Heroes Con, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, is so awesome that its progam has 12 pages of listings for Artists Alley, and in fairly small print, too. It’s so awesome that it has to have two pages of maps to explain where all these artists and writers can be found. If that doesn’t convince you, though, there are many other features of the con that are praiseworthy. Firstly, it’s been going for over 30 years, which means that they know what they are doing and have streamlined, over time, how to run a show, and also how to make both fans and guests happy. This year they’ve doubled their floor space which gives plenty of breathing room for exhibitors, vendors, and fans. That contributes to a calm, upbeat atmosphere. The rooms where they are holding panels are also large and well arranged for seating, and easy to locate. Last, but not at all least, registration are very organized and friendly. This report stands for Friday, the first day of the con, which admittedly was a little sparse (though still lively) and easy-going, perhaps abetted by the tropical storms/hurricanes that are bringing heavy rains and dissuading people from travelling.
All bets are on Saturday being a big day for Heroes Con, as it has been in the past, and so there may be a little more waiting in line, a little more crowding for panels, but it’s pretty certain that the space, and the staff, can handle it with grace. Every con has its own personality, one that changes somewhat over time, but even on the first day, it’s clear that Heroes Con has its own vibe, one its built up over time to focus on the human elements of a con experience. That, of course, is why pros and fans keep coming back. It may seem a no-brainer that cons should put people first and try to create as positive an environment as possible, but that really can get lost in the shuffle if a balance isn’t struck between having fun and making money for a pop culture event. Cons can become big machines that try to process fan demand and fan need by simply keeping people moving. As cons become more popular and grow, that’s an increasing danger, but Heroes seems like a con that can handle those challenges. That makes it a model that growing cons need to take a close look at to learn from the wisdom they’ve garnered. It’s a relief in a boom time for comic cons to have role models like Heroes, and that is yet another reason why Heroes Con is awesome. Here’s to another 30 years- that ought to keep the con phenomenon on its toes.