• 2015 NWI Comic Con | Something of our own!

    2015 Northwest Indiana Comic Con

    In February 2014, the first-ever NWI Comic-Con was held in Schererville. The convention was a rousing success, as some 2100 fans young and old came out to browse comics and other collectibles, compete in tabletop gaming tournaments, dress up as their favorite characters, and meet artists and writers.

    The convention was the brainchild of Brian Grabinski, a diehard comic book fan and the event’s showrunner. After a strong first year, the NWI Comic-Con will be returning on February 21. Grabinski and company are hard at work toward their goal of making the second incarnation bigger and better.

    In the case of event space, the bigger element is very literal. The 2014 convention’s high turnout resulted in attendees being packed closely and tightly on the convention floor. While he hasn’t lost track of the convention smaller, local scale, Grabinski has opted for the larger Halls of St. George in Schererville as this year’s host.

    Northwest Indiana Comic Con Brian Grabinski"Some of the biggest concerns were a larger space, more parking,” Grabinski said. “I don't want to grow too big too fast so we decided on a mid-sized location that we're hoping will accommodate everyone."

    “Bigger” also means more special guests. Among the artists and writers are former Disney animator Phil Barnhart, Image Comics talents Mike Norton, Tim Seeley, and Jim Terry, and author and Northwest Indiana native Emily Goodwin. In addition to autograph opportunities, performers and entertainers will also be one the schedule. Among them are contestants from SyFy’s makeup artist competition series Face Off, one of the things for which Grabinski is most excited.

    "There are so many things going on it's hard to pick a favorite", Grabinski said. “The FX demo by Scott Mitchell and Gabby Leithsceal from SyFy’s Face Off TV series is going to be a unique draw. Personally if I can find the time, I'd like to sneak over there and watch it happen.”

    Also in attendance will be organizations famous for their costumes, such as the Bristol Renaissance Faire and the Northern Darkness Garrison of the Star Wars global fan club the 501st Legion. For attendees looking to show off their costume design flair, there will be a cosplay contest. “We definitely have something for everyone," Grabinski added.

    2015 Northwest Indiana Comic ConFor all this expansion, it was also important to Grabinski to keep prices low enough so as to not price fans and families out of the convention.

    "My goal is to have an affordable, family-friendly event in Northwest Indiana that involves pop-culture, comic book creators, is fan-friendly and tons of fun."

     

  • Jean Shepherd and the Region's pride in its inferiority

    Once again this Christmas season, Northwest Indiana will celebrate native satirist Jean Shepherd, whose stories of growing up in Hammond were immortalized in "A Christmas Story."

    The Indiana Welcome Center is currently hosting its exhibit, "A Christmas Story Comes Home" with events planned throughout December. A play based on "A Christmas Story" is being performed at Munster's Theatre at the Center.

    As much as we celebrate "Shep," the guy didn't care much for the Region, "a place people never really come to, but mostly want to leave," he once wrote. Shepherd himself left and never came back, only revisiting memories of his hometown for his popular stories. In describing Hammond, he wrote, "It clings precariously to the underbody of Chicago like a barnacle clings to the rotting hulk of a tramp steamer."

    And yet, the ascendance of "A Christmas Story" into a holiday classic has become a distinct point of pride for Northwest Indiana with every leg lamp sold. The joke is on us, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

    Take the current trending Twitter hashtag started by local social media satirist @RegionRatRants -- #RegionThanks. The effort quickly morphed into a heartfelt exercise in self-deprecating humor and an accounting of the beloved dining spots that contribute to our collective girth. Local politics, pollution, traffic, weather all became large targets for our Twitter community's collective sarcasm.

    Look deeper, however, and you'll see more than just jokes.

    Underlying all the complaining quips is pride. Others may have left, but we're still here -- defiantly. Our toughness and resilience is built from everything our environment dishes out. But we're also underestimated by outsiders, who miss the massive potential in our location, resources and people.

    When it comes to the rest of the state, we're ignored, except when Indiana is looking for infrastructure to sell off. We're not the sophisticated, shiny city across Lake Michigan or a snooty North Shore suburb. 

    We're Northwest Indiana and we know exactly who we are. You can't insult us, because we've already crafted that joke in a far more clever manner.