Back From Baltimore: A Retrospective

I’m back from the Baltimore Comic-Con, where I blew out my knee on Saturday. (I think it was a combination of standing all day on a concrete convention hall floor and assisting with guiding presenters for the Harvey Awards around, about which more later.) Regardless, it was an enjoyable show.

Reportedly, business was very good, with attendance up (based on anecdotal reports) and the larger space well-used. One guest expressed pleasure at the amount of energy in the room, while another experienced exhibitor guessed that attendance might have been double the prior year on Saturday. The Kids Love Comics group booth was also very busy, and one of their participants told me that he suspected that he might be doing better at this show than he did at San Diego, which is pleasant news.

Speaking of which, check out this way cool poster that group did with all of their representative characters:

Kids Love Comics diner poster

I spent most of my time doing one of the following things:

  • meeting guests at the airport to guide them to the show shuttle
  • working the press registration booth
  • selling show exclusives

I’m always happy to help the show any way I can, and that last task was particularly eye-opening. I suspect some of the increased attendance came from new visitors drawn by some of the Star Wars show exclusives. I was really glad we had a tall, strong-voiced volunteer experienced in the collectibles game running that particular booth, because I could never have anticipated some of the schemes the very few bad apples tried to pull to get multiple editions of the limited-to-2000, only-at-Baltimore bust of Commander Bacara.

Commandar Bacara bust

It’s a shame that something that should make people happy winds up making others miserable. I really wanted to tell one that being a jerk to us wasn’t going to get her the item we sold out of five people before she got there. I didn’t, of course, but the impulse was there.

So I only saw a very little of the actual show. I did have the pleasure of catching up with Patty Jeres, who’s currently providing her valuable experience to Prism Comics. I also met Valerie (the Occasional Superheroine) just after having a long, insightful chat with old internet acquaintance David Gallaher. At her blog, Valerie has some on-target analysis about the show makeup. Like her, I enjoyed catching up with old friends (and new ones) and I found myself pondering just how one defines a “comic-focused” convention these days.

I enjoy the Baltimore show, in large part because I have the opportunity to make valued contributions to making it happen, even though there are several areas of comics interest of mine — notably manga, webcomics, and “new mainstream”-style indies — that aren’t well-represented or included much at all. (On the plus side, that means much less temptation to buy, which helps the budget.) I know the organizers have been working on including some additional publishers (such as Fantagraphics and Oni, two non-attendees whom I’d like to see choose to exhibit, especially when they’re represented among the Harvey Award nominees, although the show is the opposite coast from them).

As for manga, Baltimore is also home to Otakon, and I suspect many of that audience are already happy with that larger show more focused to their interests. Valerie also makes the point that “indie” comics have their own show circuit these days: SPX, MOCCA, APE, and SPACE. And yes, I agree that many of the convention attendees weren’t looking for new titles or projects, although I came home with several new comics to try that I hadn’t previously been aware of. (One of them, The Ride Home by Joey Weiser, was from local publisher AdHouse, which made me feel like a real idiot for missing it. It looks great, about a van gnome who gets lost and has to find his way home.)

I’m excited by the return of Bat Lash, as written by Sergio Aragones with covers by dear friend Walt Simonson. Sergio will also be co-writing The Spirit with Mark Evanier after Darwyn Cooke departs. (That link, to Evanier’s blog, also mentions the upcoming Groo/Conan crossover, which may be the weirdest yet most intriguing pairing since Archie met the Punisher.)

Let’s see… let’s talk about things I got I’m very happy with.

Skull Troll doll

  1. I have a troll. Like my Oscar dog, it’s from a comic strip I don’t regularly read (for the same reason, I think they’re both not particularly friendly to girls), but I think the plushie is adorable. And when the exclusive customers got a little too much, he loved me no matter what. :)
  2. For Perhapanauts, Todd and Craig have done a lost covers portfolio with faux covers from different eras plus fake letter pages. I was thrilled to hear that the team is working on another story, because this series keeps growing on me — I enjoy it more and more.
  3. There’s a new In His Likeness minicomic I will be covering shortly.
  4. I found out that new Wahoo Morris pages (beyond the first book) are being serialized at the book’s website.
  5. My one geek moment: telling Jim Shooter I was looking forward to his run writing Legion of Super-Heroes.

Also picked up but not yet looked at:

  1. Antiques: The Comic Strip, by JC Vaughn and Brendon and Brian Fraim. JC’s a great guy, and I’ve liked the Fraims’ work since The Waiting Place, so I’m looking forward to browsing this Harvey-nominated collection.
  2. Captain Clockwork, a retro/futuristic superhero by Glenn Whitmore, who worked with KC way back in the day.
  3. The great guys at Ape Entertainment (who are preparing to celebrate their fifth anniversary, can you believe it?) suggested I try White Picket Fences and Subculture, both of which look intriguing.
  4. AdHouse’s new series Johnny Hiro, an action-adventure-comedy book that’s being compared to Street Angel.
  5. Archaia Studios Press has a ton of nifty-sounding titles coming up, including The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury.

Whew! I’m tired just thinking about all this stuff. Next year, the Baltimore Comic-Con will be held September 27-28, 2008. I’m with Heidi — it’s important to remember moderation.

2 Responses to “Back From Baltimore: A Retrospective”

  1. Blog@Newsarama » More from Baltimore Says:

    […] back at the con over the weekend, Johanna from Comics Worth Reading worked at the con and has a report: Reportedly, business was very good, with attendance up (based on anecdotal reports) and the larger […]

  2. Perhapanauts Annual » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I was laughing out loud at Choopie’s room — among the clutter is an Archie comic and a Skull Troll doll, which means it vaguely resembles my room. Except I throw my pizza boxes away when I’m done […]




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