Comic and pop-culture madness descends on Novi with Comic Con

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News
Captain America and pals "cosplay" at the 2017 Motor City Comic Con.

Superheroes, space aliens and enthusiastic nerds of all stripes will take over Novi's Suburban Collection Showplace Friday-Sunday when the 30th-annual Motor City Comic Con blows into town. 

The event regularly attracts over 60,000 visitors, and is part comic-book and pop-culture extravaganza, part buying opportunity for collectors, and part chance to meet all sorts of stars from TV and the movies who drop by to sign autographs and pose for selfies - for a fee.

"Comic Con kind of makes you feel like you're not alone in the world if you're a nerd," said George Bracey, 53, a math teacher at Detroit's Cody High School who will be going Sunday with some students he mentors.

An Air Force veteran who served in both Desert Storm and Desert Shield, Bracey admits he doesn't entirely fit the stereotype. On the other hand, his basement filing cabinets are crammed with 6,000-7,000 comic books in plastic sleeves.

"I've always considered myself a little bit of a nerd," he said. In the past, Bracey's  dressed up as characters from "Star Trek" or "Stargate Atlantis," but this year will be going casual in just his Superman t-shirt. 

Even Buzz Lightyear from "Toy Story" got in on the Motor City Comic Con act last year.

One local celebrity this year will be Farmington Hills' own Elizabeth Berkley from "Saved by the Bell" and "Showgirls" who will be on premises both Saturday and Sunday. The actress will sign autographs for $50, and pose for pictures for $60. (Visit the Motor City Comic Con website for a complete list of who's appearing when.)

David A. Benvenuto of Royal Oak says he goes mostly for the star appeal. 

"I was really excited to go see Billie Piper," who starred in the British sci-fi TV series, "Doctor Who" as Rose Tyler, "but she canceled yesterday," said Benvenuto, 34. 

"This is like an ongoing thing with her," he added. "She's canceled on Motor City Comic Con more than she's actually appeared." 

All the same, he's excited at the chance to meet two "Saved by the Bell" actors — Berkley and her co-star Mark-Paul Harry Gosselaar.

Right now the Motor City Comic Con website lists 43 celebrities who will be on hand for at least part of the convention, including "Star Trek's" George Takei, Jonathan Frakes from "Star Trek: The Next Generation,"  and Judith Hoag from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." 

Other attractions throughout the weekend will include Geek Speed Dating, an Anime Room, a Cosplay Contest and Comic Guest Panels. Click here for a calendar and complete listing. There will be a kid-friendly after-party Saturday evening. 

Vendors like Lauren Becker, who owns the online warehouse Comic Pop Collectibles in Wixom, say Comic Con can be a gold mine. 

"We’ve been doing the show since it started in 1989," Becker said, "and we sell a lot." 

For Clawson's Sandra Farrell-Katz, 37, Comic Con is all about costumes and dressing up — or "cosplay," as it's known in this universe. 

Her agenda's pretty crowded. 

"This year I'm doing Adult Raven from DC comics on Friday," said Farrell-Katz, "Gwen Carnage from Venom in Spider-Man Saturday, and Sunday, a made-up character, Lady Xyla — a dark Sith from 'Star Wars.'"

Sandra Farrell-Katz can spend months working on her Comic Con costume, like this Sith from Star Wars.

She laughs. "I'm on the dark side."

Benvenuto says he's often impressed by the meticulous approach to cosplaying, and in his words, how people manage to "fully embody" a part. 

"For example," he said, "Wolverine from X-Men is a really muscular guy, and some people doing him clearly work out and have the body. Some of it's pretty breathtaking. People stop to take pictures." 

Interestingly, though, Comic Con isn't limited to just the comic-book universe.

"It embodies every aspect of pop culture," Benvenuto said. "You might have a Pokemon character or something. There really are no limitations anymore." 

Motor City Comic Con

Friday - Sunday 

Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River, Novi

12:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Tickets available at Comic Con website

Adults 13 and over: $30 - Friday, $40 - Saturday, $30 - Sunday; $80 - weekend pass 

Kids 6-12: $10 - Friday, $10 - Saturday, free - Sunday; $20 weekend pass

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy 

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