Here is our recap of Baltimore Comic-Con 2019.
The sonnet on the base of the Statue of Liberty is called The New Colossus and is written by Emma Lazarus. Politics has played around with the last verse, but I will quote one of the first.
For those of you who are X-Men fans, this sounds like Lazarus is talking about Storm. The more popular lines about huddled masses is meant as a welcome to all who seek to be free. For comic book fans, a good convention can be just that. While Baltimore is not the largest convention, it keeps true to what makes a good comic book convention — comic books. Of course, what makes Baltimore unique is what goes on around it as well. Often during the same weekend, there is a Ravens or Orioles game on either Saturday or Sunday. One year there was a book festival. This makes parking a bear, but supports some interesting collections of event participants at the crosswalks, parking garages, and adjacent eateries. Interestingly enough, the location seems to absorb multiple events quite well, as the convention center is on the Baltimore Inner Harbor, a local tourist attraction.
This year, the convention floor didn’t feel as crowded as usual. I’m not sure if that was a better layout or there were just fewer people. To be honest, I don’t really care about the reason, as it allowed me to get around and visit with many of the creators that I wouldn’t have normally. However, as I talked to other collectors after the convention, most of those who opted not to attend had one of two reasons. Either they were aware of the race and choose not to attend, or they had made the trek to New York a week or so before and were just tapped out. Last year I did both conventions when they were basically back-to-back. Between my pocketbook and my knees, I vowed to never to do it again. Don’t get me wrong — every collector should try to do a large convention like New York at least once. It is an experience, mostly in patience while standing in line, but it is awesome. In Baltimore, there is a lot of the same comic content without an hour wait in line for the bathroom, plus easy access and great food.
Last year there was a little bit of a scandal as a particular artist who had just released a title under DC’s Black Label was charging an incredible amount of money for signatures, regardless of whether the books were being graded. Collectors have long memories, and I passed by his relatively empty booth several times during the convention. Hopefully, the lesson was learned. Another artist was only signing the first and last hours of the convention. I’m not sure that endeared him to the fans in attendance. Some of the incredibly interesting and talented artists and writers were there: perennial favorites like the Simonsons, Greg Pak, Mark Waid, John Beatty, Mike Zeck, Tom King, and Mitch Gerads; Neal Adams and Klaus Janson made a good showing; Jim Lee had special events that were well attended.
Once again I engaged in the Baltimore Comicon Yearbook. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Yearbook is a collection of pictures drawn by 70 or so artists in attendance focused on one independent title. You can go around to the various artists at the convention and they will sign their page. If you get about a third of the book signed, you receive an additional set of drawings from other artists at the convention. This year the focus was on the title Blacksad, created by Spanish creators Juanjo Guarnido and Juan Díaz Canales. Blacksad is a mystery centered around its feline detective John Blacksad. I really enjoyed many of the sketches and meeting artists that I did not know much about, so I ventured to the auction for the drawings that make up the Yearbook, the proceeds of which go to charity. I have been to one or two non-comic art auctions, and this one was comparable to what you would expect, except for the costume players (cosplay) in the auction during the preview. I didn’t get the piece I wanted, but I did enjoy the experience.
This year the cosplay was not as heavy as in some past years, but when it was done it was almost always done well. There was a good representation from the X-Men all over the convention floor. Wolverine graced the aisles in several different versions and Groot was an aisle favorite, but the cake was taken by the Big Daddy Golden Vader. All in all, it was a good time, even with the Sunday downpour. Like most conventions, I recommend Friday afternoon for anyone’s first comic convention experience as it is a good way to establish expectations as Saturday can be a bit overwhelming. Regardless, it was another great year, and I will see you there next year!