Baltimore Comic-Con is how you do a comic con

After a false start yesterday (I didn’t wake up in time, OK? And I was meeting a friend at 5 so it would’ve been too tight), I did make it to Baltimore today for Baltimore Comic-Con. (I didn’t get lost or anything! I drove around the block a few times trying to pick a parking garage, but that was it! I am always much too impressed with myself when I don’t get lost.)

My press badge was easily and quickly acquired (I do have to compliment the staff and volunteers — all very nice and helpful) and I went to say hi to my friend Timothy Lantz (who said the show had been good to him) and I picked up his beautiful postcard set (you should too!) and saw a sneak preview of his secret project.

No sooner had I turned from Tim’s table, I immediately ran into my friends Joe and Rusty of Full Sanction so I spent the rest of the time hanging out with them.

We talked to a few people, dug through some $1 comic boxes and $5 graphic novel boxes. From the former, I picked up the second Mary Jane volume (I don’t have the first one, but it was a $1! A dollar! Here is where I point out that after parking, buying Tim’s postcard set, I had exactly $9 left to spend) and from the latter, I bought The Essential Dazzler. As Joe said, “That’s a lot of Dazzler.” But I like Dazzler — she’s utterly ridiculous and was a character made a couple years too late by committee, but I think that’s what makes her fun. And hey, $5.

That pretty much took the majority of my money, so we wandered and looked at overpriced action figures and lamented the lack of light-up swords. All three of us purchased a copy of Adam Dembicki’s (as in, son of Matt) Ant Army! I am already very much for adorable children making comics, but Adam told us he was going to use his money to buy more Legos. That’s a completely worthy cause.

The overall vibe of the show was fun and relaxed. All the exhibitors seemed very happy to be there and happy to welcome fans, old and new. The artist alley/small press section drew a lot of interest and I did see plenty of original stuff and much less of the “I will draw Joker for you” sort. Even the sellers of the comics/action figures/etc. seemed to be enjoying themselves and doing well. I’ve always been much less interested in that side of cons before, but this time, it just felt right to me.

People have been making comparisons between the Baltimore and San Diego cons (notably in this Washington Post article). I had fun at San Diego and I look forward to the New York con in October, and while it’s neither good nor bad, I just know they’re different sorts of cons — comics is just the jumping off point and not the focus.

Baltimore is a true comic con. It’s about comics. There’s no big media companies vying for your attention, no loud obnoxious movie clips playing, nothing that falls too far outside “comics” (T-shirts and action figures, sure, but not much beyond that). And that’s great. It makes it a show to go to and hang out and have fun. It doesn’t feel like I am being sold to as much. It’s a place to go and hang out with like-minded people. People go to Baltimore because they like comics. It feels like it’s put on by people who like comics. And that’s a really cool thing.

If I had more money, I would’ve stayed longer (and I was somewhat saving some purchases for Small Press Expo in a couple of weeks) but I had plenty of fun while I was there.

If you haven’t been to Baltimore Comic-Con, you need to go.

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