Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The third annual Durand Fantasy Expo was held this past Saturday, September 3rd, at the VFW Post #2272, located in Durand, Michigan.  The Durand Expo is an unique annual fundraising event that is done for veterans by a veteran.  Jeff Decker is a Gulf War Veteran who created the event in 2009 to benefit members of the VFW Post.  He came up with the idea to combine several pop culture staples, including comics, toys, sci-fi and fantasy fiction, all into one event. 

VFW Post #2272 in Durand, Michigan

The show was a mix of comic book dealers, toy vendors, local artists, publishers, fantasy authors, and even a couple television and movie actors.  Admission was a $5 donation to the VFW Hall, and kids 10 and under got in for free.  There was also a raffle basket, which started out with a few items in the morning.  However, thanks to the generous donations by several dealers and even some of the guests, the basket was bursting with comics, art prints, toys and autographed photos by the time the 3:00 p.m. drawing was held.

Durand Fantasy Raffle Basket filled with goodies! (Photo by Jeff Decker)

Several local artists from the last couple shows returned again this year, including Brian Germain of Dark Elf Designs, who did a limited edition convention print, the first one for this annual event.  Only ten of these prints were available for sale at the Expo.  Other local artists and publishers included Steve Jencks from Lost Highway, Eric Mullarky from New Baby Productions, and Meljamin Studios.

Brian Germain holding the limited edition print he did for the Expo. 

Other guests included actress Robyn Griggs from Another World and One Life To Live, and fantasy writer Jim C. Hines, author of the Goblin Quest trilogy.  A surprise guest that was not originally scheduled to appear at the Expo was Antonio Mireles, who played a Latino gangster in the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino.

Robyn Griggs and Antonio Mireles (Photo by Jeff Decker)
The 501st Legion-Great Lakes Garrison also set up a booth, with several members graciously staying in costume for the majority of the day, despite massive humidity and temperatures reaching 98 degrees.  Their booth also provided entertainment for the kids, with the "Star Wars Blasters" dart gun contests (pictures of classic Star Wars actors on the wall were used as targets).

Members of the 501st Great Lakes (Photo by Jeff Decker)

Surrounding the Expo itself were other events, including an official "ghost investigation" at the Durand Train Depot, sponsored by S.P.I.R.I.T.,  which is basically Shiawasee County's official paranormal investigation team, a writing workshop hosted by Fantasy Author Jim Hines, and the "End of Summer Crusin Classic Car Show," which took place at the same time as the Expo, just a few blocks away in downtown Durand.  This car show is a great alternative for those who may be hesitant to face the massive crowds and traffic of the Woodward Dream Cruise, but still want to enjoy checking out classic cars in an old fashioned downtown setting (along with great 50's tunes courtesy of a local radio station).    

The flyer for the Ghost Hunt at the Durand Train Depot

For myself personally, sales were a little slow, but I did meet a lot of nice comic book fans, did some networking with another convention promoter, and talked to several customers that were very interested in my upcoming comic book garage sale that I am having the weekend of September 17th.  The biggest seller of the day were my dollar boxes containing back issues of  Amazing Spider-Man.  Other comic book titles that customers were looking for included Spawn, Deadpool, X-Men and Iron Man.  Interest in independent titles was almost non-existent at this show.  Secret Identity Comics also provided several freebies to customers, including free comics and graphic novels from Bluewater Comics, the "DC New 52" preview comic, and the latest free catalog from Bags Unlimited (who generously donated packs of comic bags and boards for one of the raffles!). 

Secret Identity Comics sold comics and provided lots of freebies for the Expo! (Photo by Jeff Decker)

Promoter Jeff Decker has already started working on next year's event, and is looking for guests to appear at the 2012 Expo.  He recently mentioned on the Expo's Facebook Page that he will "start firming up the guest list sometime in late winter [or] early spring, but anyone is more than welcome to throw the hat in the proverbial ring at anytime." 

Brian Germain's Limited Edition Print for the Durand Fantasy Expo!

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