Even as folks tape up their combat boots for the San Diego badge scramble, more modest events are springing up everyone —
even Grand Rapids, MI, which is getting the Grand Rapids Comic-Con on October 12 in Wyoming, Michigan. Organizer Mark Hodges is realistic about this first time show—he expects 2000-3000 people to attend event, to be held at the Home School Building—but can’t ignore the visions dancing in his head of a future show that draws 30,000 people, even if he can’t afford Ron Perlman this time.

Hodges said he is using a slow-and-steady approach to build attendance in the years to come, but the promoter predicts Grand Rapids Comic-Con will one day be a premier source of revenue for the Grand Rapids area, just as other cultural attractions, such as ArtPrize, are.

He is basing his prediction, in part, on the success of established comic-cons in cities such as Atlanta, Las Vegas and New York City. San Diego’s single largest convention, Comic-Con International, is projected to generate $488 million over 2013 and 2015, including sales tax revenue of $442,000, direct spending of $207 million by convention attendees, and sales of 378,000 hotel room nights, according to San Diego Metropolitan Magazine.

Rarely have we read a “local man plans con” story of this kind that presents so transparently the mental clash of a first time con thrower, as coursing excitement of a cosplay/Stan Lee/Geoff Johns/Adam West type comics-palooza unfolding continuously runs up against that “Oh shit, I just put down a huge deposit on the Home School Building” feeling.

“This is a group of people who are passionate,” said Hodges. “These kinds of people are people I know. I can see this event in 10 years running on a budget of over $1 million with 30,000 people attending.

“With the first (Grand Rapids) Comic-Con, I expect fans’ criticisms,” continued Hodges. “We want input. We want their criticisms. This year is a glorified template.”


  1. The Motorcity ComiCon to me has slowly circled the drain for the last five to six years for big name comic book draws. Based on that I don’t see how having one on the west side of the state will succeed when it is a smaller populace center. Maybe being in October will make the difference instead of June during the near peak of Con season.

  2. While I agree that the Motor City Comic-Con hasn’t been all that great for the past few years, I still think it is a great event, and I have made the trip across the state for the past 15 years at least (I’m from Kalamazoo).

    That being said, I will definitely be making the trip up to Grand Rapids for this event. It may not get the draw that MCCC gets, but I think the west side of the state has a lot of potential to make this a pretty big deal, especially since MCCC has stopped their fall Con.

  3. My company held it’s first show/convention in GR last summer (and granted it wasn’t for comics) but it had a tremendous turn out. Plus GR is a really pro-art town that embraces the artistic life style. Oh, and there are some killer bars downtown, which is always a plus.

  4. “Even Grand Rapids” you say? :/

    I live here, and I guess it is the antithesis of San Diego in many ways… and not all of them bad.

    I avoid cons (and similar events) like the agoraphobia-inducing plague that they are (to me). And I’m betting I wouldn’t be welcome as an exhibitor anyway, due to the “adult” nature of my work. But I can definitely see this being a worthwhile undertaking. It’s a shame it isn’t being held downtown (this location – I had to Google it – is so suburban you have to go out past the big mall to get to it) but one has to start somewhere, I suppose.

    There have been cons in GR before this, by the way, but they’ve usually been pretty small affairs, with not much more than the local shops and some out-of-towners setting up shop and selling to their regular customers, while one or two pros from the Detroit area did sketches in the corner. Even if he’s not bringing in “name” talent as guests, this should be a step up from that, based on the artists who’ll come on their own.

  5. I’m fairly certain that this isn’t the guy’s first con. He was running the Rivertown Entertainment Expo a few years back. Whatever happened to that? It didn’t grow in the four or five events he conducted. Quite the opposite, if I’m not mistaken. Also, isn’t it kind of odd that this is arranged for a date so shortly after the upcoming Grand Con and in the same building as the GR Toy and Comic Expo, an event with which Hodges once did business? How are we ever going to have a large convention to service the fans living in Grand Rapids if these cliquish self-promoters are constantly at odds and undercutting one another?!

  6. James are they “at odds and undercutting one another” or is it just good healthy competition? Would San Diego stay big if they weren’t fighting with Wizard World?

    I’ve heard of the Toy Expo (and went to one, maybe by them) but that’s basically a toy show even if they added “comic” to it. I looked up GR Con and it seems to be heavy on gamers. I presume all of them would welcome costumed guests but Grand Rapids Comic Con is the only one that specifically says it has a costuming element to it. It seems to be the one that’s trying to be the most diverse in interests like how people think a convention would be.

    I guess someone should attend all of them and write up a comparison.

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