Second Annual Midwest Media Expo
The second annual Midwest Media Expo took place at the Detroit Renaissance Center April 10th-12th . This was my first time attending and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Below is a recap of my weekend at the expo.
After meeting with the press staff, we headed to the opening ceremony. This is something you won’t find at other conventions, such as a comic con. There was an MC on stage guiding the event with great charisma while he introduced the media guests that would be appearing at various functions throughout the weekend. There was a large crowd gathered, the lights were dim, and the energy of the room was high. Michele Ivey of Cowabunga Corner took the stage to get everyone excited for her weekend talks on all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Akira Yamaoka, the composer of the Silent Hill music appeared and with the help of an interpreter graciously thanked the city of Detroit for having him and expressed his excitement for his forthcoming concert at the event. Guest after guest greeted the audience and were met with great applause from their fans.
The Dead Pool Cafè
After leaving the opening ceremony we made our way to an on site restaurant, 42 Degrees North, to experience The Dead Pool Cafè. This was a truly unique experience as cosplayers dressed as Dead Pool, gender-bent Dead Pool, and poor outnumbered Spider-Man served costumed lunch guests tacos and margaritas. The entertainment was unscripted antics of multiple Dead Pools chasing each other, falling on the ground, and generally just having a good time.
Autographs work differently at this convention than others I have been to. All autographs are free. This is a throwback to my childhood where I cannot remember ever paying for an autograph. This was a welcome change of pace. I checked the schedule and headed to the area of where guests would be signing. It was not a militarized line of people slogging their way to the front. It was more of a casual meet and greet where fans got to really spend some time with their heroes.
First on my list was Natasha Allegri, creator of Bee and Puppycat. Ms. Allegri was very kind and appreciative of everyone that came to see her. She drew a little sketch of Bee and we chatted for a minute. A wonderful time.
Next we spoke with David Eddings (Voice of Claptrap and VP of Gearbox) and Jon St. John (Voice of Duke Nukem). These two were a blast to talk to. They often had crowds around them just watching them playfully interact with each other.
Later in the weekend we had a chance to catch up with cabaret musician, Voltaire, at his table. He had an incredibly long line of fans and was delighted to meet every one of them.
Outside of the autograph area was a small selection of vendors. There was also a much larger room nearby full of vendors selling art, action figures, hard to find music and movies and all sorts of geeky crafts. One of the tables was selling Ocarinas from the Legend of Zelda games and putting on impromptu musical performances with them.
The Harp Twins are two very talented harp wielding sisters that put on a great show. They are incredibly popular on YouTube with their harp covers of Slayer and other bands. We had a chance to catch up with them after their performance where they chatted with fans and provided words of encouragement to budding musicians.
Steam Powered Giraffe is a wonderfully unique show as the musical robots on stage are assisted by The Walter Workers and a multimedia experience on screens behind them.
Voltaire is a seasoned musician and entertainer that playfully interacted with the crowd during renditions of his songs like “Brains” and one particularly fun song about the Star Trek Universe (U.S.S. Make Sh*t Up). He is truly a geek in the best way possible. He invited the audience up on stage to close the show out with a group singalong to his popular song “When you’re evil”.
We attended IT in the D‘s panel to hear them talk about their organization and what they’ve accomplished here in Detroit over the past years. They are responsible for helping place 1200 job seekers in positions in the IT field not to mention running a wildly popular weekly podcast. You can attend their monthly, free IT social networking events. The best way I can describe their show is they are to IT what Top Gear is to car reviews. A sometimes comedic, sometimes serious and knowledgeable crew.
Dead State Pavillion brought an entire arcade with them, consoles, PCs, and obscure arcade games like Flip the Table. The arcade room was always buzzing with activity.
There was also a traditonal tabletop gaming room with all manner of card games. Everyone had a good time here taking a quiet break from the rest of the convention.
There were scheduled cosplay gatherings in the Wintergarden of the Ren Cen which provided a beautiful backdrop for costumed lovers of their fandom of choice to not only get together but be photographed professionally. We witnessed a League of Legends cosplay gathering with excellent costuming and plenty of good humored exchanges between walking embodiments of the characters from the very popular video game.
After groups were done photographing in the Wintergarden they would make their way outside to the beautiful Riverwalk just behind the Ren Cen. There you could find costumed characters, Detroiters on bikes and rollerbladers stopping by to ask what is going on. There were a lot of fishermen on boats casting lines into the water and catching a glimpse of a blue Navi from Zelda running around proclaiming the need for everyone to stop and “hey listen!”.
The cosplay contest was an excellent chance to catch some of the best costume examples in one place. There were video game characters, anime characters, and plenty of others. I enjoyed the larger than life Frankenberry 2.0 as well as Vampy LOL Cosplays Halo Samurai armor made almost entirely from paper. The first picture below is of the winners of the cosplay contest from all of the different levels of competition.
Something that wasn’t on the schedule was the safe place Midwest Media Expo provides those who would not normally come out of their shells in a public gathering. Talking with people dressed as their favorite character they explained that this is a place they feel comfortable and have a sense of belonging. There is no judging one another and everyone greets you as an old friend. The shy kid in class might be running around dressed as Link from Legend of Zelda and having the time of their life. You would never know that they are deeply introverted and conventions like MMX are one of the places that they can shine by being who they truly are; creative, intelligent fans of their particular fandoms. It’s not all perfect though and attendees should be wary and careful even while at a convention like this. It is after all a public place.
The Ren Cen is such a large place it’s hard to tell how many people are at the convention at any one time. With room after room of panels, discussions, and cosplay gatherings there seemed to be an endless amount of activities and they didn’t stop in the early evening like other conventions. The party literally kept going throughout the night with get togethers, dances, and 18 and up panels later in the evening. All in all we had a great time and will definitely plan a trip to next years convention as well as MMX’s big brother Youmacon in October.
You can find a video tour of the convention below
Pictures from the event are at the gallery below
Find more videos from the event at our YouTube page
A big thank you to the entire staff of Midwest Media Expo, Adam Herbstreit from Wolverine Lake Films, Katie O’Rear of Katie O’Rear Model, Kendrix Lauzon of Kendrix Lauzon Model, and the entire Motor City Geek team (Rob, Krista, Scott, Melissa, and Drew).