Thursday, October 2, 2008

Baltimore Comic Con Report..and a little White Whaling

Today, finally, my dear, sweet, patient Exfanding readers, a report from this past weekend's Baltimore Comic Con. Huzzah! (Oh, boy. I just said "huzzah," didn't I? Doing this blog on a semi-daily basis is doing some strange things to me. I think I may be too far gone at this point...)

Ah, well. Live and learn. In any case...

On to Baltimore! The con ran this past Saturday and Sunday, and I have to say, I think this may have been my favorite convention that I've ever gone to. Now, as any readers from the beginning of this blog will likely remember (sure you will!), I am really not a big fan of conventions. Like, at all.

Typically, they are hot and smelly (conventions, not our readers) and there's never enough space for everyone to share the same air. And, while there were plenty of people at the Baltimore show trying their darnedest to steal my precious, precious really wasn't that bad.

I went to the show on Saturday only, since I had to drive on back home to my undisclosed location on the next day, so I wasn't privy to how things went on Sunday. But, Saturday ran incredibly smoothly, and even though there was a pretty massive line of people waiting to get in when I arrived at 9:45 (doors opened at 10:00) the convention staff did a great job getting everyone inside without too much hassle.

Immediately upon entering, I could tell that this was going to be a relatively big con with a small con feeling. Meaning, though it was nowhere near the size of San Diego or NYCC, Baltimore still had some pretty heavy hitters as guests. Included in this year's lineup were Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Mignola, Frank Cho, and Bernie Wrightson, among many others. Baltimore consistently gets great guests, and this year was no different.

More than that, though, Baltimore proved to be a great mixing of the mainstream and the small press. Creators of some of my favorite independent comics were there, too, including Alex Robinson (of Box Office Poison fame) and David Petersen (writer/artist of the fantastic Mouse Guard).

To that point, if you are an autograph seeker or a collector of sketches from artists, then this con is definitely worth checking out.

Personally, I'm not huge on autographs, and I don't like waiting in line for sketches, but I'm just a big fat Grinch, mostly. For me, just being able to shake a creator's hand and tell him or her what their work has meant to me is enough. That said, it is nice (and polite) to have a book in hand for the creator to sign.

There were some pretty cool retailers selling their wares at this con, too, though not nearly as many as I would have figured. Of the stores represented, prices all around seemed a bit high, which took me by surprise.

In case you've been in a box the last year or so, the economy is pretty awful right now, and I was kinda shocked to see so many of the retailers selling high grade books at high grade prices.

Dollar bins are always the hit of any convention, and I didn't see all that many of them in Baltimore. Maybe I just missed them, though, as digging through grungy old comics was never one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. (Ya know, as I write this thing, I realize that I'm a really bad comics fan!)

Anyway, my convention experience boiled down to two main goals--both of which were equally important to me. First was to meet Eric Powell, creator of the greatest comic ever produced, The Goon, and maybe just maybe score some original Goon art. (Which, if you read the blog last week, you'll remember that original, full page Goon art is one of my two White Whales)

Now, I'm not sure if Eric always brings original art to shows, and on his forum a couple weeks ago he mentioned that he didn't have anything for sale. Reading that, I honestly had no intention whatsoever of actually buying art.

And, truth be told, that really put me in a lousy mood as I made the nearly four hour drive down to Baltimore in the increasingly cloudy and scary weather, as I figured my heading down to Baltimore was going to result in an empty-handed return.

But, still wanting to let him know how big a fan I am, and figuring that Mr. Powell's line would be pretty long all day, I decided to head over there first.

I stink at directions, so the floor plan was useless to me, and I just decided to walk around until I found his booth.

As usual, my plan backfired and I got annoyed pretty quickly.

Finally, I spotted the big Goon banner, and made my way across the hall. As I got closer to the booth, I noticed a closed black artists' portfolio, and my hopes shot straight up.

There were a few people ahead of me in line, and I managed not to throw any of them out of my way. (You have to understand that I am not a glass-half-full kinda person, and right up until I actually got to the portfolio I thought someone was going to swoop in and buy up all of the art, Simpsons style--and, if you get that reference, then you're a good man/woman, Charlie Brown).

So I said hello to Eric, and I was able to tell him how great his work is, and it was incredibly cool for me to say thank you to a writer/artist that I really admire. And, I can't help thinking that, only in comics can there be this kind of interaction between professionals and the fans. I mean, think about it--imagine [pompous athlete A] at a signing, sitting and just talking with his or her fans. It would never happen.

Anyway, it was very cool to chat with Eric about his work, and about the upcoming election. Then, I opened up the portfolio (and, yes, there was art in it!) and I braced myself for unaffordable prices--again, glass half empty kinda guy here--and expected to leave my White Whale behind.

But, to my surprise, while the pages were by no means cheap, they were within my spending budget for the trip! Now, all that was left for me to do was choose which page I wanted. And that, my friends, was not an easy thing to do.

But, I found a page that I really liked, with both Goon and his little pal Franky on it, and...I bought it! And let me just say this, WOO-FREAKIN'-HOO, I own a Goon page!!! And here it be:

The Goon original art page
And here's some other Goon swag I picked up at the show (the sketch, the two sketchbooks, and the hat were all purchased at Eric's booth. The other stuff was picked up from retailers):

The Goon swagYep, it was a pretty Goon-centric con for me. But, that was my plan, and I actually stuck to it!

More stuff on the con tomorrow, specifically about my second goal of the show, and some photos from Geppi's Entertainment Museum, which was pretty cool.

In a geeky kind of way, of course.

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