Balticon ran over the Memorial Day weekend. This year was Balticon 47. It is one of the oldest cons in the area.
It is run by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society http://www.bsfs.org/
The website for the con is here: http://www.balticon.org/
I've been going for several years. I always have a great time, but this year was especially great.
I arrived Friday night to catch the screenings of two movies, Shotgun Mythos http://shotgunmythos.com/
and Ninjas Vs Monsters http://ninjasvs.com/
They were both great. I went to Shotgun Mythos not knowing what to expect, and it was a pleasant surprise.
It was low budget, and the effects were so-so, but the storytelling was well above average. The plot was tight
and there was a good balance between action and exposition. Ninjas vs Monsters was simply awesome. It was
the 3rd in the "Ninjas vs" series ("Ninjas vs Zombies" and Ninjas vs Vampires" being the first two,) Justin Timpane
wrote and directed and did many behind the camera jobs. He has a great sense of comedy and action, but he
balances it with horror and character development. Daniel Ross (Kyle the Ninja) was there with Justin.
Justin Timpane and Daniel Ross discussing audience reaction to their movie.
Justin Timpane and Me
Daniel Ross (Kyle the Ninja from Ninjas vs Zombies, Ninjas vs Vampires, and Ninjas vs Monsters) and me.
The movies started around 930PM and ended after midnight. This would be a good place for me to tell you that
like some fan-run cons, Balticon runs 24 hrs. There is a 24 hour schedule for videos, and anime. There is a con
suite open all night, and there is usually an open filk running until REALLY late - sometimes till dawn. Besides
that, there are lots of people just meeting and catching up with friends, talking about shared passions and interests, etc.
Saturday, I started the day in costume. I brought a hall costume (Mr. Death) and Slenderman as my masquerade costume.
The first panel I went to was SF in comics. The room was empty at first.
Robert Greenberger who has written for DC was there. There was a lot of discussion (obviously) about trends in
Marvel and Dc, but there was a lot of attention given to indie comics. A lot of people agreed that Saga really rocks.
The next panel I attended was on Zombie movies from White Zombie till now. I really liked it, and the moderator
was open to other media as well. We discussed "28 Days" and the 'rage virus' zombies. We touched on comics and
TV, and there was some discussion of the 'mainstream' media's take on zombies, ranging from "The Walking Dead"
to "Warm Bodies." Arnold Blumberg was the moderator. He actually teaches a college course on Zombies in culture.
I attended a live podcast. "TREK OFF" Lots of fun. Really funny
After that, my big event for Saturday was the Masquerade. Now, I need to say here that there are two kinds of serious costumers -
the guys just in it for fun and the SERIOUS CRAFTSMEN. I'm a 'just for fun' cosplayer. I love wearing costumes and freaking the
mundanes. I love trying to embody the character and 'act' the part. The Masquerade ran from 9-11PM. There was a hallway
costume contest as well. It ran all weekend. I entered the hallway contest wearing Mr Death, and I used Slenderman as my
Masquerade costume. I did not win either contest, but I had a lot of fun.
The serious cosplayers spend months - years in some cases on a single costume. There were some serious examples of that
at Balticon. The lady who won was wearing an incredible costume she made herself. It was Kali, with additional arms and incredible
hand-detailing all over the costume, including the headpiece, which was lighted and spun.
There was a hallway costume contest as well. I entered that wearing Mr Death, and I used Slenderman as my Masquerade costume.
I did not win either contest, but I had a lot of fun.
I enjoy the time in the green room. That's the waiting/prep area for the cosplayers. You really get a chance to look at the costumes up
close in there, but it's for cosplayers and staff only.
Inside the green room. Waiting, doing last minute adjustments.
The guy in the Dracula suit is Marty Gear. He's a legend among the local cosplayers and he MC's and runs a lot of the local
masquerades. He's friendly and a really neat person, but he tells AWFUL jokes up on the stage.
This is the costume that won. The detail work is incredible!
There is a staging area, after we go on stage and do our thing, where people gather to take pictures of the costumes. It's kind of a kick,
having people get all interested in your work, but is'a also a great chance for one more look at the costumes.
She hand-crocheted a steampunk Jane Austin! She's writing a book to match the meme.
Dragon/fire Salamander with friends.
My turn for the photographers.
Afterwards, I went back to the auditorium. I wanted to see who won. I always pick a few costumes as winners in my head, and I like to see if I can guess right, I'm getting pretty good. As I sat down, I found myself between a Blues Brother and the Fire Salamander.
Anywhere else, this would be unusual.
While we waited they held a charity auction. Lots of neat stuff there. I'm always amazed at how sometimes something
will go for serious $$ while something else will go pretty cheaply. You never know, I guess . . . .
Here are the workmanship winners:
And the presentation winners:
I left these two big so you can see the costumes better. One of the problems with pictures is you just cannot see the detail and
work that went into these costumes. Some of these guys are REALLY TALENTED!!!!
The next day, my big event was the film festival. It started at 830PM and ran until 1130 PM. I volunteered to help out with the lights
during the films and and with the vote counting after. There were a lot of good short films. They were pretty evenly divided between
animated and live action; 19 films total.
This shot shows the tech crew. They ran everything else. I just turned the lights on/off.
This showed the crowd. After the Film Festival was over, the audience dropped their ballots in a box. I helped to tally the votes.
It was interesting to see how the audience reacted to various films.
By the time we were done, the area was pretty quiet. There were still some people doing things, and a few quiet conversations,
but it was very subdued. It was close to 130AM. I spent the night at the hotel in the "Berzerker's Lair." The room is a hotel
room for a bunch of volunteers to sleep in. By the time I got there, It was packed petty full. All of the air mattresses were full.
I ended up sleeping on the floor, but there was AC and a toilet and it was more comfortable than sleeping in my car. I think
that was pretty nice of them. Sunday, I volunteered for a few more hours, enough to earn a blue "Balticon 47 Berzerker" T-Shirt,
which I think looks pretty cool. When all was said and done, I volunteered for 10 hours. I worked at the pre-registration, the
film festival, and helped with registration. There were a lot of people who did a lot more than I did. I enjoyed the opportunity to
see a lot of the 'inner workings' of the con, and I've been going to cons for so long that I feel like I need to do a little something
to pay them back for the years of good times I've had at different cons.
Obviously, I spent some time in the vendor's room. (You really can't go to a con without visiting the dealer's room, but you can't
make it the only thing you do.) I got some books and a few other things, T shirts and DVDs and such. I ran into Patrick Thomas -
he writes the "Dear Cthulhu" books. He recently finished volume 3 in the series "Cthulhu Knows Best." The idea behind the books
is that Cthulhu has an advice column and writes all of these Elder God Oriented responses to people's personal 'Dear Abby' type
letters. If you know Lovecraft, these books are hilarious. I also ran into CJ Henderson, who writes fiction set in the Cthulhu Mythos,
and he also is a big mover behind the Kolchak The NIght Stalker revival. I got a few books by him.
This is CJ Henderson.
Looking at other dealers, I found some Clive Barker, some Lovecraft, and a "The Crow" hardback. I found some Filk,
a lot of Tom Smith, including "The Rocky Horror Muppet Show," which is both NSFW and really really funny. My big score
of the whole con was a hardback copy of "Men, Women, and Chainsaws," by Carol J Clover. I've read the book several
times before. It's an awesome and very scholarly study on the slasher genre. It's referenced heavily (but indirectly) in
both "Behind the Mask" and "The Cabin In the Woods." (Speaking of "The Cabin in the Woods," I also found a cool
T Shirt that says "REDNECK ZOMBIE TORTURE FAMILY.") I'd almost worn out my one trade paperback copy, and finding
a hardback was an awesome find. I ended up waiting until near the end of the day and I made a nice deal on a stack
of hardbacks and paperbacks.
Balticon is something of a literary con. There were a lot of small press booksellers in the dealers room. I love indie press
like I love indie comics - the indies are where people are really willing to take BIG RISKS.
Enough of the shopping; cons are great places for shopping, but it's more than that.
The con suite is a great example of this. You can just go there and sit and relax and talk to people. Brown bagging it?
Bring it to the con suite. Need a quiet moment to gather your thoughts or to just rest your feet? Con suite.
The con suite at Balticon used to be a restaurant/lounge. It's brighter than a lot of other con suites, where the suite is either a
regular room or a reception room/salon. One of the great things about cons - not just in the suite, but all over - is the chance to
meet other people who share your passions and interests.
This is Filthy Pierre. He's been filking for a VERY LONG TIME. The first time I remember seeing him was at ICON out in
Stony Brook NY about 20(+) years ago.
You see people and things at cons that you would never see anywhere else.
Her puppet looks like Terry Pratchett
I did not/could not fit in all of the different panels, filk, art, movies, anime, gaming, etc etc that went on over the weekend.
Unfortunately, cons cannot go on forever, and Monday afternoon the dealers room closed, the last panels adjourned, and
the last movies ended,
Everybody packed up and went home. Back to our mundane lives and jobs.
Nextcon: Annapolis Comic Con 29 June