by Amy Chu
It’s Saturday night and I’m cursing the Yankees. Now even though a New Yorker at heart and my husband is a huge fan, because of the game here in Baltimore, not only did I end up with a horrible room at the Hyatt Regency Friday night, to add insult to injury, I couldn’t get it a second night. And Saturday night, as anyone knows, is really the best night to be at the Hyatt bar during Baltimore Comic Con.
So here I am, well after 11 pm, staggering under 15 lbs of swag from the Harvey Awards in my dress and high heels and no place to stash it. Most of the other awards attendees had already gone up to their rooms to drop off their bags in their rooms before making their way to main bar. Fortunately just inside I ran into George O’ Connor (HEALED) from a Comics Experience class and like the gentleman he is, he offered to babysit while I circulated.
The space was packed with people from the convention. Perhaps the Yankees fans saw they were outnumbered and fled to a more sports friendly venue with big TV screens. At one end of the bar I spotted another New Yorker Scott Snyder waiting for a drink. The Batman/Swamp Thing/American Vampire writer had a grueling day, (hey, a grueling month) signing for hours for hundreds of fans and then presented the awards for Best Letterer and Colorist during the dinner. Scott was my writing instructor for a summer graphic novel writing course at Sarah Lawrence College and all around nice guy.
The Harveys at times really felt like a family affair, with the Romitas, Riveras, and Simonsens. In the middle of the bar area father/son team Daredevil artist Paulo Rivera and his father Joe Rivera were looking very content. The Daredevil awards sweep (four to be exact) including Best Inker for Joe meant several trips to the podium that evening with Mark Waid who was also hanging out nearby. I congratulated Papa Rivera. With serenity worthy of Yoda, he said was proud of his son and very happy to work with him. You can read about it on Paolo’s blog here.
At the other end of the long bar Dynamite publisher Nick Barrucci was vying for the bartender’s attention. Fortunately I remembered his name from the previous night and soon Bernard Chang‘s generous tipping paid off. We had our drinks. Francesco Francavilla seemed a good sport to have lost out to Dave Stewart for Best Colorist. Had he won, though, it would have been a trifecta – an Eisner, Eagle and Harvey award in one year, possibly unprecedented. Dean Haspiel still had his shirt on, so the night was young. I was told by a reliable source that he and Glenn Hauman of Comic Mix went shirtless later on but I was not there to see it.** Even convention organizer Brad Tree was looking relaxed. He had switched from his neon orange convention T-shirt to a dapper suit and tie for the evening. But Brad had some alarming news to disseminate- the main bar needed to close early, but they made sure to open a rooftop bar until 1:30 am. Francesco displayed his European chivalry by offering to schlepp my swag bag to their hotel room so I wouldn’t have to carry it upstairs. Charles shut down his bar and at least one publisher looked a little shell shocked when he was handed his bill. Comics creators know how to drink, apparently.
By the time we moved up to the much smaller rooftop bar the crowd had whittled down to a comfortable size. Boom! Studios CEO Ross Richie, the towering Harvey keynote speaker was comfortably ensconced at one end with the popular, ponytailed Paul Pope. Ross confessed to jitters earlier in the day but if so, his speech was nothing but smooth during the dinner. I complimented Josh Fialkov on his third Doctor Who shirt of the day (he has 14 in total). Glenn Hauman was kind enough to introduce me to the MC of the evening, actor/comedian Phil Lamarr. Lamarr displayed impeccable comic geek cred throughout the ceremony by ribbing Mark Waid the entire time and riffing Dr. Doom so I was astonished to find it was his first time at the con.
Despite the smaller crowd getting drinks was actually more of a challenge and the choices were frustratingly limited. I was able to score a beer, although in a can not bottle, for Scott Snyder (Miller Lite seems to be the popular brand for the Bat editorial team), but no luck for Lisa Francavilla‘s White Russian. Once again, final call came way too soon. I said goodbye to Ron Marz and went with the Francavillas downstairs to get my swag out of their room and head across Inner Harbor to my new hotel, the Four Seasons. I can’t complain much as I was fortunate to snag an online deal that made it only slightly more expensive than the Sheraton. When I arrived it was eerily quiet, away from the convention and Camden Yards rabble. A calm oasis of polished marble and sophistication, staffed by smartly uniformed employees, it was hard to believe anyone else was staying at the hotel. It made the Hyatt look shabby by comparison.
The next morning I went for a run (the attendants had bottled water and towels waiting by the front lobby) along the harbor. I was surprised upon returning to find a tour bus parked in front. The previously serene lobby was now swarming with people and security. I soon found out why. The Yankees were staying in my hotel. Those damn Yankees.