Heaven is for Heroes

0
23

Charlotte837With 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.

Colleen Doran: Best Convention Ever

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 “perfect,â€? the 2006 Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC would have to top this year’s heap as being the closest to. Promoter Sheldon Drum didn’t 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 circus…, and even though it looks like this same “fightâ€? 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.

Scuppernong

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.]

1 COMMENT

  1. Sponsor or not, thanks for plugging the show. It’s nice for a con that is so much fun, and only an hour away from my house, is praised so much. Here’s hoping that this year’s experience will bring more folks in fir 2007.

  2. Thanks for this post! I’m seriously tempted to go here instead of San Diego next year. It sounds like a real cool bunch of guys.

    Wow, Heidi. you update like a maniac. Each time I go here there’s something new! I’ll make sure to visit more often then.

  3. Heroes Con has been a pro favorite for years. I remember hearing great things about it when I first attended in ’92. Shelton blends a tight, well-run operation with the easy, laid-back feel of Charlotte, and best of all… the fans that go to this show are the best, sporting two qualities all pros love: they read the comics and they’re polite. It’s nice to see Shelton and Co. get some of the big credit they’ve been earning for years.

  4. This convention was a pure laid back joy. Now I feel prepared for the ruckus that will be San Diego. It was nice having you hang around Mark’s and my booth, to help watch my stuff Heidi, thanks!

  5. I can’t say enough good things about Heroes con. From the moment we landed to the morning we left–a fantastic experience. What I always love about Shelton and his crew is that if you suggest something, it seems anything is possible. Last year we found out that Shelton’s sister’s fiance Phil is a professional musician, as is Arthur (Suydam). The idea of a jam wasn’t long in coming up. And lo and behold it happened this year at the dead dog party. Great fun to see Phil on the harmonica/vocals and Arthur on guitar and vocals doing everything from Orbison to Elvis. If you missed it, be sure to stay for next year. Maybe we can do it again. At any rate, love these guys. Love the show. One of the best ever. And, I agree with Heidi–sitting and listening to Russ Heath stories was a rare and wonderful treat. That is also something I love about Shelton. He gives us the opportunity to meet groundbreakers in the field such as Heath and Nick Cardy! Where else do we get to do that. Thanks to everyone at Heroes.