For Robert Paulus of Rosedale, coming to Baltimore Comic-Con every year is a chance to truly be himself, even though he dons an elaborate costume.
“You can let your freak flag fly here, and not have to feel judged,” said Paulus, who dressed as Link from Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series. “If I went out in public dressed like this, I’d get judged, people would stare.”
“Here, everyone’s the same.”
Thousands of comic book fans, many assuming the persona of their favorite characters, attended the second day of Baltimore Comic-Con 2015 on Saturday. The event, held at the Baltimore Convention Center, continues through Sunday.
As the day went on, more and more fans streamed into the center, browsing through and purchasing comic books and other memorabilia. The convention has been praised for its pure focus on comics, rather than TV shows and other pop culture phenomena.
“What I like about it is it’s very artist and writer driven,” said Roman Olek of New Force Comics and Collectibles from Panama City, Fla. “Where else do you see people waiting in line for two hours to meet an artist? We have some dedicated fans here.”
The sheer variety of comics available for collectors—from 1930s-era comic books to modern releases—is “pretty fantastic,” Olek added.
His thoughts were echoed by Mike Abene, who owns the jewelry and accessories store Freaky Elegant with his wife, Yuliya. The two were selling baubles, many of which are comic book inspired, to cosplay enthusiasts along with shoppers who were simply drawn to the unique designs.
“I love the people, their costumes, their attitude,” Abene said. “People really become their character.”
Adrianne Devletian of Surry, Va., owner of A Charmed Life boutique, found herself outfitting plenty of customers who were going for the steampunk look— a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that incorporates designs inspired by 1800s industrial steam-powered machines.
Along with her husband, the son of a watchmaker, Devletian sells handcrafted pocketwatches and other one-of-a-kind accessories. They’ve stayed mostly in Virginia, starting out at the Tidewater Comic Con, but decided it was time to try a bigger convention, Devletian said.
“I’m trying not to freak out today,” she said of the expected crowds.
Plenty of fans dressed in more unusual attire found themselves stopped constantly by admirers who wanted to take a picture with them.
One of those was Brian Garner, otherwise known as the Balloon Nerd of southern Maryland. Garner crafts balloon characters for both children and adults, often at theme parties.
“I do a lot of Avengers parties,” said Garner, who was at the convention with his wife and young son.
On his head, he wore The Joker, a two-foot-high creation crafted from about 40 balloons.
“I’m a big fan of DC Comics, so I thought it would be good to pay homage to The Joker,” Garner said.
Other attendees truly became their characters.
For example, it was difficult to miss the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man walking around through the crowded halls of Comic-Con.
He was portrayed by Brad Nelson of Columbia, a longtime Comic-Con devotee.
“I’m here with the Ghostbusters. They’re trying to kill me,” he deadpanned. “They have on their proton packs.”