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.
"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.
For 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."