Summertime is convention season for comic book fans. Major shows happen all over the U.S., but in recent years it seems like the focus of many conventions is moving away from comic books and onto other aspects of popular culture like films and video games. In fact, a convention that is purely about the celebration of comic books is rare indeed.
August 29-30 marks the debut of a new convention, though, the Cherry Capital Con, a show where the focus is completely on comics. CBR News spoke with Chief Convention Organizer and Top Comics proprietor Michael Akerley about the con, which will be held in Traverse City Michigan at the Grand Traverse Resort.
Not only is the Cherry Capital Con putting the spotlight solely on comics, it’s looking to become a show with something to offer all types of comics fans. “What we want is to get rid of the segregation that we’ve seen at so many shows; keeping the ‘indie’ crowd separate from the ‘mainstream’ crowd,” Akerley told CBR News. “As a store owner I can tell you that precious few comics-buyers buy only indie or only mainstream titles – they mix ’em up. Cherry Capital Con intends to do the same thing. Everyone – fans and creators – are on equal footing at this show.”
The creators slated to appear at Cherry Capital Comic Con come from both the mainstream and independent comics scenes. They include writer Daniel Way (“Wolverine: Origins,” “Deadpool”), artist Tommy Lee Edwards (“1985,” “Wolverine”), artist Jason Howard (“The Astounding Wolf-Man”), veteran writer Gary Reed of Transfuzion Publishing (and former publisher of Caliber Comics), and Ray Villafane, a master sculptor whose clients include DC Direct, Sideshow Collectibles, and Bowen Designs.
To make sure fans and creators are on the same footing, the Cherry Capital Con plans on giving attendees opportunities to interact with their favorite creators. “We’re doing all we can to make sure all of our guests’ every little need is seen to, which we firmly believe will make for a much happier guest – meaning a much better experience for attendees,” Akerley explained. “We’re also planning a big Saturday night mixer, where for a low priced additional ticket fans can mingle with pros on a much more personal level.”
Fans will also get an opportunity to interact with professionals via a number of discussion panels. “We’ll have creator spotlight panels, featuring such guests as Tommy Lee Edwards, Daniel Way, Jason Howard and Gary Reed (all of whom have Michigan connections), as well as publisher spotlights for Top Shelf, Slave Labor and Desperado Publishing,” Akerley stated. “We’ll also have ‘how to’ panels, ‘process’ panels, and a costume contest.”
Aspiring creators will have an extended opportunity to network at Cherry Capital Con. In addition to their respective panels, editors and Publishers from Top Shelf, Slave Labor, Desperado, and Transfuzion Publishing will also be part of the mixers and have a presence at their respective tables in the convention where they’ll be doing such things portfolio reviews
There were a number of reasons why Akerley and the Cherry Capital Con staff felt Traverse City and the Grand Traverse Resort, in particular, were the perfect venues for the new show. “Like Seattle 20 years ago, Traverse City – because it’s not ‘on the way’ to anywhere – has given birth to an incredibly eclectic art scene that’s grown both organically and independently, free of the trends that tend to emerge and hover around the coasts,” Akerly explained. “Plus, Traverse City, during the summer, is a big tourist destination in Northern Michigan, which equals lots of hotel rooms! And even at the early planning stages of C3, we were adamant about having the show in a place that was more… I’m not sure ‘intimate’ is the best word, but I think you get the point. And our space at the Grand Traverse Resort is just that. Though there’s plenty of room, it isn’t a stark warehouse with nothing but buzzing fluorescent lights.”
Akerley and his colleagues have had a great response so far in putting together the first Cherry Capital Con. They’ve finalized all the details for this year’s event and have already begun planning for 2010. “As far as next year – wow,” Akerley said. “We’ve already got some very big names signed on. Possibly the biggest.”
Given the location and the presence of several guests with strong ties to Michigan, Akerley sees the Cherry Capital Con as being all about the state, especially the northern part. “With all of the real world worries about the economy and unemployment, Cherry Capital Con offers a weekend to escape and enjoy great company and a great atmosphere!” he said.