Sunday, October 11, 2009

Baltimore Con 09

Yesterday I ran down I-95 to the Baltimore convention center to the 10th annual Baltimore Comic Con, run by Marc Nathan. I mainly went this year as Draw! was nominated for a Harvey Award. As they say, "it's an honor to be nominated", and as I predicted we lost out to the much anticipated Jack Kirby book by Mark Evanier. The awards ceremony was very nice, funny and well done. Kudos to the Harvey staff, Marc Nathan and MC, Scott Kurtz. I also took a few pals from school, Jackie and Will and fellow pros Scott Cohn and Ricardo Villagran. We posted up at the Kids love Comics pivillion run by John (Buzz Boy) Gallagher.

Like last year the con was a one-day show for me, between the workload at school and freelance I needed Sunday to do some work, also the show is usually really slow for me on a Sunday, so I did all my fun on Saturday, pressed the flesh, sketched, talked with luminaries and friends and then saw some Hooters and ate crab cakes before I raced back to Philly and my two new kittens, Fechin and Cornwell, who tried to keep me awake by wrestling half the night.

Baltimore is a good show, all about comics, Marc Nathan is a great guy, he sends staff around to see how you are doing and feeds you. The fans are polite and bring their families and you feel its about comics, not about Hollywood, old actors from the 70's, wrestlers and video games. The Babymen seemed less a presence, or I wasn't that close to J Scott Cambell,and this year there were a lot less costumes as well. In short, it isn't Wizard or San Diego by a long shot. I heard reports that biz was OK, but not stellar and I expected that to be true as face it, everybody is pinching pennies in this shitty economy. I saw lots of sales. People seemed in a good mood, and I think the fact we are here and still standing and the current climate in the biz seems steady, if not stellar, gave me the gut feeling that maybe people are accepting the new biz model. The new reality that comics are just gonna have to tread water for a while like everybody else and hope a new land will appear on the horizon for the strongest swimmers. Neal Adams thinks motion comics are a possible answer. I think its a possible venue but I think we are still 3-4 years out from seeing where we will likely be for a longer period. Everything is in a big flux media wise, and readership is cut into all of these slivers.

One of the few sketches I did.

Last year I think people felt a lot more anxious about the whole biz and economy, maybe our enthusiasms have been properly curbed or returned to almost a pre-90's state. Then people went to comic cons to talk comics, not movie deals or toy deals, games etc. You networked, tried to get work and BS. It was not about $$$$ first and comics 3rd or 4th. Back in those days I remember fans being more excited about meeting pros, getting a sketch,a signature and it was all less high-profile and glitzie. I am also personally in a different place, being more involved in art outside of comics and I think that certainly lessens my anxiety about them as they are not my only lively hood and venue of expression.

Seeing Joe Kubert going strong, seeing Walt Simonson and Neal Adams swap art and shop talk was great! That just gave me a warm feeling that has been so missing I feel from cons where it seemed the people and craft have been so shunted aside if favor of the whole Hollywood angle. Both these guys were heroes of mine as artists and professionals and seeing them still pumped up about what they are doing was I have to admit, a charge.

The Wizard Philly show by contrast seems like an abused animal that needs to be put down, there was just no heat or love, but in Baltimore, there was, we all know things are gonna suck for a while, but WE don't have to suck as well.

You can see more pics from the con here


Mark Coale said...

Sorry I missed you. I didn't realize you were only there Saturday. I would have come by to say hello and show you our new issue.

Randy Reynaldo said...

Glad to know that there are still some great "old school" comic-cons out there!