My first pop culture convention was Baltimore Comic-Con (or hereafter known as BCC) . Growing up as a fan of all things geeky, I am not sure what took my wife and I so long to attend our first con, but in 2009 at Baltimore’s convention center, that’s what we did. One of the first things that we noticed was that Baltimore is home to a pretty thriving comic and pop culture community. This isn’t a surprise; it’s the home of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum and a half dozen or so prominent comic, game and collector stores that are like institutions all their own.
That identity is reflected in Baltimore’s Comic-Con along with a generous mix of representation from other creative Charm City staples, including crafts, performing arts, tattoos, derby and burlesque. BBC’s size allows it to have the community feel of a small convention with the approachability of some of the larger cons – without watering down the comic, sci-fi and geek culture.
For all those reasons, BCC is the one con I come back to every year. This year was, in the best way, more of the same.
After a much-needed move into the larger halls on the west side of the convention center in 2014 – along with the addition of a third day – BCC has expanded to fit almost perfectly in its new home. Like last year, Friday proved to be the perfect day for those willing to take a day off to start the weekend early. Shorter lines and a more open space gave us time to hit every Artist’s Alley table. It was kind of the perfect day; the right number of elbows to bump without actually bumping elbows. The steady stream of con-goers Friday also proved that BCC has grown to a full-fledged three-day event. In previous years, media guests such as this year’s: Ming Na Wen, Katie Cassidy and Edward James Olmos were nowhere to be seen, but this year, just like last, guests brought a big-con feel and energy to the floor. And though, unlike places like Salt Lake City or Seattle, celeb lines weren’t spilling out into the con floor (not a bad thing, mind you) the crowds were there.
Other improvements included a much wider aisle between artist alley tables, a well-planned open area placed between vendors, artist’s alley and the food court that allowed cosplayers a chance to mug and pose for photos without impeding traffic.
Not everything went smashingly. It’s sort of a byproduct of the convention center’s layout that panels seemed like an afterthought, which caused me to miss a few that I would have liked to attend. Also, I sincerely hope that next year, the bugs from this year’s costume contest get smoothed out. Splitting the contest into two days was smart, but I spent the better part of Saturday before the con – the day of the contest – just trying to find out when it was supposed to take place. Neither the website, nor the social media presence seemed to have that information, and sadly it then clashed with a cosplay photoshoot that had been scheduled months in advance.
But it’s still the tone, the enthusiasm and the personality of BCC that I love the most and that made up for the few glitches. I have friends who have barely any awareness of comic books and a passing interest in geek culture who stayed entertained for at least a full day thanks to the sheer diversity of the creative talent and mixed media. But I also had more than one friend who’d never been to BCC before comment that this was the first convention of its size they had seen in a long time where they still saw fans with rolling suitcases and longboxes full of comics, people talking comics and people selling comics. That formula recharges the geek in me; It keeps the cosplay fan, the comic reader and the toy collector in me coming back and looking forward to each year.