focus back on comics at comic book conventions (instead of forgotten TV stars and movie actors), and to bring the focus of comic book fans back on Detroit.
What Did Detroit FanFare Offer?
The Detroit FanFare had over 150 comic creators and vendors packed into one area. There were over thirty panels on everything from, “Q&A,” sessions with comic book creators to lessons on how to draw. There was a zombie walk, a preview for AMC’s The Walking Dead, a blood drive where you got comics for your donation, and opportunities to have custom pictures drawn by your favorites.
We can’t forget that the Detroit FanFare had guests on the roster like Rich Buckler, Jim Starlin, Keith Pollard, Matt Busch, Carl Lundgren, Greg Theakston, and a little-known fellow like Smilin’ Stan Lee!
What Detroit FanFare Could Improve On
Some of the events started late for one reason or another. While this helped build anticipation, there were many fans that became disappointed as they ended up late for one event because the previous event attended did not start on time.
It was often found that the people who volunteered to work the Detroit Fan Fare did not have a direct line of communication to the organizers of the event. This sometimes caused confusion as comic book fans at the Detroit FanFare did not know who to ask question to. The volunteers appeared to have few answers, if any.
The aisles were very narrow and crowded. There were many with elaborate costumes, and some parents with strollers, that had significant issues maneuvering from booth to booth at the Detroit FanFare. Even though the convention floor was small, there were rooms on the second floor of the convention hall that could have potentially been used for some of the displays.
What Detroit FanFare Got Right
As a former business advisor, I know that there are hundreds of things that can go wrong the first few days that a business is open. The fact that the previously mentioned issues were the only problems that I found, I have to comment the Detroit FanFare crew. They could have fallen flat on their faces, but they only stumbled a few times.
Here, you have a convention that is based on the premise of being a true comic book convention. Many comic book fans have been shunned for years at, “their own,” conventions by the fact that a majority of comic book conventions give more attention and floor space to non-comic book people.
Instead of wasting space on forgotten TV stars from forty years ago, the Detroit FanFare used the space for not only classic comic book creators, but on those that are destined to become tomorrow’s legends. Instead of wasting tables on vendors that were trying to hoc a Sham Wow, I had vendors that were trying to sell me comic books. Almost unheard of these days at a comic book convention!
The variety of the guests and panels at the Detroit FanFare were destined to make every age level of comic book fan eager with anticipation. With the new faces, the faces from the previous generation, and the previous generation before that, it did not matter what your age was, you would find someone that you read somewhere down the line.
The entire atmosphere at the Detroit FanFare spoke of a revolution in the comic book collecting industry. This revolution would not only bring the focus back on Detroit, but back on the comic book collector. This is something that has been yearned for over the years. In 2011, the Detroit FanFare will be taking place at Cobo Arena on September 24 and 25. I can’t wait to see what they are able to do with a venue that is four times the size. I know that they will learn from their mistakes, and improve their strengths. Viva la Revolución! Viva la Detroit FanFare!