COMIC BOOK CONNED (What you should not have at a Con) by Sam Catalino

First, I wrote this column about three years. It was during the height of the 2004 campaign between Bush and Kerry. During this weekend, there were a number of Vietnam veterans in DC protesting against John Kerry as there were people in Baltimore protesting against George W ( Not to be called Junior) Bush. For the background, I got a free ticket to go into this show courtesy of my local comic book shop (Green Shift) in Tampa. After realizing that this convention would be held the same weekend as my family reunion, I thought I would go down to Baltimore on Saturday (the reunion being held on a Sunday), and check the convention Marc Nathan had talked to me about so many times. Below are my observations with only my spelling corrected. Since this show is coming up in a few weeks, I thought this would be an appropriate way to start my columns here at the gracious invitation of Doc. Thanks again, Doc.

I wanted to write about this while this was fresh in my mind. Many people who have met me in the past at Comic conventions know me as a very strongly opinionated fellow, with opinions as varied from the political to the historical as it applies to our hobby. In our hobby we have varied opinions that swing from one end of the political spectrum to the other. That is great, because it would be very dull indeed if we agreed with each other on every topic.

That being said, I want to talk about a comic convention I went to this past (September 11, 2004) Saturday. I went to the Baltimore Comic Convention, which has now grown to a two-day event in downtown Baltimore. My friend Marc Nathan has been asking me to come to the convention for many years and in the sixth incarnation of the convention (and also it being at the same time as my family reunion); I decided to come to this convention.

Marc is a first class guy, and I want to make that clear about my opinion of Marc and that it is because of guys like him are what keeps this hobby of ours going. He is a dealer who reads comics, understands the ebb and flow of the business, and has been a veteran of many mini Serendipity (these were mini cons that were held throughout the DC Baltimore area in the 80s) conventions, and loves comics. He has built this convention from the beginning (if I am in error, someone jump in and correct me) and the guest list has grown to include John Romita Sr, and at this convention, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, Marv Wolfman, Frank Brunner Jim Starlin among others were there. Marc has a rapport with the creators and I even saw Bob Overstreet there along with Jack C. Harris. The show is small, but it is about to break out, I feel. It has all of the feeling of a small show without the overwhelming of too much there, and the best thing is that unlike some of the other shows (yep, even my area MegaCon in Orlando, Florida) it is a comic show. Yeah, you see a few video/DVD booths and some toy booths; the strong majority is comic booths dealers and booths.

A great comic book show, you say, right? Well, I shall never attend another Baltimore Comic Convention again. Ever.
Why, do you ask would I write that? Especially when here is a show that is about only comics, and is promoting only comics, dominated by comic booths and not one of those multi media giant (San Diego Comic Con) shows that you only have a small corner in the universe that is comics, although the show actually had the audacity to call itself a comic con.
What would ruin it for a comic book collector, who saw a vision of a man who understands and loves comics as much as I do?
I came into the hall, and immediately to my right I saw a table distributing Kerry/Edwards material. Now, the Baltimore Comic convention can put anyone they want there, support any political candidate they choose to, but do they have to bring politics into a hobby I pursue that deals with action and adventure rather than throw their political views in my face?
There were announcements every hour or so asking attendees to go over to the Kerry/Edwards booth and register to vote. Folks, that is not what they meant. They did not care about you registering to vote, only to convince you to vote for Kerry/Edwards. Now, I applaud any organization who would encourage the attendees of any public event to register to vote, but to have an organization there for ONE candidate and not ask or have the other there, well, you get the picture.
I would have paid money to see what everybody’s reaction would have been had Ralph Nader had popped in there. Perhaps some of the Vietnam Veterans for (not the Swift Boat Vets) Truth who protested in Washington DC on Sunday could have made an appearance there.
The bottom line is if I wanted to go to the Democrat Convention, I would have gone to Boston several months ago, and if I wanted to watch it, well, there were plenty of television stations carrying it.
I came to Baltimore for a comic con show, and someone tried to politically con me. That is something I cannot and will not deal with.

Sorry, Marc.

Sam Catalino The People’s Commentator
Please E-mail me with comments at: