On Thursday, Nov. 11 at 6:41 p.m., we received the email with news of granted press passes. After geeking out a good bit, we reached out to our one trusted dog sitter with hardly any notice. Understandably unavailable, we proceeded to Google “dog friendly hotels in Grand Rapids” after a brief browse of scarce Airbnb options.
Eve of Comic Con
Twas the night before a weekend-long, anticipated convention most people plan in advance, and the lack of accommodation availability proved they had. I’m no stranger to a time-sensitive travel challenge, and I love the eve of anything celebratory. Challenge accepted! With the help of Google, we discovered BringFido, and we booked our dog-friendly stay at 10:42 p.m.
Accommodation confirmation gives us the green light to Grand Rapids Comic Con 2021.
We arrived in Grand Rapids on Friday afternoon, greeted by West Michigan’s lake effect snow just like the good ole days trekking Grand Valley’s gorgeous campus many moons ago. Sweet nostalgia marked this first return to GR since graduating from GVSU in 2011. I already knew it was bound to be a memorable weekend.
Captain Wallace’s Artsy Adventures
Captain Wallace poses with autographed event poster.
Upon entering the magically transformed DeVos Place where Grand Rapids Comic Con was fully underway, our first real delight of a conversation was with Captain “Dragonfire” Wallace, aka Daniel Monroe. We later crossed paths and caught an epic photo of his friend, Spooky Joe.
Spooky Joe sighting amidst Grand Rapids Comic Con 2021.
The big banner for Captain Wallace caught our initial attention, where we first learned of the Michigan-based nonprofit’s goal to promote education in the arts for children of all ages. As we met and started to chat with Captain Wallace himself, we learned the history of the Artsy Adventures included hospital visits to see and spend time with children who had to stay there.
Captain Wallace’s crew can be booked to appear live at events for all ages, including school rallies and interactive social gatherings. The show can also be found on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Public Media Network, as well as Charter Cable Channel 188 or U-verse and AT&T channel 99 in Kalamazoo, MI. Ahoy! Kid-approved Artsy Adventures await, matey!
Epic Ted Talk with Terry Huddleston
Next, we enjoyed a can’t-wait-to-share conversation with Terry Huddleston, the man himself. Terry Huddleston Art is a returning Comic Con staple we always aim to find, having marveled in admiration and support of the incredible art for many years. This time, we got to spend time chatting, and mostly listening to Terry Huddleston as he shared raw words of advice full of heart. He summed up his passionate offering as an impromptu Ted Talk, and it was one that left us wowing in awe, enlightened and sizzling with newfound inspiration right then and there.
Terry Huddleston takes a moment to smile surrounded by his artwork on display.
When Terry asked how long I’d been writing for, and I said 15 years published, he exclaimed, “Ah, now that’s the sweet spot.” He vividly described this point in time as being the plumber, ass-out, just doing the thing you do, knowing you do it well. He could not have been more right, and I felt understood in that moment more than any other expression.
Terry Huddleston's Wonder Woman artwork twinning with yours truly!
If you’re an attendee of Comic Con, you know Terry Huddleston. His artwork receives instant, jaw-dropping admiration and well-deserved applause. If you get a chance to poke and prod at the artist behind these remarkable creations, Terry Huddleston serves up wisdom with sheer, honest advice that will take anyone willing to listen leaps and bounds into new realms of confidence and self-worth. Support Terry Huddleston Art, also on Facebook and Instagram.
Comix Well Spring with Greko Printing
Following that very invigorating chat with Terry, we fell upon the delight of Comix Well Spring, which presented a colorful goldmine of branded freebies. From complimentary comics to sketchbooks, notepads, and my favorite: bookmarks, of which I admittedly grabbed a few.
Comix Well Spring crew shining bright as their sunny setup!
We were thrilled to spend time chatting with the Comix Well Spring crew, including Pamela, who we learned is our Ypsilanti neighbor. Taking bets on how soon we’ll cross paths back in town!
Celebrity Guest Bob Hall: Artist & Writer for Marvel & DC
In the event that we ever receive an invite to grab coffee with Bob Hall, wherever in the world he might be at that moment in time, consider it a flight booked with accommodations figured out faster than the few hours it took to solidify our plans for Grand Rapids Comic Con 2021.
We were walking by Bob’s corner table when we saw his artwork on display as he sat alone, comfortably in his zone of creative flow as he sketched away at something we weren’t close enough to see yet. Transfixed by his calm and serene practice of the creation process, I lingered awkwardly, half observing his flow in awe, half pretending not to, trying not to be too weird.
Celebrity Guest Bob Hall ponders whimsically with several decades of his work on display.
Bob looked up when he took a pause and said hello. The conversation flowed effortlessly from there as he took us for a spin down memory lane of his many fascinating projects and collaborative efforts, including C’Rona Pandemic Comics, which I bought and he autographed.
Bob Hall shares a birthday with my mom - October 16. With 47 years and counting in his career, Bob first started at Charlton Comics in 1974. My mom was 10. Also that year, he took a course in creating comics taught by John Buscema who then recommended him to Archie Goodwin, Editor-In-Chief at Marvel.
From there, Bob Hall drew most of Marvel’s major books and characters over the next 15 years. To think all of that was just the start - a very bright beginning of his career, is beyond baffling.
It was an absolute honor and true pleasure to engage with Bob Hall and to listen firsthand as he shared how thrilling his career has been, and all the fun he’s been up to with great purpose, too. Learn more about Bob Hall and find out what he’s up to now and next at https://bobhall.com.
Seven Honorable Mentions
We absolutely loved covering Grand Rapids Comic Con 2021 with immense gratitude for all that we got to marvel at and enjoy. Here are seven honorable mentions we’d like to share:
on Instagram, Etsy & Amazon: immersive fantasy novels and art creation studio
on Etsy & Instagram: Cosplay props, D&D, MTG and more!
The Art of Arend Smith also on Facebook & Instagram
on Facebook, Instagram & TikTok
Meet Jasmine, creator and designer of mei.mango.creations
available for events & birthdays in West Michigan
on Facebook, Instagram, Patreon & more: Art of Nick Minor
on Instagram: Affordable, acrylic wall art based in San Antonio, TX
Epic send-off from dynamic duo of Gallery Panda with perpetual peace signs.
Where We Recommend You ROAM For Global Eats
Mid-convention, our tummies began to grumble. The concession line made it clear we weren’t the only ones hitting that later-than-lunchtime hangry vibe. We started to wander outside the venue when Justin spotted a restaurant called ROAM across the street, and there we went. Not knowing what to expect as we walked in, I was immediately in love with the vibe. Beautiful, colorful light fixtures hung from the super high ceiling above us.
We were seated at a window table by the bar as soon as we walked in. I was already full-blown googly-eyed at the interior design of the place. The menu presented a new wave of delight as we learned ROAM offers an array of global street food. Needless to say, if ever you find yourself hungry in Grand Rapids, we highly recommend ROAM by San Chez Bistro.
2022 Featured Events On Deck
Capital City Comic Con: July 8-10 at Lansing Center in Lansing, MI.
Grand Rapids Toy Show: March 26 and Dec. 3, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Wyoming, MI. $5 entry per person, free for kids 12 & under.
Chicago Toy Show (49th year): April 24 and July 24, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, Illinois. $10 entry per adult.
Jackson Toy Show: Feb. 5 and Nov. 5, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jackson Fairgrounds. $5 entry per person, free for kids 12 & under.
Jackson Antique & Collective Show: March 4,5 and May 13,14, Sept 30 and Oct. 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Jackson Fairgrounds. $3 entry, free for kids 12 & under.