Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Record-setting crush of fans on hand for the Motor City Comic Con

By David Komer & Dave Herndon

NOVI — After a fan asked him which hero was stronger, Thor or the Incredible Hulk, during a Motor City Comic Convention panel Saturday, Marvel Comics legendary writer and creator Stan Lee leaned into the microphone and grinned.
“It depends who’s writing the story,” he quipped, “I’m going to let you in on a secret — you know these are fictional characters. They’re not real.”
A little later after one fan, who professed how these characters changed his life and were indeed real Lee relented.
“They’re real to me, too,” he said.
A record 30,000-plus fans might agree, as the Surburban Collection Showplace was flooded with fans from Friday through Sunday for the 24th annual convention; a celebration of all things pop culture including super heroes, villains, Star Wars, Star Trek, zombies, vampire slayers and video games.
The biggest draws were Lee, the creator behind such Marvel Comics characters as Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor and many others, and Norman Reedus, who stars as Daryl Dixon on the popular AMC TV series “The Walking Dead,” and also played one of the McManus brothers in the cult-hit “The Boondock Saints” and its sequel.
Prolific comic writer and artist George Perez was another big draw, along with the original artist on “The Walking Dead,” comics, Tony Moore. Reedus easily was the largest draw among the non-comic book related guests. Other guests from film and TV included Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”), Edward James Olmos (“Battlestar Galactica”), Eddie McClintock (“Warehouse 13”) and Cary Elwes (“The Princess Bride” and “Saw”), among others. Former professional wrestlers Maryse and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan also were

Inside stories and secrets were revealed during the various panels, including:
n McClintock told a panel that Syfy show “Warehouse 13” is being cancelled, with a six-episode farewell arc to air next year.
n Marina Sirtis, “Deanna Troi” from :Star Trek: The Next Generation,” confessed she never thought the love story with Klingon Worf was believable. She also let it be known that she is not a fan of the rebooted film series helmed by director J.J. Abrams. The second film in that series opened the same day as the convention.
n Ferrigno said the process of turning into the Incredible Hulk for the television show with makeup took three-and-a-half hours and that constant touch-ups were required.
n Olmos told fans the cast learned about a shocking twist involving characters who turned out to be Cylons in a surprise reveal before filming.
The crush of fans, combined with a lack of parking and a slow entry gate process, caused lines that wrapped around two sides of the building and meant waits of two to four hours in most cases. Traffic was congested for miles on I-96.
After a complicated wristband procedure, some fans were turned off by lack of access to Lee, who was shrouded by curtains and available only to fans who paid VIP prices to meet him. Others groused when faced with concession lines of more than an hour to buy food or get a drink.
“Bought advance tickets,” Patrick Green wrote on the convention’s Facebook page. “I waited over two hours just to get in the door. Poor planning, management, and crowd control. Just ridiculous.”
Convention founder Michael Goldman posted a note to the convention’s Facebook page apologizing to fans at about noon Tuesday.
“We would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the long wait times at our convention, particularly on Saturday,” he wrote. “We just never expected 18,000-plus people to attend that day, which was the same amount of people we had over the entire three days last year.
“We were literally hit with a ‘Humanity Bomb’ and were not prepared for the sheer number of people attending, even with a large increase in our staff. The entire MCCC staff worked non-stop to move everyone in as fast as possible, which we realize wasn’t fast enough. We learned some valuable lessons this year and are already working hard to prevent these issues from happening again.”
Long wait times didn’t extinguish the enthusiasm of fans, who, besides meeting celebrities, had a chance to comb through comic book dealers’ inventories, recapture their childhood with collectible toys from their youth or meet and buy art from local artists and nationally known comic illustrators.
Lincoln Park resident Frank Barczewski was there just to pick through long boxes of comics.
Barczewski said he comes to the event for the convention’s original intended purpose: To collect comic books, particularly back issues of hard-to-find editions.
“I’ve been coming to this since the days of Dearborn,” he said, referring to the fact the show was originally held at the Dearborn Civic Center before moving to Novi. “It’s probably been at least 20 years.”
Barczewski said his love of comics started when he was 12 years old during a trip to the mall.
“I was a big ‘Star Wars’ fan,” he said, “and I had seen that ‘Star Wars’ had comic books so I bought it from a news rack and ever since then I fell in love.”
Others came to the show simply to have fun and “geek out” with fellow fanboys and -girls.
“Despite the havoc of Saturday,” Ann Baxter said, “I will be back next year to get my nerd on again.”
Costumes were plentiful, with caped crusaders, video game characters and more.
Lorraine Schleter of Lansing, clad as Batman villain Poison Ivy, joked the costumes take as long to put on as they do to be made.
“It took me about 20 minutes to put on,” said Cassie Mangles of Okemos, who dressed as villain Harley Quinn in a red-and-black bodysuit. She and her friends stopped at a nearby restaurant’s bathroom to dress up.
“It’s just a matter of when we go to the bathroom, having to take them off to go.”
Hall of Fame professional wrestler “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan said the atmosphere was great.
“I’m fired up, I love seeing all the movie stars, costumes, pretty women and some good old fashioned wrestling stars are here,” he said.
Retired Detroit Lions receiver Herman Moore was at the convention for the first time.
“This is my first time being here and it’s fantastic,” he said. “To see all the stars that are here and to stop by and see the Hardcore Pawn (guests).
“I was a big ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica’ fan,  I watched a lot of wrestling. To see some of the greats was great.
“To see all the comic books, I wish my mom hadn’t thrown out all my comic books, I’m kind of hating her right now.”
Despite the long lines and the waits, some fans were happy just to have had the chance to meet Lee.
“I know everyone is complaining about the lines,” Rebekah Prist wrote. “I waited about three hours from start to finish to get my picture and an autograph with Stan Lee. However, what you gave me was a memory.
“My 5-year-old asked him if Spider-man was real. Stan told him yes, he is, and he is a good guy, too. Thank you for the wonderful memory.”

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Long lines to see Stan Lee, Norman Reedus plague Motor City Comic Con Saturday

Legendary comic book writer Stan Lee addresses about 1,000 people
 that assembled to see him during a panel discussion
 Saturday at the Motor City Comic Con. (Photo by Dave Herndon.)
Novi – Hurry up and wait, that’s what nearly everyone had to do Saturday at the Motor City Comic Con.
The pop culture convention celebrated its 24th year with a bang, though it was one that the facility and staff were unable to handle quickly according to fans in attendance. The convention played host to both legendary comic book writer Stan Lee, the creator behind Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor and many others and also to Norman Reedus, who stars as Daryl Dixon on the popular AMC television show “The Walking Dead.”
SLIDESHOW: Photos from day two at the Motor City Comic Con.
Warehouse 13 panel.
The draw of those two, along with more than 150 other comic book writers, creators and artists, along with popular professional wrestlers, models and both television and film stars brought fans in droves. Lines stretched around two sides of the Suburban Collection Showplace with wait times of up to two hours just to get in the parking lot, fans then waited another 1-4 hours to get in the doors. Due to the building hosting two other events, and the construction of a large on-site hotel, parking was also an issue. Some fans said that they parked as much as a mile away and walked to the convention, only to be faced with the line to get in. Traffic was backed up for miles along I-96 near Beck Road, the exit for the convention center.
New this year was a “pre-order” ticket sales approach, which offered fans the chance to pay extra to pre-order a ticket and not have to wait in line. Do to some snafu, even fans with preordered tickets had to wait in line to get in.
“Bought advance tickets,” Patrick Green wrote on the conventions Facebook wall. “I waited over two hours just to get in the door. Poor planning, management, and crowd control. Just ridiculous.”
Once inside, fans were faced with record crowds, and once again – long lines to see the stars with the biggest draw.
“I gotta say this was indeed the worst con experience I've ever had,” wrote Andrea Chilkiewicz.
Not all of the fans were upset though, some were happy just to have had the chance to meet Lee.
“I know everyone is complaining about the lines,” Rebekah Prist wrote. “I waited about 3 hours from start to finish to get my picture and an autograph with Stan Lee. However, what you gave me was a memory.
“My 5 year old asked him if Spiderman was real. Stan told him yes he is, and he is a good guy too. Thank you for the wonderful memory.”
Another fan was just happy to be in the room with Reedus, she was gushing to someone on the other end of the phone that she could see him and about how “cute” he was. She was more than 2 hours away from getting close enough to talk with him.
Aside from the crowd control and parking issues the rest of the convention carried on as planned.
The convention will re-open at 10:30 a.m. and run through 5 p.m. Crowds are expected to lessen since Lee’s appearance was for Saturday only. Reedus and the rest of the guests are all scheduled to return.
RELATED: Photos from day one at the Motor City Comic Con.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Always trust a stranger with free comic books

Recently, I wrote about Free Comic Book Day, which was May 4. In that piece, I wrote about how much fun I had attending celebrations at two Downriver stores and another in Dearborn.
 I also mentioned how through a completely random happenstance I didn’t manage to grab a copy of the free “Star Wars” title that was being handed out among the dozens of titles.

In steps a complete stranger, David Flynn, who owns The Pack Shack, 23589 Van Born Road, in Taylor. I had never met Flynn before, nor did I even know of his shop.
RELATED: Free Comic Book Day photos.
He called me the day after my column ran in the paper, identified himself as being from Taylor and I immediately tried to pass him off to a co-worker. Not that I was trying to be rude, but I don’t normally cover Taylor. That falls to David Komer, and our desk phone numbers are only one number different. Due to sharing a first name and such similar phone numbers, we often get calls for each other.
After listening to me tell him he had the “wrong Dave,” he explained that he was calling for me. He told me that he also operated a comic shop, and that he hadn’t run out of “Star Wars” books, and that he’d put one away for me until I could stop by to pick it up.
I thanked him and hung up the phone. Never did he mention money, despite Free Comic Book Day having already passed.
A few hours later I raced over to his shop, which sits on the city limits of Taylor and Dearborn Heights. I walked into the store and was greeted by one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
 I hadn’t been planning to stay long. It was already after 5 p.m. and I have a long drive to get home, but we struck up a conversation.
First, we talked about comics, new stories, older storylines, our favorite writers, and, eventually, we got around to politics and life in general.
Eventually one of Flynn’s regular customers —Shawn Cady— came into the store and joined the conversation. Cady, I later found out, recently published his first book, “The Heart of Darkness.” He gave me a copy and asked for my opinion on it. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m looking forward to it one day soon.
We ended up talking for close to 90 minutes, and he also gave me one of the HeroClix statues that was put out for Free Comic Day in conjunction with the new movie “Iron Man 3.” I’m not someone who plays the HeroClix game, but the figure is going to look really cool on my desk next to my other items.
I hadn’t even known Flynn’s shop existed, didn’t mention him in the report when I wrote about the other three local shops, yet he still was kind enough to reach out and make sure I got the book I was missing.
That’s why I love comic book people. Other facets of society may look down on us, but we really are “good people.” Everyone is always looking out for their fellow comic lovers. If only the rest of society acted as such.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Local filmmaker to screen at Motor City Comic Con

Michael Petersen has had a thing for zombies ever since he saw his first George A. Romero film when he was 7 years old.
Petersen at his booth during the 2012 Motor City Comic Con.

Petersen, originally from Melvindale, went on to see more and more zombie flicks. Eventually,  Romero’s “Dead Anthology,” which consists of several movies written and directed by the filmmaker, inspired Petersen, 28, to write his own series of short films. Those shorts have gone on to bring him more than a dozen awards on the independent film circuit, and now another honor.
The first two shorts, aptly titled chapter one and chapter two of “The Last Broadcast,” will be screened during this weekend’s Motor City Comic Con in Novi.
“The idea originally started when I first got into the genre,” Petersen said. “I became extremely fascinated with the concept of these extremely simple antagonists populating our society and slowly starting to literally devour us and transform our society. That’s where my main obsession with zombies came from.”
It wasn’t until television network AMC released “The Walking Dead” in 2010 that Petersen decided to go into production with an idea that had been fermenting for several years.
“I always told everyone that if I was going to do something zombie-related that I wasn’t going to go conventional,” he said. “I wanted to find something that hadn’t been thought of. It’s been six years now that I’ve been developing the idea for ‘TLB.’ It was a long process of trying to get the ideas and characters together.”
The series was first brought from the page to an audience when Petersen was working on finishing an associate’s degree at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn. As part of his audio editing class, he had to produce a short segment to demonstrate several audio editing techniques. Rather than just do a class project, his group decided to produce a portion of the screenplay for “The Last Broadcast.”
“The instructor, and everyone in the class really loved it,” he said. “That’s when we decided to make the short rather than wait around for funding.”
Each chapter is paid for as it goes, with very little budget involved in the process.
“I pay for everything,” Petersen said. “Whatever money I’m able to toss in for the budget is all we have. A few supporters give us a couple of dollars every so often, maybe $20, but mostly it’s just what I can pay.”
Shortly after making the decision to self-fund the project, he founded Dark Forces Pictures LLC, the company that officially produces the films.
Dark Forces had a display at the 2012 convention, but after some thought, Petersen said,  he just couldn’t spend the money to buy a table again this year.
“It was really cool being there last year,” he said. “We met a lot of people and found out that some already knew about us and were fans, but for what a table goes for there, I can film an entire chapter of ‘TLB.’
“Instead of getting the table, we decided to apply to screen the film, and we were accepted.”
Petersen said that while “The Last Broadcast” has a few similarities to other films of the genre, it still is decidedly different.
“It has the drama that most zombie films have,” he said. “The typical gore and action sequences to get the blood pumping. What makes it different is that it’s not a chemical spill or a rabid animal with a disease; the origin of the infection is linked to what’s going on in society. I don’t want to give away too much, but it’s linked to al-Qaida.
“I’ve never seen this before. If you’re a huge fan of the genre, you can usually tell what’s going to happen next. I’ve never seen a more believable concept.”
Finding actors who will work for free or close to it is another challenge the writer-director has to tackle during production.
“Most of us in the independent film circle help each other out,” he said. “If I’m not in production and someone needs it, I’ll go work on their project. It’s the only way we can pay each other.”
“The Last Broadcast”  originally was planned as a 10-part saga, but due to expanding some of the script, Petersen is expecting to go closer to 12 episodes.
Production already has wrapped on the third chapter of the series and Petersen plans to start filming the next three chapters at the same time in the fall.
“Chapters 4, 5 and 6 all have the same cast, so we’re hoping to shoot them all at once,” he said.
After finishing at Henry Ford with a degree in film, Petersen has moved on to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, where he is working on a bachelor’s degree in film studies.
The convention is the largest show of its type in the state, bringing in comic book writers, artists, filmmakers and other pop-culture icons to the Suburban Collection Showcase, 46100 Grand River Road. Nestled among the rows of dealers selling comics and people seeking autographs will be a screening room where several movies will be shown multiple times during the event.
The other movies to be screened include “The Sheik,” about the career of the former professional wrestler of the same name; “Battles, Bouts and Brawls — The Story of Pro Wrestling in Detroit and the Surrounding Area”;  and “Detroit Television Memories.”
The convention also is bringing in comic book legend Stan Lee and Norman Reedus of “The Walking Dead” this year. Helping to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the British science fiction TV show will be former “Doctor Who” star Colin Baker. More than two dozen other film and television stars, along with dozens of comic book creators, will be on hand.
The convention runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday and tickets are $25 per day or $60 for a three-day pass. Children ages 6 to 12 get in for $10 per day or $20 for the weekend. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.
Visit Facebook.com/dfpictures for more information about Dark Forces Pictures.

Motor City Comic Con celebrates 24th year with guest Stan Lee

Tom Savini at the 2012 MCCC.
 NOVI — It’s the biggest event of its type in the state, and it’s happening this weekend at the Suburban Collection Showplace.

The Motor City Comic Con opens Friday and runs until Sunday at the convention center.
Appearing for a Saturday only will be Marvel Comics legendary writer and editor Stan Lee. Creator of such characters as The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men and the Avengers, among others, Lee, 90, is truly a legend in the industry.
This will mark the first appearance for Lee at the Motor City Comic Con, he did, however,  appear in 2010 at the inaugural Detroit FanFare, which is hosted at the Adoba hotel in Dearborn by the Taylor-based Wonderland Comics.
Photos from 2012 MCCC.
“I couldn’t let my friends at Motor City be culturally deprived any longer,” said Lee, who is still known for his quick wit.
“We are very excited and honored to have Stan Lee appearing at the Motor City ComicCon this year,” convention promoter Michael Goldman said. “Stan is a living legend in the pop culture world and the comic book industry would not be what it is today without him.”
Television and film guests include, among many others, Norman Reedus, who portrays Daryl on AMC’s “The Walking Dead”; Nicholas Brendon,  who is best known for playing Xander Harris in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”; Edward James Olmos, who starred in “Battlestar Galactica”; and Tom Savini, who most recently appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” and was a professional makeup effects artist for films such as George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead.”
“I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Norman Reedus,” Allen Park resident Robert Santos said while waiting in line for free comic books at Big Ben’s Comix Oasis May 4. “I’ve been a huge fan of the (“Walking Dead”) comics for years, and I love the show. Daryl is the best character on the show.”
It will be the first Michigan appearance for Brendon, who was an integral part of “The Avengers,” director Joss Whedon’s first foray into science fiction television with Buffy.
“Xander was a great role,” said Brendon, 42, a resident of Venice, Calif. “He was an insecure kid who used humor to make sense of some crazy … stuff. I think he helped ground things. He wasn’t a witch or a werewolf or a vampire. He was just a guy. That speech with Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg in the final season), when I tell her I see more than anybody realizes. That’s Xander’s character development in a line.”
Goldman said the annual event has seen massive growth in attendance throughout its history and he expects nearly 20,000 attendees for this year’s show
The Detroit area is a unique setting for a comic convention, he added, given the medium’s popularity in the region.
“What sets Detroit apart is that it’s a huge comic book market,” Goldman said. “We still have more comic book stores per capita of any major city in the country.”
The Motor City ComicCon is at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Ave., Novi (between Novi and Beck roads). Hours are 12:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission tickets are $27 a day for those 13 and older; $58 for three days for those 13 and older; $11 a day for children 6-12; $22 for three days for children 6-12; free for children 5 and younger all weekend; and free for children 12 and younger  Sunday only. Proof of age may be required.
For more information, call 1-248-426-8059 or visit motorcitycomiccon.com.
(Kurt Anthony Krug contributed to this report.)
Contact Staff Writer Dave Herndon at 1-734-246-0867 or dherndon@heritage.com. Follow him on Facebook and @NHDaveH on Twitter.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A fan’s guide to a busy day at three local comic book stores

Free Comic Book Day is one of the biggest “holidays” in nerd culture. It’s a day that, not only gives us free comics, but also draws us together and allows us to have fun, interact and meet some of our heroes.
Stores across the country hand out comics for free, but most also make an event out of it, as well, bringing in writers, artists and other people from within the industry to make going to the store like a miniature convention of sorts. What follows is a guide of how Free Comic Books Day 2013 went for one fan who also happens to be a journalist.
RELATED: See slideshow from Free Comic Book Day
1 a.m. I tweet that it is officially #FCBD, before heading to bed. It’ll be an early start if I’m to fit everything in that I have planned.
7:45 a.m. Alarm goes off. I’m at home in Toledo, Ohio. My plan is to make it to Green Brain Comics in Dearborn in time for its opening at 10 a.m. First, I need to shower and have breakfast.
8:15 a.m. I decide to check some of my social media accounts before breakfast to see if anyone I know is waiting in line somewhere yet. No one has said anything about being in line, but lots of people are tweeting about where they will be to start the day.
9:15 a.m. Spent too much time on the Internet, will have to skip breakfast and readjust plan as I won’t make it to Green Brain on time. New plan is to head to Big Ben’s Comix Oasis in Allen Park first. It isn’t opening until 11 a.m.
9:20 a.m. Have to turn the car around and head home. I’ve left my camera on the stand by my computer.

9:24 a.m. Stuck at a train on my way to the highway. This isn’t working out to be a great morning just yet.
10:20 a.m. Arrive at Big Ben’s with about 40 minutes until it opens. The door is unlocked, so I walk in. Normally, that wouldn’t be an issue, they know me well there, but I’ve brought my mom and stepsister along to help me get a major haul of free books since each store limits how many you can get and there are a lot of titles available.
I explain that they are with me and everything is fine, but at least three store employees had tried to tell them the store wasn’t open yet in the 15 seconds before I explained.
10:30 a.m. I begin snapping a few test shots and talk with a few of the guests who were invited to the shop for the day. Among them is an artist from Huron Township; in the art world, she goes by “Elle.” We strike up a brief conversation where I find out that she wanted to be a journalist before getting a “real” job and doing art on the side. Another of the guests is a man I met at the Motor City Comic Con last year. He’s from Belleville and runs a printing company in Taylor. We briefly catch up.
10:45 a.m. The crowd is beginning to get large outside the store. Everything is ready on the inside so I pop out to mingle with the crowd and get a few photos. Owner John “Big Ben” Davis has just gone out and given away toys for the children waiting in line.
10:55 a.m. I ask Davis if he minds if I grab my three books a bit early so that I can concentrate on getting pictures as the doors open. He agrees, and tells me to grab a few others if any interest me. I got the four “must” haves, which included a “Star Wars” book. It is also Star Wars’ Day after all. Unfortunately, the book slips out of my bag and we don’t notice until later.
11 a.m. They open the doors and things begin to get a bit hectic as there are about 250 people waiting in line. The crowd starts to move through the store quickly. Some customers grab the free books and leave, others stick around and browse through the rest of the store inventory.
11:15 a.m. After getting a couple dozen photos, it’s time to move on. I exit through the rear of the building and start to head to my car. That’s when I see a large group of people painting the Veterans of Foreign Wars building, which shares an alley with the store.
Being that I normally cover Allen Park, I walk down to see what’s going on. It was members of the Allen Park High School Interact Club doing community service. I snap a couple of pictures and move on.
11:25 a.m. Time to head to Green Brain. Sadly, I haven’t ever made my way over there, despite working Downriver and in Dearborn for almost two years now. I’m hoping to catch Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly as he was supposed to stop by and give a speech.
11:45 p.m. We arrive at Green Brain and I find out that I missed O’Reilly by about five minutes. Instead, I begin to talk with some of the guests and customers milling about in the parking lot. There are a lot of great people here. It’s almost two hours since the store opened and the crowd hasn’t thinned much from what I’m told.
12:10 p.m. Time to head inside to get my three free books and snap some more pictures. Space is a bit cramped inside, but the crowd is courteous.
12:40 p.m. Time for lunch. We’re all starving since we already skipped breakfast. We head back Downriver and decide to stop at Charlie’s in Lincoln Park. All three of us get the breakfast buffet. I’m surprised to find out that eggs are made to order with the buffet.
1:25 p.m. One more non-comic related stop. Since I’m near the place, I decide to pop in to the quilt show the Allen Park Historical Society is putting on. I can grab some pictures, and a relative of Thomas Jefferson is supposed to be there. I’m excited to meet her.
1:30 p.m. However, Jefferson’s ancestor canceled at the last minute, so I snap some pictures and mingle for a few minutes. Now, it’s time to head to another comic shop.
1:45 p.m. I arrive at WonderWorld Comics in Taylor, just pulling into the parking lot I can tell this is a big party. There are several costume-clad people waving passers-by in by the street, and owner Dennis Barger is riding around on a minibike. There is a bagpipe player walking around the parking lot, and there also are a disc jockey and a large Lego display.
2 p.m. After catching up to everything outside, Barger tells me to go ahead inside and get anything I want off the free wall. I head in and continue snapping pictures. The number of people dressed as pop culture icons is amazing, and there are a lot of industry guests in the store.
2:20 p.m. I finally decide to snag some comics, but I stick to the five allotted to regular customers.
2:30 p.m. Speedpainter Dave Santia is about to perform. I’ve seen him paint on video before, but never in person. The painting takes him less than 5 1/2 minutes and is better than anything I could do in a week. I’m duly impressed and stunned.
2:45 p.m. My stepsister discovers that the “Star Wars,” book is not in the bag from earlier, so we ask if we can get one from WonderWorld. The store is out, but Barger tells me that if he finds one he’ll save it for me. I’m grateful.
3 p.m. We decide to go have some fun and head to Play Atlantis in Melvindale. It reminds me of the arcades that I only really know of from movies and TV shows, since I grew up in a world with home consoles.
4:15 p.m. I decide to check back at Big Ben’s to see if I can get my missing “Star Wars” book there. They tell me they found it earlier, but didn’t know it was mine and put it back on the shelf. They are also out. Looks like I’ll go home without one of my prized books.
4:40 p.m. We stop at the office so I can copy the photos I took to a flash drive and return the staff camera. Mom sees my desk for the first time and tells me that it’s an embarrassing mess.
We end up spending the next three hours cleaning and organizing my desk.
9 p.m. I arrive home and start editing photos and video. I spend the next five hours working on that stuff.

All-in-all, it was a great day. I shot more than 100 photos, recorded a video and got a bunch of free comic books. What more could a comic fan ask for? Oh yeah, next week is Comic Con, where I’ll be back in “nerd heaven.”