Baltimore Comic-Con brings fans and families together
Let the record state Sept. 9, 2013 was simultaneously one of the saddest and happiest days of my life. I closed out my very first Baltimore Comic-Con.
A two-day comic book convention held at the Baltimore Convention Center, Marc Nathan founded the Baltimore Comic-Con in 2000 as a single day event. Since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the largest comic book conventions on the east coast. Now, if you’re thinking about going to the Baltimore Comic-Con, then you’ll want to read this disclaimer: If you’re not into comics, this convention is not for you. Most of the larger and more recognizable conventions have become entertainment events, which is fine. However, for avid comic enthusiasts to find truly comic book-centered events, you must look to the smaller, local conventions. Baltimore Comic-Con has retained that local comic book show feel by staying focused on sharing the love for the creation and reading of comic books. Each panel, event, and guest centered on celebrating comic books and the people who create them. One moment you’re at a panel with members of the DC Comics creative team; the next moment you find yourself walking next to Walter Simonson as you wade through a sea of hammer-wielding Thors. Well, I’m exaggerating about the sea of Thors, but you might run into Mark Waid en route to a panel about Marvel Comics.
Day 1 had a hectic start with a line of fans wrapping around the convention center waiting to get in. I understood why; the energy between the fans in the center was electrifying. Whether through cosplay, purchases from vendors, or friendly debates over who would win in a fight between Doctor Who and Doctor Doom, people had a chance to demonstrate their love for the comic book medium.
I attended one of the first panels of the day, on DC’s The New 52, which was very informative. DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio introduced the panel and addressed the Batwoman controversy surrounding her marital status. I followed it with a Marvel-ous panel featuring Mark Waid, Mark Bagley, and Ed McGuinness. They regaled us with stories of their work at Marvel. Yes, it was even better than it sounds. After that, the day became a blur of people-watching and panel attendance, with the occasional visit to the Kids Love Comics area in the dealers’ room.
The Kids Love Comics area was designed to introduce children to the joys of reading and appreciating the art of comics. The area was filled with opportunities: Art lessons, lightsaber lessons, and the chance to meet creators such as John Gallagher, Mark McKenna, Dave Roman, Mark Mariano, and many more. I also had two friends, Ben Taylor and Chris Otto, providing free sketches of favorite comic characters and I occasionally helped them out in their booth. Watching the joy the children and parents were getting from this experience made me remember why I loved comics so much. Comics also brought my family together and watching other families share this joy was a heartwarming experience.
Day 2 was a little more subdued. After the frenzy on Saturday, attendees were better organized for the final day. Many people waited until noon to arrive and were on a mission! Today was the day to get their comics signed by the creators they missed the previous day, or to strike a deal on that comic collection in the dealers’ room. Once again, I attended Mike Mignola’s panel, followed by a panel about IDW’s upcoming projects. However, I mostly stayed at the Kids Love Comics area, watching families have fun learning about comics; it really made the convention for me.
Overall, the highlight of my weekend wasn’t from the con at all. I had the most fun staying at the convention’s hotel, the Hyatt Regency. While there, I had a chance to interact with many creators on a personal level, eating breakfast, discussing the U.S. Open or the first football games, and listening to personal stories of working in the industry. It was all just incredible, and then, it was over. I have to admit it was both heartbreaking and satisfying at the same time, and altogether too brief. My experience with the convention is that it is too big of an event to be only two days; it has clearly outgrown its weekend format. Thankfully, organizers have recognized this and next year it is moving to three days, Sept. 5-7, 2014. Until then, I will be among the many comic fans from Baltimore and abroad impatiently waiting for next year.
(Images: Mind Of The Geek)