Kurt Anthony Krug
It was Bryan Harris’s deep love of pop culture that first drew him to Capital City Comic Con – C4 – but it was the community of the annual event that ultimately encouraged him to become co-owner of the local operation that brings Hollywood stars to Lansing. .
“I’ve always loved conventions,” said Harris, who became a C4 partner in 2017. “Conventions are a place where everyone fits in. No one is weird or weird or anything because we all are. This is where my people are. I bought the company because I wanted to be part of building a place where all of us geeks can hang out.
This year’s stacked show features a reunion of several co-stars from the 1986 “Aliens” and 1970s “Peanuts” cartoons. Another 2022 attraction is actor/comedian Tom Arnold (“True Lies”) , which also features a VIP-only stand-up show at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 9 at the Radisson Hotel Lansing.
“Tom Arnold is a legendary comedian, actor and writer,” Harris said. “We had an unexpected opportunity to add him and we couldn’t be happier. Tom is with us all weekend for autographs and photos.
Outside of Hollywood, notable comic book creators in attendance include former Marvel editor Jim Shooter and artist Bob Hall (“Avengers”). Competing for this list of acclaimed talent is a far cry from Harris’ jobs and accomplishments.
Harris, 44, from Troy, moved to East Lansing in 1996 to attend Michigan State University, and has “more or less” stayed there ever since. His background is diverse. He is a civilian employee of the United States Army, previously worked at MSU in environmental health and safety, has a bachelor’s degree in physics and an MBA, and is about to complete a master’s degree in environmental management. .
Recently, he has been busy rebuilding C4 to his original status in person. The locally grown scam, which launched in 2015, has been completely derailed by the pandemic. However, Harris said the C4 team, which includes co-owner Tim Hunt, is happy to finally return to Lansing Center after being canceled for the past two years. Being centrally located, Harris said the scam appealed statewide, but he was also pleased to see some familiar faces.
“It feels good to be back in the saddle,” Harris said. “I’ve made so many great friends over the years, people I never would have known without C4. We have something for almost everyone. We do our best to build a show that is a business decision smart for our B2B customers and great value for participants, which will ultimately result in a profitable business for us.
This year, in addition to curating a list of celebrities for locals to take pictures with, C4 is also offering attendee shopping, contests, kids’ activities, cosplay groups, informational panels, as well as after hours events.
A local talent connection on the bill this year is Flint-based comic book artist Jason Moore, known for his work on “Elvira.” And while being an artist often means doing solitary work, he said C4 offered a nice change of pace.
“It’s a fun, family-friendly show,” Moore said. “I love connecting with fans. It’s fun to chat about art when they browse through my portfolio or request a custom piece of art and to see their excitement when they describe what they want. It’s hard to identify a thing or two because I really love all aspects of conventions, but if I had to limit myself to one thing, it would be to connect with the fans of my work.
Another local highlight is the public wedding of Shamus Smith (aka Lansing Batman) and Katie Whittaker (the Capital City Wonder Woman) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 10. However, “Wonderbat the Wedding” is not just for entertainment purposes.
“It’s not a normal marriage,” said Smith, 48, of Leslie. “It’s more like a production. Then we leave for a private reception, then our honeymoon in California. This is the second marriage for both. Smith’s five children and Whittaker’s four children will be at the wedding. Smith’s father will be best man and Whittaker’s birth mother will be matron of honor.
The couple, who met five years ago in Grand Rapids, have since led the League of Enchantment, a Michigan-based nonprofit made up of 100 cosplayers who work with hospitals to bring joy to children sick.
Dressing up as Batman helped Smith deal with PTSD. In 2015, Smith was driving on Laingsburg Road when 3-year-old Wesley Krupp ran into the road. Smith braked and swerved but couldn’t avoid hitting him. The child’s mother, Ashley, performed CPR and resuscitated him.
“We were all a mess,” Smith said. “I couldn’t sleep for a week.”
Fortunately, Wesley survived and is doing better today. However, his injuries included a broken pelvis and fractured skull, brain hemorrhage and lacerated spleen. After Wesley was released from the hospital, Smith visited him, which began the healing process for the two. Smith gave Wesley several superhero toys, including his favorite Batman. At a benefit dinner for him, Smith asked Wesley’s mother if he could attend as Batman, which he did.
“They forgave me,” Smith recalled. “It was a turning point in my life. I learned a lot about myself and the people who stood by me through it all. They picked me up. I dealt with PTSD because of it. “I’m better now. I can talk about it openly without a panic attack. It was a big change in my life.”
This sparked his involvement in the League and his participation in community events like C4.
“I realized there was a need for it. I realized the power of what we do,” he said. “I wanted to do more. I visited children in hospital and hospice, trying to give them happiness in those times. I coordinated with groups across the country. I was trained with homeland security. It was amazing.