A stormy Labor Day weekend at the beach may have been a blessing for Baltimore Comic-Con 2016.
The 17th annual Comic-Con was scheduled for three weeks earlier than usual, leading founder Marc Nathan to worry about whether fans would choose Ocean City over the convention downtown.
But then came Tropical Storm Hermine.
“There are seven conventions in North America this weekend. I always felt our convention was better than most of them, so I didn’t worry about that,” said Nathan, owner of Cards, Comics and Collectibles in Reisterstown. “I felt our competition all along was the beach. But this storm, it’s washed that away.”
New York-based illustrator Sean Von Gorman, who returned to Baltimore for his third year there, said it is his favorite show to do.
“It’s just a great crowd, an all-around chill vibe,” he said.
Von Gorman, though, said he expected the convention’s timing to be a bit of a challenge.
“I think it is a little harder because it’s on a holiday, and a lot of other shows are going on at the same time,” he said. “But it looks like the crowd is still very good.”
Volunteer Beth Matson, who was helping to sell Comic-Con memorabilia Saturday morning, said having the convention on Labor Day weekend seemed to be an asset.
“It’s been very, very busy, with a lot of people from out of town coming in,” she said. “Folks may have decided to stay inland because of Hermine and come here.”
More than 40,000 fans are expected to attend Comic-Con before the show closes Sunday evening, a number that climbs steadily every year, Nathan said.
The convention experiences a 7 to 12 percent year-over-year growth “no matter what,” he said, which he attributes to a renewed interest in comics thanks to movies and TV shows.
Still, despite some glitzy celebrity guests this year—Game of Thrones’ Kristian Nairn and Captain America’s Haley Atwell, among others—Baltimore’s convention enjoys a reputation for being mostly about comics and their creators.
“Baltimore is nearly straight-up comics,” said Keith Davidsen, a writer with Bel Air-based American Mythology.
For 16-year-old Katie Grimes of Mt. Airy, who was buying a Wanda costume like the title character wore in her favorite childhood show, Cosmo and Wanda, Comic-Con is an opportunity to be whoever she wants to be.
“I like how everybody is so accepting,” she said.
Her thoughts were echoed by Maria Carrigan of Strasburg, Pa., who first came to Baltimore Comic-Con three years ago.
“I just love seeing all the different costumes and being able to live your fantasy character. Love it,” she said.