The 2012 Baltimore Comic Con Recap

For me, the Baltimore Comic Con has always been experienced in two different ways. The first eight years of the show’s existence, I experienced it as a fan. For the last five years, I have experienced it as an artist in Artist Alley. It is also the only convention that I have attended every single year –either as a fan or as an artist.

The Baltimore Comic Con has grown through the years…

Through the years – both as a fan and as a working artist – I have seen the show grow from a large hotel convention room to eventually taking over the Baltimore Convention Center. I have seen the show go from being able to walk up to the ticket booth and buying your two day pass in an instant to seeing early morning lines form around the convention center. I went from not seeing a single person dress in a costume to seeing dozens of people dressed in intricate and awesome costumes.

Each year, the show just gets bigger and bigger, so much so, I have often wondered why it hasn’t yet gone to three days instead of just a Saturday and Sunday show. Last year, I asked a volunteer that question and he told me there was some serious discussion about that same thing. But there might be a bunch of organizational reasons why it’s really hard to expand to three days even though the show seems to be popular enough to do so.

Attendance on Saturdays always seem the highest…

In fact, the last two years, the Saturday shows were so packed that several attendees told me there were rumors the local fire marshal was going to come and stop attendee from entering the floor due to over-capacity. Whether or not those rumors were true, I can’t say except that, from the view from my table, I could definitely see why such a rumor might start.

The Webcomic Alliance was well represented…

This year was pretty unique for me as it was only the second time I got to sit side-by-side with my fellow Webcomic Alliance member, Dawn Griffin. The first was last year when we both attended Intervention Con. It was also a pleasant surprise that Dawn’s husband, Rick, decided to join her just so he could see what all this crazy convention stuff was about. Having only been able to attend a convention once with my wife, I know how special it can be when your spouse decides to join you.

Apparently, that was the case with Dawn and Rick.

As far as the show itself, I have always done very well in terms of sales at the Baltimore show but every year, my final totals have increased. Maybe that is because attendance increases each year – I’m not sure, but the 2012 Baltimore Comic Con ended up being my BEST AND HIGHEST GROSSING convention EVER – and that is including this year’s Heroes Con as well. Even more impressive is that Heroes Con is a three day show where Baltimore is still only a weekend show.

So now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the show…

An artist alley table costs $200 and that gets you a convention standard, 6 feet long table, two badges and two chairs. Although the table width is standard, I heard from several artists that width of the table was shorter than most convention tables – which is true. I didn’t measure the tables but it seemed at least a good foot was missing from the table as I didn’t have enough room for my drawing board – which is usually not the case at all. Still though, I managed to fit everything on my table.

As far as sales go, I came armed with 15 copies of volumes 1, 2 and 3 of Capes & Babes. At the end of Sunday, I had only three copies of volume 3 left. I haven’t yet tallied up how many volume 1 and 2’s I have left but volume 3 was my big seller during the weekend. But the books weren’t my biggest selling item. No, my biggest selling item was my super-hero caricature sketch cards as shown below:

Those were so popular, I had to start turning people away on Sunday or asking them to e-mail me for requests – as I was quickly running out of time to complete them by the end of Sunday’s show.

On Saturday night, a bunch of webcomic creators got together and had dinner at the Pratt Street Ale House. It’s a cool bar directly across the street from the convention center. Thanks to Dawn’s quick thinking, a bunch of us participated in a drawing jam session. We haven’t quite figured out what we’re going to be doing with the final piece… maybe auctioning it off and sending the proceeds to a particular charity. If you have any suggestions, send them to us or add them in the comment section. Here is a snapshot of the final piece:

If you don’t bring a lot of merchandise and you have a good run like I did on Saturday’s show, you have to be prepared to rearrange things or add to your table. This is exactly what happened to me on Saturday as I completely sold out of the remaining stock of my Coffee t-shirts I had been selling for the last three years. So, I did a little bit of re-arranging on the right side of my table by using my T-shirt mannequin as a stand for my Lady Death poster – now that I had room to display it.

I did mention that thing about costumes, right? Throughout the show, I was so busy drawing those caricature sketch cards I mentioned before that I really didn’t get a chance to walk around and take a lot of pictures. Fortunately though, quite a few cool looking cosplayers came by my table and I got a couple of pretty cool pics. See the gallery below.

So now that I’ve told you all about my experiences, I thought I’d break down the good and bad of the show – starting with the positive (you DID read my article on constructive criticism, right?)…

Here’s the good of the Baltimore Comic Con:

  • The crowds were HUGE for Saturday. They tapered off on Sunday but really, not by much
  • Stan Lee was there both days (but you needed a special pass just to catch a GLIMPSE of him)
  • I got to sit beside Dawn and her husband Rick the entire weekend
  • Costumes, costumes and more costumes
  • Hanging – and talking shop – with a bunch of fellow webcomic creators after a show is always the very best part of going to conventions. I sometimes learn more from another creator then I do anywhere else.
  • For me, the Baltimore show is “local”. It’s a 90 minute drive (barring traffic) so it’s easy to get to and I usually get home at a decent hour – even after eating dinner post con in Baltimore.

Here’s some of the bad:

  • Attending the con is not cheap. The show itself isn’t too bad. A $200 table for two days is not bad – especially since I easily made that back on Saturday thanks to the large crowds. No, what I’m talking about is everything AROUND the convention… parking, especially. The parking situation can really kill you if you’re not prepared.
  • There aren’t any close or convenient places to get any breakfast like McDonald’s, so, if you’re staying in and around the convention center and you want breakfast, you need to make sure you pack it – unless you are willing to walk 6 or 7 blocks to the nearest McDonald’s.
  • Hotels around the Inner Harbor are not cheap either. The NY Yankees were in town playing the Orioles all weekend long, so all of the local hotels filled up fast and made some hotel prices even more expensive.
  • I’m not sure if it’s the current economy but I’m seeing a hotel trend I’m really not liking… it seems that lately, the more expensive hotel you stay at, the less “perks” you get. The hotel I stayed at was right across the street from the convention center. It’s one of the more popular hotels around the Inner Harbor yet my room didn’t have a refrigerator – sort of. It had a refrigerator but it was a pre-stocked one that would have cost me a fortune to put anything in or take anything out. Fortunately, the ice in the ice machine was still free.
  • It’s disappointing that the Baltimore Comic con doesn’t have extended pre-con set-up times. For the most part, you can only set up your table on Saturday morning and you have to do it extremely early as well as the organizers open the floor to VIP guests at 9:30am and you have to be completely set up by then. That can add some stress to getting set up if you’re not prepared.
  • Also, if you’re a solo act like I am, even getting set up can be a hassle as you are required to get your badge at the front of the convention center, then go to the back to haul your stuff to your table. I’ve gotten used to the process over the years but there are other conventions where the process of getting a badge and getting set up a LOT easier. BUT… the convention volunteers will absolutely help you – if you ask for help. So take advantage of them if you need to. That’s part of the reason why they are there, after all. They certainly helped me that first day.

In conclusion…

Other than that, there’s nothing else I can really say about the show. Even the bad bullet points listed above are more of a nuisance than really a complaint. A convention can’t help what a hotel chain will or won’t do or what they will charge for a room. They also can’t help what local parking garages will or won’t charge you for parking.

As a professional convention attendee, it’s your job to make sure you have these things covered by bringing an adequate size cooler (for ice in your room), breakfast foods, Powerbars and drinks to keep you hydrated throughout the show.

Overall, as I mentioned at the beginning, the Baltimore show was my best convention I have ever had since first tabling at Heroes Con in 2008. It’s a show I look forward to every year and a show I will absolutely do again! I hope you found this recap informative and entertaining. If you have any questions about this show – or any show you might be interested in attending – leave a comment in the comment section and I will do my best to answer any questions you might have.

Signing off (for now)…
Chris Flick

Some of the photos that I took…

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