On growing…

As noted earlier I attended the Baltimore Comic-Con this past weekend. This year marks the fifth consecutive year I’ve attended this con and as always it was an interesting experience.

The usual goodness was present. Marc Nathan and the staff were incredibly helpful (if a bit overwhelmed by the large turnout) and the various creators were all very nice and accessible. I was especially touched to see the number of creators who did special (for charity) sketches in honor of Mike Wieringo. It was nice to see money raised for such an important cause (animals) in the memory such a great creator and person.

This year I got great sketches from Georges Jeanty (of Buffy) and Dean Trippe (of Iron Man and the Buffy cast)

Yet the despite the usual greatness of Baltimore this year, there were some problems. Despite the larger venue and (much) large attendance this year, the show felt kind of empty if you spent time on the dealer side of the convention.

Of course there were tons of great creators this year, but if you came to buy comics/toy/etc. or for great deals they just weren’t there. That is not to say that usual great local retailers weren’t there; they were and they, more often than not, had their usual excellent deals. Yet because of the larger venue and larger turnout I was expecting more and it just wasn’t there. If Baltimore Comic-Con wants to keep expanding (and I hope it does) it really needs to beef up its dealer turnout.

Despite the staff’s usual excellent customer service there were some problems. The lines (especially on Saturday) to get tickets and to get to the convention center were fucking ridiculous. Additionally their “convention exclusive” policy was all kinds of fucked up and ever-changing. I counted three different policies (first come first serve, then tickets only!, then first come first serve again) on how they were going to hand out their Star Wars exclusive bust. None of these changes were announce over the loud speaker making things very confused.

This was my first year in Baltimore were I didn’t really attend any panels. The Saturday afternoon DC Nation panel was a humorless experience, where both the DC staff/creators seemed to be in a bad mood and the fans seemed in a worse one. Normally, despite the fact that I often find him to be a bit grating (at the DC Nation panel at Charlotte I found myself rolling my eyes at his behavior more than I blinked), Dan Didio manages to hold my attention raptly. This year at Baltimore this was not the case. The panel was far too long (I ended up leaving early) and while I was there, there were no major announcements. (It seems I should have attended the Sunday panel). In fact I found the experience so distasteful I skipped the Marvel panel and Sunday DC panel.

In the past I’ve loved attending these sort of things but this year the whole panel experience fell flat for me.

The essential point I want to get across about this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con was they suffered so serious growing pains this year. That is not to say it was a bad con, not in the least. I hope that Marc Nathan and the rest of the Baltimore Comic-Con organizers learn from some of the mistakes and problems with this year’s con and make next year’s the best yet.

Because, I’m looking forward to it.

As a bit of a side note:

Every con we go to my friends and I pick out bad DC covers based on a certain theme (ie. Superman as a dick) and have a comic professional judge which is “worse”.

This year’s theme at Baltimore was “sexist Wonder Woman covers” my entry (based on budget constraints was this Frank Miller original.

It came in second place. This years judge was the always colorful Howard Chaykin. Take that as you will


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