Now that conventions are back in full swing, my second stop on the return to normalcy brought me to Monroe Pop Fest. Taking place this past Friday and Saturday at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, fans of comics, science fiction, and horror filed into the venue to once again celebrate what they love at long last. For those unfamiliar with this event, I’ve spent the past several years referring to it as “the small con with the feel of a big one.” It’s my affinity for the show that even led me to cover last year’s virtual festivities.
To briefly elaborate on that notion, allow me to attempt to paint a picture of what Gary Pillette brings to his patrons. Like most events, you have the various vendors and crafters populating the showroom floor, along with celebrity and comic guests. But another thing that I really dig about making the trip are the exhibits filled with authentic movie props. In fact, there was quite a bit going on outdoors – including the costume contest – in order to make the event safer in light of the ongoing pandemic. Visual evidence of the various things mentioned can be viewed in the accompanying gallery.
In keeping with tradition, the Monroe Pop Fest didn’t skimp on celebrity guests, this time booking the likes of Doug Jones (Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer), Eugene Clark (Land of the Dead), and Power Rangers stars such as Brennan Mejia, Will Shewfelt, Rorrie D. Travis, Jazz Baduwalia, and Jacqueline Scislowski. And if that weren’t enough, Detroit Red Wings legend and four-time Stanley Cup Champion Darren McCarty was set up at the Mess Bucket Comics booth. I can say with firsthand experience that he was a pretty cool guy.
When it came to comic book creators, one could say that James O’Barr, creator of The Crow, was guaranteed to help sell more than a few tickets. In addition to him, there was quite a bit of Michigan-based talent on hand. Having said that, I’d like to give praise to Brian E. Lau (Staunch Ambition, Inferno City Firehouse), Dirk Manning (Butts in Seats: The Tony Schiavone Story, Hope), David C. Hayes (The Rot, Rottentail), Kasey Pierce (Norah, Pieces of Madness), Rachel Carroll (The Sick Rose Vampires), and Devon Ewing AKA Dew Magick Illustrations for taking the time to either pose for photos, catch up, or sell me some of their wares.
Before I get out of here, I’d like to reiterate what a great time that I had, and I hope the many other folks who bought tickets felt likewise. Hopefully we can continue breathing life into the convention circuit after having so much ripped away from us in the past year or so. Truth be told, I thought about scaling back the number of cons that I attend on an annual basis early on in 2020, and the mess that is Covid really put in perspective that nothing should be taken for granted – cons or otherwise. Suffice it to say, I’m thrilled to be back.
Should you wish to attend the next Monroe Pop Fest, it’s been stated on social media that it will occur on September 16 & 17, 2022. I hope to see you all back there next year.