MIKE GOLD: On Conventions and Baltimore
I attended my first big comic book show back during the Paleolithic Age. It was either Phil Seuling’s first or second New York Convention, and it was a blast. There were about 500 of us in a Broadway hotel, and at least 475 of us didn’t realize there were so many people who were, in this respect, just like us. We realized we were not alone.
Cut to the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. Add everybody up – paid attendance, freebees, professionals, dealers, Hollywood types, publishing people, foreign distributors, Communist spies – and there were about 150,000 folks stuffed into that convention boxcar. That’s like a 300x increase. OK, it took over 40 years to get to that point, but still, back in the late 1960s the Seuling show was the only big game in the nation. Today, you’ve got huge shows in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and/or Dallas and/or Austin, San Francisco… you get the point.
Sadly, as San Diego grew the comics presence diminished – and not just proportionately. Today, the comics part of the San Diego Comic Con is an afterthought. It’s so blatant that it was mocked on Futurama, by no less than Sergio Aragones.
I miss the shows that are truly about comic books. I don’t need the Hollywood whores, and if I want to see celebrities I can just walk around Rockefeller Plaza for about ten minutes. I want that feeling I had so long ago, at the ancient hotels Phil rented for the comparative handful of us to meet and greet each other, back in the days before the horrid eBay forced artists to charge for their sketches and before the evil eBay pulled the rug out from underneath the dealers’ feet.
I can’t say I miss those shows completely, as there are still a few around. The HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina comes to mind. There are others.
This coming weekend, I’m going to my favorite of these few shows. Once again, I’ll be at the Baltimore Comic-Con – I rarely miss it – and I always have a great time. It’s run by good people who love comics and know how to run a convention. It’s got a lengthy guest list and it’s got the Harvey Awards dinner.
There are three other factors that are probably more personal to me. A lot of my friends and collaborators go to it – Baltimore is one of the few shows that Timothy Truman frequents, Mike Grell comes out from the northwest, and Mark Wheatley (who puts me up while he puts up with me) lives in the vicinity. Robert Tinnell, John K. Snyder, Bo Hampton, Ted Adams, Marc Hempel, Denis Kitchen, John Workman, Walter Simonson, ComicMix’s own Glenn Hauman and Robert Greenberger … the list of my friends there just goes on and on. Most important, unlike San Diego or the New York Comic-Con or Chicago’s R2D2, I can actually hang out with my buddies and meet my fellow fans.
Of course, the show is a mere four-hour drive from Connecticut. That’s about as long as it takes me to get from my front door to wheel’s up at New York’s JFK International. The six-hour flight to the left coast is extra. And the Baltimore show is only two days long: Saturday and Sunday. Yep, no padding, no unending lines to wait in, just two solid days of comics’ fanboy fun.
If you can make it, please do. I’ll be mostly at the Insight Studios Booth, and I promise I won’t hit you with my cane. At least, not intentionally. Yep, this is my first show since I destroyed my back. My back’s back, so I’m back.
Drop by and say hello. We’ll probably get into a conversation or something. It’s that kind of show.
(ComicMix editor-in-chief Mike Gold resumed his Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind rock’n’blues show, which streams four times a week on www.getthepointradio.com and is also available on demand at that very same venue. He also pens a very political column at Michael Davis World – http://mdwp.malibulist.com/ — where he joins ComicMix columnists Martha Thomases and Michael Davis.)
THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil