GrandCon gaming and comics convention 2014 is officially in the books. The gaming and comics communities came together at The Crown Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI for a full on orgy of geekdom for everyone to enjoy. Founders Brian Lenz and Marc Specter worked tirelessly to make this years convention bigger and better for fans of gaming and comics. They also teamed up with the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation to give something back to the community as well.
After helping the Drunk on Comics crew set up their table, I set off to explore and get acquainted with the surroundings. My first stop was the GenCon gaming library. The library provides a wide range of games for people to check out and play. Although I haven’t been a gamer for several years, I felt nostalgia tug at my past as I came across games I hadn’t played in far too long. I also found several games that I hadn’t known existed and looked awesome! There was ample room for game play, and the library was a big hit with convention goers.
My next stop was the RPG room. Role playing games have come a long way since my days of playing D&D, Cyberpunk, and Shadowrun. Even though I wasn’t actively participating in the games, I found myself swept up and just as intent on the action as the players themselves! It was difficult, but I managed to pull myself away to continue my tour of the convention.
Down the hall and around a corner, I found the rooms for the panels that would be taking place over the weekend. After noting the times of the panels I wanted to attend, I found the Unpub room. The Unpublished Games Network had set up a place to play new, unpublished games much like a beta test for video games. I thought it was a good way for people to see where gaming was heading and provide input for game creators.
Heading back to the main convention area, I was preparing to enter my nerdtopia…. the comics section! Although GrandCon is much smaller than a San Diego or New York con, I was thrilled to see veteran comic guests like Mark McKenna and Keith Pollard. Brian and Marc had also somehow pulled Ryan Stegman, Dirk Manning, Seth DeMoose, and Pop Mhan away from the Cincinnati Comic Convention that was happening the same weekend, and for that I was ecstatic!
The smaller show allowed attendees to have a much more in-depth and personal meeting with creators, writers, and artists. There wasn’t a feeling of being pushed through to keep the line moving. There were also a number of great creators present that had some amazing stuff! Capstan Comics, Killustration Studios, the Michigan Comics Collective, JK Woodward, Kurt Kolka, Corinne Roberts, Dave Dorman, and Steve Smith to name a few. There weren’t any “major” publisher booths, but it was much easier to get commissions, prints and original art.
One thing that I think should be noted is the team of staff and volunteers. I’ve been to conventions of varying sizes, and the one thing that is easily overlooked is the crew that makes the machine run. It’s impossible to count how many times I witnessed members of the GrandCon Team making sure both the attendees as well as the exhibitors and guests were being well taken care of. I lift my glass to you all for going above and beyond what most conventions do. Cheers to all of you for a fantastic job!
Overall, I had a wonderful time at GrandCon and would recommend it to anyone, especially to people that have never been to a Convention or those who want a more intimate experience. GrandCon is a great way to explore a comic/gaming convention without being overwhelmed and feeling lost in the multitude. That won’t always be the case though as Marc, Brian and the rest of the GrandCon Team are always working to make next year even more epic!!!
Jason is a contributing writer for Drunk On Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at @jstagner1.