Baltimore Comic-Con – September 8-9, 2007
Guest writer Jonathan Gilpin reflects on his recent visit to the Baltimore Comic-Con:
I arrived late on Saturday - around 5pm, while they shut down at 6pm. My first time there, I struggled to find the Convention Center and had to hunt for parking - there was a Orioles baseball game that day and it had a lot of spaces taken. Once I found an open garage space ($10 for the day, being cheap – as some spots went for up to $20) I got my pass and went straight in to the show and Mike Manley's Draw Magazine Booth. Getting to talk with and learn from him was my primary goal for this trip. He, Echo, and Jamar Nicholas graciously invited me to join them for dinner that night at a Sushi joint down the street at Harbor Place. There we met up with some other comics pros: Scott Cohn (wears his soy sauce on his shorts), Scott Neely (smoothies are not Japanese cuisine), Thom Zahler (Love and Capes) and Paul Storrie (IDW’s Star Trek Aliens writer) over a delicious and authentic Japanese meal. The waterfront area there is very touristy in the best way.
Sunday I hung out with Mike's gang most of the day and gleaned some jewels of comic art technique. I was very impressed with Marc Nathan and the con’s support staff - they really looked out for the show guests and graciously brought snacks and lunch to them at their booths. Classy! This con has a more intimate feel, much like Charlotte’s Heroes Con, and is great place to actually get to talk with your favorite comic pro. That is, as long as they aren’t the hot commodity of the day. There were long lines for Jim Lee, David Finch, and talented nice guy Ron Garney.
Another progressive aspect of the show was the Kids Love Comics’ Comic Book Diner pavilion that had kid friendly titles and their creators all gathered together. Scott Cohn (Krypto and Ben 10), Dean Trippe (Nashville Comic Group – sorry I missed meeting you!) and Steve Connelly (IDW Star Trek artist, Comicon.com virtual con co-founder, SPX Executive Director) were some of the folks manning the booths and braving the constant flow of little ones. Speaking of whom, I actually saw several little people in costume. Now that makes sense – it’s the grownups in costume I worry about!
That afternoon I also talked with Bob McCleod about his great comic art magazine Rough Stuff. It turns out he is really into humor comics - always preferred Mad Magazine style art - instead did superhero genre because that "was where the work was". We also touched on the sad migration of comic pros (all those folks who were making comics in the late seventies and early 80's) out of the industry. There may be some age discrimination occurring at some of the major companies (during Heroes Con this year Tom Lyle of SCAD alluded to as much) - is this comics dirty little secret?. Perhaps indirectly because of his exodus from comics production I was able to pick up a copy of Bob's “Superhero ABC” Alphabet book for my 3-year old (which she loves). He says the trips to schools promoting this book are a joy.
Mark Sporracio and his lovely wife had a booth with lithographs of Marks amazing pencils and some truly striking original paintings for the new Sergeant Rock series as well as a classic Green Lantern painting Jim Tucci (Shi creator and Heroes for Hire writer) served as photo reference for. Mark you are a great artist and a really friendly guy – but please, stop licking your paintbrush – some of those watercolors have toxic metals in them!
I also squeezed in some time with the phenomenal French sensation Paul Renaud at his first US con who has signed an exclusive contract with Dynamite Entertainment (did you see his astounding work on the Red Sonja one-shot Vacant Shell?). Just as the show was closing I was able to chat with Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster) and fellow Insight Studios artist Jerry Carr who organizes a comic creators group that meets in the Baltimore area (er, I think, - Jerry let me know). Next year I hope to speak with Frank Cho, Adam Hughes and the living legend Joe Kubert (I met him back in the 90’s at the San Diego Comic Con) too. Missed a chance to chat with longtime favorite Jim Starlin – another time, I hope!
The day ended with a side trip to Steve Geppi’s (owner of Diamond Comic Distributors) Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (right next to the Baltimore Convention Center) which is quite impressive and worth a look. Several original Pogo comic strips by Walt Kelly had me transfixed.
Baltimore Comic Con 2007, a great time that went by too fast! If you go next year - shop carefully for lodging for yourself and your ride: Baltimore’s downtown hotel rates and parking seemed a bit predatory. But the BCC organizers (Marc Nathan of Cards, Comics & Collectibles) really go out of their way to make for a great show and that makes up for those other avoidable annoyances.
-Jonathan Gilpin, Coordinator
Lexington KY Comic Creators Group
About Jonathan: Jonathan has been drawing since he was little. By his own description, he discovered comics in elementary school and has been hooked ever since. He's currently working to developing his skills as a comic creator so that, as he puts it "I will be capable once I have found something important to say!" You can check out Jonathan's work at his Can he draw any better yet?
blog [link]. He's a regular contributor (as well as organization coordinator) to the Lexington Comic Creator's Group blog [link]