The Baltimore Comicon is the strongest example this year of the “fantasy economy” prevailing in economic lean times. While Baltimore retains it charm, quirkiness and access to fresh, delicious crabs, signs of the recession are everywhere. Parts of the city only blocks from the convention center consist of blocks of boarded up buildings — last year it was a Rite-Aid.
Despite this, the show yesterday was JAMMED. People were spending money carefully, no doubt, and overall purchases may have been down, but the crowd bustled, many in costume. In fact, entire families came in costume — dad’s hobby is turning into a family affair, and the families are not being forced into it. There was an adorable little girl dressed as Captain America — Cap is an aspirational model for everyone.
Next year’s dates have been announced — August 28 and 29th, which takes it out of the busy October season and may be just far enough away from SD that people are recovered enough for a leisurely one.
We missed the Harvey dinner, but came for the awards, and Scott Kurtz was a witty host, who went there, with some pointed humor. The show started with an “unmotion comic” that featured Prince Valiant, Dagwood, Garfield and BC in a humorous take on the evolution from comic strips to webcomics. Hopefully Kurtz will put it online. Towards the end of the night, he alluded to the inclusiveness of comics — adding how remarkable it was that a webcomics vet such as himself could be giving away awards in front of a crowd of legends such as Joe Kubert, Chris Claremont and Neal Adams. As noted by many people in Baltimore’s friendly, comics loving atmosphere, in comics most everyone wants the other fellow to do well, an extreme rarity in any industry.
Elsewhere, people were gearing up for the Diamond Retailer Summit, which kicks off tonight. Both DC’s Bob Wayne and Boom!’s Ross Richie have promised some rip-roaring announcements over the next few days, so we’re getting out of our hotel room right now to go cover them!
Before we go, here’s a con report by a fellow named Ray that seems to cover all the bases:
I’ve been to two conventions this year- this and Wizard World Philly. There’s no doubt that this was the better convention. WW Philly has gone from a great show to a terrible one over the years, a victim of the declining Wizard company. There’s only so many people you can lay off at a company before rot sets in, and WW Philly this year was a show that was hollow at its core. Most of the comics industry’s A-List decided to go to Charlotte’s Heroes con instead of Philly, so the only people left were those that lived in the Northeast that just couldn’t get to Charlotte for one reason or another. (Next year, Philly’s not the same weekend as Charlotte. Hopefully, this will result in a better Philly convention. If not, the show just can’t survive. And that’s a shame; Philly’s a great comics town.)
Baltimore is just a great comics show. There’s no “pop culture” aspect of the show; there’s no room. No video games. No “wrestler’s row” to fill the appearance schedule. (Jerry Lawler was scheduled to appear, but his Memphis mayoral campaign got in the way. But Lawler is a legit comics professional, so he doesn’t count.) There’s no gaming tables. It’s a packed show, just wall-to-wall comics. It’s a little overwhelming at times; Glenn and I nearly got lost more than once trying to navigate the showroom floor. But how can you complain about too much comics?
BIG thanks to Ed Catto for his company and driving skills on the way down. We’ll have a full report on the adventures we had with Captain Action later on, but suffice to say piloting a Havoc class helicopter while storming an enemy base is much easier than you’d think.