Proving that everything old is new again, one convention is bringing some nostalgia to Windsor.
On Sunday, October 30th, Retrorama Classic Collectibles Con will enjoy its inaugural show at the Caboto Club. Promoted as an affordable convention for people of all ages, the event is being put together by someone with lots of experience.
Teaming up with Tony Gray from GlassMonkey Studios, Mike Michalski will be at the helm after hosting four Christmas Comic Cons and two Super Summer Comic Cons in the area.
Expanding upon his partner’s previous events, Gray was sure this was the right approach.
“With Mike’s Original Windsor Comic Cons (no affiliation with the Toronto-based Windsor ComiC Con) growing each year, he and I were exchanging ideas on how the show could get even better,” he said. “We came up with the idea to reach an audience that goes beyond the comic book world and involve even more interests that so many people have a passion for. Why stop at comics when we can include vinyl, CDs, DVDs, books, Coca-Cola, sports, gaming and on and on?”
Despite these extra items, Retrorama will still maintain a comic book section bigger than most events too. Like past conventions from Michalski,, those 10 and under get in for free — admission is only $10 for everyone else. Twenty per-cent of all proceeds go to the Alzheimer Society of Windsor & Essex County along with Ronald McDonald House Windsor as well.
Another big part of past events, cosplayers are encouraged to show their creativity.
“I am looking forward to seeing all the great costumes, especially because the show is the day before Halloween,” said Michalski. “We’ll be crowning a King and Queen RetroRama and ALL costumes are fair game. We want to throw the greatest masquerade ball this city has ever seen! Superheroes, anime, witches and warlocks – whatever! We’re also inviting people to wear their best vintage clothing too, especially old school uniforms or other related garb — maybe some clothing from your favorite era – be it 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s – whatever.”
While there will be lots to choose from in the vendors area, many guests will also be on hand. Appealing to different age groups and interests, these blasts from the past go from comics to TV and everywhere in between.
“We have stellar comic legends like artist Keith Pollard (Spider-man, Daredevil, Thor,) writer John Ostrander (Suicide Squad, The Spectre,) and William Messner-Loebs (Wonder Woman, The Flash, The Maxx,)” said Gray. “We’re now able to bring in names like Erin Moran (Joanie Cunnigham from Happy Days)) Allison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson from Little House on the Prairie,) Art Cervi (Bozo the Clown 1967-80) and Tom Ryan (Count Scary) — the latter two making their first convention appearances – ever.”
Given their history and list of accomplishments, organizers are excited to meet these guests. Naming Ryan, Ostrander and Cervi specifically, Michalski admits that one encounter in particular has been decades in the making.
“Growing up, I always regretted that Bozo moved his show to Detroit in 1975,” he said about Serving. “My sister was actually on the show a few years earlier and you had to be five to appear. Wouldn’t you know it – that year – he left, just as I turned the magical age. Reports say that he actually had a five-year waiting list at the end of his show in 1980 so I guess I wasn’t alone. To my parents, Detroit was a whole other world. I was never going to be driven across the border to appear on a TV show.”
Efforts to keep Retrorama affordable extend to its guests as well. Making special arrangements, organizers are ensuring that all autographed photos, prints or photos with the guests will be no more than $20 each.
Beyond this, the convention will have several free attractions. Daredevil Thrillshow Fenyx Fyre will showcase his various abilities. This includes world records for most surgical staples stapled into his body, longest rubber band snapped onto a stomach, razor blade swallowing and fire stunts. To get the full effect, his performance will take place outside at sunset towards the end of the event.
Free guest panels are also scheduled — this time with a twist that requires audience participation.
“Dr. Stevil, a renown cosplayer/media celebrity (known for his appearances at conventions across Canada and highly-watched YouTube channel,) will act as host in front of a vintage set downstairs,” said Michalski. “It’s in tribute to vintage shows like Mike Douglas, Dick Cavett and, well, probably a little Dating Game as well. These are going to be panels like you have never seen – all for free. It’s a show within the show.”
One familiar exhibit will also be returning. Originally showcased at Michalski’s Super Summer Comic Con, The Canadian Dukes Travelling Museum is set to play a big part at Retrorama. Bringing his authentic Dukes of Hazzard vehicles and TV cars, Paul Harrington’s museum also contains over 120 autographs from celebrities who have visited its interior.
A unique experience awaits comic book historians indoors as well. Organizers will Screen a rare 1971 CBC documentary about Canadian comics and Lost Heroes: The Untold Story Of Canadian Comics: The latter is narrated by Retrorama guest and voice-actor Paul Soles (Spider-Man from his ’67 cartoon and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’s Hermey the Elf.)
It’s all part of the 75th Anniversary of Canadian Comic Book Retrospective. This includes a showing of original books and art from the 1940s at Retrorama’s VIP Party. Taking place at GlassMonkey Studios (1378 Ottawa Street South upper unit) the night before the convention, Michalski recommends seeing everything in person.
“If you’re a comic book fan, you owe it to yourself to see these documentaries and this incredible collection of work,” he said. “These were all done during the World War II embargo on U.S. comics, where Canadian publishers picked up the torch and created a universe all our own. Sadly, after the war ended, it all went away as the American books were once again permitted to be shipped to Canada. This is our history. These are our comics.”
Proud of what he’s accomplished so far, the promoter hopes Retrorama will continue to grow. Creating affordable entertainment for the community, it’s something he takes very seriously.
“Having been the first promoter to bring Comic Cons back to southern Ontario in more than 20 years in 2012, I am proud to have presented six successful shows in a three-year span that entertained tens of thousands of attendees, all the while raising funds and awareness for several local charities,” he said. “I am proud to be working with Tony on presenting my biggest show yet – taking all the same, great components of my original Comic Cons, including comics and cosplay – and expanding from there. We are both extremely excited about RetroRama and the long-term potential for the event.”
Retrorama takes place from 10am to 7pm on October 30th. For more information on the VIP party or convention itself, those interested can visit their Facebook page and event pages.