NOTE: This is an expanded version of my post of a few days ago, including some notes and a lot of links. So if you’re like “hey this looks familiar, this guy is totally cutting corners,” then you are RIGHT my friends. But there’s a lot of new stuff down below: enjoy!
Oh man you guys, oh man. I mean literally, OH. MAN. HeroesCon. Most successful HeroesCon ever? Might be–I don’t know all the numbers, that’s more Shelton’s corner of things, but it was definitely the biggest show we’ve ever put on, by a fair margin. But somehow–shockingly to all of us on the staff, believe you me–it was one of the smoothest shows we’ve ever put on, definitely the smoothest I’ve ever been involved with. How did this happen?
Well I’m not sure, but it’s done now, no take-backs! I just put up a ton of pictures on our Flickr page, and there’ll be more going up as I get pictures throughout the week from different people. Scroll down to the bottom of this post, where I’ve stuck a bunch of links to other con reports, photo collections, and more. I’ll hit the high points really quick, and probably flesh things out by Friday’s Heroes Hotline. But for now, here’s a taste:
We cruised through Thursday load-in with only minimal hiccups, and all of those were the normal kind, like “I don’t like this table location.” Nothing really earth-shaking got missed, no one got into squabbles over dumb stuff, everyone was relaxed even though no one had had much sleep. By Friday morning, we dusted up a few little things and then looked up to find one billion people waiting in line to get in–I think we broke a pre-registered record this year, and then there was a whole other line of people who bought tickets just that morning! Crazy town!
Pretty much all weekend the aisles were comfortably full, but never truly crazy crowded, with people. I feel like the traffic was up a little over last year, but it’s hard to tell–for instance, it didn’t feel wildly more crowded, but we also sold the whole hall out wall to wall, so everyone was spread over more area and there were more reasons to move around rather than clump up in one spot. We had pros and dealers from all over the country, and sold advance tickets to pretty much every state in this nation and half of the Canadian provinces, plus England and more.
I hear a lot from people, and in the post-con reports I’ve read, that one of the things that makes HeroesCon nice for people is the access to pros people get. Everyone’s at their table most of the day (with some exceptions, of course), and most of them are signing up a storm, taking sketch requests, you name it. I don’t go to a lot of shows–working on HeroesCon is plenty for me–but from what I hear it’s this egalitarian nature of things that helps make our show stick out a little. And we like it that way.
We had a hugely expanded Indie Island this year, which was great for people like me who love “indie” comics, not to mention a large contingent of cartoonists whose work is best known on the web, like Meredith Gran, R Stevens, Kate Beaton, and a ton of others. I’m always nervous having bigger names from the “indie” world because Heroes is essentially a superhero show after all; it’s hard to know what kind of response they’ll get. But the consensus seemed to be pretty good–some people did pretty good, and I got a few reports of banner years. Some were a little more circumspect; I could tell they were sparing my feelings a little. I just want everybody who tables at HeroesCon to be FILTHY RICH by the end of the weekend, is that so wrong? But overall I was pretty pumped about how traffic was in Indie Island, I like how it’s growing and turning into its own thing, slowly but surely.
Friday night we were part of the closing of the month-of-May “Super! The Fine Art Of Comics” exhibit at our friends Rodney & Lise’s gallery 22. The exhibit featured a solid ton of amazing artists, most of whom either were HeroesCon guests or had been guests in the past. And while it doesn’t hurt to have names like Adam Hughes, Tony Harris, and Mark Bagley in there, Shelton threw in a couple of his personal Kirby and Ditko pieces as ringers. Hey we got roots up in here!
[this picture and the one above it by Patrick Sun, part of his ENORMOUS Flickr set] What’s really cool about the exhibit’s closing exhibition is it gave us a reason to get people out of uptown Charlotte and into some of the neighborhoods where we actually hang out throughout the year. People always look at me weird when they ask what’s good to eat around the convention center and I have to think pretty hard. So it was a great scene in our Plaza-Midwood neighborhood, with a bunch of artists from all over the country hobnobbing with locals, enjoying drinks and food, and just generally relaxing. I love the hotel bar scene, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to breathe real actual air sometime! Being around a bunch of sweet art didn’t hurt either.
As the show progressed into Saturday, things settled into a steady buzz of activity. We worked hard to manage traffic this year, from really putting a lot of time into designing the layout and positioning of guests, to managing lines in real-time on the floor. I’m sure we missed stuff here and there, but I didn’t hear many complaints, and the ones I heard I jumped on right away.
One thing that we did well this year was panels–we had a blue million of them, about 40% of which seemed to be moderated by The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon. This is my fault not his though–Tom agreed to do some panels for me, and then I just loaded him up–I love that guy, he’s very good at guiding a conversation and keeping the people in the audience involved. The above picture (also from Patrick’s Flickr set) is him with Brian Bolland discussing art.
Here’s Tom with (from left) Guy Davis and Ben Templesmith. If you missed HeroesCon or any of the panels, you are in luck–our buddies at The Dollar Bin recorded nearly half of the panels and are putting them up one or two a day right now. I can’t say enough nice things about those guys, Adam Daughhetee and his crew really bust their humps for four days running from room to room carrying mikes and cables, getting things worked out and levels set, and occasionally moderating their own panels! Super awesome those guys–check out the weekly Dollar Bin podcast once you’ve gotten your fill of HeroesCon panels, those dudes are friendly dudes and we support them 100%
Another thing that’s almost bizarrely unique to HeroesCon is our yearly Art Auction. Not that the auction itself is such a visionary idea or anything–more that the people who donate work to the auction, much of it done onstage during the show itself, are so incredibly generous. Not just with their time, but these are pieces they could easily sell themselves for plenty of money. At one point I walked by the Auction stage near the front of the hall, and there was Phil Noto painting across from Adam Hughes, and both pieces were insane. What these guys do for us, it’s really hard to put into words, they really flex for us and it’s deeply, extraordinarily humbling. I’m not blowing smoke, either–it’s not like they get much out of it, you know? There’s just no replacing good solid friends, and that’s no lie.
Check out this doozie that Patrick Sun caught–our friend Irwin Hasen, who just celebrated his 92nd birthday, got surprised by Shelton with some cake and this quartet of Zatanna’s, who later helped the amazing Allison Sohn and 30 Rock’s Scott Adsit steer the biggest Art Auction we have ever had. Amazing! Shelton had this to say in an email to me; I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing it, as he’s deathly afraid of posting on the internet, apparently:
“…there were SO many big pieces this year, including J. Scott Campbell‘s, Stephane Roux‘s, and of course Mark Brooks who TIED Adam’s $8000 mark–so I guess they co-hold that record. Plus Eric Canete, Jonboy Meyers… there are so many it’s hard to even start thinking about how to thank them all! Not to mention Jerry’s Artarama, who sponsored the Auction and kept us in art supplies all weekend…”
Speaking of which, that’s my friend Holston with his son, come to check out all the hubbub. Roan is a little hellion usually, but he was a little wild-eyed at all the hubbub, which was pretty funny.
Speaking of amazing jobs at the Art Auction, holy crap Allison Sohn. What a lady–if you filled Uncle Scrooge’s Money Bin up with hearts instead of money, Allison would be diving in and swimming around. And having Scott Adsit on hand as co-auctioneer certainly didn’t hurt any, you know what I mean? Friends, what can I say?
Adam’s Zatanna piece–held here by one of I think FOUR Zatanna’s in costume, led by the awesome Riki LeCotey–was the big draw of the night, netting a whopping EIGHT THOUSAND dollars. Look at this commando team in this picture–deadly!
Within just an hour of the con’s close, this was the scene in my carefully arranged Artists Alley! Oh the carnage! But another successful HeroesCon behind us. This one felt good, the whole staff was almost giddy, slapping each other on the backs and saying “good job, good job!”
We repaired to the store for the private afterparty and it was a SCENE–so many people crammed in there that it got pretty warm, but a summer storm blew up and cooled the air down enough that we could stand it. What a mix in our store, everyone shopping and chatting and eating barbecue from the new Pinky’s over at the corner of Freedom and Morehead in Charlotte. I walked back in the corner to hunt a book for someone and there was Guy Davis and his lovely fiance Rosemary chatting with Mike Mignola and Jason Latour next to the lit section. So awesome.
A great night, and a fitting close to a massively fun and successful HeroesCon! Thanks to the hundreds of guests, exhibitors, and fans that made it such a whopper! And a special thanks to our amazing staff, truly the A-Team of the convention world! Who could ask for a better crew, I ask you?
CHECK OUT ALL THESE HEROESCON REPORTS AND PHOTOS!
Tom Spurgeon’s “Collective Memory” Repository
The Dollar Bin’s HeroesCon Panel Collection
Patrick Sun’s MASSIVE Photo Set
Our Own Slightly Less Massive Set
Comic Related’s Comprehensive HeroesCon Coverage
Tom Spurgeon’s Own Excellent Report
Comics Worth Reading 1
Comics Worth Reading 2
Comics Alliance photos
Also The Beat
Again, The Beat
Jeff Dang Parker