AMBER LOVE 10-SEP-2013 Every year I’m honored that the good folks of BALTIMORE COMIC CON allow me press access to their show because it is my favorite of the east coast shows. It’s not a colossal nightmare like NYCC but offers a lot more than the small “white box” shows that run every couple weeks in New Jersey. The harbor is more convenient for planning activities than either New York or Philadelphia. This year, we even got some pretty nice weather (hot in a costume but pleasant otherwise).
I have specific goals for attending Baltimore Comic Con every year. Since Stacy Korn, one of the Comic Fusion owners, first brought me there in tow, it’s been our main show to collect donations for our Superhero Weekend charity event at the store (held every October). Baltimore is also one of the best cons for me to see people I know because I can usually find 95% of them where I don’t get that chance in NYCC’s crazy layout separating Small Press from Artists’ Alley and their impossible aisles and hard to find after-party locations. After the basics of socializing, there’s also networking to get introduced to new creators, publishers and hopefully catch a panel or two. And finally, I’ve been attending the Harvey Awards to tweet the winners as they’re announced but since the @HarveyAwards feed does that now, I don’t know if I’ll bother doing it anymore since I lose several hours that could be better spent at various meetups.
One of the most important organizations in entertainment is the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) which represents interests in First Amendment cases and other issues. I attended one of their panels for as long as I could about the times when retailers have been arrested on obscenity/pornography violations because of the books they sold while the makers of those comics weren’t charged. Chances are you’ve heard at least the basics about Robert Crumb’s comics including ZAP COMIX from the revolutionary times of the late 1960s. Due to the thorough research of Joe Sergi (writer of CBLDF articles, SKY GIRL, GREAT ZOMBIES IN HISTORY), more information about the ZAP COMIX #4 case was brought to light and explained at the panel. ZAP COMIX wasn’t the first book to contain adult content post-Code but New York’s Morals Squad made it infamous. In the People of New York vs. Kirkpatrick (1969), an East Side Bookstore employee that faced charges was able to prove that he wasn’t even working at the bookstore which exonerated him but not his co-workers. Joe Sergi has a book coming out about legal cases in comics so be sure to follow him on Twitter for the announcements.
“Under New York law at the time, “A person who promotes obscene material, or possesses the same with intent to promote it in the course of his business, is presumed to do so with knowledge of its content and character.” Thus, any ruling that Zap Comix #4 was obscene as a matter of law would have the effect of shifting the burden of proof back to the accused to prove that they did not know the book was obscene when it was sold it to the undercover police officer.” (Joe Sergi for CBLDF)
I desperately needed to escape the convention just before the legal defense panel ended. I was extremely dehydrated and it was taking a serious physical toll on me. I wasn’t sure how well I could walk at that point and needed to get out of costume and try to recharge as best as possible. Not working at a booth means the panel was pretty much my only chance to sit during the show. I managed to catch a few minutes here or there at friends’ booths but I was completely wiped out. If you ever see me wandering aimlessly around a city, please ask me if I need help because, chances are, I do. I was lost and confused going two blocks. Once I rested, I was completely fine and back out to the show.
I was able to stop by Tom Feister’s booth which wasn’t in a great spot tucked in the far back of the room in a corner. Tom as you may know, was the lead character designer with the company Bento Box on THE AWESOMES. That’s the new cartoon on Hulu (free) which has the Hotwire character I cosplayed. He’s a good friend and seemed surprised. He even tweeted a photo of me directed to the show’s creators Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker who responded kindly asking if I made it myself and saying they loved it. I also got to rest my aching body at Tom’s booth once in awhile so I’m eternally grateful.
Saturday night was the Harvey Awards. I thought Bill Willingham was a much improved Master of Ceremony from Scott Kurtz. Where Kurtz had spent his time at the mic roasting everyone, Willingham took a drier approach to talk about the history of comics pointing out that cave paintings were the first comics and appeared 35,000 years before the first novel. I generally dislike award ceremonies. I don’t watch them on TV. They take far too long. The Harveys are no exception even though I give extra leeway to awards in which I can vote. It’s a lovely evening but could be shortened an hour if they tried hard enough. This year’s ceremony also had the misfortune to be in the ballroom next door to a horribly loud wedding with only folding wall panels separating us.
The greatest part of the Harveys was the HERO Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award winner Sal Buscema. His career with Marvel Comics was highlighted on the flanking projection screens. Sal’s speech resonated with passion for the comics industry but mostly for his wife who he credited with having been the reason he was able to quit his job and follow his dreams in the funny books. His voice choked as he spoke about her and the audience’s eyes began to water.
I managed to avoid most of the commotion surrounding Kevin Smith and the COMIC BOOK MEN which were special guests of the show and responsible for some congested areas on the con floor. I still had to sign a release form for the show simply because I was bent down behind the LIVING CORPSE booth where I keep my things. I hope I don’t wreck the shot of Blair, Buz and Ken working. But there you have it, you may see one second of the top of my head in my Hotwire costume on a show I don’t support.
One of the best elements of the Baltimore Comic Con is the cosplay. I don’t think it’s exclusively because of the $1,000 grand prize at the costume contest since plenty of costumers don’t enter. It’s one show where costumes still seem to be retaining the fun factor and hasn’t been overwrought with the catty competitiveness bigger places seem to have. You’re welcome to spend as much time as you like in the lobby posing for pictures. I always get to catch with some of my favorite people from the community even if it’s far too short of a visit for 15-20 minutes. There aren’t many pictures of me at all since Hotwire is still quite unknown; I knew that while making the costume that people photograph the ones they recognize or ones that are mindblowing. I certainly wasn’t blowing anyone’s mind.
Finally, I got the opportunity to introduce myself to the wonderful crew at the GeeksOUT booth which is a vital part of the LGBT comics community. Rogan Josh donated a gorgeous Spider-Man to our Superhero Weekend fundraiser and I bought a perfect shirt in solid black with bold white letters proclaiming “STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER.” It’s something I’ve already worn proudly. I may not be able to kick ass or outrun zombies but I will always do whatever is possible to protect my friends, loved ones and strangers.
Thank you, Marc, Randy and Team for another outstanding Baltimore Comic Con! I hope I will be there in 2014.