Convention Report: Baltimore Comic Con 2016 (part 3 of 4)
I was greeted in the morning by a pleasant surprise under my door – free breakfast passes from the management team of the Hyatt, as an extra apology for the dirty room I had the first night. I took the passes downstairs, had a quick bite, and then headed to the convention center to set up for the day.
We’re ready for the commerce!
Our row was joined by the very talented Chris Giarusso (G-Man), and the antics between him and Franco all morning were hilarious. You can tell people are friends by the inside jokes they have, and the two of them just kept talking like tough guys the whole time and trying to one-up each other in this tough guy voice. It was quite funny.
As the day pressed on, behind me the Kids Section workshops started up. They had sessions on character creation, storyboarding and story flow, making your own superhero team (and their first adventure), and many more! It was loud enough to hear what they were doing when it was slow on the floor, but quiet enough to not interfere with sales – which was much appreciated.
Staffers would walk by every now and then and present us with water, lunch, and conversation. They gave you the sense of community in a way I haven’t felt in many years – like an extended family. My table neighbors, too, were passing out snacks and drinks (including Ecto Coolers) to the row, to keep us all energized and in high spirits. It was an incredible feeling.
G-Man creator Chris Giarusso leads a workshop on how to make your own comics
Chris Giarusso helps some kids make their own comics
A fan cosplaying as a character from Voracious (his favorite comic)! Cooking dinosaurs = awesome!
Sipping an Ecto Cooler, and I’m instantly transplanted back to 1988….Ah, nostalgia
About an hour before the floor was supposed to close, the fire alarm went off. We were told to evacuate, so I closed up the table real quick and headed outside. By the time they let us back in, it was about 30 minutes to close – which was the same time the Harvey Awards cocktail hour started. The con staff was willing to extend the floor hours, but everyone in artist alley (near me, anyway) was yelling for them to not keep the floor open longer. I didn’t bother opening my table, and headed back to the hotel to change for the Harveys.
A quick hurdle presented itself at me when I arrived, however, which was that I had accidentally left my suit in the closest of my old room. Thankfully security had collected it, but I had to wait to get it back. It wasn’t too wrinkly, so I changed and headed downstairs to grab a quick cocktail and network before the dinner and award ceremony started. Paul Storrie was kind enough to show me there were different name tags, which I had completely missed on my way in, which identified me as a nominee. Once that was on, lots of people were asking who I was and what I did. Being the webcomics guy, I figured people would dismiss me outright – but they were polite and interested in the project.
Eventually, they called us all into the ballroom. I was sitting at a table with Paul Storrie, Christina Blanch, Thom Zhaler, and several other faces I didn’t recognize at the time (but later made friends with a bunch of them). Dinner was served promptly, which I was told was unusual – apparently the ceremony commonly runs late, but they keep the bar open for us late after, so no one minds at all. The place was PACKED with people – a veritable who’s who of comics. We ate and enjoyed conversation among our table for the evening, and then eventually the lights dimmed slightly and it was ceremony time!
Dinner at the Harvey Awards!
The Harvey Awards dinner – it’s a packed house
Constance Ezra opened the event, and introduced the master of ceremonies. Dean Haspiel gave the keynote speech – a very sobering tale about his life as a creator, and how comics have changed over time. It really set the tone for the evening, and had many of the audience in tears. A standing ovation was rightly given after that personal tale, and the awards started to be passed out. They had a different presenter for every 2-3 awards, and the webcomics category was the fourth in the line. They would also give out special awards every so often – lifetime achievement awards, Hero Initiative awards, and more. Eventually, we got to the Webcomics category.
From a distance, Dean Haspiel gives the keynote speech – a touching personal story
The category was a unique one, because 1) there were no big names from comics in this category this year (last year, Brian K Vaughn won for his webcomic, Private Eye), shy of Mike Norton, who had won in the category previously, and 2) there was such a unique mix of comics, from young readers titles like mine, or Bloom County, and adult titles like Oh Joy Sex Toy. My table was very supportive of me when the category was called – hugs and smiles and fingers crossed as they called out the nominees. Suffice it to say, we didn’t win – Mike Norton took the prize – but my table gave me hugs all the same. I texted Mike, since we’re buddies, and let him know he won again. He responded with an image of him holding a beer, saying, “I guess this is a celebratory beer, then!” He’s such a joker.
We didn’t win the Harvey Award for Best Online Comic, but we were in great company. Congrats to all my fellow nominees
We went through the rest of the ceremonies, Christina and I guessing who was going to take the prize – and our guesses were mostly the same, and mostly on point with the winners. It was an incredible evening, and one I will not soon forget. After the ceremony ended, we received goodie bags filled with books from the presenters and nominees – some 30-50 pounds of books! – and we all said our goodbyes to those of us who were not attending the bar after.
Red Stylo editor Enrica Jang and I take a selfie after the Harveys have ended. She was nominated for her anthology, The 27 Club
Paul Storrie and I after the Harveys…
…and then I told a bad joke
I went to my room to drop off my goodie bag, and then headed to the bar upstairs where I immediately ran into JG Jones and his wife. We got to talking about our cats, how the two of them met, and how this event felt less like a comic industry event and more like a family get-together. It was really quite incredible. Eventually, an old buddy is his stopped by, so I took my leave and started talking to Paul Storrie, Rich Johnson, and Justin Jordan about projects, the show, and life in general. Without realizing it, 3am had come and gone and suddenly I excused myself so I could get a little bit of sleep before the final day of the show.
Baltimore Comic Con was already turning out to be a unique and incredible convention experience. All of my friends had been talking about it for ages, and I hadn’t had the chance to go before this weekend…and now I was questioning why I took so long to go in the first place.