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Skid Marks: Baltimore Comic-Con 2008

Written by Zenguru on Monday, October 06 2008 and posted in Columns

Baltimore Comicon 2008: An Experience in Fanboy Odor

Here I sit broken hearted. Another comicon departed. Paid a quarter and only...

Well, I wish I had a quarter.

This year's Baltimore show was my third attending. And possibly my most eventful yet. Both good and kinda bad.

Even before the show started, the line was ungodly. It snaked around the entire hall (and half again) before starting anew above the escalator. That would be an unfortunate omen of things to come. People were pack in the aisles like sardines on Saturday because of three main factors:

1. It was raining like a box-eared mofo outside. No one went outside to hang out. Everybody stayed IN.

2. Jim Lee was stationed at the same table as Sterling Gates, James Robinson, Geoff Johns, and Rags Morales. That table also faced the ones seating Brian Bendis and Bernie Wrightson. You literally could not breathe without jabbing someone with your elbow.

3. Jim Lee did sketches for the first 10 or 15 people in line. Which meant the line barely moved even as it grew exponentially. I know I was around #25 or so in line and I stood in the exact same spot for over an hour and a half.

Well, screw that.

It wasn't worth standing in a sea of expiring anti-perspirants to get only 3 books signed. So I left for greener, and less crowded, pastures. Strangely enough, the line for Johns and Robinson moved steadily despite the fact they signed everything put down in front of them. I saw people get entire runs of Flash and Green Lantern signed.

And poor Sterling Gates. No one brought anything for him to sign. Not that I could see, anyway. He still smiled though. His enthusiastic perseverance caused me to shed a tear on the inside.

Walking around the floor, I was pleased to see several nubile females dressed in skimpy outfits. Even more pleased to see some of them didn't mind me looking. Unfortunately, a few of the ones that didn't mind were scary. I averted my gaze before my evening developed into a toil of gasps, grunts, and cries for mommy.

I didn't look for many back issues. Except to fill small holes in runs I was getting signed. My main goal at shows is not the accumulation of back issues anymore, but of autographs. Specifically ones from artists I've never met hence. And this show provided excellent opportunities for that.

Like I said before, Johns and Robinson signed everything. They were dedicated and interminably pleasant. Despite the Jerichoian wall of fanboys, I could swear I saw sunshine beaming from their asses.

And speaking of asses, I had the unfortunate displeasure of being exposed to a hairy fanboy butt crack right in front of me. This guy had on a black t-shirt that went down over his hip pockets and it still hiked up over his belt line when he bent down to sort through his comics.

I turned my head in disgust and the guy behind me said "Nice!" I'm not sure if he was sarcastic or if he genuinely appreciated that dingleberry canyon. I tend to think the latter.

I would never have guessed Mike McKone was British. Here I thought he was a stater. Now it seems he was part of the Silent British Invasion. Now all those JLI stories he did take on a slightly different, but better, tone for me.

Nick Cardy was very genial and happy to sign stuff. As long as he remembered to pace himself. Word to the wise, don't put down a huge stack of stuff in front of artists who have trouble holding a pen. Do 5 or 6 books per visit. You'll be surprised how more appreciative older guests will be of you. And Nick's wife was very nice as well. It was funny how she kept reminding him to take a bite of his sandwich every couple of minutes.

I wanted to meet Cliff Chiang to get my Green Arrow/Black Canary's signed. He told me his next project was Greendale, a Vertigo book based on an idea by Neil Young, I think. I had no idea Mike Norton was there, so I was pleasantly surprised to get some of those GA/BC's double-signed.

Mr. Norton told me that since Black Canary isn't appearing much in Birds of Prey, Gail Simone is concerned about her presence in Green Arrow/Black Canary. So much that if he "treats her wrong", Simone asks people to come up to him at shows and punch him.

Tim Sale's schedule was more fluid than others. Starting and stopping a bit beyond the parameters outlined by his beautiful female associate. His gorgeous, tanned, auburn haired associate.

I missed a couple signing times due to waiting in other lines and because he needed time to finish paid sketches. But I was able to meet him near the end of Saturday. And with a generous donation to Hero Initiative, he signed every book I had for him. Superman: For All Seasons was my favorite. We even had a nice conversation about Norman Rockwell.

It was then Tim told me he had never been to Kansas. WHAT? PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN? HELL NO!! Ah, I cut him a break on that. I love his art so much, he could shit a string of popcorn and I'd still put it around my Christmas tree.

Um, that wasn't too much, was it? After all, I did flush the tinsel down the toilet.

There were some artists I wanted to see again, like Erik Larsen. Got him to sign some Spidey stuff. Plus he did a cool sketch of the Savage Spider Dragon!

I had Jim Shooter sign Legion of Super Heroes and Secret Wars II. I still contend one of the most seminal moments in comic history is Spidey teaching the Beyonder to go to the bathroom. Spidey's all about responsibility. And what bigger responsibility than teaching God how to drop a deuce?

Though it happened off-panel, I suggested Shooter do a 6-page back-up untold story about it. Can you imagine how much poor Peter spent on toilet paper to get that job done? Guess that solid gold notebook came in handy after all.

I always drop by Tim Truman's table if he's there. Even if I don't have anything to get signed. He went to school in my hometown, and met his wife there. So I like to give him reports on how things are going there. Turns out he, like me, is amused by my city's ongoing canonization of Don Knotts. Our town's most famous, and favorite, son.

I missed Frank Cho last year, so I hit him up with Avengers and Conan. Frank told me he has covers done up to #7. Then Linsner does covers for a bit. Then he comes back for a story arc. I am so pumped.

So from an autograph perspective, this year's Balti-Con was pretty exciting for me. Got a lot of key runs scribbled on. Most notably Darwyn Cooke's Spirit, one of the finest runs in comics today.

And I got to see Tim Sale one last time Sunday. I was 4th or 5th in line. Had to wait a bit for him to finish a sketch, but it was worth it. Even if the guy in front of me had no idea what a bath was. But y'know, I found if you just stand to the side a bit, the odor just travels on down the line. Just test for air currents, like golfers do, and step off to the appropriate side.

Hopefully, next year will see a better arrangement of creator tables. Weather and poor floor planning made for some uncomfortable moments waiting in line. Mostly because I couldn't tell if that hand grabbing my butt was female or not.

I tend to think that it was.

Attached to a gorgeous, tanned, auburn, excuse me.


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About the Author - Zenguru

Zenguru has been an Outhouser since the days it was blue. He's the Rick Jones of The Outhouse. Not always in the mansion, but always around in a pinch. Just don't pinch too hard, okay? He's written a few articles, notably $k!d M@rks, and has published several books of poetry. Lately, he's been writing poems and fiction about diners. He's been reading comics since the mid-70's. He dreams of one day traveling between dimensions to be Jonah Hex's sidekick.

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