September 12, 2012

Baltimore Comic Con 2012: Undeniable!

I’ve been to big shows, small shows, and everything in-between. The search for the greatest con on Earth will happen every year regardless of how good or bad the show of that particular year is, but this year’s con was definitely the best so far. For the last 13 years, the city of Baltimore has been hosting a comic book convention that sets itself apart by doing one simple thing. Selling comics. Sounds easy, right? Most smaller cons get it right because of venue size or lack of promotion from big companies, this event doesn’t lack those things, but still gets it right. Friendly faces, nice accommodations, plenty of space, fantastic guests, retailers, and exhibitors. All these things add up to the best “big show” going on the east coast for sure!

First up, it would be a disservice to not talk about all of the great cosplayers in attendance. The multitude of good ones was actually quite surprising. Yes, there were some incredibly bad costumes too, but nevertheless, most were impressive. Poison Ivy, Zatanna, Dr. Who, Bane, and many more were visually stunning and added a great feeling to this show. The two best had to be two children, one dressed as the Hulk and another, a young girl, as Thor. They were the cutest cosplayers ever! The Hulk was a small boy that was painted green with the trademarked purple torn shorts! I didn’t obtain permission from the parents to post pics, so I won’t do that, but I believe you can see the mini Hulk on the con Facebook page (pic below is my daughter with DOOM!).

The line getting in wasn’t too bad and moved quickly once they opened the doors. Getting my credentials was very pleasant as I met the con executive. A table of freebies greeted me and my family, and then we hit the floor! I immediately spotted the BOOM! Studios booth, and headed around the corner to see what else lay ahead. I ran straight into artists’ alley, and wow was it big! I wanted to get to see the table of one Jeff Balke to start! He was first on my list because his table gets busy! The dude always has awesome prints for sale at a good price, plus he’s one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Some of the guests hadn’t arrived yet, but I scanned the area to see who was where. Francesco Francavilla was on my radar, as well. He’s been tearing it up for Dark Horse lately, and I’m a big fan. I witnessed him do a sketch cover for a Defenders book of Doctor Strange in record time, and it was superb! I wished I had one of my own (next time for sure!).

There were a couple of people that I wanted to meet more than anyone, though. There were two guests that are very high on my list of all time greats, and meeting them made my day. First was Jim Starlin. The man who, in my opinion, is the person single most responsible for the Marvel cosmic universe being the juggernaut of endless and epic stories that it is. Nuff said. Next was Walt Simonson, and although there was quite a line to meet him all day, I wasn’t missing out again like I did in NY last year. I must say that he and Starlin were both perfect gentlemen, and accommodated every request that I witnessed. I also had two conversations with a pair of aces! Namely, Mike Raicht (The Stuff of Legend, Dark Shadows) and Matteo Scalera (Valen The Outcast, Secret Avengers). Both guys are a class act and took time out of their busy day to talk with me. Last but not least, I’d feel terrible if I didn’t mention Khoi Pham. I’ve met him before at a smaller con (Allentown Comic Con), where he talked with me, and did two quick sketches for both of my kids. He’s the type of guy that no matter how busy he is, he’ll make time for you. I wish more people had his attitude in the world today, because it would be a much better place.

Matteo Scalera!

Three or four vendors that were there had quite an impressive inventory. A couple of high end dealers along with vendors selling issues as low as four for a dollar rounded out the sellers’ area! There were a myriad of other vendors as well, selling statues, costumes, and everything in-between. Another highlight for me was meeting my comic book supplier, Pat McCauslin. A few of my cohorts at know him, and getting to talk with a guy that’s been collecting comics since the early 1960s, and puts more time and effort into his customers being satisfied than anyone I’ve ever seen, was a real treat. One surprise was bumping into the great crew over at Action Lab Comics. These folks were a pleasure to talk to, and their booth felt like such a family environment, it was awe inspiring.

There were two things that I do now regret not buying. First, I was checking out a book by Visionary Comics, called Deadlands. I’ve never read this book, but it looked and sounded awesome. It also had plenty of good creators behind it. If I had the chance again, I’d definitely buy it. Secondly, I was making a last sweep of the floor when I noticed 215 Ink. These guys had some cool books, and I wanted to buy a couple but was hesitant to pull the trigger. After I left and checked my wallet, though, I realized none of the said books were in my price range anyway, because I was broke.

Th3rd World Studios' booth!


All in all, the convention was spectacular. It had all the elements of a good con. There were only three things that were disappointing. Dark Horse, Aspen, and Image Comics were all missing in action. Not having them there was kind of deflating, but hopefully next year they will attend. I’m already plotting my trip next year, and hopefully it can be both days this time! If you live within a reasonable distance or just have enough dough to fly there, definitely check out this con. Baltimore Comic Con gets it right!

Billy Dunleavy



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