Motor City Comic Con: Nerd culture and the making of a Power Ranger villain

May 17, 2016

Thousands of fans of all kinds traveled to Novi over the weekend for the 27th annual Motor City Comic Con. The Suburban Convention Showplace was full of fans who were dressed to impress. There was no shortage of variety when it came to the character costumes. Super heroes, super villains, movie, TV, and video game characters. If there's a character with a fanbase, chances are there was someone dressed up like them.

In addition to the costumes, and some big-name celebrities in the pop culture world, some of the biggest comic book artists in the industry were in attendance. One of those top-flight artists was Marvel Comics' Ryan Stegman, who grew up in nearby Troy. Stegman has drawn some of the iconic characters in the Marvel Universe, including Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Incredible Hulk, and the Fantastic Four. 

Watch him draw a picture of Spider-Man in less than four minutes (we sped it up to about a minute) in this video below. 

Stegman, who was a huge fan of Spider-Man as a kid (still is), grew up going to comic cons as a teenager, trying to network and get his artwork seen by other artists. He was kind of a loner when it came to his comic book obsession.

Marvel Comics artist and Troy native Ryan Stegman signs an autograph at the 2016 Motor City Comic Con
Credit Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

"When I was in high school, I was into comic books by myself," said Stegman. "I honestly don't know if anyone else in my school was buying comic books. It was just something I did on my own. Now, I feel like if I was in high school, there would be tons [of people] you could talk to. I don't know, I kind of liked having it be my own."

He says comic cons have gotten much bigger, with more diverse crowds in the last decade or so as nerd culture has become more and more popular. He says it's not just "sweaty nerds" anymore.

Stegman says he has seen all kinds of amazing costumes during his nearly 20 years of coming to comic cons. People on stilts dressed as Transformers, huge, larger-than-life characters from the comics he has drawn. He says, while it's all very impressive, you can sometimes forget you're talking to a person in a full character costume. 

Deric Prieskorn from Chelsea, Michigan as himself on the left, but on the right his homemade costume of Rita Repulsa, the notorious villain from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers at the 2016 Motor City Comic Con.
Credit Deric Prieskorn

Stegman says the handmade costumes are the ones that are the most impressive, which leads us to Deric Prieskorn of Chelsea (pictured left). Prieskorn came dressed up  in a different costume for all three days of the event.

On Friday, he was dressed as Maleficent, from the movie of the same name. On Saturday, he was Rita Repulsa (pictured left), a notorious villain from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. And on the final day, he brought out Cruella De Vil from the movie 101 Dalmations.

Prieskorn takes a lot of pride in making the costumes as accurate as possible, and loves the attention he receives at the conventions he attends. But more than anything, he enjoys the happiness his costumes bring his fellow fans. 

As the photo shows, the Rita Repulsa costume was an exceptional example of the many homemade costumes at the convention. On Sunday, after the festivities wrapped up, I caught up with Prieskorn to find out what went into that costume.

Listen to his answer below

Listen to the full story below to hear more about the nerd culture at the Motor City Comic Con, and about Ryan Stegman's greatest day ever, when his personal life and work life combined into one unforgettable hour.