The weekend of October 18 – 20, 2019 was the twentieth anniversary celebration of Baltimore Comic-Con. It is consistently one of our favorite conventions of the year. That is a sentiment that is shared by visitors, invited guests, and exhibitors alike.
A consistent refrain you will hear is that it is a “comic book convention that is about comics”. The vendors and guests are heavily weighted toward the comics side of fandom. The show is sponsored by Cards, Comics and Collectibles in Reisterstown, Maryland, and there is a very family-like atmosphere to the event. It is not easy to pull off an event of this magnitude as an independent convention. Marc and Shelly Nathan, the showrunners, put their heart and soul into this weekend, as do all the people who work on planning, logistics, and making sure everyone has a blast.
This is the sixth time that I have attended this convention, and it never disappoints.
The convention was held at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. It is located across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. There is a light rail station across from the Convention Center, and there is also a ton of parking garages in easy walking distance to the event. The convention partners with Parking Panda to provide easy access to pre-paid parking from its website.
The convention floor was an easy escalator ride down from the main entrance, and the programming panel rooms were one flight up.
Guests and Artist Alley
There were over 200 comic pros that made the list for this show. There were well laid out areas of the exhibition floor that worked well for such a loaded con. There was a wide selection of different types professional artists and writers. There were some legendary creators such as Walter and Louise Simonson, Neal Adams, Marv Wolfman and Howard Chaykin on hand, but also a good selection of contemporary pros and new up-and-coming talent.
One of the best parts is the Kids Love Comics area of the show. There were over 40 booths set up and run by artists and writers that direct their creative talents toward a younger generation. There was also a decently sized area for kid-centric programming right on the show floor. It is always a hit with both parents and kids.
Baltimore Comic-Con continues to produce a show yearbook filled with exclusive art by guests. Each year the yearbook is expertly designed and edited by Thom Zahler. This year’s theme was the character Blacksad by Spanish authors Juan Díaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (artist). The show supports a scavenger hunt for autographs by artists. A selection of exclusive prints was the prize for collecting twenty signatures. This was the first year that we participated in the contest, and it was a lot of fun.
Exhibitors and Vendors
As we said earlier, this is really a very comic centric convention, and there were a lot of comic vendors at the show. They ranged from high end rare comic dealers to tables with a large selection of dollar boxes. There were also plenty of toy vendors and a decent selection of other dealers of memorabilia.
There were several of the larger independent publishers onsite, and they often had talent signing at their booths. These publishers included Ahoy Comics, Aftershock Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Valiant Entertainment, and Source Point Press.
There were food concession stands at this convention. Unfortunately, it is pretty generic convention center faire. However, there is easy access out of the convention center to a variety of restaurants in the area. One of the benefits of this con is the short walk from show floor to the exit and back.
There was a large variety of quality programming content at this show. There were spotlight panels with creators and plenty of how-to panels about making comics or getting into the business.
There were panels with celebrity guests that were often moderated with aplomb by Dr. Christina Blanch. She does an excellent job of bringing the audience and the celebrity to the same level.
Also at this convention, I moderated two panels that we will be bringing you the recordings of in the next week or so. Stay tuned to Pop Culture Squad for that.
We have already published our cosplay post, and you can see there that there was a great deal of creativity on display as we walked the aisles. The cosplay contests are usually well attended at this show.
The Baltimore Comic-Con is the presenting sponsor of the Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards, commonly known as the Ringo Awards. This was the third annual award ceremony, and we were there for it. You can find our live blog of the ceremony here. Tickets for the award banquet and ceremony are available to the public, and it is always a great night.
We really did not hear a bad word about the content of this show. If there was any suggestion that could be made, signage in the other areas of the convention center and outside could help with getting people more easily to the right side of the venue.
We have to note that the Saturday of this convention coincided with the Baltimore Running Festival and the Baltimore Marathon. The race began and ended in the vicinity of the show. We had a lot of concern about how that would affect getting around town to get to the convention. We took the necessary steps to avoid any inconvenience, but we did not hear many, if any, complaints from other visitors to the show. Attendance on Saturday seemed to be excellent from our perspective. Thankfully, next year the Marathon and Baltimore Comic-Con are on different weekends.
This convention cannot be more highly recommended. It is celebration of comic books and geekdom that is full of excitement. The staff does a fantastic job year-in and year-out. I have seen improvements on lessons learned from each year, and it continues to get better. It is a great event for kids and adults from every dimension. We will certainly be looking forward to going back October 23 – 25, 2020.