Baltimore Comic Con 2011 Special: Panel Patter Recommends Panels for You!

It almost time for the Baltimore Comic Con! It's time for the comics world to shine right here in my own hometown, and I couldn't be happier! The show is being held at the Baltimore Convention Center on August 20th from 10am to 6pm and August 21st from 10am to 5pm.

Going to panels is one of the cool parts of any convention. When done right, the panels are the thing you'll remember long after the show is over. For instance, last year I remember sitting in for a bit on a panel where Comixology and Boom! Studios (I think) were discussing digital comics. I didn't have a smart phone then, so I filed it away for future reference. Now I'm a huge digital comics supporter, and I attribute that panel to helping me see the possibility. At another show, a joking back and forth with a creator ended up leading to several friendships within the industry for me.

You never know what's going do that for you. So make sure that you do take some time to go to at least a few Baltimore Comic Con panels. I really wish I was able to attend panels on both days, but that's not going to happen due to personal reasons. But that doesn't mean I can't encourage others to go in my stead! Without further ado, here are my picks for the panels worth checking out at the Baltimore Comic Con on August 20th and 21st. Please note that I am modeling what you can do at the show, which means no appearing in two places at once. If you were hanging with me at the con for both days, this is where you'd find me.

All panel description text taken directly from the Con's website. You can view the complete list here.

12:00-1:00 – Spotlight on Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis & Kevin Maguire – Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire are the fan-favorite creative team behind Defenders, Metal Men, and Justice League. With stories that blend adventure and humor, their books are like no other. Join the men who put the “Bwah” in “Bwah-ha-ha” as they take a look at their work together.
It is absolutely killing me that I am going to miss this panel. I assure you that it's for a good reason. But if you happen to see me between noon and one on Saturday, do not be surprised if I am either weeping or about as angry as Bruce Banner when WalMart is out of purple pants.* DeMatteis is one of my favorite writers, having composed the perfect ending to Harry Osborne's story that I haven't forgiven Marvel for getting rid of yet. I'm also a fan of Giffen, and their work together is some of the best in comics. This is probably only for fans of their work, but I'm sure it will be awesome for those of us who miss the days when the JLA--and DC itself--could be both seriously and silly, all at the same time.
1:00-2:00 – BOOM! 6th Anniversary panel – Join BOOM! Studios Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ross Richie as he pulls the curtain back on BOOM! Studios. From an upstart one-book-a-month publisher debuting in 2005 to 2011′s powerhouse comic publisher, BOOM! Studios has had one of the most meteoric rises of any comic publisher in the last twenty years. Find out what makes this company tick as Ross reminisces about the early days at BOOM! and its current success. A one-of-a-kind panel for all those that want to know the real story behind the success of BOOM! Studios.
This is the only case where I'm glad I'm not at the show so I don't have to make the extremely difficult choice between this panel and the one on Charles Vess. However, while I really dig Vess's work, Boom! is one of my favorite publishers. I really would have liked to be around for this session, to hear what they attribute their success to. Personally, I think it's a combination of hiring good writers (Waid, Messner-Loebs, Cornell, Langridge, and others), putting out a variety of products (horror, licensed work, kids material, and superheroes, just to name a few) and ensuring that there's always a base level of quality to anything they do. Go to the panel and see if I'm right!
2:00 – 3:00 – A Conversation with Jeff Smith & Stan Sakai – Jeff Smith’s Bone celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year. Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo will soon reach its 200th issue. Now, these two talented creators sit down to discuss their work; from their beginnings to future plans. Join Jeff & Stan for what is sure to be a lively and fun look at the world of comics.
If I have to convince you to see a panel with Jeff Smith and Stan Sakai, then man, I don't even know you.

That would put me at 3pm, and I'd probably stop at that point to spend some time on the floor of the show, meeting cool creators. However, if you're still inclined to do one more panel, I'd go with Legendary Comics from 3-4. For those who don't know Legendary are the folks behind Frank Miller's Holy Terror, and they also promise comics from Paul Pope and Matt Wagner. They definite intrigue me, but I'd want a break after three straight hours of sitting on panels.

11:00-12:00 – Comics Jukebox: All-Ages Comics in the Digital Age – Digital, web, & downloadable comics are a growing trend in the medium, but where do kids comics stand in this arena? Creators John Gallagher and Steve Conley moderate over a panel of experts, including Dan Parent (Archie), Steve Hamaker (Bone, Fish & Chips), Mike Maihack (Cleopatra in Space!), Rich Faber (Roboy Red!) and Todd DeZago (Perhapanauts, Superhero Squad). Those in attendance will get a special card allowing them to download a FREE Exclusive BUZZBOY story from John Gallagher, and one person will win the opportunity to make a cameo appearance in “Leon, Protector of the Playground,” the new all-ages graphic novel by Jamar Nicholas.
Now we're into the day I'll actually be at the show, and I this is the panel I'm most looking forward to sitting in on. Comixology is the gold standard for digital comics in my opinion, and I'm really curious to see how they talk about things like age restriction, pricing, and popularity of digital comics. And if they don't, I'll be asking them!

1:00-2:00 – Going Digital: Day and Date, and what you need to know – With Marvel announcing their same-day-strategy and DC distributing their entire line starting August 31st to provide you with their acclaimed line of comics the same day digitally as they come out in print, you need to make sure you are prepared. With almost everything you want on demand or deliverable to your door, why should your comics be any different? Marvel and DC, with the help of comiXology have created a digital comics experience that puts the power back in your hands to enjoy your favorite comics on demand. Your comics, when you want them, where you want them.

Come join John D. Roberts, Co-founder of comiXology, who will lead our panel as we explore the new digital horizons together.

After taking a short break, maybe to eat, I'll be back in a chair to follow the most intriguing digital storyline for traditional publishers, day and date digital. I'm hoping they'll address price, because to me, paying a premium for day and date is okay, but the current cost is too high.
  • 3:00-4:00 – Stan Lee Spotlight – Face Front, True Believers! This is a panel no comics fan will want to miss as Jimmy Palmiotti sits down with the one and only Stan “The Man” Lee! He is a Founding Father of the Marvel Universe and the face of Marvel Comics to legions of fans. Join the writer, editor, actor, and legend as he discusses his illustrious career. Excelsior!
I'm going to do my best to sit in on this panel, but I am not betting on being able to get in. I have no idea how many Stan Lee VIP packages they sold, but he's obviously a very popular guy. Plus, I have a feeling that lots of people will be queuing for him way before the 2:45 doors, and I would rather talk to creators than wait in line. So we'll see how this goes.

So that's my recommendations. Anyone want to convince me that I'm missing a key panel? Hit me up in the comments, and be aware I can only make it on Sunday.

*Do you think Bruce is more of a Target guy? I'm not sure.