Flint, MI — For nine hours on Saturday, August 7, 2021 Flint was full of superheroes, monsters, villains, and many, many comic books. That’s because the Dort Federal Credit Union played host to Really Cool Comic Con, and according to event organizer Mike Blagborne, it was his most successful con yet.
“We have more cosplayers and vendors than the past two cons we hosted outside of Flint combined,” said Blagborne, holding the lobby door open while Scully from Monsters, Inc. ducked inside.
The lobby featured photo ops with a Really Cool Comic Con backdrop and the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo.
“I’m just really proud so many people came out,” said Blagborne, “and I’m so happy to see so many families here, especially after COVID.”
Two children ran over to lean on a plush Scooby Doo sitting near the psychedelic van while their mom pulled out her phone to snap a picture. “To see kids light up,” said Blagborne, “it’s just so nice to be part of that.”
On the same floor there was also a bank of old-school gaming systems (the original Playstation, PS3, XBOX 360, Gamecube) where a few gamers were trying their hand at Mortal Combat and other classics.
A vendor called Nebula Amusements was positioned nearby, touting an augmented reality dodgeball game called Hado which is currently hosted at Legacy 925 in Oxford, MI.
“Well, it’s like dodgeball, but you throw balls of fire, Dragon Ball Z-style,” said Mike Castro, the founder and CEO of Nebula Amusements.
Castro, who hails from Flint and is a union rep for General Motors as well, said though he couldn’t set up the game at Really Cool Comic Con this time (he registered late and it requires a lot of space), he was just thrilled that cons were coming back at all.
“Yeah, we’ve been hurting through COVID,” Castro said. His business, which also sells anime board games, had to cancel most of their event bookings for 2020 and early 2021 due to the pandemic.
The backdrop to Castro’s table was the arena’s seats overlooking the vendor floor, a great vantage for friends Jordane Hutley and Lexie Benn, both 15, to discuss the day’s cosplayers.
“We just think anime culture is awesome,” offered Hutley on why the pair came to the event, “And we wanted to see everyone’s cool costumes.”
Hutley and Benn confirmed their favorite costume so far was Bakugo, a character from “My Hero Academia,” a Japanese manga series.
Both girls were delighted that Really Cool Comic Con was being hosted in their hometown.
“We never expected a con to come to Flint,” said Benn. “It’s super cool it’s near here.”
Down on the vendor floor, cosplayers and vendors mingled over the latter’s wares, which included everything from figurines and posters, to wands, trading cards, jewelry, and work shirts with personalized patches from Batman’s “Wayne Enterprises” and Jurassic Park.
And then, of course, there were comics.
Comic book collector and vendor, Mark Rashow said he was flying through his Marvel comic stock all day, likely thanks to the popularity of the franchise’s films. “But I started collecting with Classics Illustrated,” he said, waving to his wall of “Classics Illustrated” comic books, which aimed to introduce the literary canon (think “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”) to young audiences and started in 1941.
Rashow said this was his first con since the COVID-19 shutdown in 2020, and he was happy to be back. “It’s been good,” he said from behind a table of white comic boxes. “It’s a nice, relaxing day.”
Guests of the con seemed to agree with Rashow. Friends Russell Kela and Andrew Hildner, dressed as characters from The Rescue Rangers, were more than happy to pose for photos when complimented on their attire.
“We usually go to four or five cons a year,” said Kela, “so we’re just so excited to be out and about.” Hildner confirmed the pair hadn’t gone to a con since 2019 due to the pandemic.
“It’s like, how do I not talk to everyone like they’re my eighth grade crush?” Kela laughed, saying that’s just how happy he is to be around other cosplayers again.
Event organizer Mike Blagborne said he plans to keep Really Cool Comic Con at Flint’s Dort Federal Credit Union for 2022, as well. However, he said next year’s con will take place over two days, August 6 and 7, to double the magic and memories for the area’s interested guests.
“The people of Flint really made it,” said Blagborne of the con. “This is hands down our best yet.”