The Baltimore Comic-Con Wrap Up
It’s been a wonderful but utterly exhausting last few days. The scheduling gods must have been having a laugh at my expense.
Thursday kicked things off as Deb, Kate, Mike, and I attended the Bruce Springsteen show at Nationals Stadium. I’ve been going to see Bruce since December 1975 so I’ve been to over a dozen concerts over the decades and he never fails to entertain. At 66, he put on an energetic 3:50 show that was heavy on the early albums and full of spontaneous numbers. Of course, that meant we didn’t get home and to bed until rather late.
Friday kicked off the Baltimore Comic-Con. This remains a lively show that remains focused on comics with many publishers in attendance along with a nicely varied Artists’ Alley. Since I’ve begun regularly attending, some four or five years now, it’s been a fun experience, certainly a chance for me to visit old friends.
I caught up with many of the usual suspects like Joe and Hilarie Staton, Barry Kitson, Dan Jurgens, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, and more. But, there were some here I haven’t seen in ages including Fabian Nicieza and June Brigman so that was a real treat.
But, I am willing to sing for my supper so in exchange for a badge, I volunteer to do programming for Marc Nathan and Roger Ash (also my editor at Westfield Comics). This year, I was set to moderate five panels and be on a sixth, which was fine by me.
The con’s first panel was a spotlight on J.M. DeMatteis, whom I have been able to call a friend since 1980. While sparsely attended, we covered his career and got into the craft of writing a bit which was good. Later in the day, I hosted Paul Levitz, Howard Chaykin, and Ron Marz as we discussed the pulp roots of comics, both in terms of format, character, and personnel. It was spirited although all agreed Edgar Rice Burroughs really set the template for so much that has followed, probably more from John Carter than Tarzan.
On Saturday, I had three back to back since I had to leave early for an obligation back home. We started off with Eric Powell, Walt Simonson, Frank Cho, and Mark Schultz discussing drawing dinosaurs, why they love it and how they do it. An attendee later told me how impressed he was at how much research the artists had done as kids and later, informing their work. It was a real interesting topic to explore.
This was followed with what has been the best received panel in some time. Mark Waid, Hope Larson, Amy Chu, Paul Storrie, J.M. DeMatteis, and I talked the craft of writing comics. It had a lot less to do with nuts and bolts but things like what comes first: plot, character or theme or the need of outlining and concept of “decompressed” storytelling. Given the varying lengths of time the team spent writing comics in addition to their varied backgrounds, it was a really lively conversation we all regretted having to end after just one hour.
I suggested we do a spotlight on Joe Giella, an 88 year old artist who broke in at 17 for Hillman and went on to being one of DC’s most reliable inkers through the 1950s-1980s. As it turns out, I assigned him his last DC work for Who’s Who—go figure. We covered his career right up to his retirement in May from 25 years’ service on Mary Worth. He told great stories and the audience seemed to enjoy it. Later, I am very sorry I missed his reunion with the great Al Jaffee since the two men had not seen one another in 70 years.
On Sunday, I got to throttle back a bit as Christina Blanch moderated a panel on Media Comics with Louise Simonson, Joe Harris, Amy Chu, John Layman, Thom Zahler, and me. We had fun talking about all the licensed works we worked on as writers and/or editors.
I chatted with Christy as she was off to her next assignment, interviewing The Flash’s Candace Patton on stage. As a result, I had a 10 second introduction to the actress and she seemed to enjoy her time with the fans.
As it happened, I followed that act with an onstage conversation with Hayley Atwell, where we covered her career on stage and television before she become a pop culture idol as Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic universe. I also got to discuss her new ABC series Conviction, and it was fun sitting at the apron of the stage, the two of us chatting before a few hundred fans. She was funny and lively and I couldn’t ask for a better experience.
I saw friends, made new friends, did a little business, had some amazing panels and really had a blast the show (while still managing to be jealous of those attending both Dragon Con and Mission New York at the same time).
And now to rest.