Catching Up with Baltimore Comic-Con's Marc Nathan

A comics interview article by: Tim O'Shea

Baltimore Comic-Con is a little more than two days away. And, no matter how busy he is this week, Con Organizer Marc Nathan took the time to do a quick email interview with SBC this morning. Nathan is a class act who I have always respected, and he proved it yet again this year with his plans to honor the late Mike Wieringo. Our discussion starts with that and expands from there.

Tim O’Shea (TOS): How hard has it been to plan such a fun event on the heels of the passing of con friend and supporter, Mike Wieringo? In addition to the panel celebrating his life on Saturday, the con will also feature the Mike Wieringo Humane Society Benefit fundraiser booth. How did the latter idea come about?

Marc Nathan (MN): The last few weeks have been very hard. Most of the big stuff was done or close to being done. The true hard part is just trying to get my head in the right place. I took some time away from the convention just to try to focus. The Humane Society booth seemed like a natural way to keep Mike's memory alive and with us forever. We all know Mike loved animals. It was one thing that he and I would talk about, maybe more than comics. Mike was a vegan and I don't eat pork or beef. We found common ground right there. We plan on having this booth for as long as we have a convention.

TOS: How long has the Jim Shooter panel (Shooter is a guest at this year’s con) been in the making and who will be on the panel?

MN: [The panel has been in development] Only since the middle of August. JC Vaughn will be hosting. I'm sure they will be talking about a great many things.

TOS: Your con has always been partially focused on fostering the next generation of fans and this year is no different. What details can you provide about the Kids Love Comics panel? And who came up with the Comic Book Diner Poster that pays homage to Edward Hopper?

MN: That's all John Gallagher and Jimmy Gownley. The poster looks great.

They're going to get a lot of attention with their area.

TOS: Is the first year that the different con rooms are designated such comic universe landmarks as "Avengers Mansion" and "The Fortress of Solitude"? (I'd be curious to know if the nearest coffee house will be christened the Lazarus Pit...)

MN: Yes. We have a new person coordinating the panels. He's been with us since the start, we're just rotating around a little this year. Naming the rooms is his way to let you know we have two tracks of programming.

TOS: Just as much as the con focuses on Marvel and DC, you've never turned a blind eye to the independent creator. That being said, even I was impressed that you have a panel like "An Interview with Dean Haspiel". Who has been tasked with hosting that fun panel (I say this with a bias, counting Dean on my short list of favorite interview subjects...)

MN: Chris Irving, who writes for TwoMorrows (Irving is the editor of TwoMorrows’ Comics Introspective). Dean is the best and this marks six out eight [cons] for him in Baltimore.

TOS: What events are planned to recognize the con's Guest of Honor, Mike Mignola?

MN: Mike did a great piece for the cover of the program and he'll have a panel also.

TOS: What's on tap for the Harvey Awards ceremony (other than Kyle Baker hosting, of course)? After hopping around for a few years, do you think the Harvey Awards have found a good permanent home in Baltimore?

MN: Each year we have been building on what Hollywood has done with their awards. We have a swag bag also. Other than that, it's the surprise that counts! Hero Initiative will give their Lifetime Achievement award again this year.

TOS: Sometimes guests are able to make it at the last minute. Can you think of anyone you would like to mention?

MN: Kurt Busiek is stopping by between Oriole/Red Sox games. Lots of folks come down from New York that I don't even know they were in the room until later.

TOS: As the con grows, are the logistics of arranging it getting harder for you or more manageable? A few years back in an interview we did you said of the show: "In Baltimore, everyone is much more accessible. It's just a show that is very fan friendly." As it has grown, have you been able to keep the con as fan friendly?

MN: It has grown, we have an extra hall this year. But it's very accessible. You'll be able to find quickly anyone you are looking for.

TOS: For all the con attendees that come for the guest creators, some attend to fill holes in their collection. How diverse is the selection of retailers at this year’s con?

MN: We have great comic dealers from all around. I am very proud of the retailers in the room this year.

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