Detroit Fanfare Part 1: The Con

Detroit Fanfare 2010

If you live in the Detroit area and you love comics then there’s no reason you shouldn’t have come down to the Dearborn Hyatt Regency for Detroit Fanfare 2010.  I went on Saturday with my girlfriend (her first con experience) and we both had a blast!  Or rather, I had fun and whenever I asked her if she was getting bored she told me she was enjoying herself…

Anyway, after just having attended NYCC a couple of weeks ago it was great to attend a con that didn’t try to be anything that it wasn’t.  Detroit Fanfare is a small con, focusing more on the individual creators than on vendors or huge booths, and it definitely had its own small town charm.  At NYCC everyone pulls out all the stops and goes for broke, Fanfare sported a much more subtle and understated sort of dignity.

Sure, living legend Stan “The Man” Lee made an appearance as the Guest of Honor, signing and taking pictures, which definitely added some big time flash to the event but just behind him on the guest list was Jim Starlin, the Michigan-born master of the modern space opera.  Starlin’s worked on all things cosmic for both Marvel and DC and it was nice to see him recognized at Fanfare for his achievements.

On the con floor vendors weren’t screaming about sales, there weren’t any super bright flashing lights, you weren’t jostling anyone every other step.  The con was clean, the lines were short, and the Fanfare volunteers were even passing out free water to the creators.  It’s that sort of thing that shows the heart of the event. The focus was absolutely on the men and women making comics and it was refreshing getting to see local talent, people from my own area, attempting to make their mark in the world of comics.

Not only that but the con itself was so much more simple in terms of size and scale.  As opposed to the Javits Center’s megalithic amount of floorspace, you could see from one end of the Dearborn Regency Hyatt convention room to the other.  I wasn’t winded after a trek around the outside of the floor checking out all the creator booths.

But hanging out with artists, writers and creators wasn’t the only fun to be had.  The Red Cross was in attendance donating comics, given to them from vendors’ overstock piles to those who donated blood.  There was a zombie walk bright and early at 8 a.m. and those who shuffled, hobbled, and crawled their way to the con got in free!  Then there was Shots 4 Sketches, in which of-age fans could buy artists drinks for some one of a kind sketch cards.  There was a film fest, a costume contest, and tons of fun to be had by all!

Detroit Fanfare 2010 just felt more intimate than any other con I’ve been to.  When there is an emphasis on the creators instead of the vendors or big company booths, it becomes a celebration of the hometown hero instead of the international superstar.  Every original piece of artwork you buy, every self-published book you decide to pick up from a local creator helps keep that person in the comic book business.

At Fanfare you get to act as a patron of the arts, a philanthropist, a benefactor to those who are struggling to make it in a highly competitive and unforgiving medium.  Purchasing a small publishers material hopefully helps to insure an individual voice reaches the masses.  It helps to pay for the alternative comics that will push the limits of the comic art form more than Marvel, DC, or any of the other publishers ever could.

In short, I think that Detroit Fanfare was a total success.  Whether or not the attendance or monetary earnings reflects that, we’ll just have to wait and see.  I know that I had fun and my girlfriend had fun.  I got to see some of my favorite artists and creators, got some comics signed, bought some original art, and loved basking in the Pure Michigan comic fan glow.


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