Baltimore Comicon Day 1

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35293318 Baltimore Comicon Day 1
The Baltimore Comicon is the strongest example this year of the “fantasy economy” prevailing in economic lean times. While Baltimore retains it charm, quirkiness and access to fresh, delicious crabs, signs of the recession are everywhere. Parts of the city only blocks from the convention center consist of blocks of boarded up buildings — last year it was a Rite-Aid.

Despite this, the show yesterday was JAMMED. People were spending money carefully, no doubt, and overall purchases may have been down, but the crowd bustled, many in costume. In fact, entire families came in costume — dad’s hobby is turning into a family affair, and the families are not being forced into it. There was an adorable little girl dressed as Captain America — Cap is an aspirational model for everyone.

Next year’s dates have been announced — August 28 and 29th, which takes it out of the busy October season and may be just far enough away from SD that people are recovered enough for a leisurely one.

We missed the Harvey dinner, but came for the awards, and Scott Kurtz was a witty host, who went there, with some pointed humor. The show started with an “unmotion comic” that featured Prince Valiant, Dagwood, Garfield and BC in a humorous take on the evolution from comic strips to webcomics. Hopefully Kurtz will put it online. Towards the end of the night, he alluded to the inclusiveness of comics — adding how remarkable it was that a webcomics vet such as himself could be giving away awards in front of a crowd of legends such as Joe Kubert, Chris Claremont and Neal Adams. As noted by many people in Baltimore’s friendly, comics loving atmosphere, in comics most everyone wants the other fellow to do well, an extreme rarity in any industry.

Elsewhere, people were gearing up for the Diamond Retailer Summit, which kicks off tonight. Both DC’s Bob Wayne and Boom!’s Ross Richie have promised some rip-roaring announcements over the next few days, so we’re getting out of our hotel room right now to go cover them!

Before we go, here’s a con report by a fellow named Ray that seems to cover all the bases:

I’ve been to two conventions this year- this and Wizard World Philly. There’s no doubt that this was the better convention. WW Philly has gone from a great show to a terrible one over the years, a victim of the declining Wizard company. There’s only so many people you can lay off at a company before rot sets in, and WW Philly this year was a show that was hollow at its core. Most of the comics industry’s A-List decided to go to Charlotte’s Heroes con instead of Philly, so the only people left were those that lived in the Northeast that just couldn’t get to Charlotte for one reason or another. (Next year, Philly’s not the same weekend as Charlotte. Hopefully, this will result in a better Philly convention. If not, the show just can’t survive. And that’s a shame; Philly’s a great comics town.)

Baltimore is just a great comics show. There’s no “pop culture” aspect of the show; there’s no room. No video games. No “wrestler’s row” to fill the appearance schedule. (Jerry Lawler was scheduled to appear, but his Memphis mayoral campaign got in the way. But Lawler is a legit comics professional, so he doesn’t count.) There’s no gaming tables. It’s a packed show, just wall-to-wall comics. It’s a little overwhelming at times; Glenn and I nearly got lost more than once trying to navigate the showroom floor. But how can you complain about too much comics?

BIG thanks to Ed Catto for his company and driving skills on the way down. We’ll have a full report on the adventures we had with Captain Action later on, but suffice to say piloting a Havoc class helicopter while storming an enemy base is much easier than you’d think.

Comments

  1. It will all gravy after the 45 minutes it took park during the marathon starting.

    And too bad we could not find a place showing the us/honduras match (I’m looking at you, espn zone).

  2. As a fan, it was a bargain hunter’s wet dream. More books for cheaper prices than I’d get at the local comic store. One dealer had trades for $5 each! 5 for $25 and ALL his selections were GREAT trades. It was a giveaway. In a sense I wonder why I still go to a comic shop instead of just waiting for a con like Wizard Philly and Baltimore to come once a year and stock up for 50%-70% off cover than paying retail. Though it makes me wonder that all my stuff I own is really worthless too… comics aren’t worth much anymore if you’re looking at some kind of backend on your stuff if you ever have to sell it.

  3. Michael says:

    August 28-29th. Same weekend as Fan Expo Canada. I guess those are two different markets? I used to go to Baltimore but it just isn’t worth the cost of the hotel, parking, etc. I wonder if they’ve fixed the problems they’ve had with the layout and having major artists’ lines blocking aisles or other artists’ tables. Tons of creators there but there’s just no “feel” for this con in the way that Heroes Con has. Maybe the organizers need a friendlier face to Baltimore, or someone to rally around?

  4. The lines don’t seem bad, but I’ve heard a number of people confused by the layout. People have stopped at my table since its on an endcap and ask driections.

  5. The show was packed on Saturday. There weren’t as many people in costumes as I had expected. There seemed to be a lot more at Wizard World in Philadelphia.

    In any case, I took some costume pics and put them in a small gallery here: http://www.jimmyinthegarden.com/2009/10/cosplay-at-baltimore-comic-con-2009/

  6. michael says:

    Baltimore’s a cool place. Sad about the downturn in the economy, but the con sounded wonderful. Hopefully, they keep it going strong. :)

  7. Jason says:

    Definitely enjoyed myself.

    There were deals to be had as there were a lot of dealers with large tables with comics in great condition organized alphabetically…and still being cheap (e.g. $0.50 to $1 a copy). Most offered deals beyond that for bulk. I bought two long boxes for $100 a box. By 2pm on Sunday, even the hardliners were making some drastic discounts, as new hand-scrawled signs appeared during the 11th hour.

    Tons of cos-players. Even got to meet a real celebrity – Scott Adsit – who plays Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock. Learned that he’s quite the comic book fan, as dealers mentioned running into him at comic cons in NY and Texas.

    The only snafu (IMHO) was timing. Saturday’s opening coincided with the Baltimore Marathon which closed some of the surrounding streets making parking and navigation a nightmare. And Sunday’s closing coincided with the end of a Raven’s home game (their stadium is three blocks away) which made it equally hard to escape.

  8. Veterans of balt con can give you littany of scheduling issues:

    Hurricane
    Sniper
    Red sox or yankees playing oruioles
    Steelers playing ravens

    Always something each year it seems.

  9. Some of those buildings have been boarded up since at least 2003. Baltimore’s recession got a head start. But it’s plucky.

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