Joshua Lazarus writes for Bleeding Cool. Follow him at @JoshuaLazarus
It was Sunday at the Baltimore Comic Con, and even the awful weather couldn’t keep thousands of fans away from the Baltimore Convention Center.
Sunday has long been the day of the convention where Marvel and DC host their more open, discussion-based panels. This year, due to Marvel’s absence, the attention was all on DC Comics and their DC Sunday Discussion Panel.
The panel description from the Baltimore Comic Con website reads:
11:00-12:00 – DC Sunday Conversation – All are welcome to join in a relaxed Sunday morning discussion. Share your thoughts, or be enthralled, as the group shares their stories and love for this medium.
By a quarter to 11, a few dozen fans had already taken their seats, chatting excitedly amongst themselves, discussing yesterday’s panels, the “New 52” and waiting for the DC Sunday Conversation to begin.
And then it didn’t.
The crowd went silent as a convention staffer came up to the front of the hall and announced that the panel had been canceled. There was a quick murmur among the fans in attendance before a woman shouted, “Why?” The convention staffer simply told the crowd that nobody involved with the panel could make it, so the panel was canceled.
At first, the crowd was disappointed. After all, the rumor at the convention was that Dan Didio was going to appear, otherwise unannounced, at this panel. Then fans began joking around, with a few fans getting up to the podium to do their best impressions of DC creators and editors. A few fans guessed that the panelists were “probably hung over from last night,” referring to the Harvey Awards and the bar at the Baltimore Hyatt.
And then something else happened.
Someone in the audience said, “Let’s have our own DC Sunday Conversation.” For the next hour, the twenty or so people who had stayed in the hall discussed everything DC, from yesterday’s panels and the “New 52” to digital distribution and diversity in comics.
One fan, recalling a comment made at a panel the previous day where a man was angry that Action Comics and Detective Comics were being renumbered, exclaimed, “If you think DC isn’t going to commemorate anniversary issues of long-running series, you’re just wrong. Look at Marvel, they renumber all the time!” The previous day, Jimmy Palmiotti had responded to the angry fan, garnering laughter and applause, by telling the fan, “Look…come over to my house, and I’ll take a Sharpie and write whatever number you want on there.”
Another fan pointed out how he was sold on Scott Snyder’s Batman and Swamp Thing after Snyder pitched both series to the audience at the previous day’s panel. “You can tell he’s passionate about what he’s doing. He obviously loves the characters, and is putting his best efforts toward making great comics.”
“And he looks like he’s maybe twenty years old.”
The fans discussed, and laughed at, the industry and fandom in general until convention staff entered and began to set up for the next panel.
It wasn’t the panel anyone was expecting, but it was almost entirely positive and hopeful, and definitely something worth seeing.