Thunder-Con returns this weekend

Photo by Michael Gonzalez. Steve Szucs displays at his store, Noise and Toys, a Daniel Phillips poster from a previous Thunder-Con on Tuesday.

ALPENA — Thunder-Con, the Alpena-based pop culture convention, is returning to Art in the Loft on July 1 and 2.

Thunder-Con will hold many vendors, local artists and writers, and more on the top floor of Downtown Alpena’s Center Building throughout the weekend.

This is the 11th year for the convention, but the event has been around since 2010. The event was inactive for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pair that created this event, Mike Jasman and Steve Szucs, could not continue the event from 2020 to 2021. They are both very happy to continue the legacy that they started 13 years ago.

Szucs is also the owner of Noise and Toys, a record store in downtown Alpena. During the convention, the store will celebrate its fifth year anniversary and will hold sales.

“Mike and I, we’re both huge “Star Wars” fans,” Szucs said. “Mike really wanted a con in our town and people said he couldn’t put one on. Really, he wanted to prove them wrong and he did.”

Thunder-Con has been in locations like the Alpena Mall and other areas downtown previously, but turned Art in the Loft into its recurring location. The convention brings together multiple clubs and groups that are focused on specific pop culture IPs such as “Star Trek”, “Ghostbusters”, and “Star Wars”.

One guest Szucs was happy to say is coming back to this year’s convention is Daniel Phillips, an Emmy-award winning makeup artist. He’s worked on movies like “The Hobbit”, “Real Steel”, and was a contestant on the special effects makeup show, “Face Off”.

Phillips will do a live demonstration of his makeup skills on Saturday as he’s done in previous years.

“We both have kids that are also into this stuff now,” Szucs said. “They’re into anime and “Star Wars”, so we want this to be free so it can be something for kids. We’d love to expand, but being a free con has always been our thing.”

As Thunder-Con happens at Art in the Loft over the weekend, Alpena’s comic store Bob’s Bullpen will have a storewide sale, including the store and arcade. During the sale, pop culture movies will play in the business’ theater too.

Bob’s Bullpen owner Bob Lefevre, did not help found Thunder-Con, but was an artist that signed comic books that he made at the convention since 2010. He’s created comic books for series like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Transformers” before owning his own comic shop.

“A lot of people think that I helped make the con happen, but I had nothing to do with it,” Lefevre said. “I was there from day one as a guest, but it’s great to still be a part of it, just in a different way.”


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