I’ve experienced Baltimore Comic Con as a cosplayer and as a writer, but I still feel that the most fun way to experience the convention is as a fan.
Upon entering the show floor, you are faced with rows of vendors, exhibitors, and, my favourite, artist’s alley. And that’s where I always head first. Saturday morning becomes my time for autograph hunting, since I hate waiting in lines any longer than necessary. I started off the day by meeting Chris Samnee, followed by Francesco Francavilla, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Ray Fawkes, Art Baltazar, Franco, Mark Waid, and Ron Marz. As usual, there were a few people I didn’t get the chance to meet, but overall my autograph and “thank you for writing/drawing amazing stories” time went completely smoothly.
Then came the wandering of the artist’s alley aisles. I’ve said it many times before, but I have a huge weakness for art. I also have no wall space, and that doesn’t ever stop me. From experience, I know to do a general wander through before buying things, because otherwise I’d buy everything. I’m sure people would appreciate me buying everything, but it’s not something I can actually do.
On the other hand, I’m less picky about buying comics immediately, because 1) they might not be there by the time I get back and 2) I might not ever find that particular vendor again. I’m not obsessive about having single issues, though there are series I would like to have complete. One of those series is Impulse. Before Baltimore Comic Con, I was missing about twelve issues. Sure I could just find them online and order them, but one of the best parts of digging through $1 bins at cons is the treasure hunt. And this year the hunt paid off. Post-Baltimore, I am now missing just two.
The one thing I had expected to get (and left extra room in my suitcase for) were books. Ultimately I didn’t get that many. But the ones I got were worth it. Animal Man and Red Hood and the Outlaws are two of my favourite ongoings, I love anything with the Flash, and Amelia Cole and Unknown World (disclaimer: I’m friendly with many of the people who worked on the book) was amazing. I also got Queers Dig Time Lords and A Once Crowded Sky, two books I’ve been looking forward to reading. And I won a Doctor Who dvd by answering trivia questions!
And then it was back to the art. I wanted everything. Baltimore has so many talented artists attend, and that just makes decisions so much harder. In the end, I got a couple of larger prints, a bunch of smaller ones, and two stunning commissions.
But as great as the art and comics and invited guests are, what makes Baltimore Comic Con really special is what happens beyond the walls of the convention itself. The people you talk to walking back and forth between the convention center and the hotel, the ones you run into while having lunch, the conversations in the bar in the evenings, and the interactions in the elevator with people you don’t recognise until the next day. (I may have run into Chris Samnee in the elevator and made a stupid comment about floors being numerical. And he may have remembered and called me out for it the following day after recognising me in line.)
How many other conventions give you experiences like that?
Or experiences like hanging out with the Amelia Cole crew and talking until far too late at night? Or running into the film crew for Comic Book Men in line to get coffee at far too early in the morning? Or even having a somewhat loud discussion about Man of Steel without once being accused of being a bad fan for liking/disliking it or accused of not having a valid opinion?
And the best part of being a fan at Baltimore Comic Con? I mean, beside all the amazing other reasons? The people treat fans as fans. Male, female, older, younger, writer, artist, reader, new fan, long time fan, famous, not famous, everyone treats each other like they matter. That’s something that can’t be said about every convention I’ve attended. But it’s something I consistently see at Baltimore.
So I leave you with just one question. Is it time for next year yet?