With one of two exceptions, you can name anything or anyone in comics and you will always hear some caveats or complaints, no matter how popular or loved the thing is. But there are a few exceptions, and Heroes Con is one of them.
Whenever it comes up, people say “You should go! it’s fun!” Always. We have never heard a bad word about it or organizer Shelton Drum. For real. We keep meaning to write all about our first trip to Heroes Con in Charlotte, but it’s been too darned hectic around here. But other voices have done the praising for us:
Kelly Sue DeConnick:
Most fun I’ve ever had at a con. Great people, well-managed crowds, low stress. Can’t praise Shelton Drum and his crew highly enough. The focus was really on the books, which was refreshing. I imagine we’ll register for 2007 as soon as pre-reg opens up.
There is nothing but goodness coming out of Charlotte, NC. Heroes Convention was one of the best comic conventions I have ever attended in my life.
Friendly staff, run like a clock, no runs, no drips, no errors. Astonishingly kind and warm fans, very friendly happy locals. Great prices on hotels, travel and food made it easy on the wallet. Low cost for attendees and exhibitors alike, and high attendance made for a profitable show for everyone to whom I spoke. I made San Diego Con money my first day without San Diego Con expenses, so it was an extremely good show for me. In terms of investment vs profit, one of the best I have ever attended.
JD Lombardi at Silver Bullet Comic Books (many pics in link as well):
If ever there was a comic book convention that could be labeled as âperfect,â? the 2006 Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC would have to top this yearâs heap as being the closest to. Promoter Sheldon Drum didnât crumble in the face of adversity. He just went out and assembled one hell of a talent-filled roster to prove to the convention circuit that his show was worth hitting more so than some corporate multi-media circusâ¦, and even though it looks like this same âfightâ? will extend into 2007 when two major cons have the same weekend booked (Heroes and Wizard Philly), at least this year Sheldon can claim to be the victor.
What makes it so nice? Just the way things are run. The little touches. And also the fact that it’s just a big comics show, and the crowd is there to buy comics. In many ways, it reminded me of a more mainstream SPX or MoCCA. In fact, in some ways it was better than those two shows — which are among my favorites of the year. At MoCCA and SPX selling books is the focus — a good show can be a real boon to the bottom line of a small publisher. At Heroes, there was less pressure — people did very well but it was gravy. As Robert Young’s report shows, there was a very significant indie presence at the show, with some outstanding programming. Superheroes and indies didn’t clash or compete — for once, they seemed to be co-existing and even helping each other.
The attendees at Heroes Con are fans, but reasonable ones. They were more interested in characters and artists than resale value — they were collectors in the better sense of the word. All the artists sketching were busy, and some of the pieces in the art auction went for huge amounts. It was a different vibe,
Maybe it’s part of the easy going southern culture, but everyone was just relaxed. It was really impressive to see Rosario Dawson enjoying being part of the show, hanging out and talking with people. She was just one of the gang, but it was the kind of atmosphere that encouraged that.
As for our own experiences, we have to throw in here that as a Yankee of long lineage, we have always viewed the South as, well, a far off land. And there is definitely a more leisurely pace as latitudes shrink and the climate heats up. But the genuine hospitality and overall niceness of just about everyone we met was overwhelming.
Plus, we finally realized one of the reasons Southern food is so rich is because they have a tradition of so many farms and beehives and orchards and all that. Colleen Doran brought a bunch of goodies from a nearby farm, including jams and cider, and we had a little picnic at her booth. We could never have done THAT at any other show — it would have been too hectic.
Which isn’t to say there weren’t quirks. Charlotte is a charming little city, and a lot of rich industralists/bankers have spent a LOT of money to give it real personality and a sense of design. But after arriving on Thursday afternoon, I set out at about 4:30 in quest of a sandwich. The rush hour traffic amounted to about 10 cars, which was just kind of eerie. I spotted a Subway — my preferred chain choice — across the street. But it was closed, the locked door of the food court it was located in warning me not to bring in any weapons. I finally found a Dean and Deluca that was open, but lunch hour ends at 3 on weekdays, apparently.
On Saturday, Laurenn McCubbin and I found an excellent joint selling Chicago style hot dogs with delicious homemade potato chips. (Voted #1 Sandwich in Charlotte, apparently, but no 1 hour wait like at NYC’s own Shake Shack) That too closed promptly at 3:00, and upon a return trip on Sunday (mmm, those chips were good) it wasn’t open at all! That was still better than Eckerds (I make it a point to find a drug store whenever I travel to a new locale): I went to get some batteries for my camera on Saturday, and found it was closed all weekend! Coming from a city that has 24 hour hardware and Apple stores, this concept of planned consumption is hard to wrap my mind around.
Anyway, I don’t have any earth shattering industry observations to make from Heroes Con. Instead of running around in a tizzy, I allowed myself to go to meals with people I never get to spend enough time with, and just hang out. While the auction was going on on Saturday, there was a little buffet set up for guests — it had cleared out except for Renee Wittersaetter, Arthur Suydam, Jim Amash, Russ Heath and a few others. I just sat and listened to stories about cartoonists and their lives — an all too rare treat on the hectic convention circuit.
As I think I noted earlier, there are two or three fountains per block in Charlotte, and surely the negative ions produced by all the running water are part of what makes it such a mellow, enjoyable place.
Shelton Drum is a class act, and Wizard should be ashamed of themselves. Philadelphia is little more than a (barely) glorified Creation Con now, and many people would rather travel 500 miles to have a splendid time than 30 to feel sad about their industry.
Oh and for anyone who cares: I washed my pants, and you can’t see through them any more.
[Disclaimer: For the record: Heroes Con is a Beat sponsor, and I was a guest of the show, so you may want to take all that into account.]