Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Baltimore Comic•Con 2015

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Event: Baltimore Comic Con (baltimorecomiccon.com)
Location: Baltimore, MD
Dates: 
September 25-27, 2015
Venue: Baltimore Convention Center
Price: $25-$150 depending on the ticket type
Years: Began in 2000
Attendance: 15,000+
Guests: Nearly 200 comic writers and artists plus media guests 



Overview: Baltimore Comic Con has quickly become one of our favorite conventions. The con started back in 2000 and has grown to more than 15,000 attendees. It is a great traditional comic convention with a nice balance of vendors selling comics and toys coupled with a variety of comic writers and artists. The convention is held at the Baltimore Convention Center and is within walking distance of the beautiful inner harbor, which is a great place to escape for a good meal or just a walk in the sunshine.

Inside, the convention makes good use of the cavernous show rooms for the vendors and guests, while discussion panels are held in conference rooms upstairs and a large ballroom on the top floor was used for various media guests including Katie Cassidy and Paul Blackthorne of Arrow.


The excellent organization is clear from the moment you walk into the convention center as dozens of con greeters welcome attendees and quickly verify tickets and strap on wrist bands making registration painless. While many cons put all of their guests in one area causing congestion as multiple lines overlap, BCC avoids this problem by spreading the con guests throughout the large room intermixing the guests with the various vendors. This helps reduce congestion and encourages attendees to walk around the entire room instead of congregating in one area.

Another nice thing about this con is the Year Book. Each year the book focuses on a different character and many of the guest artists contribute original drawings of the character in their own style. Attendees are then encouraged to go on a treasure hunt by taking the books around for autographs from the contributing guests. For every ten autographs collected, an attendee can get a free print from the con.

There were great panel discussions throughout the weekend and we were able to attend several of them. Myth, Legend, and Literature in Comics featured guests Walter Simonson, Ron Randall, Grek Pak, Jamal Igle, and Peter Storrie. Walter Simonson talked about his love of Norse mythology and how he used that in his work on Thor and Ragnarok. Ron Randall and Peter Storrie both worked on the Graphic Myths and Legends series and had a chance to speak about adapting legends and myths from around the world into a comic format for elementary age children. The role of Greek myth in Wonder Woman was another highlight from this panel.

Mike Grell, Mark Buckingham, Charles Vess, Brandon Peterson, and Robert Greenberger discussed Drawing Fantasy Worlds. Mike Grell talked about creating his long running series Warlord and his love of the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Mark Buckingham spoke about his extensive work on Fables and Charles Vess, who also worked on Fables, shared how he tries to extensively use nature in his fantasy art. The discussion was lively and there were many thoughtful questions from the audience.


A panel called Superheroes Under a Microscope featured Ramona Fradon and Mark Waid talking about the science of comics. They spent some time exploring the chemistry of Metamorpho, a character first illustrated by Ramona Fradon, and discussed what it would be like to live underwater like Aquaman. The panel was hosted by chemistry teacher Christopher Preece of Atomic Universe who was well prepared with great slides, terrific questions for the panelists, and scientific facts for the audience.

Other discussion panels included a celebration of The Spirit's 75th Anniversary, Writing Great Characters, and a panel honoring the 50th anniversary of the first Captain Action figure. There were also several industry spotlights including IDW, Valiant, and Boom. There is also an open pavilion area on the convention floor where many artists present workshops. We attended the session by Andy Runton and were able to learn the basics of drawing his family-friendly signature character Owly.


For Aquaman fans, highlights of the convention would be seeing Jeff Parker, Ramona Fradon, and Mark Waid. We had a nice conversation with Jeff Parker who said he would have loved to have written more issues of Aquaman and he had several more stories in mind for that character.

Our two favorite comic artists are Mike Grell and Ron Randall and having both of them at the convention certainly made this a great event for us. Both are extremely nice and we've had the opportunity to become acquainted with both of them in recent years. In fact, Ruth was surprised one day at the convention when browsing on her own to hear a voice say "Where's your old man?" It was Mike Grell who had recognized her in the crowd and came over just to say hello and chat for a few minutes.


The cosplayers were once again amazing this year. People of all ages dressed as their favorite characters. Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, and Batman were popular heroes. We were pleased to see several Agent Carters along with terrific Green Arrow and Black Canary cosplayers. There were also amazing robots from Lost in Space and Forbidden Planet.


There was fun for everyone at this convention including panels, art workshops, costume contests, vendor tables, and excellent guests. If you ever get a chance to attend, we highly recommend it. And if it is too far away, look for a local convention near you and see what fun you can have.



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