This past weekend, we had the pleasure of returning to the Grand Rapids Comic Con (GRCC) for the first time in two years. Grand Rapids Comic Con is usually next to last in our comic cons for the year, but it fell on a later date than usual so we got to end this year with a local con. Held at the Devos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, GRCC is a smaller con, but it has seen continual growth over the 6 years the show’s been happening. It’s one of the few cons that manages to perfectly blend the stars of yesterday with guests that are up and coming. This is what makes GRCC one of our must visit cons, and what led to us going back this year.
We missed the first day of GRCC, but rolled in strong on Saturday. Saturdays are typically the busiest day of the entire weekend, and presents a great opportunity for both cosplay photos, and interviews with attendees. There was plenty of cool and unique cosplay on display, and a great mix of artists and creators filling artist alley. The media guests were pretty solid, but there weren’t any big standout names, and majority of the most popular media guests are pretty much main stays on the comic con circuit. That’s not a deal breaker by any means, but I was also expecting a bit more this year from GRCC. That last sentence could actually be used to describe the entire con though, now that I’m thinking about it.
Don’t get me wrong, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at GRCC and would return in a heartbeat. This year, things just felt a little off, is all. Even the guest list left a little to be desired, as there was no clear headliner in the midst of everyone attending. In fact, I would argue that maybe that was one of the larger issues this year. The guest list was a bit lacking. I would look at this as an opportunity to take the next step and really move the comic con into the next level. I’m not saying that GRCC needs to try to be as big as other cons in the area, or in the nation, but imagine having a modern star agree to appear exclusively at this con. The largest crowds during the con were around newer YouTube guests, while most of the retro acts watched from empty booths. This isn’t necessarily a condemnation of a fading star, but rather an indication of a slight disconnect between the show runners and their target audience.
There are several things that GRCC did and continues to do very well, and that is what overshadows any critique I may have of the show. One of the biggest things that I love about GRCC is the fact that it’s so family friendly. There’s a dedicated area for children, and it’s not just super heroes and costumes, but rather Legos and robotics. There was also a new section for a puppeteer/cosplay company called ‘Squirrels Creations’ that had a pretty legit experience running for the kids during the show. If you’re a military veteran or active member of the military, GRCC gives you discounts off the price of admission which is also something that’s really cool to see.
Overall, spending time at Grand Rapids Comic Con was a great wind-down for our comic con season. We got to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and continue to spread the word of Nerd News into the masses. While this year’s show may not have blown us away like some in the past have, we would definitely say that GRCC is still a con you have to experience. In fact, I’m already looking forward to see what next year brings.