October 31, 2012

My thoughts on Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm

By Geekleetist- Get it as a t-shirt!
Once I stopped flailing last night, I wrote about my thoughts and concerns regarding the Disney Lucasfilm deal. You can read all about it at Nerd Approved.

October 30, 2012

Disney Buys The Galaxy Far, Far Away

Sometimes you're going about your business, having a normal day and then Disney announces they are buying Lucasfilm! WHAT!

The full press release is pasted below, but for now the highlights:

- The biggest piece of news is obviously A NEW STAR WARS MOVIE. No, I am not going to stop using all caps inappropriately. Disney states they are on target for a new movie in 2015. Yes, Star Wars: Episode VII  is a thing.

- George Lucas says: ""It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products."

- More feature films are planned to grow the saga.

- The press release does not mention the live action series that's supposedly almost ready to go. But maybe Disney would have the money needed to move forward?

- It mentions the successful relationship between Lucasfilm and Disney on theme park attractions. Does this mean a whole Star Wars theme park?

Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.
Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.
"Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas," said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. "This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney's unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value."
"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next," said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. "It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products."
Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of Lucasfilm, a leader in entertainment, innovation and technology, including its massively popular and "evergreen" Star Warsfranchise and its operating businesses in live action film production, consumer products, animation, visual effects, and audio post production. Disney will also acquire the substantial portfolio of cutting-edge entertainment technologies that have kept audiences enthralled for many years. Lucasfilm, headquartered in San Francisco, operates under the names Lucasfilm Ltd., LucasArts, Industrial Light & Magic, and Skywalker Sound, and the present intent is for Lucasfilm employees to remain in their current locations.
Kathleen Kennedy, current Co-Chairman of Lucasfilm, will become President of Lucasfilm, reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. Additionally she will serve as the brand manager for Star Wars, working directly with Disney's global lines of business to build, further integrate, and maximize the value of this global franchise. Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.
The acquisition combines two highly compatible family entertainment brands, and strengthens the long-standing beneficial relationship between them that already includes successful integration of Star Wars content into Disney theme parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris and Tokyo.
Driven by a tremendously talented creative team, Lucasfilm's legendary Star Warsfranchise has flourished for more than 35 years, and offers a virtually limitless universe of characters and stories to drive continued feature film releases and franchise growth over the long term. Star Wars resonates with consumers around the world and creates extensive opportunities for Disney to deliver the content across its diverse portfolio of businesses including movies, television, consumer products, games and theme parks.Star Wars feature films have earned a total of $4.4 billion in global box to date, and continued global demand has made Star Wars one of the world's top product brands, and Lucasfilm a leading product licensor in the United States in 2011. The franchise provides a sustainable source of high quality, branded content with global appeal and is well suited for new business models including digital platforms, putting the acquisition in strong alignment with Disney's strategic priorities for continued long-term growth.
The Lucasfilm acquisition follows Disney's very successful acquisitions of Pixar and Marvel, which demonstrated the company's unique ability to fully develop and expand the financial potential of high quality creative content with compelling characters and storytelling through the application of innovative technology and multiplatform distribution on a truly global basis to create maximum value. Adding Lucasfilm to Disney's portfolio of world class brands significantly enhances the company's ability to serve consumers with a broad variety of the world's highest-quality content and to create additional long-term value for our shareholders.
The Boards of Directors of Disney and Lucasfilm have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement has been approved by the sole shareholder of Lucasfilm.

9 Last Minute Geeky Costumes You Can Throw Together Fast

In case you've forgotten: tomorrow is Halloween. You probably aren't the only person without a costume for the office, for trick or treating, or for a party. I haven't decided what I'm wearing to work tomorrow, but luckily, I have a closet full of options. If you are still trying to figure it out though, don't go to the Halloween costume store in a panic! The shelves will be almost bare, people will be crazed, and you'll leave cranky. Trust me.

Try out one of these ideas instead. Chances are you have most of what you need for these costumes around the house and can run to a department type store to fill in the gaps.

Katniss Everdeen
You need: black v-neck tee, green pants, black boots (ideally lace up), and enough hair to pull into a side braid. That's it. Bonus points if you have a Mockingjay pin, a black rain jacket, or a quiver, bow, and arrows. You can also wear a marathon type sign that has "12" on it. This can easily be switched up to be a guy's costume and you could be from any district!

Classy Superhero
I've seen tons of superhero dress designs this year, and though I adore the evening gown styles, you probably can't pull that off at the last minute unless you have an old prom dress of the right color in your closet or feel like sifting through racks at thrift stores tonight.

Instead, look for any solid color dresses you have in your closet. If you have a green one for instance, you can add some gold accessories and become Loki. Then apply some lovely eye make-up (pictured above) to complete the look. Jangsara has tutorials for lots of superhero pallettes and even some Star Wars characters. If you have a Loki neclace, like this one for example, wear it with the dress!

Inspiration for this costume idea is from Janna O'Shea who has worn lovely Lady Punisher and Classy Marvel Girl costumes and from Jill Pantozzi  - she formed the Classy Lantern Corps.

Two by Two Hands of Blue
You'll need: a suit and blue rubber gloves. Go forth and be creepy.

Add a Mask
If you like toys and collectibles, chances are you have a mask or helmet of some kind. I have a Boba Fett helmet for example. Take whatever you have - Captain America hood, Vader helmet, etc - and pair it with something unlikely. Go with pimp Vader or Fett like above, pair a Stormtrooper helmet with your renfaire gear, or just choose randomly from your closet. The results will probably be funny, and the only uncomfortable part of your costume will be the mask.

The Boy Who Lived and the Boy With the Bread
Why not mix Harry Potter and The Hunger Games? Don glasses, paint a scar on your forehead, and carry around a baguette. You could wear a Harry Potter-esque school uniform or jeans, t-shirt, and an apron.

Alter Egos
Unless you have a Spider-Man or Superman spandex outfit lying around, being a superhero is out. But! You can be their alter egos. Dress like Peter Parker, Selina Kyle, Steve Rogers, Clark Kent, Barbara Gordon, Matt Murdock, Hal Jordan, and so many more. The best part about this is there are tons of comics, movies, and TV shows to pull references from!

Witness of The Silence
You'll need: a cord with a washable black marker to wear around your neck and you'll have to draw hash marks all over your visible skin (don't use a Sharpie). It's simple and spooky. Bonus points if you get a red wig to look like Amy Pond.

Battlestar Galactica Crew
This one might be a bit trickier to scrounge up, but I bet you have the basics for the BSG BDUs: gray tank, black tank, green pants, black boots. If you have dog tags (even if they aren't BSG ones), go ahead and wear them to help sell the look.

Any Character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Scooby Gang represents a wide range of the fashion spectrum. You can go from the trendy Buffy to the more comfortable choices of Willow. Dudes can rock the Giles librarian look or mostly-in-black Spike. This option is more fun if you can get friends to join in and make it a group costume.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas so that you aren't costume-less tomorrow! Keep in mind that you can stash these ideas for last minute cosplay for conventions, too.

October 10, 2012

When #drhorrible trends the world is less horrible

A few cool things happened last night: Dr. Horrible aired on television for the first time on the CW Network, #drhorrible trended on Twitter for a few hours, and Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day live-tweeted the West coast viewing. It very much had the same feeling of excitement and enthusiasm when the web series was first released five years ago. I've owned the DVD for a while (in fact, I received it in the coolest way possible) so I've seen it on a bigger screen but to have it live on TV was a different experience. I was happy that so many people had an opportunity to see it, and I hope the screening brought the awesome that is Dr. Horrible to new people. The thought of thousands of folks realizing that Bad Horse is actually a horse makes me smile.

Seeing tweets from Captain Hammer, Penny, and the writers was just as fun as actually watching the super villain musical. Some of my favorite tweets from the night (click to enlarge);

If watching the singalong blog again or for the first time last night has you longing for more of Dr. Horrible, don't forget that there's a comics collection and a companion book.

October 5, 2012

Five Times Tyrion Was Awesome In Game of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister excels at stealing the scene whether it's in the books or on the screen. He's one of the most intelligent characters we've met in Westeros (maybe the smartest), and he is a constant source of quips, general knowledge, and he's skilled at knowing just what to say to and about the worst of human behavior. He's developed his mind to make up for his stature and all that he has to put up with from the world at large because of it.

“A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.” 
I could make a list a mile long of all the times he's been amazing in the series - I could do that just with his quotes - but there's only so much room on the Internet, so I'll just keep it to five. 

Warning: spoilers for seasons one and two from here on out. 
"I am a vile man, I confess it. My crimes and sins are beyond counting."
When he confessed his crimes to Lysa Arryn and outsmarted her by asking for a fight and using her own rules for trial against her. He shows off his cleverness and his ability to make any situation humorous - even considering his life was on the line and he was dealing with a crazy individual. I also like that this is where his friendship with Bronn started.

"I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards and broken things."
When he designs a special saddle for Bran so that the boy can ride again. It's a pity that he's met with suspicion by Robb, but Tyrion really just wanted to help - partially because he's who he is and also because he suspected his sister and brother were involved with Bran's injury. It was touching and revealed his compassionate side.

"Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let's go kill them!" 
His epic speech / pep talk during the Battle at Blackwater can't be overlooked. I can't imagine that Tyrion ever wanted to be thrust into battle except maybe to try to gain the approval of Tywin but alas, he ended up in the middle of things anyways. It might not be the speech that someone like Jaime or his father would give, but it sufficed for the soldiers and the viewers LOVED it.

"I intend to serve as Hand of the King until my father returns from the war. And seeing as you betrayed the last Hand of the King, well, I just wouldn't feel safe with you lurking about."
I love the scene when Tyrion arrives in King's Landing and just strolls into the Small Council meeting like it's the most normal thing in the world. I might like Cersei's reaction to her little brother's appearance even more. It was clear in this moment that Tyrion was in his element and was going to be perfectly fine messing with the politics and treachery of the capital.

"Joffrey: You can't talk to me like that. The king can do as he likes! 
Tyrion: The mad king did as he like. Has your uncle Jaime ever told you what happened to him? 
Meryn Trant: No one threatens his grace in the presence of the Kingsguard! 
Tyrion : I'm not threatening the king, Ser, I'm educating my nephew. 
Tyrion : Bronn, the next time the Ser Meryn speaks, kill him. 
Tyrion: THAT was a threat. See the difference?"
I'm cheating now. Every time Tyrion sets Joffrey in his place is fantastic, and yeah, it's even better if the talking-to is accompanied by a slap or two. As Tyrion says, Joffrey is a vicious, idiot king. He's constantly trying to instill manners, lead by example, and I very much admire that he is not afraid of Joffrey. Even Cersei is cautions around her unpredictable kid, but Tyrion doesn't hesitate to knock him around. And I adore him for it.

I have nothing but gold stars for Peter Dinklage. He embodies the character to a crazy impressive degree.

What are some of your favorite Tyrion moments and lines?

October 4, 2012

Star Wars Reads Day

This Saturday, October 6th, is Star Wars Reads Day!

What is Star Wars Reads Day? Well, according to the FAQs:
Star Wars Reads Day is a national event that celebrates reading and Star Wars. It was created by Lucasfilm and its publishing partners--Abrams, Chronicle Books, Dark Horse, Del Rey, DK Publishing, Random House Audio, Scholastic, Titan Magazines and Workman.  
It's the first time the publishers have all worked together on this kind of scale, and it's for a great cause: to promote literacy! I think one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone is a book. Knowing how to read enables you to travel all over space and time from the comfort of your home. If you aspire to be a writer, you have to read. Heck, if you want to be successful in life, you have to read. Period. Using Star Wars to help make it fun for kids and adults is a fantastic idea.

So how can you join in on the fun? Look for one of the 1,200+ events in your area on this map (I wish they had a zip code look up, but you just have to zoom in). Activities will vary from location to location but there will at least be giveaways and a raffle for Star Wars books. Some locations will have author signings (Club Jade has links with details about author appearances) and/or costumed members from the Rebel Legion, 501st Legion, or Mandalorian Mercs. You might spot some droids courtesy of the R2 Builders Club, too. 

This is a chance to support your local libraries, independent bookstores, or maybe local comic book shops. And if you've never dived into the vast Star Wars Expanded Universe - well, now's as good a time as any. I've only read a few of the novels; my tastes run more towards the comics and the reference/non-fiction books. I might be changing that thanks to the new Essential Reader's Companion by Pablo Hidalgo which lays out everything about the EU novels. We'll see.

Don't forget to download an activity kit, too! They're available in color or black and white and include crafts, activities, trivia, and games. Download links here.

As an added bonus, many Star Wars authors are posting over at the StarWars.com blog for the occasion. So far they've discussed recipes, some making-of info, how books came to be and more. Check out the list of posts here. A bunch of authors will also be participating in a Q&A on Goodreads tomorrow.

The event is happening in the U.S. only this year, but they hope to expand to include the whole world in 2013.

Superhero Stockings!

It's nowhere near time for Christmas, but who says stockings can't be on display year round? When they don't have a holiday theme you can leave them hanging from your mantle or wall all the time, and you definitely will want to show them off. Don't worry - Super Sox Shop has you covered.

I came across the company at Baltimore Comic-Con last month. I was immediately drawn to a Captain America purse they had, but then I was distracted by all the nerdy stockings. They had superhero designs, villains, monsters, and more - oh my! I think these would make awesome gifts for any occasion, any time of year.

Here are a few examples of the awesome:

If comic book heroes and villains aren't up your alley, be sure to check out the monster and zombie sections for creepy sox you can display just in time for Halloween.

Visit Super Sox Shop to buy yours!

October 3, 2012

Volunteering at Rancho Obi-Wan

Sometimes I do crazy things. Most recently, I spent 12 hours in the car over a period of two days so I could volunteer at Rancho Obi-Wan. I'd do it again in a heartbeat because it wasn't just about ROW or Star Wars, it was about hanging out with awesome people.

The first pile of boxes!
If you're not aware, Rancho Obi-Wan is Steve Sansweet's non-profit museum. It houses the largest private collection of Star Wars memorabilia; trust me, it's really hard to wrap your head around the amount of stuff there. It's mind boggling and amazing. I took the official tour last January and fell in love. I wanted to go back as soon as I could, but it didn't work out until recently. Since I'd already had the tour, I wanted to try something else: volunteering. I had a hunch that there was always something to be done there, and last weekend, a lot of boxes needed shuffled around. A crew of about ten (volunteers and ROW staff) spent most of last Saturday lending hands and muscles and wisecracks (they help the moving process!).

We moved along in phases with breaks in between so we wouldn't get worn out. I actually got it easier than most because I can't lift very heavy things (but I still tried! We emptied shelves of dusty boxes, but I don't think they were bare for long. That picture above is what came off the shelves - you know, just a few things. We hauled around what felt like a ton of books (ROW will be donating some for Star Wars Reads, more on that tomorrow) and everyone else moved stacks of bankers boxes from a storage area into the museum for Steve to sort through. Since I wasn't a ton of assistance in the moving giant, weighty stuff department - plus there were just a lot of people and I kept getting in the way - I spent the last part of the day watching Steve sort through boxes and trying to be helpful. We weren't cataloging exactly, but it still made my inner organizer happy. I could have done it all day.

Box of bootlegs
The boxes were full of so very many awesome items: stationery, prototypes, cards, bootlegs, linens, apparel, bathroom products, Hasbro toys, Funko toys, LEGO sets, games - video and otherwise, jewelry, belt buckles, shoes, food wrappers and boxes, and those are just the collectibles I remember seeing! Occasionally Steve would find something he hadn't seen in a while and had been looking for, and a handful of items had stories. We started new boxes and re-organized the items as we went. We made slow but sure progress and at the end of the day, there was a thankfully noticeable difference in the piles of boxes.

Sorted boxes - the stacks were two deep
It gave me a new appreciation for what it takes to manage a collection that immense. Cataloging all of it seems... daunting. I think it would take a few people working every day for a while to document every item while keeping up with new additions. I have more respect than ever for the staff at ROW. Saturday went fast because there were so many volunteers but without all those folks, well, it would have been significantly less fun. And it truly was a blast. I left covered in dust and getting out of bed hurt the next morning (okay, it's still hurting a little), but it was completely worth it. If I lived closer to ROW, they'd have a hard time keeping me away on weekends.

And just to be extra clear: this is NOT what the tour is like. You won't have to move a single box. The tour experience is like this, and I can't recommend it enough. If you like Star Wars, storytelling, and nice people who love what they're doing - schedule a tour as soon as you can.

October 2, 2012

What the hell happened to Doctor Who?

I started getting a little frustrated with Doctor Who at the end of season six. Overall, I liked more episodes than I disliked (and I downright loved some of them), but things got wrapped up with a tidy bow at the end and it didn't feel right. It worked, but it felt slapdash. I let it go. Then we got to season seven and nearly every episode has felt hurried. With the exception of "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," I've been disappointed.

Full spoilers for this season below the picture.

Let's discuss the episode I loved first. Part of the charm was in the title and comes from my love of Jurassic Park. "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" hit all the notes of a perfect Doctor Who episode for me. It was fun, it was adventurous, it displayed the Doctor's childlike curiosity and wonder, and then it got serious. The romp through the spaceship bits were fun, Rupert Graves was fantastic, Mark Williams was so good as Brian Pond I forgot he was Arthur Weasley, and then the ending slapped you in the face. The Doctor does have a cold side, and the way Matt Smith played him at the end of this episode reminded me of Eccleston's Doctor. Darker. Less compassionate. You can tell he's been alone too much.

Now, jump back to "Asylum of the Daleks." Enjoyable. Oswin was just genius (though I hope she's less sarcastic as a companion because even though Donna and Amy are my favorites, we need a different personality). The action was intriguing, I liked that the Doctor wiped himself from Dalek memory. Overall, it was a solid episode for me. I didn't like that Amy left Rory because she couldn't have children. They are Amy and Rory. It seems beyond absurd to me that Amy wouldn't talk to him about it before asking for a divorce.

"A Town Called Mercy" was okay for me. Susan the horse was funny, the Gunslinger becoming protector of the town was a nice twist, and I liked seeing the similarities between Kahler-Jex and the Doctor. They've both had to make hard decisions. And I'm a huge fan of Ben Browder. But the Ponds weren't themselves. Amy doesn't listen when she's told to stay behind; why does that change now? Rory was just kind of there. Meh.

I mostly shook my head at "The Power of Three." The slow invasion idea was neat. The Doctor spending a year with the Ponds led me to believe that they were going to leave the TARDIS on their terms, choosing to celebrate their everyday life instead. The moment when the Doctor told Amy, "You were the first face this face saw" made me experience all the feels. Kate Stewart of UNIT was brilliant, and I loved her chemistry with the Doctor. But then... it all went downhill. Fast. First of all, you're telling me a girl/android/thing sat in a waiting room for a YEAR and no one noticed? What happened to all the cubes? Why did the Shakri collect people? Why didn't the Doctor rescue those people from the ship before it blew up? What happened with the cube face nurses? And why did they resort to having the Doctor wave around the sonic screwdriver to magically fix everything in a second?

It's like they were so focused on showing the Pond life that they forgot about the enemy and the resolution.

And then, the farewell to the Ponds in "The Angels Take Manhattan." Immediately after watching it I was distracted by sadness. I adore Amy and Rory, and I'm not ready to see them leave the show. Their fate and the Doctor's reaction to losing his friend was heart-wrenching. But then I thought about the episode, and I talked it over with a friend, and I just became annoyed. The story was full of holes and plot points that didn't make sense, and the Ponds deserved so much more. They at least should have got a two part finale!

Let me go down my list. Why was River there? Why couldn't he travel back to New York and find them? Convoluted timeline, blah, blah, blah. He's the Doctor. What was the point of the gangster guy and the detective? Why did he give Rory to the angels? What was he getting out of the Angel farm? Why didn't the Angel who grabbed River's wrist transport her; was it because it was chained? How is the Statue of Liberty walking across town without anyone noticing? Why did the Doctor erase himself from every database and if he has that ability, why is he doing it now? And why, oh why, did they introduce Rory's father and make us adore him if the plan was just to rip his son away? That was one of my first thoughts after Rory got zapped by the angels: who is going to tell Brian? It was almost Whedon-esque of Moffat. And why wouldn't Amy address the Doctor telling Brian in the afterword? Oh, and why so many mentions of Amy being a mother if the Doctor wasn't going to fix her infertility problem?


I did like moments from the episode: Rory and Amy jumping off the building together, Rory's line about the Statue of Liberty made me laugh, the Doctor's reaction to losing Amy and the way River believed it would be okay, and I like that Amy insisted on him never traveling alone.

I'm bummed. I hope that the story of the Ponds isn't finished because it wasn't ideal. I'm happy that at least they were together in the end and not dead... but I'm left feeling unfulfilled. And confused. Steven Moffat is better than this. I know he only wrote the premiere and "The Angels Take Manhattan" but I assume as the executive producer, he's seeing the scripts. Are they too concerned with making it shiny and blockbuster-y? Because for the most part it feels like a summer movie that is more excited about making the Statue Liberty a giant scary Angel instead of telling a story, and that makes me worried about the rest of the season.

What have you guys thought of this season so far? (And please let me know if you have answers to my questions!)

October 1, 2012

That time I went to a comic convention that was all about comics

It's a rare thing when conventions with the name comic in the title focus on comics. San Diego Comic-Con has a big comics presence, but they put more emphasis on pop culture - the latest Hollywood offerings are usually the main draw. New York Comic Con is definitely more about comics than SDCC but there are lots of shinies to distract from comics. I'm not saying the variety is bad. I like being able to see a panel about upcoming comics and another one featuring a favorite television show. And I get that it's probably easier to sell tickets to a more multi-purpose event. All that said, going to a convention that focused on comics was refreshing - yep, I had a fantastic time at Baltimore Comic-Con.

When I say all about comics, I mean it. There is not a Hollywood presence. They don't have media guests.* There aren't any gaming companies doing demos. What you will find are rows and rows of comic book dealers, toy and clothing vendors, handmade products like nerdy amigurumi, and dozens of artists and creators. Artist Alley is not small either. The panels - yeah, you're getting the picture - are about comics, too. They've got spotlights on certain creators, how-tos about digital comics and Kickstarter, and some news on upcoming releases. The people sitting on those panels are artists, writers, letterers, editors - people who get their hands dirty making comics every day.

I know. It's awesome.

And holy heck did people show up in droves. This was my first year attending, but I heard exhibitors remarking on the fact that Saturday at least seemed much busier than last year. The floor was definitely crowded, and there were only a few periods on Sunday when it felt slow. Many people lugged around boxes full of comics to get signed, and they stood in long lines for the likes of Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Garth Ennis, and so many more. I spotted several people with checklists going through long boxes trying to complete their collections, and I noticed there were always plenty of attendees winding through Artist Alley.

I have to comment on a few cool things in particular. One is that the convention takes place in a pretty area of Baltimore (uh, though I wouldn't walk around alone at night) and that there is plenty of food, beverages, and coffee within walking distance. It's definitely the kind of convention that you can step away from and escape for drinks with friends - unlike say, San Diego. The convention hosts the Harvey Awards, and it was very fun for me to attend. I got in with someone who was presenting, but I believe the general public can purchase tickets to the dinner and the awards.

Finally, the convention goes out of its way to support its guests. They want the creators they invite to do well. They started what will hopefully be a new tradition this year: a yearbook that focuses on a creator owned property (it was Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows this time). Attending artists contribute a piece to the hardcover yearbook, and their original art goes in an auction at the convention. The convention splits the proceeds of the original art sales with the artist. Additionally, people who bought the yearbook were encouraged to collect signatures from participating artists at the show to get a free print. That scavenger hunt drove traffic to all those artist's tables. Brilliant.

I find it interesting that more comics publishers don't attend. No DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, Oni, Archaia, etc - they didn't have a presence. IDW Publishing had a panel, but they didn't have a booth. Creators that work on titles from those companies were around, and a lot of them had tables but it was weird to me that publishers aren't taking advantage of exhibiting at a show that aims for the same target demographic. Then again, I don't know how much they'd take away from the independent artists and self-publishers there.

I was impressed with everything about Baltimore Comic-Con, and it's moved near the top of my list of favorite conventions. I'm already looking forward to next year!

*Phil LaMarr was there this year because he hosted the Harvey Awards.
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