One of the things I love about Baltimore Comic-Con is that, unlike some of the other conventions, it really still is a comic con. No movies or TV shows or sparkling vampires (unless they’re featured in a comic book). At least, that holds true in the main events of the convention. In the artists alley/vendor area anything goes. The majority of those are also comic book related, every once in a while there are some different products there. As I was wandering the convention center I me across the booth for Coral Hare. The manga cover drew me in, I thought perhaps it was a war-themed comic.
Then I spoke with author Clive Lee and found out it was a historical novel:
I’ve started reading it and I’m about 20% through it. I have to say that Clive’s writing style is pretty evocative. I feel as though he’s describing a movie to me – that’s how dynamic the action is. I find myself thinking that if someone like Quentin Tarantino got his hands on this book, it’d be a great movie. So far, the characters and story are quite well realized and believable within the bounds of a historical spy thriller genre. As Clive mentions in the interview, the book was reviewed by a history professor and one of the meta things I really enjoy is that the book is chock-full of footnotes explaining a lot of the small details so it’s up to the reader whether they want to interrupt the flow and the text doesn’t end up going on an exposition dump.
The Occupy Wall Street protests started almost exactly 3 years ago. Three years before that, the irresponsible actions of the banks nearly caused the collapse of the Western World as incredible amounts of money simply vanished. Various governments poured money into the companies involved and in 2011 as some parts of Europe found themselves no longer in control of their own countries, there was a disappointing lack of anyone being held responsible. At the time we still believed in the power of democracy and being vocal and so many took to the streets in an attempt to move the political will. Eventually the protests fell apart for various reasons – some inevitable and some nefarious – and nothing truly changed. But we continue to believe in democracy and no one is seriously courting rebellion.
Baltimore Comic-Con has a really great artists alley/vendor area and a visitor can see some pretty great indie creations (like webcomic Altar Girl). One that caught my eye right away on the first day was a little outfit called Little Petal. After looking at the women at the booth and the samples on the table, I had to know more. So I interviewed the owner, Danielle Ward.
This hits on a lot of really great needs: elegant comic book themed dresses, custom fits so that the customer can look good no matter their body shape, and a work of passion. I made a point of stopping by each morning to see the new dresses the women were wearing. I think if I were a woman (or a dress-wearing guy), I would have ordered two or three.
So, when you go to a convention – especially Baltimore Comic-Con – make sure you visit the vendor area. You never know what you’ll find.
I attended two panels on Sunday, Dynamite’s Pulp panel and Christy Blanch (with guest appearance by Mark Waid) on the Lois Lane Mort Weisinger Panel.
Pulp at Dynamite
(excuse the cut in the audio, my recorder ran out of batteries)
I wanted to attend this panel because I found it so interesting that, as a publisher, Dynamite was revisiting the pulps. Most of the conversation around comics usually revolves around superheroes or fresh new stuff a la Image. But in my personal life I’ve gotten back into reading, particularly anthologies and neo-pulp; I also really dug Gail Simone’s first Red Sonja arc. So I was curious about the appeal of The Shadow, The Green Hornet, and others. This panel was, in some ways, one of the best panels of the show because of all the historical facts. I’d recently learned that Batman was at least partially based on The Shadow, but I didn’t have any idea of the extent until our panelists spoke of talking to the original pulp writers. (Nothing against the other panels, but I’m a huge history nerd – including comics history) Mark Waid summed up the reason for the resurgence in pulp best by talking about how, at its heart, these are human stories and the conflicts are the same today as they’ve always been. The difference is that Mark has had to make some of the decisions Green Hornet has to make a little more grey morality.
Lois Lane under Mort Weisinger
Again, it was my love of comics history that led me to this panel. I have to say that what I’ve learned about history is that the most interesting people are rarely pure evil or pure goodness. As I learned at the panel, Mort Weisinger was responsible for both the best and the worst of everything about Superman comics and Lois Lane. If you are reading this without having listened to the audio, I strongly recommend a listen.
If there was one person who could rival Mark Waid for being mostin-demand at Baltimore Comic-Con 2014, it was Gail Simone. This writer was on multiple panels, gave the keynote speech at the Harveys, and spent nearly every OTHER hour of the convention signing autographs and speaking to her fans. But after reading her first Secret Six arc and her first Red Sonja arc, I REALLY wanted to talk to her. So, I think it was quite fitting that my Red Sonja analysis was one of the shortest I’ve written since the relaunch of the site and this interview is the shortest one I did at Baltimore Comic-Con 2014. I spoke to her about one of the key issues I’ve seen across her work: sisterhood.
She touches on fatherhood in Birds of Prey and if I hadn’t been so nervous from taking away time from an incredibly long line of other fans, I would have mentioned that I also saw fatherhood issues when I read Red Sonja. I think it’s quite important that Gail Simone sees the importance of sisterhood in storytelling. While it’s a real facet of life (I see with my wife and her sister), when it comes to storytelling, we’re left with women fighting with each other and competing for status or for a man. While that also does happen in real life, it’s annoying to only see the negative aspects displayed in most of our pop culture. Many of my other questions about were answered in her otherpanels. (Sometimes asked by me!)
Gail, if you read this, thanks once more for taking time to speak with me, I could have geeked out with you for hours if only I could have poofed everyone away from the convention. Maybe I’ll get Molly to set it up …. somehow.