by Amy Chu

[As sadly noted, The Beat was unable to attend Baltimore this year, or it’s lively vibrant Barcon. But luckily, Amy Chu was there and had a better time than we possibly could have!]

After some false starts and inexplicable traffic congestion, it was almost Friday midnight by the time I finally arrived at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore. My happiness soon evaporated as I realized the room had NO view and was DIRECTLY above the incredibly noisy bar. Since the effect was pretty much close to being in the bar itself, and despite the travel fatigue, I made my way down one floor to join the party.

Baltimore Comic Con, like Charlotte’s Heroes Con, is a creator favorite due to its comics-centric focus, and the Hyatt bar is a traditional gathering spot, so I was looking forward to seeing many familiar faces that were at Charlotte just months ago. However, due to the Yankees-Orioles game the same weekend, some folks I knew had to stay in hotels elsewhere so I wasn’t sure who I would find downstairs.

With some relief, I spotted Mark Morales, Marvel inker and fellow ex-New Yorker now Jersey-ite, and the BLVD Studio artists Bernard Chang (DCUniverse Presents) and Sean Chen (Iron Man, Voltron). I recently saw all three at San Diego Comic Con in July in addition to Heroes Con. Sean informed me that I was lucky to get a room at all – last year he arrived late to find they had actually GIVEN his room away despite already checking in online. Sean and Bernard introduced me to some art buyers. Now this is a mystery area for me so I ended up chatting with them and in the process learning quite a bit about the original art market.

I also met Cary Nord, Eisner winning penciller on the most recent Valiant X-O Manowar issues, and who, in an effort to dispel the ‘nice Canadian’ stereotype, only managed to reinforce it by apologizing profusely for whatever it was that he thought did. And then, upon learning the identity of Sean (who got his start on X-O Manowar in the ’90s), became even nicer by effusively praising his work.

My memory gets a little hazy at this point, possibly from the scotch courtesy of Bernard, but I hugged and congratulated writer Ron Marz, who just announced an IDW collaboration with former DC artist Jamal Igle, and waved down Fred Van Lente as he sailed by. Now Fred also happens to be my eight year old son’s favorite writer because of his work on the HALO graphic novel series. His Archer and Armstrong is one of the most hilarious odd couple adventure titles to come out through Valiant Entertainment. In typical geek fashion our conversation somehow turned to D&D talk and the evolution of the RPG game over the years.

The crowd slowly dwindled, Bernard generously tipped the bartender for getting us glasses of water as last call was announced. I made my way to the back of the bar where Francesco and Lisa Francavilla, one of the most fun and romantic couples in the business, were hanging out with Nick Barrucci, Dynamite’s founder and publisher and John Roberts, co-founder and CTO of Comixology.

The genial Italian artist Francesco was peeved, and with good reason. The Francavillas, after being stuck for two hours on the tarmac of the Atlanta airport, arrived earlier in the evening only to encounter some hired hotel muscle refusing to let them in. The bar, they were told, was too crowded.

Now, the bar scene at conventions are very important for creators. It is sometimes the only chance for creators to unwind, socialize and network with each other as well as editors and publishers. The Baltimore Comic-Con bar scene in particular has the reputation for being particularly chill, where veterans, newbie creators and fans alike can mingle. Francesco, who is on a roll this year, winning an Eisner for Best Cover Artist and Eagle Award, was up for a Harvey for Best Colorist. So this should have been a good time for him, except all his friends were just beyond the velvet rope. Happily the Francavillas were eventually let in and our small group closed the bar out.