I recently had a brief chat with the man who is spearheading the fantastic event that is happening this year right in my own Chicagoland area backyard, NWI Comic-Con. The one that took place last year was an incredible start to hopefully something that will continue to grow and take place for many years to come. 2015 for NWI Comic-Con promises a bigger venue, even more high-profile guests, and more vendors. Read on after the jump for all the details from Mr. Grabinski.
How long have you been a comic book fan?
I have always enjoyed the combination of fantastic stories juxtaposed together with fascinating sequential art. In my youth comics were my affordable gateway to self entertainment. I would mow a couple of lawns, shovel some neighbor’s drive-ways, do chores around the house and I would manage to scrape together just enough money to get my weekly, Wednesday, new comic book fix. To this day I still consider comic books junk food for my eyes and candy for my brain.
Have you lived in IN all of your life and if so did that impact your decision to hold an the event in Schererville, IN?
No, I was not born and raised as a Hoosier but I am happy to say that I am proud to be one now. The state of Indiana offers so many more perks and opportunities than Illinois. Such as lower property tax, no food tax and affordable gasoline. On top of this Northwest Indiana has a booming pop-culture community. With only a 10, 20, or 30 minute road trip I can find myself standing inside some very impressive Comic, Anime, and Gaming shops.
Do you think your history of comic collecting and comic con attending influenced you to hold the event in the area in the first place?
Yes, I have attended many comic book conventions throughout my life. I still remember that exhilarating feeling I would get when meeting a comic book creator for the first time. Seeing them illustrate a super hero or villain in the flesh. Speaking to them in person, face-to-face, about the projects they have worked on in the past. This has always provided me with many fond memories. I have passed this love for comic books and comic book conventions onto my children. They have even asked to cosplay at some of the comic-cons we have attended together, endowing me with more recollections of bonding with my kids over comics. Northwest Indiana’s growing geek population made this an ideal place to host the NWI Comic-Con.
Were you pleased with last year’s event – attendance, VIP guests, and overall enthusiasm?
I was more than pleased and overly surprised at the attendance and support of the first 2014 NWI Comic-Con. Both the crowd and the show were amazing! The attendees of this event showed up in droves! Approximately 2,100 pop-culture fans converged onto this comic-con. From 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. the entrance doors never closed. The parking lot became overloaded and fans were walking blocks away to get inside of this show. Different people from all walks of life came together and had a great time. Even though this comic book convention was smaller in size compared to most larger comic-cons, the crowd was full of the same excitement and energy of huge three-day shows.
At the end of the day the fans were happy, the VIP Guests, Artists, Comic Book Creators, Publishers, Dealers, Multimedia Guests and event Sponsors were all very happy as well. Overall it was a fantastic day and I am personally looking forward to doing it again on Saturday, February 21, 2015.
That being said, a new, bigger site has been secured. This means more room to accommodate larger crowds with a much bigger parking lot as well. But a bigger venue brings on bigger bills. However our goal is to continue keeping the NWI Comic-Con affordable and a slight increase has to be put into place to help us provide everyone’s needs.
What are some, and I use this term very loosely, improvements put in place for this year’s event?
The FANS Spoke and We LISTENED… 2015 WILL BE BIGGER & BETTER!! Some of the highlights include: Affordable admission with the opportunity to purchase Early Bird Tickets and General Admission tickets online before the show, free parking, a new bigger location, new and returning artists and dealers, a new ‘Cosplay Corner’and a new bigger cosplay contest, a new table-top gaming room where we are hosting a HeroClix tournament, and new affordable concessions and snack options. Even though our focus remains on comics, creators, community and fans we want to to have a little of something for everybody. So this year we have included a on stage magic-show with entertainer ‘Obtuse’, a live FX make demo being provided by Scott Mitchell and Gabby Leithsceal, both former contestants of the SyFy channels hit television show ‘FaceOff’. Plus if this wasn’t enough we have added a live stage performance from the Chicago based band ‘Phosphene’ whom will be providing the attendees of this NWI Comic-Con with a free, live ‘Pop-Rock’ concert to close out the show. You do not want to miss this show!
Are there any high-profile guests, contests, exclusives, and giveaways you wish to highlight?
We are honored to announce that one of our VIP guests is the comic book artist Mike Norton whom is the creator of the web comic series Battle Pug (which is also published in trade paperback collections by Dark Horse Comics), co-creator of Gravity, has worked on Green Arrow/Black Canary and Trinity and is currently working on Revival with Tim Seeley for Image Comics. Mike Norton has appeared in over 322 issues. Another VIP guest we are pleased to announce is Tim Seeley. He is a comic book writer and artist. He is also the co-creator of HACK/SLASH and Revival. Tim is best known for working on G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, New Exiles and G.I. Joe vs. Transformers. Tim Seeley has appeared in over in 555 issues.
A surprise guest that we are super excited about is the Actor Kevin J. O’Connor! He is known for portraying character roles in major studio films such as There Will Be Blood, The Mummy, Clive Barker’s Lord of Illusions, F/X2 and Van Helsing. Kevin’s first dream was to be a cartoonist, but in later years decided to on acting. Getting his early training in Chicago, his first movie role was in Peggy Sue Got Married. He has since appeared in over 30 films as well as ABC’s short-lived Gideon’s Crossing. He recently appeared in as Igor in Stephen Sommers’s Van Helsing. He also worked with Sommers in The Mummy and Deep Rising.
I could spend all day telling you about all of our well-recognized and amazing VIP Guests, but rather than highlight each one of them individually, I will list them here at you can read the list and say, ‘WOW! that is an amazing list of industry professionals.’ Our 2015 NWI Comic-Con VIP guests include: Cory Hamscher, Dan Dougherty, Dirk Manning, Doug Klauba, Gabo Bautista, Hilary Barta, Jim Pavelec, Jim Terry, Matthew Waite and Philo Barnhart whom is known for his work on The Little Mermaid (1989), The Secret of NIMH (1982) and Happily Ever After (1990).
We are also offering attendees a chance to get their hands on some exclusive artwork and collectibles from many of our participating exhibitors. These items will be raffled off or sold at this event and all portions of these sales will be donated to two local NWI charities. Last year we raised over $1,000. We once again plan on giving back to the community by arranging both monetary and “drop-off” donations to the following local charities; Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation (NICK) and the Humane Society Calumet Area. We are also hosting both charities on-site. We are currently requesting monetary donations as well as donated items to help assist them financially.
Are there any elements/attractions that you feel make NWI Comic-Con stand out from the plethora of comic-cons going on annually in the Chicagoland area?
Whether you grew up reading comics or are fairly new to this pop culture craze, you are sure to enjoy a throwback to a Comic-Con that is more about comics, creators and fans. Meet the creators behind the books. Chat with various artists, writers, publishers and more. Purchase new and vintage comic books and toys. Meet some phenomenal Cosplayers and have a great time. Unlike most large three-day show our admission is extremely affordable and is only $8.00 for adults and $2.00 for children under 12 years old. Parking is 100% free and an additional parking lot is available in the event that the first one fills up.
Anything you like to mention for NWI Comic Con 2016?
All I can say is that everyone will have to wait and see what the future brings and that good things come to those whom wait
Trust me when I say this friends, this event is something not be missed if you are near the area.
NWI Comic-Con takes places one day only, 02/21/15, at the Halls Of St. George located at 905 Est Joliet st. Schererville, IN