[Baltimore Comic-Con 2013] Journal, Thoughts, Winners, and Why I’m Still Exhausted!

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Two days later and I am still recovering from what was by all means a fantastic Comic-Con. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to think it was great, and next year it will be expanded to a three day event, which is very exciting! In any event, little sleep was had, much driving was done, lots of walking too, and way too much money was spent. Best yet, many wonderful conversations were had, and a ton of pictures taken!

First of all, it needs to be said that this was the first con I went to with friends – the perks of being local, I guess. This made a huge difference. I’ve heard pros for doing conventions alone, as well as with groups, and I have to say that not being alone was actually better. I was able to branch out by myself when I wanted to, come back to the group, share. and then geek out over what we’d all discovered. This way I was able to find a ton of things I may have glossed over myself — not to mention that the number of pictures taken was exponentially larger thanks to the hard work of Evin, photographer extraordinaire.

Anyway, the fun started early Saturday morning. We arrived about two hours before the con was supposed to start. After the mandatory cup of coffee, it was time to get our press passes and venture inside. It was nice to get in before the crowd, and good way to get the lay of the land – this proved very useful, because the place got pretty packed, especially on Saturday.

Going in I had a brilliant plan that involved going to many panels, but ultimately ended up only going to three, and scouring Artist Alley the rest of the time I’ve always found it more interesting to discover new things at cons, rather than see the DC or Marvel marketing machines at work. In fact, I skipped their panels entirely. It’s so refreshing to see that there is so much going on outside of the Big Two, and Artist Alley is the best place to get in touch with this. By the time all was said and done I had a pocket full of cards begging to be investigated at a later date – there are sure to be several artist spotlights that will come of this.

Between the internet and the growing size of cons, fans are getting greater and greater access to creators, and things that they would never find otherwise. Anyone complaining about the dearth of creativity or tonal variety in mainstream comics, needs to shut up, and seriously just look around. There is never any more proof than at an event like this that there is a ton going on, and it needs to be talked about more!

Speaking of which, I was there for the end of Mike Mignola’s spotlight panel, and one of the things that struck me was that Dark Horse won’t publish more than four Hellboy titles per month. The reason for this being that fans simply won’t make room for more than this. They will prioritize Marvel/DC and then make room for another few titles. There is nothing particularly new to me about this, but still jarring to hear it spelled out in these terms. Especially since I was one of those fans until very recently.

The static nature of the American comic-book market constantly astonishes me. There is this ridiculous focus on superheroes and collectibles, while everything else kind of gets shunted off to the side. A cartoonist or artist or whatever might make it through the noise occasionally, but there is this conception that superheroes are it. Nothing could be further from the truth – one need only go to a convention and look around. It’s just unfortunate to see this preconception hurt creativity, particularly at a time when everyone seems to be relatively tired of the same old, same old.

Moving right along, I also made several purchases, and I will speak at length about this in the days to come – this should also include a review of Finder: Voice, which I have finally purchased. I ended up spending much more than I had initially anticipated, but don’t feel poorer for it, which is good I suppose.

Top Shelf and the Boom/KaBoom/Archaia booths probably stuck out the most to me, as did IDW’s involvement with Monkeybrain. Amelia Cole and the Unknown World made it home with me! Also in true Johnny-come-lately fashion I discovered Playlist, and that it was a successful Kickstarter – this too made it home with me.

Finally, here are the so-called winners.

Mike Carey is amazing!

IMG_0968I mentioned only going to three panels. Two of them involved Mike Carey: The British Invasion (also starring Roger Langridge and Paul Jenkins); and his Spotlight panel. I’ve been a fan of his work for a little while, having read his entire X-Men run, and also every issue of The Unwritten (which is easily one of the best comics being published right now).

Anyway, it was a pleasure to listen to his stories, from how he got into comic-books, to the fact that comics were used as ballast back when he was a kid in Liverpool – which could lead into an interesting conversation on the medium and it’s disposable nature. Regardless, Carey is an incredibly knowledgeable and nice fellow.

It was certainly a pleasure to find out that one of my favorite writers is also pretty outstanding in person. I cannot wait to delve deeper into his work, turns out he’s also written a series of books, Felix Castor - which bears further inspection.

Carla Speed McNeil was there, and I was way too excited about this…

IMG_0979Fun fact Carla Speed McNeil is local, who knew(!), and should also be at SPX because of this, which is fantastic news. I had no clue that she’d be in Baltimore, and when I stumbled across her table I must have done the most shocked and awkward double-take ever. What can I say, Finder is a recent discovery that I’ve devoured as one only does the very best of things.

Anyway, some fabulous talking ensued, which included TV trauma, nightmares, and how horror writing isn’t for everyone, not to mention the value of good dialogue in stories. I also got a sneak peek at some upcoming stories, which was very awesome. And! I finally got a copy of Finder: Voice (which I’ve since read, because that’s the way of things).

Long story short, the rumors are true! Carla Speed McNeil is great, and it was a pleasure to meet her – the world clearly needs more of her and her creations!

My Totoro collection grew

Somewhere along the way I decided that getting sketches of Totoro would be the thing I do at Cons, so in true fashion I got four! The first by Monica Gallagher, second by Kata Kane, third by Danielle Corsetto, and fourth by Morgan Beem. They all now hang proudly above my desk at home!

… and Chris Schweizer!

Carla Speed McNeil kindly directed me to Chris Schweizer’s table, and in short order I ended up purchasing Crogan’s March, because it looked awesome. What I did not count on was the amazing sketch I would also get! He was too nice, and I simply cannot wait to read this!

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About: Alex Lupp

Alex is the guy that runs and edits this blog. He’s been reading comics for as long as he’s been able to read, and somewhere along the way started forming opinions that extended beyond just Batman is cool, or Spider-Man is awesome, and more importantly decided to share these. Lately, he’s been getting a little burned out on mainstream comics, but has found solace in the indie world. There’s also his inhuman love of heavy metal, but we do not speak of that.

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