Darkroom contributor Carrie Wood walks us through the origins of Baltimore Comic-Con with founder Marc Nathan and what we can expect at this year’s event.
(Photos taken by by J.M. Giordano for The Baltimore Sun at the 2012 Baltimore Comic-Con.)
If Bronycon and Otakon didn’t provide Baltimore with enough of an influx of geeks, Baltimore Comic-Con is here to wrap things up.
Now in its 14th year, Baltimore Comic-Con will be taking over the Baltimore Convention Center on September 7th and 8th and intends to pack the place with more comic book artists and other notables than you can handle.
The show was started by Marc Nathan, who owns and operates Cards, Comics and Collectibles in Reisterstown. The store will be turning 30, and has been in its current location in the Chartley Shopping Center since 1999. After running his store for several years, Nathan decided it was time to run his own convention, too.
“Some of it was town pride,” he said. “I travel to conventions all over the country, and I thought we should have one. It just grew to the point where we are now.”
So in 2000, Nathan decided to found Baltimore Comic-Con. What started as a one-day affair at the Towson Sheraton quickly grew to the 10-thousand-plus-attendee show it is today.
“By the second year we knew we were lucky. We were busting the walls down by that point,” he said. “This is the largest convention we’ve done. Each year it gets bigger. It’s huge.”
And huge conventions get huge guests – this year, attendees can meet Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, probably better known as Jay and Silent Bob of the “View Askewniverse” films (“Clerks,” “Chasing Amy,” and “Dogma” are just a few). Mewes and Smith will be debuting their new film, “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie,” at the convention this year. A podcast Q&A session will also take place, and they will be filming an episode of the AMC TV show “Comic Book Men” at the convention as well. A separate ticket will be required to attend the movie premiere event, however.
Another big-time comic-book event held at Baltimore Comic-Con this year will be the Harvey Awards – “the Golden Globes of comic books,” according to Nathan. The awards are named for Harvey Kurtzman, who was best known for creating MAD magazine in 1952. The award show was founded in 1988 and has been presented at various other comic book conventions, such as Pittsburgh Comicon, Wondercon, and Chicago Comic Con, before settling into Baltimore in 2006.
Awards are given out in various categories, such as Best Writer, Best New Series, Best New Talent, Best Colorist, Best Inker, and Best Anthology, among many others. Anyone can attend the Harvey Awards, which is held at the Hyatt Regency, but like the Jay and Silent Bob events, a separate ticket is required.
Aside from the marquee events, there’ still plenty to do at Baltimore Comic-Con, including several panels and a costume contest. There’s also the artist alley, which features close to 400 tables this year. “Dozens upon dozens of local artists” will be in the alley, says Nathan, as Maryland has some serious comic book talent, including Frank Cho. Cho, a University of Maryland graduate, started writing and illustrating “Savage Wolverine” for Marvel this past January and will be a featured guest at the convention.
For those who have never been to a convention of this type before, there are a few things to keep in mind, Nathan said.
“Be prepared for a lot of people, and be patient, because whoever you’re going to want to meet, there’s probably going to be a ton of other people wanting to meet that person,” he said. “And be sure to wear comfortable shoes.”
Tickets can be purchased online at BaltimoreComicCon.com – both weekend and single-day passes are available. A full list of guests, panels and artists is already available online as well.
Can’t make it this year? No worries – Baltimore Comic-Con is already sure to return next year, and Nathan said that the contract is already in, to expand it to a three-day event starting in 2014.