Well here we are once again in Baltimore, Maryland for the Baltimore Comic Con 2017. As a venue, the city of Baltimore has it all. The convention center is located at the Inner Harbor, which has hours of shopping and eating. It also has several museums, the Orioles ballpark is across the street, there is a cool water taxi into Fell’s Point, a submarine tour, speed boat rides, and historical ships around the harbor such as a the U.S.S. Constellation. Also, this particular year, the convention was held September 22 -24, which coincided with the Baltimore Book Fair. The Baltimore Book Fair was held at the Inner Harbor and had multitudes of tents with authors reading excerpts, children story times, and various book sellers. As always, the offerings at the Inner Harbor are excellent as you can bring your non-nerd significant other and/or children and they can wander nearby as they wait for you to finish getting your nerd on! This turned out to be useful as similar to last year, we experienced a fire alarm. Around 9:42 am on Sunday, someone apparently pulled the fire alarm just after the convention got underway. The Baltimore Fire Department was onsite within 10 minutes and the building was declared safe to return in the next 20 minutes. The fire department and local law enforcement hung around just in case. Another great thing about the locale is the proximity to Fell’s Point, which is great for your nightly pub crawl and Little Italy, where you can enjoy authentic Italian food in wondrous restaurants like Sabatino’s.
Marc Nathan and crew have a really good idea of the size of the crowd and have developed getting into the event down pat. None of that huge warehouse concrete floor for an hour sitting that you may be used to up in New York. As a more focused convention, it is just the right size for folks who like comic books. While there are media guests, the newest show that you haven’t seen for the CW or ABC will not be everywhere you look. This year had the original Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, as the main guest, with a few others from the Marvel movie and television network present. So, there is the allure of Lynda Carter’s concert that night, while staying true to form the main event the first day was Frank Miller.
For those of you unfamiliar, Frank Miller is a comic icon and is responsible for some of the most memorable stories for Daredevil, and his Dark Knight portrayal of Batman, basically flipped the switch on Batman, giving permission for our heroes to not just to make tragic mistakes, but to be flawed. I know some will put forth that Namor was the original flawed hero, but we will argue that another time. Miller was there for only one day so it important to keep up with the program of events. Miller and Klaus Janson who supported illustrating both The Dark Knight Returns and DKIII: The Master Race appeared at a panel where he talked about his take on Batman and how in his mind his portrayal of Batman was simply a continuation of Bob Kane’s work, as well as Adam West’ portrayal. It seems as though for the Modern age he sees his various Batman titles as sort of a chronicle of Batman’s development with his disciplined, motivated, and cerebral detective in Batman: Year One to his reckless, emotional berserker during his physical pinnacle in All-Star Batman and Robin, then there were all the other Batman titles in between, and then the Dark Knight titles. For his next project, Miller indicated that he would working on a new title Superman: Year One. He suggests his intent with the new title is to streamline the mythology and return the joy and myth of Superman, by explaining why Superman is cool.
Another unique item I enjoy at this convention is the themed yearbook. The convention likes to place independent artists out front. The yearbook has a central theme and then several of the artists in attendance do a page. Last year it was Archie, this year it was Tellos, which was created by Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo and published by Image Comics. The idea is for the attendees to get the pages of the yearbook signed by the various artists with a some prints available if you get a certain number. I think the minimum was 20, but I got more. Obviously the intent is for you to visit the table of the artist ad maybe pick up an original print or three. Also, the original art from the yearbook is auctioned off during the convention.
While I was there for the comics, there is a whole culture of cosplay that is so wonderfully diverse in Baltimore. This year, thankfully, every third female was not either Harley Quinn or Rey and some really fit guys were baring their abs for Aquaman. I did see a good number of black girl nerds out there rocking the Storm mohawk, but there were also some excellent princesses and other characters from both television, movies, and of course the comics. As you would expect, the cosplay was strongest on Saturday, because that is when they judge the adult costume contest. There is both a professional and amateur contest, then on Sunday there is the kids contest.
Both conventions and I have grown along with advances in convention management, which allows the larger conventions to have so much more to offer. Some conventions try a little too hard to have something for everyone. Before the digitization of everything, your comic experience was largely measured by your friends and your local comic purveyor. For some this could the local book store, for the more fortunate there could be an actual comic book store, and at best you were in the proximity of a convention. Like anything, conventions come in all different sizes and intents. I think many this still holds true today. One of my first conventions in a small town was not much more than the banquet hall of a small hotel with 25 or so vendors, many of them not really comic based. What was amazing about my experience was the main guest, Majel Barrett Roddenberry. While perusing the room, I was standing behind a guy and she walked up and sat down. They had a headshot for sale for $6, I bought one she signed it and I was too through. At this time, the idea of question and answer sessions was reserved for larger conventions.
While acknowledging the other mediums that present the various comic heroes and heroines, the Baltimore Comic Con’s strength remains its focus on comics. With an emphasis on those who illustrate and write them, and the fans who love them. While on the east coast, Dragon Con and NYCC may be the largest, I often feel overwhelmed by all it has to offer and the size of the crowds. For me, Baltimore remains my favorite as it stays true to the idea of a comic book convention, celebrates the industry and supports the independents. See you next year!
By: E. Angel
Author Bio: 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 email@example.com or on either game platform as Bunnehs Sister.
What's Your Reaction?
E.Angel is an engineer and holds a BS in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. In her spare time she works at her comic book store – Brainstorm Comics and Gaming - when she is not reading comic books. 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.