Baltimore Comic-Con 2006

Sorry for the radio silence … I needed some time to recover from the astounding Baltimore Comic-Con. I had a terrific time, but since I was officially staff, I found myself working a lot, so just a brief rundown of what I remember.

My convention started early. KC and I drove up on Friday to assist with preregistration, and I wound up helping pick up guests on airport runs. (This is where having gone to a large number of conventions helps — I could recognize most of the invitees by sight, although I still got to hold those signs with last names written on them. I felt like I was in a movie. As an extra.) This task was very complicated, due to an airport whose middle was under construction, a layout I was unfamiliar with, flights from the West Coast that arrived early (thank you, Howard Chaykin, for finding me instead of the other way around), and way too much traffic due to the Yankees/Orioles game that weekend. By the time we got everyone picked up, I did the last run back in a cab with George Pérez, a charming man who was very gracious about my being flustered and fatigued.

The next morning, Saturday, I helped take Will Call tickets and give out wristbands for admittance. It’s always fun working registration, because no matter how much preparation you do, someone will always ask a perfectly sensible question that you don’t know the answer to. By the time you’re fully prepared for anything, the show’s well under way.

Then, of course, there was the fire alarm and resulting evacuation you may have read about. Thank goodness everyone was mostly compliant, once they found out it was for real. When they were ready to let people back into the convention center, since I was wearing a staff shirt, I got to be part of the crowd control. We formed lines in front of the doors in order to let the exhibitors back in first, before the general attendees. That was an unusual experience, but everyone was thankfully so patient, even when I was yelling at them (in order to be heard over the throng) “guests and exhibitors only”.

The rest of the day was lunch distribution for guests and snack distribution for artists’ alley tables. Sometime among all that I was able to accomplish a few personal tasks: I got signatures from Kyle Baker and Dick Ayers (diverse, hunh?) for my retailer who was unable to attend. I was pleased to chat with Thom Zahler, who told me to look out for the holiday issue of Love & Capes in December. And I was thrilled to get to meet Svetlana Chmakova and have her sign the outstanding Dramacon for me. (Although that may have happened on Sunday.)

Saturday evening, it was back to the room to change for the Harvey Awards. KC and I were running the registration table for that as well. (This caused Matt Brady, when he saw me, to remark “is there anything they don’t have you doing?”) I got to enjoy the yummy dinner and then it was backstage to prepare for being a presenter escort. The idea was that I’d go fetch the presenters from the audience just before their time to go on, so we could keep the show running smoothly and quickly. I’m not sure I figured out the right timing for that, though, until about halfway through the ceremony.

On Sunday, I was interviewed in my role as Press Liaison by the Variant Edition guys. They do a video podcast, and I’m really looking forward to seeing their convention coverage, since they seemed to be taping ALL the time.

I also spent some time walking around with a Baltimore Sun reporter who wasn’t very familiar with conventions or the comic industry. It was eye-opening to see what questions he had and what he was focusing on. I thought his story turned out pretty well, even so. I especially liked the opening:

It was easy to distinguish the New York Yankees faithful from the comic book fans, both of whom descended in droves on the Inner Harbor this weekend. The baseball fans were the only ones in costume.

Unlike last month’s Otakon convention, where nearly half of the attendees at the Baltimore Convention Center dressed like Japanese pop-culture icons, the seventh annual Baltimore Comic-Con gathering drew a more sedate crowd of comics aficionados.

The bookishness is by design, said organizer Marc Nathan, who criticized other regional conventions for focusing on appearances by “B-list, aging TV stars” to increase attendance, and said the Baltimore convention was an antidote to the mega-confabs of San Diego and Chicago, where film and video game tie-ins to comic book culture have overshadowed the books themselves.

Due to various illnesses (Walt Simonson had to leave the show early, for instance, and Jerry Robinson’s guest of honor spotlight had to be pushed back because he wasn’t feeling well earlier that day) and other schedule confusion, I found myself most of Sunday running around with a really marked up show schedule trying to make sure that panels were covered and replacements were found when necessary. Between two sessions, I bumped into Mark Waid outside the meeting rooms. He asked me a schedule question, and as I looked down at my list of circles and X’s and scribbled-in names, he said, surprised, “what is that, a football playbook?” It was a fairly accurate comparison. I’m not sure why that memory stuck with me, but it was that kind of show for me — crystal clear moments that add up to an overall “was that everything?” confusion.

My last show memory was interviewing David Lloyd for a woefully under-attended spotlight panel. He was the ideal guest; I’d ask him a question, and he’d respond in detail, covering various aspects of the topic, and in a yummy accent. (What can I say, I’m an Anglophile.) He seemed to be frustrated that he’s having to do so many appearances to hand-sell Kickback his new graphic novel, in the year of V for Vendetta. It’s certainly become a different market over the last few decades.

Then it was waiting with friends who were packing up their booth for a vendor’s crew to pick up their boxes, and then a long, painful car trip back home before collapsing in bed. Great show, can’t wait for next year!

I’m sorry so much of this was me, me, me. I wish I’d had more time to visit with folks, but it was good to be able to contribute to a show I love supporting. In case you’re looking for additional viewpoints, here’s what some other people thought of the show.

2 Responses to “Baltimore Comic-Con 2006”

  1. David Oakes Says:

    Wow. It’s like looking in some fun house mirror of my own expereince at last week’s Phoenix Cactus Con. Except that we get George Perez in January.

    And we didn’t set fire to the martial artists next door…

  2. James Schee Says:

    Wow sounds like you were really hopping around! I know you like to stay busy, but darn next time make time to breathe okay?:)

    Good thing you didn’t bend down any further or you would have made Wizard Magazine!:)




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