Forget POW! BLAM! ZOOM!
Whatever superlatives you choose to hurl at it, word balloons can’t fully express – or contain – the excitement generated by Motor City Comic Con.
Each year, the biggest comic book convention in Michigan, rolls out a who’s who list of actors, artists, and others within the industry. It’s a celebration of fandom, and an opportunity for fans to get some face-to-face time with their favorite celebrities.
The 27th annual event will be held May 13-15 at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Ave., in Novi, with more than 50,000 attendees expected.
This year’s roster includes Malcolm Goodwin (“iZombie”), Seth Gilliam (“The Walking Dead”), Lena Heady (“Game of Thrones”), Adam West and Burt Ward (from the ‘60s “Batman” TV series), and a long list of others.
That’s why Motor City Comic Con might be considered mecca for many local fans of the industry, but Arvell Jones, 2016 convention guest and a native Detroiter, helped to launch the very first comic book convention in Detroit as a Cass Tech student, called Detroit Triple Fan Fair (DTFF). He was also one of the first black artists to be employed by Marvel Comics in the mid ‘70s on such titles as “Iron Man” and “Iron Fist.”
As it turned out, Jones had a very low threshold for the not-so-subtle miscalculations of his colleagues when it came to their portrayals of black characters on the page. These were particularly informed by the Blaxploitation era of movies, which were enjoying a boom at that time.
“Everybody had their opinion of how black people acted, and how they talked,” Jones said. “I didn’t understand any of it. Not the clothing, not the dress. We couldn’t tell them they couldn’t write black people.”
Marvel didn’t employ black staff writers back then, so Jones had some battles he won; while others, he lost. Despite the climate, Jones ended up co-creating Marvel’s first black woman with superpowers, Misty Knight. The character will be featured on the new the Netflix original series “Luke Cage.”
Not bad for a black kid from the eastside of Detroit.
And Jones has plenty of new projects in the works, including launching an independent imprint, as well continuing The Comic Art Workshop, an annual educational (and instructional) opportunity for children and adults. It’s co-hosted with fellow Detroit-based artist Keith Pollard, in an effort to bring more interest in the comic book medium.
“We usually set the date after we see how many people are interested,” Jones said. “Once we get 10 students, then we set it up.”
While black comic book artists such as Jones continue to push for more accurate portrayals of African Americans in popular media, Malcolm Goodwin, who plays Detective Clive Babineaux on The CW’s hit show “iZombie,” was attracted by the character’s honesty. Not his moral compass, rather, how he seemed like a real detective.
“I love the fact that you have this struggling rookie detective that’s trying to make a name for himself,” Goodwin said. “There’s good intentions involved, but he doesn’t have all the skillsets together. I like that the show starts at that particular place – you can watch the pilot episode and the last episode, and those are two different detectives.”
Goodwin, who got his “big break” playing Jimmy Zee in the Ridley Scott directed and Denzel Washington-starring film “American Gangster,” is ready for his first Motor City Comic Con. In fact, last time he walked the streets of Detroit, he had a guest role on “Detroit 187,” the short-lived Detroit cop drama, which aired on ABC in 2010.
“I’m really excited about it,” Goodwin said. “People supported the show (‘iZombie’) and stuck with it. We’re going to our third season of the show. I’m really excited to be back in Detroit.”
For more information, visit www.motorcitycomiccon.com.
For details about Arvell Jones’s summer comic book workshops, visit