This year instead of a long summer vacation, I have been hitting various comicons within driving distance. Maybe you’ve been following my various adventures in DC at Awesome Con and the joy of hybrids on wet roads during my trek to Pittsburgh. For Baltimore’s 2015 comicon I was well prepared with food, friends, and a hotel room close by. The hotel room was such a joy as my first time at the New York Comicon (NYCC) our hotel was 13 or 14 country blocks from the convention center. After spending 6 to 8 hours at the comicon, we ended up walking across half of New York City, including Times Square, with all our purchases and three children under 10 – not the right answer. For Baltimore, I had brought an umbrella, reserved a close hotel, ensured that I had a good amount of cash on hand, brought a comprehensive want list, and enlisted some new friends to go with me.
For Friday, the weather outside threatened rain all day and I wondered whether that weather would dampen the costume play (cosplay). I was pleased as I walked up to the convention center that I was wrong. Of course, my elation was quickly dashed by the acrid smell and cloud of smoke that hung in front of the entrance that Friday and throughout the convention. I was doubly glad I did not have to maneuver children through that second-hand hazard – cough. Actual entrance to the convention was facilitated by a contingent of convention staff blockading the doors providing day pass folks arms bands allowing quick entrance into the comicon. I am so fortunate that I went on Friday. It was nice to walk the floor and get the lay of the land. Which also presented the opportunity to walk right up and get in “line” (I use line loosely as two points do constitute a line) for an autograph for Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos).
I was impressed with the comic guests. Standing in line Saturday morning, I mused about whether the extra funds I dished out for the VIP pass was worth it. I would have to say that it was. The extra 20 or so minutes allowed me to get queued up for several artist autographs like Mike Zeck (Captain America, The Punisher-Limited Series), John Beatty (Marvel Secret Wars, The Punisher-Limited Series), Greg LaRocque (Web of Spider-Man) and Mark Morales(Rise of Apocalypse). The time also came in handy on Saturday when I lined up to get an autograph of Ming Na Wen (Agents of Shield, Stargate Universe). Also the comic vendors really showed up. My want list is down to two or so issues, with the help of a couple of friends wading through the long boxes.
This year’s Guest of Honor artist was Mark Waid (Daredevil, S.H.I.E.L.D, Princess Leia). If you’ve read any Marvel comic in the last 6 months or so, you’ve probably picked up something he has written. However, my excitement about his appearance was his work on Boom! Studios Strange Fruit (See Mississippi Golem for BGN review). As I circled his empty booth, I was fortunate to get to spend some time talking to Waid’s artist on Strange Fruit, J.G. Jones (Wanted, Wonder Woman:Hiketeia). Turns out, that the rather compelling story is as much Jones’ as Waids.’ Jones shared his disdain for living in the segregated South in the 60’s and his attempts to avoid the “clothing” store owned by a racist one-term Louisiana State politician, who shall not be named.
There were several great finds in Artists Alley by Indie Artists. One interesting find was the Crew ashcan by the creative team of Ray Francis, Tim Craggette, and Rob Spencer. I have to be honest, they had another title I would have purchased but it was about super-hero clowns and I didn’t want to exacerbate anyone’s coulrophobia – that is the fear of clowns. After talking with Ray and Tim and then reading the ashcan, the autobiographical aspects of several of the characters were obvious. Tim and Ray obviously have great plans for the title. For me Crew is the beginning of a coming of age story about inner city youths – yes, I mean black kids. Not being a kid anymore, I did not connect with the characters, but I don’t think I was meant to connect. This title is obvious written and intended for young, black, men…uhm boys, and I think they will connect with the bold and direct approach in the dialogue and story. Given that the only mainstream character of the same age as our young males of color is really Miles Morales in the Marvel Universe, this could be a good alternative. As with the clown title, it is unlikely that I would be looking for this for myself, but when this is completed, I think this would be a title that my pre-teen nephew would actually read and enjoy. And the thought of just getting our youth sitting and voluntary reading anything not containing profanity, boobs, and butts makes this worth the money.
One of the panels I attended was about a forthcoming television series based on a limited series steampunk comic of the same name Lantern City. The co-creator Matthew James Daley, comic editor, Dafna Pleban, and actor Raphael Sbarge (Independence Day, Mass Effect, Once Upon a Time) discussed the project. I am enjoying the comic. It is intelligently drawn with bold amber accents and extremely full backgrounds. The story deals with the lengths someone will go to protect his family and friends, and whether to trust an enemy that you fought so hard against to protect all that you hold dear. I also enjoyed running into Daley and Sbarge in the comic guest section. They’re excitement for the project is contagious, and I also got an autograph from the both of them.
As expected Saturday was the day for cosplay. Last year the cosplay was heavily influenced by the release of Guardians of the Galaxy movie. This year Agents of Shield seemed to rule the day. I was really pleased with the increased minority cosplay. Charm City is definitely the place for black folks to get their costume on, and the black Agents of Shield really improved my experience. A local cosplayer Jay Justice really killed as the Inhuman Medusa, but she definitely had competition. We can all be proud that the Blerd cosplay represented.
On the third day, after walking almost 10 miles around the convention (gotta love the pedometer on my Samsung watch), I was ready to go. The rain had subsided; my money was about gone;
I got 90 percent of my comics autographed, and some of the vendors didn’t even show up, so I took one more circuit around the floor. There are other conventions that really play up the media guests, there have huge debuts of things and games, but the Baltimore Comicon is about comics and once again it did not disappoint. So if you’re in the area early next September, I recommend that you stop in.
E.Angel is an engineer and holds a BS in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. She’s a real nerd who loves all things Star Wars and Star Trek, and is an avid gamer. E.Angel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on either game platform as Bunnehs Sister.