For me, for the past few years, it's meant time to go back to one of my favorite shows, the Baltimore Comic-Con!
Held each year in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Baltimore Convention Center, the show is a great blending of big names and smaller creators, not unlike Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina. This year, the show is from 10am to 7pm on Saturday and 10am to 5pm on Sunday. There's also a pre-show event on Friday that will put you in with the best names in comics but also set you back $195. Regular tickets are $40 for the weekend, $25 for Saturday only and $20 for Sunday only.
If you are planning to go to the show, I highly recommend getting tickets in advance. The line-up for Baltimore is insanely on long on Saturday, and Baltimore gets very hot and muggy, especially for those in costume. Speaking of which, if you like seeing folks dress up and can only make one day of the show, Sunday will feature the annual costume contest, so plan accordingly.
Sadly, no Stan Lee this year, but Kevin Smith is coming, and there are also ticket packages for programming with Smith, just as there were for Stan Lee. Smith is screening a new cartoon movie with Jay and Silent Bob, so long-time fans are in for a treat.
The show is celebrating thirty years of Usagi Yojimbo with a special appearance by Stan Sakai and an art book dedicated to his signature work. I am definitely grabbing a copy of the book, and am hoping to get Stan to sign it, if I am lucky enough to be able to meet him.
As always, Baltimore has a murder's row of talent coming to the show. Besides Smith and Sakai, there's George Perez, Sal Buscema (Saturday only), Neal Adams, Mark Bagley, Mark Waid, Mark Buckingham,
I could go on and on just listing the familiar names to you. But sometimes it's more fun just to wander around and realize you can monopolize the time of someone like Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez because no one else but you found his booth.
This show also features great panels with publishers, such as Marvel, DC, Boom!, IDW, and Valiant, just to name a few. There's also one on one celebrations of Sakai, Perez, and Ramona Fradon, if you prefer to sit on on creator-level conversation.
Baltimore's got an Artist's Alley that always attracts interesting folks who aren't on the major radar--yet. This year, you can meet the Amelia Cole team from Monkeybrain, swing by Curls Studio, see that zombies still have a thing or two to offer via the FUBAR collective, and look at the small-press pubs like 215 or Visionary.
Many, many folks sell original art or do sketches at this show. With the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who in the offering, I'm sure Whovians of all kinds will find many items to their liking, given how many I saw last year. (Given it is the 50th, I am now of a mind to get a few myself.)
Perhaps best of all, Baltimore even has a show focus for kids! There's an entire part of the show for kid-friendly creators (highlighted by Archie's Dan Parent) and programming targeted at young comics fans. I love that this show does that and does it be recognizing that what they are interested in may not be the same as what we, adults, are interested in.
The Baltimore Comic-Con has something for just about everyone, without feeling like it's too spread out for any person. If, like me, you are a lover of all things comics, then it's like dying and going to heaven.
As I do with SPX, but on a smaller scale, look for posts in the lead-up to the show highlighting creators you should seek out, panels you should visit, and a few tips for newcomers. This is show with a lot to see and do, and it's my pleasure to help guide you.
I hope to see you at the show next week!