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What's your con? Astronomicon kicks off crowded calendar of Metro Detroit fan fests

Lovers of comics, pop culture and collectibles have no shortage of events to gather with fellow fans

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Get your con on. 

Astronomicon rolls into the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Sterling Heights this weekend for its third annual celebration of horror culture, pro wrestling, collectibles and nostalgia. 

It's one of the newest events on Metro Detroit's prolific convention scene, where fans of pop culture, cosplay, comic books and more are never too far from an event to satiate their needs. 

What's your con? That's the question fans need to ask themselves as they wade into the waters of the convention landscape. There are events catered to specific niches; celebrity autograph hounds may find themselves at the Motor City Comic Con, while fans of deep horror can lose themselves at Motor City Nightmares. 

Here's a handy guide to a half-dozen of Metro Detroit's most popular fan conventions. 

Astronomicon

When: Feb. 7-9

Where: Wyndham Garden Hotel, Sterling Heights

Who: WWE Superstar Alexa Bliss, former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty, “Revenge of the Nerds” actor Robert Carradine, horror movie stars, pro wrestlers

For fans of: Horror movies, professional wrestling, and Detroit rap duo Twiztid. The horrorcore rhymers are the engine behind this third-annual gathering, which is carving out a niche for itself in the early February schedule for pop culture junkies whose tastes run toward pro wrestling and gore movies. In addition to appearances and autograph/ photo opportunities (with the likes of “Clerks” duo Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson, Anthony Michael Hall, Simon Rex and more), Astronomicon also features panel discussions, cosplay contests, concerts and more.

More info: astronomicon.com

Motor City Comic Con

When: May 15-17

Where: Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi

Who: Alice Cooper, Kiefer Sutherland, Nick Frost, Mario Lopez, Lou Diamond Phillips, Mick Foley

Zack Stone is terrifying as he walks down the aisles at Motor City Comic Con as Pennywise the Dancing Clown from Stephen King's 'It' book and film. Fans packed the convention space at the Suburban Collection Showcase in Novi, Michigan on the final day, May 17, 2019.

For fans of: Pop culture in general. Motor City Comic Con is the largest gathering of its kind in Metro Detroit — last year’s event boasted a reported attendance of more than 72,000 comic fans — and features the most recognizable celebrity guests of any event of its kind; past years have featured appearances by Stan Lee, William Shatner, Lea Thompson, Ric Flair and more. Motor City Comic Con was founded in 1989 and has grown into what it is today; this year’s event will include appearances by more than 250 comic book creators and will have more than 1 million comics for sale. Newbies to the con scene: start here.

More info: motorcitycomiccon.com

Motor City Nightmares

When: April 24-26

Where: Novi Sheraton

Who: Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Sean Whalen, P.J. Soles

For fans of: Gory midnight movies and cult TV shows. If you would consider skipping a family function because a “Halloween” marathon was on, this con is for you. Horror junkies can get their fix at this spring event, which has been scaring crowds since 2008. In addition to “Twin Peaks” stars Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise, this year’s event will include an appearance by “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” star Mark Patton and Paul Taylor, who played Pinhead in the most recent “Hellraiser” film; if you already knew Taylor's resume, welcome home.

More info: motorcitynightmares.com

Youmacon

When: Oct. 29-Nov. 1

Where: TCF Center, Renaissance Center, Detroit

Who: Fans dressed as their favorite characters  

Ginger Klopf of Flint strikes a pose as she wears her custom made Metroid Prime 3 Corruption video game character Samus Aran at Youmacon.

For fans of: Anime, manga and cosplay. Now in its 16th year, Youmacon started in Troy before eventually moving to the former Cobo Center, where it has been held annually since 2012. The four-day event includes an array of anime artists but it's the fans themselves — who come elaborately dressed as their favorite characters from video games, Japanese comics and more — that tend to be the stars here. The event is Michigan’s largest anime and gaming convention, and brings in more than 20,000 participants annually.  

More info: youmacon.com

Michigan Comic Convention

When: August TBD

Where: TCF Center, Detroit

Who: Stars of cartoons and comics, one big star

For fans of: Val Kilmer. The “Top Gun” and “Real Genius” star was the top guest at last year’s event, the third year of the relatively new comic convention. Launched in 2017, Michigan Comic Convention has yet to announce dates for 2020, but in a crowded convention landscape it’s looking to become downtown Detroit’s answer to the suburban Motor City Comic Con, and features a little bit of everything of the other cons: costume contests, comic vendors, autograph opportunities, and a place to geek out for the weekend.  

More info: michigancomicconvention.com/

Great Lakes Comic Convention

When: Feb. 21-22

Where: Macomb Community College Expo Center

Who: Comic artists, Ricky Steamboat

For fans of: Individual comic artists and toy collecting. This event, celebrating its 10th year, is smaller in scale than some of the other events on this list — organizers are projecting around 7,500 attendees this year — and is focused on comic books and toy collecting rather than celebrity guests or pop culture happenings. This year’s event will feature a handful of guests from past years as a nod to its own history, and will also include appearances by artist Jim Starlin, who created Marvel villain Thanos, and WWE Hall of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, who in 1987 wrestled one of the biggest matches in his career at the Pontiac Silverdome during WrestleMania III.

More info: greatlakescomicconvention.com 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama