‘How I Survived the 14th Annual Baltimore Comic-Con’ Part 2

Reported by Shawn Warner

I arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center prepared for the second day of Comic-Con completely solo. My comic book compatriots had abandoned me opting for their work-a-day doldrums so I strapped on my trusty messenger bag containing such convention necessities as my want list, my remaining books to be signed, a pack of peanut butter tasty cakes and my phone. I was able to cross most of the names off of my signature list Saturday so I looked for the shortest line for the creators I had yet to meet. Ed McGuiness and David Finch were situated close enough to one another that I could go from one to the other very quickly but since I wanted to get a sketch from McGuiness on my blank cover variant of Nova #1, I decided to go to David Finch first for his signature and some conversation. Having met David a few years ago, I know he alternates between signing and sketching, after each sketch he signs a pretty good amount of books. As luck would have it he was finishing up a sketch when I took my place in the growing line. David Finch is a very down to Earth guy for someone possessing his incredible talent. He was happy to speak with me about the outcome of Forever Evil and take one of our cards promising to stop by the site and read my upcoming review of the event. After getting my books and a poster signed I walked directly to Ed McGuiness’ table where I was crushed to learn he was not doing any sketches whatsoever. Greatly disappointed I nevertheless handed him my Nova #1 to sign. It wasn’t the sketch I wanted but it is now signed, hopefully I will have the chance to get him to do it another time.

I only had a few more names on my list, so I rifled through my bag and pulled out my copy of Larfleeze #1 which still needed Keith Giffen’s signature. Mr. Giffen jokingly added his autograph larger and above J.M. DeMattieus’ signature which I had gotten Saturday. Ray Fawkes’ table was right beside the huge AMC set up for the Comic Book Men, so I took my Constantine #1 from my bag and handed it to Ray to sign. He is a quiet gentleman and one heck of an artist. His water color paintings of such characters as Batman and Sand Man were quite impressive. I decided now was as good a time as any to meet The Comic Book Men. Once in line I had to sign a release since they were filming an episode of the show. I have seen most episodes but I’m not an avid fan of the show or of anything Kevin Smith has done. I mean I like him, he seems like a really humble guy but I really only liked Clerks and his Daredevil run. His two Batman minis were solid books as well but he is not someone I buy automatically. So having sufficiently prefaced my feelings on Kevin Smith and his work I will go on to say that I was pleasantly surprised to find Walt, Brain, Ming and Mike to be four of the friendliest, nicest guys I met in both days of the con.  Walter and Brian, who are the two creators of Cryptozoic Man, were both really unassuming approachable guys. We joked about the book. Walt asked me to be kind when I told him I was going to review it for the site. Brian, who comes across a bit arrogant on the show at times was anything but in person. Ming was super-friendly and Mike, whom I respect for his vast knowledge of comic books, was likewise very unassuming and affable. All in all, The Comic Book Men were four really pleasant and gracious guys who seemed to be having a blast.

Cryptozoic Man focuses on the life of Allan Ostman and how that life is irreparably changed when his daughter disappears while they are on a camping trip. Ostman, himself is then abducted by aliens from a local redneck bar. He learns that he is to play a major part in the fate of the world mostly in his ability to capture the world’s most infamous “cryptids”. Add to this a psychotic in a leather pig mask and you have the premise of Cryptozoic Man.

After reading this first issue I am initially struck by the prose heavy style of writer Brian Johnson. His flowery stanzas seem a bit out of place in a comic book at first but by the end of the book I was comfortable with his liberal use of metaphor. The dialogue is a bit stilted but I think that is something that Johnson will grow into.

As for the art, Walter Flanagan is not new to print; in fact he has drawn Batman! I find his style most conducive to depicting horror or more supernatural subject matter, so this is a great fit for him. His storytelling and panel layouts are good; he and Johnson seem to have a natural chemistry which translates here to a well-paced story. I enjoyed the first issue of this four part mini and I would recommend it to readers of Swamp Thing and X-Files or anyone who enjoys darker, more ethereal comic books. Cryptozoic Man rates a 3 out of 5 from me check it out.

My day was beginning to wind down at this point. I scoured dollar boxes and made last minute purchases, not wasting a single cent on non-essential items like food or drink. Every penny was accounted for and earmarked for comic books. It was now the twilight of the convention; my mind recounted the highlights in an air of ultra-short term nostalgia including an awesome conversation with Paul Jenkins, a spirited exchange with Justin Jordan and a rare opportunity to watch a genius at work as I watched Brain Bolland do an iconic sketch of The Joker. Comic-Con has the uncanny ability to compress time in the sense that I always feel like I have done so much but left so much more to do. My heart sank as the dreaded announcement ending Comic-Con 2013 echoed throughout the convention center but hark a note of hopeful promise rings out as next year is slated to be a three day event! Bitter-sweet indeed as we begin the 364 day countdown.

So I would like to close my report from the dangerous streets of Baltimore with a list of some of the winners of this year’s Harvey Awards:

Letterer: Todd Klein for Fables
Color: Fiona Staples for Saga
Inker: Klaus Janson for Captain America
Hero Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award: Sal Buscema
New Series: Saga from Image
New Talent: Dennis Hopeless for Avengers Arena from Marvel
Best Cover Artist: David Aja, Hawkeye
Best Continuing or Limited Series: Saga from Image
Best Writer: Brian K. Vaughn, Saga
Best Artist: Fiona Staples, Saga
Best Single Issue or Story: Saga #1

As you can see by the results, Saga received the lion’s share of the awards. I would have liked to see Hawkeye take more but I only get one vote. I hope you enjoyed my coverage of Baltimore Comic-Con 2013 and I hope to bring you all the excitement from all three days next year. Now it’s back to work and the grind of writing reviews and working on my own scripts. I will be bringing you another Weekly Bat Signals this week along with a plethora of opinions and news all pertaining to the wonderful world of sequential art and the cavalcade of creators who chronicle the lives of comic book characters. So until next time see you on the convention floor.

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To Read Part 1 of This Report, Please Click Here:  http://wp.me/p2Smqf-Zf

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Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter:  @shawnwarner629

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