Baltimore Comic*Con: A Buyer’s Delight

I attended the Baltimore Comic*Con this past weekend, September 28-30, with a group of comic collectors and buyers. Over the years I had heard this was a comic-centric show with little pop culture: a “serious” show for comic collectors. There were four of us, presenting a mix of approaches: a relatively new back issue collector, a hardened collector who buys and sells to further his collection, a comic retailer, and myself looking for signatures and sketches. Let’s take a look at each’s impression of the show, right after we talk about the overall landscape.

If you’re a back issue collector, this is the show for you. There was row upon row of dealers selling gold, silver and bronze age comics. Something for every fits this show, with no hyperbole.

The new back issue collector had a reasonable budget and was looking to fill in gaps in his Silver Surfer collection. He found some lower grade Fantastic Four issues and some Silver Surfer issues, along with a bust. At one point he said you’d need to be a millionaire to get everything you wanted at this show. This was his first comic convention and was completely impressed.

The experienced veteran of many a comic show was like a kid in a candy store. He was catching up with fellow collectors, trading books he brought to the show and picking up new treasures. His focus was on golden age books, which seemed readily available from a large variety of dealers, including many from the southern states.

The veteran comic retailer worked the show scouring for hidden gems and books that his customers wouldn’t normally see. He was looking for covers, the current hot market, with a golden age focus: good girl, bondage, suggestive. Apparently, dealers work the floor before the show opens and snap up anything with a price that can be resold, and we arrived late Friday afternoon so there wouldn’t be any of that available. After the first few hours, he decided to focus his entire budget on golden age books and did very well.

I went along for the road trip and the camaraderie, with little interest in buying. On my way out Friday, I stumbled across a dealer with a box of very, very nice Marvel and DC treasuries at excellent prices.  After thumbing through and checking my list I ended up with a baker’s dozen. On Saturday I came across a dealer with long boxes of old and dusty books, where I found some out of print treasures for $5 each. As well I had eight Artist’s Edition format books to be signed, which you can read about on The Artist’s Edition Index.

The show overall was very well executed. The staff and volunteers were friendly and polite, and if they didn’t know the answer to your question they found someone who did or directed you to the right place. The venue was well lit and the aisles well spaced; they planned for lines at the creator tables. Easy access to the building, with lots of parking in the general vicinity. Quite a few food vendors on site, with many restaurants of varying prices within walking distance.

Scott VanderPloeg
Scott VanderPloeg

Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.

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5 years ago

Scott, I went to the Baltimore Con in 2009 and it was indeed a comic book back issue heaven!Take a bag full of money with and have a great time.I think next years con is going to be on my holiday calendar!

Chris Meli
5 years ago

Scott, I just got back from the New York Comic Con and I am jealous. I attended Baltimore 2016 and 2017 but too much going on this year to make the trip, so I thought I would try NYCC. It was generally a good experience but more along the lines of what people said San Diego had become. Scads of folks willing to wait in line hours to do stuff as mundane as play a new video game for a few minutes, what’s up with that? The top end comic and art dealers from Baltimore were there, but there were only a handful of meat-and-potatoes guys. Really not bad – plenty of material to spend four days combing through if you had that time – but the milling crowds of gawkers who didn’t have much interest in comics and the more cramped quarters were negatives. Having a million dollars would have been nice here as well, as Metropolis had the Mile High early Planets, I saw at least one Sensation #1 etc. I came away with nothing because I generally don’t trust my judgment at shows (so even in Baltimore I buy fairly little), and I brought my daughter along so this was more for the experience than serious digging. While NYC transit means you don’t need to deal with parking near the convention center, I’d far prefer to drive in to Baltimore, where you can park a short block from the Convention Center. Also you can be out of the area in minutes (if you don’t get lost in the traffic pattern near Camden Yards like I have), while it would easily take you more than an hour to get out of the Javits area. We’ll see what my schedule holds for next year, but I’m looking forward to making the trip to Baltimore, while I don’t plan to go back to NYCC again unless another one of my kids really wants to go.