Marc Alan Fishman: BaltiMORE!
Yeah, I know. The illustrious Mike Gold has already written at length as to why the Baltimore Comic-Con is an amazing experience. But Mike’s career in comics is older than I am. I had thought, for only a second, that maybe I should just move on and try another column to piss people off. But here I sit, and man, I still can’t stop smiling. So, screw it, you’re gonna hear (again) about the Baltimore Comic-Con. Maybe you’ll get a different perspective. This was my first trip to the Charm City, and I think Mike may have underplayed just how awesome this shindig is. Oh Baltimore Comic-Con, how do I love thee… Let me count the ways.
As many here have read my recent tirades about the Wizard Conventions may know… I have been seriously duped. I was raised on a convention where I honestly believed that in order to make it successful, one needed the publishers (especially the big ones) to anchor the show. How wrong I truly was! BCC was a show where the publishers were truly secondary to the main draw – the creators. In one of several walks I took away from our own table, I realized I was feet away from a litany of personal heroes. Brian Bolland, Cliff Chiang, J.G. Jones, and Gene Ha only to name a few. And while there were publishers there, they were in non-monstrosities that made them feel a “part” of the show, not the driving force behind it. The driving force truly was the community of creators. And given that I was amongst them? It was one of the few times in my five years as one I felt comfortable owning the term.
Far cooler though was the chance to truly “meet” Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, and ComicMix’s Emily S. Whitten. Over an amazing dinner (joined by my amazing friends/Samurnauts Erik and Cherise Anderson, Unshaven Sales Machine Kyle, and the always tall Glenn Hauman) we swapped stories, histories, personal politics, jokes, and more. And sure the crab cake was some kind of life altering experience… but just the chance to be at that dinner table in the suburbs of Maryland was some kind of amazing that I’ll be chasing for years to come. I know this is not an experience one gets simply by being at this con… but this was one perk of writing for this site that certainly is continuing to pay off in spades – even if it’s in food and stories alone.
As Mike already mentioned, the show was the perfect length. No “preview night” to force an extra day’s parking money out of the creators… just a packed weekend of festivities. It was almost as if the show runners knew that the creators who got into town early might find one another prior, and take the responsibility themselves to find a good time in the city. Preposterous!
What Mike didn’t mention (mainly because he wasn’t there to sell…) was the positively unending crowd. For two days the traffic at the show was never sparse. Our booth was literally in the last aisle of the convention center, and there was rarely a time where there wasn’t a nice gaggle of comic fans walking past our table. Unshaven Comics walked into the con with a “it’d sure be nice” goal of 150 books over two days. On Saturday alone, we netted a personal record: 137 books sold. And Sunday helped us tip the total to over 200. That makes me beyond proud to announce with three more conventions still left on our schedule, we met our years’ goal of 1000 books sold. For three guys making books in their basement, selling only on the convention floor? I’d say Baltimore put the icing on a cake made of success.
And how about those Harvey Awards? Well, all points from earlier in the week stand true: We were in awe in attendance of living legends. Phil LaMarr was an amazingly hilarious host who proved that beneath all the funny was a legit fan. Ross Ritchie proved that beyond the Gutters’ continual assault on his character, he’s a humble and very passionate man. His call to action only cemented further Unshaven Comics’ love of the medium. And hey, the 30-pound gift bag they let us leave with was nothing short of super. It’s more than possible that it will take an entire career for me to get one, but mark my words: Unshaven Comics will take home a Harvey before we retire our pencils and Wacoms.
Suffice to say, the Baltimore Comic-Con showed me exactly what Wizard is missing in it’s conventions: comic book creators. We’re not a sideshow or a footnote to be hidden on the con floor. We’re the reason this industry exists – from the billion dollar movies we create to the never-ending stream of ideas. The BCC knows how to elevate and celebrate this fact.
As a creator and as a fan, I was (and am) awestruck at what I was witness to this past weekend. And sure it took a twelve-hour car trip to get there, but it was truly a small price to pay for a head full of memories I’ll be hard-pressed to replace…
Until next year.
SUNDAY: John Ostrander