Before we get started with our Baltimore preview, we’d like to give a quick shout out to our pals at Double Midnight Comics & Collectibles, who made a major announcement today that will change the face of comics as we know it… at least here in Manchester, NH. Congrats, guys!
Summer is winding down but convention season is building to a fever pitch. With San-Diego behind us and New York on the horizon, the Baltimore Comic-Con moved up in the batting order from mid-October last year to late-August in 2010. This weekend, August 28-29 the 11th annual Baltimore Comic-Con will once again fill the halls of the Baltimore Convention Center. And once again I’ll be on the show floor to take in the fun, meet the guests and report back. This year, the show saw fit to give press credentials to the Near Mint Comic Show and even though I just finished season 3 of The Wire, I’m psyched to be headed back to the Charm City!
What to do in Baltimore …
In addition to the many wonderful shops and restaurants in the harbor area, Visitors will love the famous Baltimore Aquarium and … oh wait … you meant what to do at the shooooow… In that case, here’s what to expect. First and foremost, Baltimore is a COMIC BOOK convention. If you’re looking for video games, movie hype and Twilight this isn’t the show for you – sorry, Jen. But if you want comics, Baltimore is a great show. You can check out N.M.C.S. Episode 018 to hear my complete recap of the 2009 show, but last year there were a ton of vendors, some great deals and plenty of costumed crazies to drain the battery on your digital camera. I was a little underwhelmed by the panels last year but they do have some great programming lined up this year, so here’s hoping they’re set up a little better this time around. Baltimore is also host to the Harvey Awards.
But the real draw of the Baltimore Comic-Con is the creators. Baltimore has one of the best Artists’ Alleys I’ve encountered at any convention. Because there isn’t (or wasn’t last year anyway) a big presence from the Big 2 publishers, the creators have fewer appearance and panel obligations and more time to hang out at their table and spend time with the fans. The lines are short and last year there was times when you could chat for 15 minutes or longer with top tier creators like Matt Fraction, Jason Arron and even Joe Kubert. This year brings yet another blockbuster guest list and while there’s too many to list here you can get the full rundown at comicon.com/baltimore. If you’re thinking of heading down though, read on and I’ll tell you who I’m most excited about meeting at this year’s show…
Mike and Laura Allred - The magic penciler/colorist power couple that brought you Madman has been turning out some of the most compelling work in comics for the last 20 years. Recently, I’ve loved Mike and Laura’s work on the Metamorpho strip in Wednesday Comics and their new Vertigo book, I, Zombie with Chris Roberson (also at the show)
Mike Choi – If you listen to the show you know what a big fan of Mike’s work I am (see Episode 010). He’s fresh off his incredible run on X-Force with his wife/colorist, Sonia Oback and definitely someone you should look for on the show floor.
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez – A mainstay in comics since the 60′s, Garcia-Lopez is another living-legend, whose work I fell in love with in the pages of Wednesday Comics. He lent his classic silver-age style to the Metal Men with Dan DiDio and Kevin Knowlan.
Tony Harris – Last year in Baltimore, I bought my first page of original art from Tony (page 1 of Ex Machina #45) who was clearing out space in his studio and letting pages go for $50 a piece. While I can’t promise the same bargain prices, I can promise some good conversation from the artist of Ex Machina, War Heroes and Starman and one of the more controversial characters working in comics.
Jonathan Hickman – In our first year-end special, I pledged to someday have Jonathan Hickman as a guest on our show. This year, I hope to make that happen. At the time Hickman had just turned in his first independent work for Image Comics – a brilliant and jaw-dropping social critique called The Nightly News. Now he’s at the helm of Secret Warriors, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Fantastic Four. No one in comics is blowin’ up like this guy and we want to talk to him!
Geoff Johns (Sunday only) – If you’ve never seen Geoff Johns in person, you might be surprised that the Blackest Night-writing, Flash-Resurrecting, keys to the city-having, writer, Chief Creative Officer and general master of all things D.C. Comics, is actually one of the most unassuming, down-to-earth guys you’re likely to see at a convention.
Todd McFarlane (Saturday only) – I don’t care who you are, If you were a fanboy in the 1990′s you worshiped at the alter of Todd McFarlane. The legendary Spider-Man artist and Spawn creator is slowly-but-surely making his way back to monthly comics, after years away, making toys, cartoons, album covers and zillions of dollars. Still, he remains one of the biggest names in comics and to catch and autograph and a few words with Todd would be a rare treat indeed!
Sean Murphy – We talked with Sean back in February (Episode 021), just after the first issue of Joe the Barbarian hit shelves. Now as it nears it’s conclusion, I can honestly say it’s one of my favorite titles at the moment. Full of whimsy and adventure and fantastic world-building, Joe is shaping up to be a classic comic book story. Unlike many in Manchester, I didn’t get to meet Sean when he came to town, so I’ll be looking forward to shaking his hand and telling him how much I dig the book.
Denny O’Neil – A living legend in the truest sense, Denny has been telling comic book stories since 1966 and today he continues to make his indelible mark on the Dark Knight Detective. His recent stories in the pages of Detective Comics were some of the best and most-relevant Batman stories of the last year. Josh and I saw Denny on a pannel at our first New York ‘Con in 2008 and it was captivating to hear him talk.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner - Baltimore must be a lover’s town because here’s yet another Comics Super-couple making an appearance this weekend. Jimmy and Amanda just wrapped up their amazing run on Power Girl and I just picked up their recenlty re-released collaboration, The Pro. Meanwhile Jimmy has been hard at work on Jonah Hex, all of which, I’ll be anxious to talk to them about.Paul Pope – One of the real indie rock stars working in comics, Paul Pope is Iggy Pop in india ink. His lines are fearless and fluid and feel like they’re in motion. I shamefully, just discovered Pope with his work on Strange Tales in Wednseday Comics but I’m since diving in to his older materials. I missed his appearance at MoCCA Fest this year and I can’t wait to meet him. If there’s a sketch to be had from Mr Pope, it will be mine.
Jim Rugg - I haven’t talked about it yet on the show, but 11 O’Clock Comics has pimped this book enough for the whole podcasting world… Simply put if you haven’t read Afrodisiac, you should be ashamed of yourself! Think Black Dynamite on Kirby Crackle. I’m intrigued to meet this ridiculously versatile cartoonist.
Louise and Walter Simonson – I’ve met Walt and ‘Weezy on a couple of occasions and it’s an absolute pleasure. Aside from each of them being amazing creators, each with legendary runs under their belt (Thor, FF, X-Factor and New Mutants to name a few) but they’re also two of the nicest people in comics and just about the sweetest couple you’ll ever meet. Make sure you pay them a visit and bring something to get signed, because Walt also has the best signature in comics.
Charles Paul Wilson III – I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve not yet read The Stuff of Legend, which I picked up at Charles’ table at GraniteCon. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to remedy that before the weekend tough, because I’ll definitely be stopping by his table in Artist Alley. As I mentioned in our GraniteCon recap (Episode 025), Charles was a great guy to meet. We hung out at the drink-n-draw and he really made me feel included in the comics community.
Well that’s my short list anyway. Be sure to check out the official Baltimore Comic-Con website for the whole skinny and hopefully I’ll see you at the Show.