Written by: Diego Salas and John Babula
It has been a full year since our first trip to Baltimore and its annual Comic Con. During our first trip, we were still a relatively new team of reporters and collectors. John had been to a few shows in his younger years with his brother, but had been out of the game for a while. For me (Diego), it was only my second show. Now, a year later, I had been to numerous shows and felt a lot more prepared and comfortable at the shows. Unfortunately, not every show is the same, even if it is in the same city.
This year’s show in Baltimore included a heavy hitters list of comic book creators, including writer and artists. Stan Lee, John Romita Senior and Junior, Brian Bolland, David Finch, Scott Snyder, and Greg Capullo to name just a few. Being the over-confident and determined individuals that we were, we wanted to see every single person on our list, especially those just mentioned.
With that in mind, we decided to arrive at Baltimore as soon as possible. That means we left New Jersey at 4:30AM and arrived at the show at 8:30AM. This gave us ample time to plan our route and locate certain artists’ booths. We immediately spotted Senior and Junior’s location, along with Bolland and Finch. They were all within the same vicinity, so that made it easy to keep an eye on each one. We also confirmed the schedule for the Stan Lee signing and the signings for Romita Junior. Thanks to John’s careful research, we were some of the only people that knew Romita Senior would also be having a signing. This would pay huge dividends later on for sure.
As 9:30AM came upon us, it was time to claim a spot in line. John had Finch as his number 1 and I had Bolland in my sights. We split up, and decided to meet up later. I was first in line for Bolland and luckily only had to put my name on a list and I would be called later on in the show when my Joker sketch would be completed. John was third in line for Finch. I went straight to him and was number 4. I then waited for someone to get behind me and had John, and this nice gentleman behind, me hold my place while I went around gathering other sketches. John got his Spiderman sketch and I later got a Batman sketch from Finch. Immediately after, John commissioned Sean Chen for a headshot of Voltron. “As a huge Voltron fan, there was no way I was going to pass up on a Sean Chen sketch”, said John. John would haggle over the price but in the end was able to strike a deal with Sean for 65.00.
As the show went on, we decided to get in line for the Romita Jr. signing. Even though the signing would not start till 12, we decided to get in line at 11. Luckily, while I was waiting for Finch to finish my sketch, John had already secured a spot for us in line. This would be the first time our teamwork would come into play. Had we been there as individuals, we would have each had to try and get a spot in line on our own and thus, more than likely, because of our other interests in signings and sketches, see ourselves much further along in line than we would have liked, but with our combined efforts we were able to find a modest middle of the line for the Romita signing.
The second time our teamwork would provide an advantage would come around 12:30. The Romita Jr. line was barely moving, (due to Romita Jr. sketching for just about everyone) and the Senior signing would begin at 1. This posed, for us, a problem. How were we going to be in two places at once? It seemed that both times would surely overlap each other and decisions would have to be made. “I am not going to miss Senior,” said John. “He is the greatest Spiderman artist of all time in my opinion and I think I will be able to see Jr. again sometime in the future”. Since no one really knew about the singing with Senior, we decided to split up again. This time John went to the Senior line and I stayed in the JR. line. At 1:00, The Senior signing began and I had to ask the people next to us to save our spot. Since we had been discussing comics, wrestling, and everything else, they were more than willing to save our spot. Kindness paid off. We eventually got to meet John Romita Senior, and got a few things signed. I got two posters signed, while John got a few hardcovers, and posters signed as well. This was probably the highlight of the show for John and for me it was certainly a big moment. Senior who is now not in the best of health was very friendly, kind, and most of all happy to see his faithful followers.
When we got back to the Junior line, the line was still moving very slowly. We had to make a decision. The signing would end at 2, but we did not want spend more time in line, while we could be getting more sketches.(John still wanted to see Erik Larsen, Ron Garney, Matt Wagner, and Garth Ennis) We knew there would be another signing for Junior around 4, so we decided that John would take our things to the Stan Lee signing at 3, stand in line, and then bring those signed items to me, who would be at the head of the line for the new Junior signing. The reason we needed to do this was because we each had posters that needed both a Stan Lee signature and John Romita Jr. signature as well. But again how were we supposed to be in two places at once, especially since both of these lines would be extremely long? AND THE TIMING WORKED OUT PERFECTLY! John arrived to the Junior line when I was three people away. John went before me and got another poster signed, while I had my poster signed, and I also asked for a sketch of Magneto. John Romita Jr. is certainly one of the great guys in the business. He was happy to meet everyone old and new, and he would make jokes and small talk with everyone he met.
As the show began to wind down, John and I, who had now been up for almost 20 hours straight were exhausted. We had reached our “standing in line” limit. In the end, we got to meet the Romitas, see Stan Lee…again, had Finch sketch for us, and even got a one of a kind sketch from Brian Bolland himself. This would not have been possible without the teamwork of not only John and I, but the teamwork of random strangers we struck up conversations with. When we asked the person next to us in line to hold our spot, he responded with, “Don’t even worry about, we are all here for the same thing.” He couldn’t be more right.
If you want to have a successful show, remember that we are all at the show to meet some of the best creators and should help each other as best we can. Trying to do it solo will only frustrate you and leave you empty handed. Our experience at Baltimore certainly solidified the fact that with big shows, especially those big shows that can boast the big names in the business, going alone is no longer an option. Teamwork will help you get those dream meetings, signatures, and best of all sketches. At least it did for us!
Voltron by Shen Chen