On growing… pt. 2

As I noted earlier a good number of us Blurred Production folks were at Baltimore Comic-Con over the weekend. This was my sixth consecutive year attending.

After last year I fretted that Baltimore was growing but not growing well.  This year things got worse.

Before I really get into things there is a major caveat that I need to get out of the way:

  • The only day I was able to attend fully was Saturday. I spent most of Saturday (11 to roughly 5) on the floor or in panels.
  • On Sunday spent only maybe a full hour at the con, because I had a massive hang over and needed to take the girlfriend to her bus.
  • Thus my opinion is formed basically on the experience of Saturday only.

Ok. So basically Marc Nathan and rest of the organizers are good people but they seriously need to figure out what the future of Baltimore Comic-Con is supposed to be.

For example, no one can complain about this year’s guest list; Bendis, Johns, Lee, Robinson – these are are huge names in the comic business and Nathan deserves credit for bringing them to Charm City. But having all the great guests in the world is not going to mean shit if your floor plan is a giant clusterfuck that was a cross between a traffic jam and a poorly designed dungeon from a bad D&D campaign.

What I mean by that is essentially all of the “top talent” was clustered in the same corner of the convention floor. This meant that there was one clusterfucked corner that was virtually impossible to push through or figure out which line was which. As I understand it, things were so nuts that they were giving out tickets to the Geoff Johns line.

This is not to mention the ghettization of the medium to unknown creators in the back of the convention hall. Now this might be unfair but compare the treatment of mid-to-low list creators (and Indie comics people) at a con like Heroes – where they essentially get their own “island” and are promoted – to Baltimore. Now I know Baltimore has different ambitions than Heroes but the Heroes people can – somehow – manage to have both big name creators, like Bendis, and still show love towards less well known creators.

Perhaps the biggest organizational snauf of the con was the utterly rediciously line on Saturday to get tickets. It was clear that the organizers – again – did not expect the turn out they got and did not prepare for it. At one o’clock – three hours after the con opened – there was still a line out the door (in the rain) for tickets. [Note: in all fairness this could have been because of the fire code] And despite the bigger guest list, we were in a smaller convention hall than last year.

This is not to say that the organizers completely screwed up. The panel schedule was very good, varied, and interesting this year. Despite the fact that is an “end of the season” con. The Bendis/Kirkman panel was very intellectually engaging and one of my best convention panel experiences ever. The DC Panel on the other hand was very low-key and boring. It definitely had a burnt out, end of the season kind of feel to it. Plus, the who DC crew was oddlyanti-fan“. [Note: I “twittered” both the DC and Bendis/Kirkman panels]

On the most basic level I think Marc Nathan and the Baltimore crew need to put serious thought into where they think the con in going in the future. Is it going to be a “big star” con? Is it going to be con where people go to get deals? Or is it going to be some sort of combination of both? Baltimore felt like it was going through an identity crisis this year.

What the 2008 convention proved was that last year’s growth wasn’t an outlier – it looks like Baltimore’s steady growth is likely to continue – but the basic thrust my feelings about last year’s con remain. Is this growth a good thing? Is it something that the con organzers can handle?

The answer this year’s con leaves me with is: not really. And that makes me sad.

SEE ALSO: The comments by The Kaiser.

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