I have been attending Baltimore Comic Con, off and on, for close to 20 years and I have had the pleasure of watching the con grow and evolve from a small but solid local Baltimore – Washington Convention, to a regional convention with a wider draw, to being on the cusp of, if not already, a national powerhouse of a convention. Some of this growth certainly must be attributed to the rise of social media and the ease with which people can share pictures and experiences, but it also must be attributed to their continued attention to being an actual “Comic” Con. Baltimore Comic Con boasts what is easily one of the largest and most diverse artist alleys among the top cons in the country and also has maintained their strong focus on comic artists and writers that most so-called comic cons have gotten away from. As host of the Harvey Awards which have come to be considered, if not the highest regarded, one of the highest regarded awards in all of graphic literature, Baltimore has remained high among creators as a must do con.
The big daddy of them all, San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), has become a full blown monster in the field of entertainment, Attracting the biggest studios in film and television and there productions that have any connection to Geekdom. The problem with them is that Comic books have long been an afterthought at that “Comic” con, as with many others. And that focus should continue to keep Baltimore relevant and growing for many years to come.
One thing all of these cons share in common, at least to a degree, is their vendor room. At the very best of them you’ll find an amazing selection of toys, collectibles, and comic books of course, both new and old. You will find items available from a few dollars up into six figures sometimes. As a collector myself many times the vendors have been my favorite part of conventions. Since a lot of my fellow writers here on Pop Culture Uncovered have discussed the amazing costumes, the wonderful writers, artists, and creators, at this years Baltimore Comic Con, I’m going to focus on a few of my favorite vendors this year. Anyone can set up shop and sell old comic books, or toys, the three that I have selected here stood out to me.
Art On The Block
Owner E.J. Bocan
This booth was located in the artist alley area, and rightfully so, but he crossed into the realm of a vendor (to me at least) because the medium of his choice is everyone’s favorite building toys, Legos. Most everyone has heard of Nathan Sawaya , and his masterful 3-D sculptures in Legos. There’re others out there they have garnered their own corner of fame. I think perhaps that E.J. Bocan may well be the next one to step into that limelight. I’m like so many of the Lego artists and sculptors we see, rather than building up and out, he has an incredible gift to create a beautiful 2-D images with Legos. What he does looks like it would be so easy but take an hour, and your big old box of Legos, and tell me that you could do this:
Yeah, I didn’t think so. This is just a tip of the iceberg for him as he showed in his binder filled with pictures of some of his amazing works. The one that stood out for me I had to be his rendition of van Goghs “Starry, Starry, Night”. Simply breathtaking. This is a young man who I will be watching to see as he explodes onto the scene. Get some of his art while you can still afford it.
Reynolds Advanced Materials
5600-A Lower Macungie Rd
Macungie, PA 18062
Milo Medunic, Materials Specialist
Most anyone who is serious about costuming, cosplay, prop making, or any number of other fields involve creating copies of objects, are aware of Reynolds Advanced Materials, and if you’re not you really should be. They are one of the largest, and in my opinion the best, vendors for everything and anything you could ever need for making a mold, creating a cast of that mold, creating prototypes, toys, props, set pieces, and of course much more in the industrial range. With their nine retail locations around the country, their extensive library of YouTube videos showing you how to do pretty much anything with their Materials, and their incredibly helpful and well-informed staffs, they have been the go to for me for many years now as I have worked on and honed my skills. Their website is easy to use and you can get anything and everything you need there, except that personal touch and the opportunity to check out all of their various materials right in your hands and get a good look at how one material compares to another.
Up until now the closest retail locations they had to the Washington Baltimore area were Charlotte, North Carolina or Boston. Neither of those is a reasonable drive to go and pick up an extra gallon of silicone or that extra bottle of resin that you need to finish that one thing. They finally have opened a location closer to me in Macungie, Pennsylvania (just south of Allentown) and they, much to my excitement, had a booth this year at Baltimore. They were running demos all weekends on the basics of molding and casting, showing off some of their newest products, as well as raffles (I won “The Ultimate Zombie Kit™”!) and other treats for the serious makers. In speaking to Milo, who is a member of the staff at the new store and was very helpful and generous with his time, I was excited to hear that this store is dedicated to serving the needs of this entire region, conveniently located a reasonable distance from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. I look forward to visiting their store soon, and if you like making… well, pretty much anything, you should get up there too!
SAY IT IN 3D
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably seen those places where you can get yourself scanned in 3D and then 3D printed into a statue. I had seen this at some larger conventions being run by larger companies associated with LFL/Disney and the like, but I was truly excited to come upon this booth at Baltimore. This is an actual mom and pop operation, In every sense. Run by semi-retired grandparents Tony Scamurra, and his lovely wife, they have on display statues of themselves, their grandson, and a few of their favorite customers, to demonstrate the amazing level of detail they are able to produce in their full color finished statues.
Available in several styles (Bust, Half Figure, Full Figure, Etc.), and several sizes in each style, they offer costumers the opportunity to immortalize themselves in their costumes in a way that simple photographs could never achieve. Well they are based out of Salem, New Hampshire, they travel to conventions all over the place, and hope will make appearances in the future at serious costuming conventions like Dragon con and Katsucon. We chose to get our eight year old son, who was dressed as the 11th Doctor, scanned and printed into a figure that will become a keepsake we will cherish forever. In addition to figures they offer incredibly high-resolution printing of any 3-D object that you can send him a file for. Their prices are entirely reasonable and competitive with some of the big boys and there full color, high-resolution, models are a sight to behold. When we get ours I will make sure to post it here so you can see.
Well there were many more wonderful and amazing vendors at this year’s Baltimore Comic Con, far more than I could ever go into, these three we’re the ones that stood out to me above all others. Check them out, give them some business, and tell them we sent you!