Comic Con Rookie: Stan Lee, The Walking Dead, Lois Lane and “The Last Train to Clarksville”

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Somewhere between good dad and voyeur-geek you’ll find me.  The 24th Motor City Comic Con was this weekend at the local expo center and my son was interested.  No big surprise.  The popularity of the new generation The Avengers, The Dark Knight coupled with my generation’s Star Wars fan-base and going back another generation to Star Trek and Dr. Who, there was something for everyone there.  I’d never gone, not really liking crowds or costumed folks sneaking up on me.  But I agreed.

The bigger surprise was that my daughter and her friend wanted to go.  

Two guests were the reason that the attendance jumped from 18,000 last year to 30,000 this year.  90 year-old Stan Lee and 44 year-old, but relatively unknown until he started bow-hunting zombies, Norman Reedus.  The father of Marvel Comics was only there on Saturday and we were going on Sunday due to various family conflicts.

Saturday night I’d heard the horror stories that had nothing to do with any walking dead–if you don’t count folks standing in line for three hours.  The traffic on the interstate was backed up for 20 minutes, then people were told after the wait that the parking lot was full and they’d need to go elsewhere.  We bought our “advanced entry” tickets online for $27 instead of $25 and got there 30 minutes early to see this:

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No problem, it’s probably just around the corner.

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Err…maybe the other corner.  But no matter.  It was a nice day and people were in a good mood.  It’s the difference you find in line for a roller coaster compared to the post office.

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Friendly crowd-wranglers with megaphones herded us into the correct lines.  The very long line was for us early-entry ticket-holders that were promised entry at the door at 10 instead of 10:30.  My little bit of panic began when I noticed that the “pay at the door” line was much shorter.  But right at 10 we started moving and kept moving until we were inside the air-conditioned, stormtrooper-guarded building.

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And people were still smiling.

Once inside, I was torn between the “stuff” on the left (comics, artwork, t-shirts, toys) and the “guests” on the right.  As an avid collector of Mad magazines, I was curious to see if my stash had grown in value.  But that’s what eBay is for.  I turned away from the flea market and decided to check out the “waxworks.”

I’d looked over the program and saw a ton of names but didn’t really process them until I was walking by their tables.

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I wonder how many times Margot has had people tell her that it’s a good thing there’s lead in the table, otherwise they’d shout out “pink!”

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And poor Ernest Thomas who’s had to endure “Hey, Hey, Hey Rog!”

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And Miss Yvonne has heard enough Pee Wee Herman impersonations to make this look permanent.

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Timmy and a Lassie stand-in was there for the old-timers.

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And even Mickey Dolenz doing his best Fr. Guido Sarducci impersonation.

Three take-aways from the day…

#1  Restroom Aberration

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The entry on the left is for ladies.  This is the only major event I’ve ever attended where there was a long line for the men and fast-pass for the women.

#2 Universal Acceptance

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There probably aren’t a lot of places where you’ll hear dads with tattoos on their shin say, “Yeah, son, you look amazing in those red tights.”

#3 “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May”

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No, this is not a line to see the president.  This is the line to pay $30 for an autograph and to shake hands with the most popular scruffy redneck since Josh Hollaway’s Sawyer on Lost.


I remember going to “Van-Tasia” at the Pontiac Silverdome as a 12 year-old to catch a glimpse of Henry Winkler from across the stadium as Fonzie had to be snuck in disguised as a security guard to say hello  the screaming fans.  A few people were there to see the shag-carpeted vans, but most were there to catch a glimpse of Arthur Fonzarelli.

Just a few booths away from The Walking Dead’s Daryl, with no line, watches a Monkee without Davey Jones, Lois Lane without Superman and a L.A. teenager without Rerun.


For the second time in a week, after seeing Jake Gatsby’s floating corpse tribute to WIlliam Holden’s opening shot, I’m reminded of Sunset Boulevard and Billy Wilder’s great lines:

“You used to be big.”

“I am big.  It’s the pictures that got small.”

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These guys were still smiling five hours later and probably weren’t in the mood for a philosophical perspective of their dad–particularly my daughter’s friend in the middle who was a true Dr. Who fan.  And what could be a better symbol of the spirit of this day–giant crowd and everything–than a time-traveler?

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About Kevin Walsh

Kevin began in 2013 as an experiment that was as simple as "What's a blog?" and ended up becoming a forum for fellow writers. He's been a high school teacher for 28 years and worked as an administrator and instructor in colleges for 10 years since then. Contact him at: He is also the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His high school media production text, "Video Direct," has been used in 40 states--and he occasionally still sells a few. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two kids Aidan and Abby who have all graciously allowed him to write about them on occasion.

4 Responses to Comic Con Rookie: Stan Lee, The Walking Dead, Lois Lane and “The Last Train to Clarksville”

  1. Robert Phillips says:

    So jealous, although seeing Margot Kidder in real life would make me a bit nervous.

  2. Joe M says:

    Great story Kevin. What did you find out about your collection?

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      It took me a while to find any Mads at all, Joe. When I finally found them, I was pleased to see even mid-1970’s issues were $20-$30. (Of course, no one’s buying so they might be worth as much as my Bicentennial beer cans!) Some of the 1950 and 1960 cans were over $200 each. (I called home and told Patrice to move them out of the basement flood-zone!)