Last week was the annual HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina. Just like Christmases of my youth, it feels like it was forever ago even though the calendar says differently. HeroesCon is my favorite convention. Notice I didn’t say favorite comic convention? Well for me, it’s the only true comic convention I’ve been to. I’ve been to MegaCon, DragonCon and even C2E2. All of them have a lot of comics, but they also have celebrities from shows long since ended and other forms of entertainment. Hell, C2E2 even had an X-Box station.
HeroesCon is different in four major ways. One,: it’s clear off the bat that this show is about the love of comics. The show is nothing but professional artists, comic writers, independent creators and up-and-coming creators. It’s almost overwhelming, but you get to see lots of different types of creators. Two: it’s a relaxed, laid back show. I’m not saying it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, it’s hard work and there are busy times for the artists, what with the many commissions they’re often working on. However, it’s easy to approach an artist and chat with him or her, enjoy the conversation and not feel rushed. I’ve gotten to know a lot of artists just from being able to really dive into their work and enjoy a small conversation with them. It’s also a treat to watch people work. I’ve learned more from watching Phil Noto, Brian Stelfreeze and Andrew Robinson paint than I have from hours of reading about or looking at art. (Nothing beats doing it yourself though unfortunately.)
The third reason it’s one of the best shows is that it’s cheap. A weekend pass costs $40 bucks. If my math is right, the total number of hours of the con is 21 for the whole weekend. (Split up from Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so you do have to take that into account.) The grand total then is about two dollars an hour, per person to enjoy the con. That’s dirt cheap! The best part is, that means each person has more money to spend. That’s more art, sketchbooks, prints and books to buy. Wondering how can they keep costs so low?
That leads to one of the biggest reasons I look forward to HeroesCon, and that is the HeroesCon art auction. They ask artists to donate art to auction off on Saturday night of con weekend. This helps keep the show cheap and about comics. I am happy I can support the show each year (Even if I’m not tabling, which has been the last two years. Next year might change, we shall see.) which helps to keep price down and the celebrities out. However for me, it’s one of two times a year that I get to see how much I’ve grown, and how I measure up from last year. The second is the holiday card I do each year. These are the only times I roughly do the same project around the same time. I can look at old comic pages, but it’s just not the same. Those are a different story, set-up, and things are always changing. The art auction is more important in some ways, since I am forced to do more traditional art. For example, I love to paint and work without a screen. It’s something harder and harder to do it seems. So each year I try to beat last year’s model. I do this not worrying about how much my piece sold for each year, but just focusing on the piece itself. This year I brought the big guns, which means next year might be a tank…
I also have to say I love how Shelton and the whole staff of Heroes Aren’t Hard to find out do themselves each year. I remember when the drink and draw (The Friday night event.) was a small group of people at Fuel Pizza. Now it’s almost impossible to find a seat at the Hilton bar. I love going to that and drawing and chatting with friends. (One side note, I do wish the live band was a little lower. When it’s nearly impossible for me to hear some three feet away, it’s way to loud.) It was also a big treat to see some Bill Waterson originals. He is the reason I am a comic artist, to finally see one of his originals made the weekend.
I also have to say, I love how Sheldon and the whole staff of Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find out-do themselves each year. I remember when the Drink and Draw (the Friday night event) was a small group of people at Fuel Pizza. Now it’s almost impossible to find a seat, as it’s now hosted at the Hilton hotel bar. I love going to that event, and drawing and chatting with friends. (One side note, I do wish the live band was a little lower in volume. When it’s nearly impossible for me to hear some three feet away, it’s way too loud.) It was also a big treat to see some Bill Watterson originals. He is the reason I am a comic artist; to finally see one of his originals made that weekend.
I also liked that the floor layout of the con was spaced out a lot better this year. It didn’t feel as long, and it was nice to see some big names and not-so-big names closer together. Nothing is more heartbreaking than tabling at your first con, and seeing people stop or turn around a few feet from your table because there is no big name creator there. HeroesCon really makes an effort to treat everyone the same, because this year’s no-name person might be the next big thing a few years from now.
My last piece of advice about this show, is to make sure you visit the Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find comic store. It’s the cleanest, best designed store I’ve ever seen. It’s my benchmark on what comic stores should be. It feels like a classy, fun bookstore filled with…well, comics. Heroes comics is also very family-friendly and well organized. This year I ended the show with buying Brian Selfreeze’s complete run of Domino art. I won’t lie, I couldn’t think of a better way to end the weekend! Buying comics as a fan, is just what it’s all about.
Thank you again guys, and I can’t wait for 2015!
P.S. Here is my piece, it was shown earlier, but here is the scanned version.
P.P.S. Thanks to Micheal Morris for editing this. A lot of work.