I’ve been attending the Baltimore Comic Con for over a decade now and besides being my hometown con it is one of the bigger shows to keep the focus on the comic books and creators. Many of the larger events have shifted their focus to celebrity guests and that’s fine but I’m old school, I want to meet the creators and get the scoop on what’s in store for my favorite titles, and yes I want to dig through long boxes of silver age comics until my back and knees are screaming just as loud as my wallet for mercy. I got that this year, but I got more, much more. So join me in those thrilling days of last weekend as we return to the convention center floor for the prose and cons of comic books.
Frank Miller, the name on every con attendee’s mind as the doors opened on Baltimore Comic Con 2017. The legendary creator responsible for some of the most iconic images of Batman, Daredevil and Elektra would soon be in the building signing autographs for one night only. The prevailing trend of charging for signatures seems to be one that is not going away anytime soon. Miller was the most expensive at $100 a pop, but even creators who were once happy just to have someone ask for an autograph have now joined the ranks of the paid to sign crowd. I definitely think something had to be done to deter those guys who would bring entire runs to get signed, but is charging your diehard fan base exorbitant prices for autographs the way to go? I’m not so sure. I guess everyone asked Neal Adams for his opinion on the matter. No matter the cost some fans will pay just about any price to meet their comic book idols whether they be a creator or an actor who brings one of these larger than life heroes or villains to life on the screen, we want to be a part of this world and a signature is proof that we were there in some small way.
Autographs are just one reason the meet creators; writers and artists are usually approachable and happy to talk about the creative process and the inner workings of the comic book industry. The guest list this year featured some heavy hitters like Tom King, Dustin Nguyen and Steve McNiven as well as living legends like Walt Simonson, Marv Wolfman and Neal Adams, but my personal favorites are the real maverick creators and there were a few present this year like the brilliant Matt Kindt, Lee Beremjo and Justin Jordan. Over 350 creators from industry professionals to up and coming amateurs filled the aisles of Artist Alley displaying their talents and their wares. For the right price you could take home a sketch from your favorite artist, I was fortunate enough to get Doom Patrol artist extraordinaire, Richard Case to do a Robot Man sketch on my Doom Patrol #50 cover, or perhaps a signed print is more to your liking and budget, if you are looking for it chances are its there.
The media celebrities were once again present, this time from Gotham David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee, from Iron Fist Finn Jones, who by the way was just a complete prince among men, and Jessica Henwick. The big screen Colossus Stefan Kapicic from the Deadpool movie was there and handled the intercom announcements in character several times throughout the con. The biggest names this year would have to be hands down, Wonder Woman herself, Linda Carter and prolific creator Frank Miller. Of course any comic book convention lives and dies by the vendors and Baltimore attracts some of the biggest and best on the east coast. Perhaps the best thing about shopping at big shows is the ability to negotiate over prices, especially effective is the “bundle” technique where you find as many books as you can from your want list and make a substantially discounted offer. These offers tend to be accepted more often than not because the dealer can factor in slower selling issues against more desirable books in the bundle to give the collector a better bottom line price. Take it from me it works.
Another huge aspect of the Baltimore Comic Con are the amazing panels. These are set up as presentations on a topic followed by a round of question and answer with the audience. On Saturday I caught the Story Structure panel moderated by Robert Greenberger with writers James Tynion IV, Elliot S. Maggin and three legends in the field Marv Wolfman, Louise Simonson and Mark Waid. The panel was plagued by microphone issues but, overcame them to become an enlightening and entertaining discussion. The next panel I wanted to catch was of particular interest to me since it was called; A Crash Course in Online Reviewing moderated by Pop Culture Uncovered. For anyone familiar with the site they will be posting a video recording of the panel so check that out and you can see exactly what one of these panels is like. However please do not try to ask questions, they won’t call on you so put your hands down. I took a break from panels to do some shopping, but returned for the 4:00 Kirby: King of Comics panel with Charlie Kochman and Mark Evanier, Mr. Kirby’s former assistant for over twenty years and author of the Kirby biography of the same name. He spoke of the comic book legend as a dear friend and recounted their first meeting in California. This was without a doubt my favorite panel of the con. After the discussion ended I had downstairs directly to the Kirby Museum table which had rows of high-res scan pages from Devil Dinosaur, Mister Miracle and other great Kirby classics.
Baltimore is well-known for the quality and quantity of cosplayers on hand not just on the day of the contest but, all three days. Nothing beats the surreal feeling of shopping for a copy of Swamp Thing #37 while standing right beside John Constantine himself, or a very near likeness. Every corner of the Geek Galaxy is represented at the con, from Starlords to Stormtroopers, from Silver Surfers to Green Lanterns it’s all there; anime, sci-fi, horror and even a smattering of the comedic. Whether you build, buy, craft or create all or part of your costume, the more unique the better. I have to say I thought we’d see more Harley Quinn’s than we did but, I’m not really complaining after last years overabundance of the laughing hench lady. Likewise Deadpool seems to be taking a backseat to other more creative choices, all in all it was another stellar year of cosplay at the con.
Time seems to move much more quickly on the main floor of the convention and though I was in attendance all three days, in fact I even took advantage of the extra hour afforded us by virtue of our press passes, it still went by entirely too fast. Of course my bank account would disagree as would my wife who becomes a Comic Con Widow every year at this time. I was sore, my back and knees battered, I needed sleep but I was already counting down the days until Baltimore Comic Con 2018. Hopefully next year we can skip the fire alarm, I mean two years in a row is plenty. So to Randy and everyone who puts their blood, sweat and tears into making this event such a labor of love, thank you and keep up the fantastic work. It is appreciated beyond words by everyone in our tight-knit community. Excelsior!