The Baltimore Comic Con is a top-flight show that brought out an impressive lineup of guests, some great panels (featuring Marvel, Boom!, Valiant, Thrillbent, some cool creator showcases and chats about issues that effect the industry) and cosplayers over the course of three days this past weekend. It’s also hosted within a spacious and easily accessible convention center with a ton of conveniences. There is a bakery, yo.
This is a “capital C” Comic Convention that honors the craft and the virtuosos who bend lines and words for our amusement and it’s one of my favorites, but with all of that said, I wasn’t as excited about going to the convention as I used to be when I went to these events.
For you, these conventions are like a confetti cannon that is stuffed with all of your favorite things, but for me, it can sometimes feel like the cannon is aimed squarely at my face.
Allow me this moment to ridiculously make this all about me because I swear I’m inching my way up to something, but working a convention means that fun is not your top priority. That’s not to say that these assignments are joyless, but having work to do can mean that I don’t get to meet up with friends because I have to go transcribe, I can’t see panels that I want to see because I’m busy and I never take the time to really shop for myself. Of all the tragedies in the world, these do not rank in the top one billion, so please hold all donations for my sad cause. I’m just saying, going to a con as a fan carries different priorities than going as press or as a vendor or as a guest.
It’s also worth noting that I limped through this convention with a walking boot while in a bit of pain and I foolishly decided a couple of months ago to merge my work during the Baltimore Comic Con with the first vacation that me and my wife have had in three years (a whopping four day vacation, I might add).
The 2014 Baltimore Comic Con was my 10th or 11th major convention as a reporter. That’s really not that many, I suppose, but when I did my first one in October of 2011 I was a bit more happy-go-lucky and outwardly in awe of the whole thing, titling my VeryAware.com New York Comic Con 2011 recap “Con Magic” while writing about the majesty of the community and how we were all in it together.
Clearly, I sound a little bit more cynical now, but at the end of my time at the Baltimore Comic Con, I accidentally re-found a little bit of that old “magic” and that’s what I really wanted to tell you about.
I don’t know his name or her name, but while sitting in the lounge area on the show floor (which was a nice thing to find) to rest my aching ankle, I got into a casual conversation with a good guy who was beaming with pride about his daughter’s art. That pride is not misplaced — the kid could have a future in comics and she’s got a strong advocate in her dad. Sadly, that’s something that a lot of creative people don’t always have — someone in their corner. I told her how much I liked the sketch that she was working on and I told him how good she was. The man seemed to really appreciate that and we talked for a little while longer about her work before my wife returned from snapping cosplay pictures and we left.
It was just a quick bit of chit chat between strangers, but as someone who spends all day typing black letters about comic books and TV shows into a white box on a grey computer it was a wonderfully human moment and it also took me out of my own head a little. Though I am fortunate enough to go to these events as an observer, I always seem to focus on the aesthetics of these events.
“The hall was packed to the brim”, “Such-and-such said this”, “This toy looks cool”, “This footage looked like this”, etc.
It’s kind of easy to forget about the other people who are at these conventions. To me (and I imagine you at one point or another) the other people have come to resemble numbers and impediments to my free progress across the show floor because “I’ve got places to be and things to see!” I’ve become disinterred in their reasons for being there and unaware of the electric that is generated by their excitement and the way that they can recharge one’s batteries and make you smile.
It’s kind of easy to forget about the organic and all-consuming love, passion and awe that exists at the foundation of these flashy and jam-packed comic conventions, but that’s also what is at the center of my own interest in these things, and I need to remember that more.
The Baltimore Comic Con will return to the Baltimore Convention Center on September 25-27, 2015. Be sure to go to their website, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter so you can stay on top of all the latest information from the show.