Saturday, September 22, 2012

Baltimore Comic-Con Show Wrap-Up

On Saturday, September 8th, I had the pleasure of once again traveling the short distance it takes me to reach downtown Baltimore, Maryland and attend my third Baltimore Comic-Con.  Sadly, one day was all I could make, but I packed as much possible into that visit.

Alex de Campi talks digital comic creation.
While I was of course happy to be attending the show itself, the big part of this con for me was getting to spend time with a long-time Twitter friend (creator Alex de Campi, of the digital comic Valentine and soon to be released graphic novel Ashes) and an old, old friend that I recently reconnected with, Adam P. Knave (co-writer of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World along with various other projects) and my newer friend Kelly, at various times during the show.

It was good that I had company because I will be honest, from a consumer standpoint, this was my least successful Baltimore Comic-Con.  I love going to shows to find new faces, and unfortunately, there wasn't a lot that caught my interest.  Most of what I purchased either came from creators I already knew or those who came recommended to me.  A lot of the faces were familiar, and I had either picked up what I wanted previously, already had the same comics they were offering, or was not interested in their topic.

Thanks to these guys, I buy a lot less paper
comics, especially for high $$$.
Baltimore, despite not being Pittsburgh, seems to be a very zombie-heavy show, and I'm just zombied out, after reading the excellent Great Zombies in History and FUBAR books.  There's also an understandable focus on superhero themed comics, but the ones I've tried just don't match up with their price points for experimenting.  Digital is a big factor for me here--what I might try on Comixology (or your own site) for 99 cents or even $1.99 just won't get me to commit when you want $3.99--or more!--for one issue.

That being said, what I did get looks awesome.  I'll have my usual swag post sometime later on this week, hopefully, and of course reviews to follow as my schedule allows.

Baltimore is really starting to assert itself as a major comics show, and I think that's great, because not everyone can go to San Diego.  Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo had lines every time they were available, people were paying hundreds for Stan Lee, and just about everywhere I looked, lines were long for popular creators.  If your goal is to get an autograph from your favorite writer or artist or promotional materials from a publisher, then Baltimore is the show for you.  On the other hand, if you're looking for a smaller indie comic, it might not be the best place to go, as many of the names you can find again at other, smaller shows, where they are more easily found and spoken to.

Jason Horn and Mike Maihack
If you did take the time to look, there are quite a few gems--I just have all their stuff.  Rafer Roberts of Plastic Farm was on hand, as were other members of the DC Conspiracy, but there was nothing new for me to get from them.  The same was true of two of my webcomic favorits, Jason Horn and Mike Maihack.  Maihack is one of the best at doing commissions, so if you ever catch him at a show, please drop some cash if you want a character drawn for you.

I do worry that the Roberts and Horns and Deerings of the comics world are getting pushed out a bit because of the ever-increasing crowds for the big names.  Artists Alley was bigger than ever, but I didn't see the traffic or people buying comics from the smaller names the way I have in the past.  That's entirely from my observations, however.

Pants of Comic Geek Speak sits on the Marvel panel.
If you go to the show primarily to get deals on comics from vendors, or buy posters, figurines, or other merchandise, however, Baltimore had plenty of this available for you.  I'm not personally in the market for these items now, but I was impressed with the volume of vendors and their prices, from what I observed from a distance.

Baltimore is also a show that's becoming more about panels.  I only visited two this year, but both were excellent.  Comixology hosted my friend Alex as she spoke about creating Valentine and a little later, I did the unexpected and hit the Marvel panel.  Oh my god!  Tom Brevoort is a trip and a half, and I should have known the man with the entertaining Twitter would know how to hold comics court.  Paired with the ever-quotable Mark Waid, it was a fun time I wasn't planning on and makes me wish I'd gone at other chances.  If you at all like superhero comics, even if you barely read them, it's worth seeing how he handles the complaints of the fanbase and even treats foes with respect.

There were a ton of cosplayers at Baltimore this year but I did not take very many pictures of them, as a lot of times, the show was so crowded I felt like I would be breaking the flow of traffic.  I wish Baltimore would set up a place for them.  The show was so crowded, anytime a picture was taken, it jammed everything up.
My only shot worth keeping was this awesome Thanos and Death combo.  God, that outfit had to be hot!

Baltimore Comic-Con is an amazing show that I definitely recommend for anyone who is a fan of superhero comics.  The panels are great and cover both DC/Marvel, creators with high profiles, and are on the cutting edge of the comics world.  It's a place to get to meet people like Dan Didio (who told me a great OMAC story) in a relaxed atmosphere and maybe find a new gem or two to add to your paper comic or figurine collection.

If you're more inclined towards smaller names and publishers, be ready to have to search, but the guest list is impeccable there, too--even if they aren't getting quite as much attention as the big names grow ever-bigger.  Also, know that every year this show gets more and more crowded, making for a day of getting very close to fellow comics fans.

Despite those challenges, it's still one of my favorite shows and I look forward to going again next year!

You can find more photos of the show at my Flickr set.

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