On The Scene: Motor City Comic Con 2019 Recap

I have been attending the full weekend at Motor City Comic Con for the past 6 years now. As my home town convention, the show will always have a special place in my heart and the weekend is certainly something I look forward to every year. They definitely seem to be putting special attention to ensuring that the show grows bigger and better with each coming year, and 2019 was no exception.

2019 was Motor City Comic Con’s 30th anniversary and it was clear that the show management wanted to really kick things up a notch with this event. The show floor had undergone an impressive expansion which allowed the convention to both increase their exhibitors and the room attendees had to wander about the show floor. The expansion certainly allowed the show to feel larger and offered a more cohesive, less congested Artist Alley arrangement. Expanding both exhibitor booths and artist alley was a necessary addition, as prior years set up tended to often feel confusing and chaotic. There is something to be said for the fact that for the most part, the team that runs Motor City does seem to listen to the constructive criticism they receive and work toward making it even better each year; something I hope they will continue to do. 

Parking and extensive lines for advance ticket holders still seem to be a large issue for the convention. Unfortunately, because of the location it is held in, I do believe that the management does the best they can with the parking situation, as it is wildly limited. Without larger structures, con goers will always be forced to either get their extremely early or understand they may have to walk for a good half hour to get to and from the Showplace. It is certainly my hope that eventually the show will either move to a location that is both larger and offers more expensive parking situations or the Showplace will possibly build some kind of structure that offers more convenient parking. I also believe sending out wristbands and badges in advance could really benefit the show, as I know how frustrating it can be to wait in a line wrapped around the building, particularly after you already purchased your ticket in advance.

The 30th Anniversary show offered a wide range of guests from all areas of geekdom. Big names such as David Tennant, George Takei and Pauly Shore drew a large number of fans, as well as stars from hit series such as Lucifer, Sons of Anarchy and The Office. There didn’t seem to be a standard policy when it came to guest interactions with fans as some offered selfie style photos with fans while others required a specific photo op package to be purchased. I believe signage with this information as well as pricing information at each guest’s booth could have been really helpful, as I saw a lot of people asking volunteers for all of the specific information. Overall I experienced a lot of positive feedback when it came to fans and their interactions with guests. Though the lines for some of the more “A-List” celebrities were long, it seemed like they had their hands wrapped around the best ways to ensure that things ran smoothly and efficiently. Because prices are negotiated by the actors and their managers, the prices on autographs and photo ops certainly varied, as is quite common with all conventions. The team at Motor City definitely did their research when booking guests this year. I have felt in the past that some years tend to focus on just one or two shows and trying to bring in multitudes of actors from that limited number of shows and films, where this year there really was something for everyone.

Because this is a home town show that I have been attending for many years, it was nice to see so many recognizable faces in both the exhibition floor and Artist Alley. Motor City boasts a plethora of local and national guests with a variety of products, books and art. Jim Lee’s attendance at the 2019 Motor City Comic Con was an impressive hit with many fans, as a multitude of people were getting into line extremely early to get a signature on Saturday morning. I am always happy to see my favorite creators and guests return to Motor City as well as all of the new faces that the expanded layout allowed. I have to say the biggest problematic issue that I came across at the show this year was the issue of internet and Wi-Fi access. While for me personally it was just a matter of inconvenience, for many creators it was a real hit to their sales. Although many attendees bring cash and there are ATMs located within the building, the convenience of being able to utilize a credit or debit card when purchasing something is one that many con goers expect and it allows them to spend their money more easily. Without proper internet access using a card reader or Square is next to impossible. I spoke with several creators and artists who said that unfortunately because of the issue, it caused massive lines for the ATMs; lines that many people just didn’t feel like waiting in, thus cancelling out sales that may have taken place had a card been able to be utilized. Though I am unsure exactly what caused the internet issue, it is definitely something that those who manage Motor City will have to figure out by next year. Keeping exhibitors and creators and their sales in mind is incredibly important and being able to utilize their card readers to make sales is necessary for the show to run smoothly and for them to continue to return to this fantastic convention.

Overall I had a wonderful experience at Motor City Comic Con this year and greatly look forward to what next year holds. I am always impressed with how open they are to feedback and how they strive to make each year better and better. I would love to see Motor City continue to expand and grow and offer even more spaces to talented artists, creators and celebrities. Though I would definitely be interested in seeing the show move to a location that offers more space, both onsite and for parking, I believe that it is possible to continue utilizing the Showplace if some of the kinks are ironed out in the coming years. It was very clear that this year the staff had considered the attendees’ wishes, as there was more space, more show floor activities and the after-hours events were better than ever. I am excited to see even more awesomeness from the 2020 Motor City Comic Con.

-Rachel Rutherford