Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Heroes Convention 2014 Preview

I went into last year’s Heroes Con with absolutely no idea of what I was going to do or who I was going to talk to and ended up getting a number of fantastic interviews. I did lose one of those interviews, but this year I have an actual digital recorder instead of a phone app, so hopefully that won’t be an issue.
What might be an issue is once again having to overcome my desire to not bother people. It’s a powerful thing, you guys.
This year is going to be different because rather than staying at the lovely Westin we are spending Thursday night at the Hilton and staying with friends that live nearby – hopefully very nearby – Friday and Saturday night. This will save us a good bit of money; possibly even enough to cover that Imperial Shuttle I bought at Wizard World.
Oddly, this should free me up to investigate some of the nightlife that occurs at Heroes. Since we treat this as our family Con we always have Lil’ Troublemaker with us and that limits our ability to go out at night. But now I know I will at least have Friday night to see what’s happening in the Charlotte superhero scene. Of course, here’s the thing about that – I have no idea what’s going on. Unlike Dragon Con, the Heroes evening activities are unrelated to the con. So you can’t just go to the website and see what’s happening. And I don’t really have any connections in Charlotte so I’m going to have to figure out how to find out where things are going on.
But that’s really not what Heroes is all about anyway. What this convention is about is bringing some of the finest creative talent in America together to interact with the fanbase in a positive and exciting way. As I’ve pointed out in the past, this is a very different experience from any other con I attend. Heroes Con is a comic book convention in the very best sense of the term. There’s a positive vibe that is unlike any other event; that vibe is the reason I was so comfortable interviewing people last year. I went in just as hesitant as I ever am about talking to strangers, but by the end of the day Friday had a handful of great conversations recorded that were all started by just approaching folks and being friendly.
And that’s the magic – regardless of whether or not you are recording it, you can have some wonderful discussions in the relaxed atmosphere of Heroes Con. If I could have recorded the conversation I had with DJ Spider, Sean Patton, and Sara Pope last year it would have been one of the best podcast episodes I’ve recorded.
At this point you might be wondering who, exactly, I am going to be talking to.
Side Note: I put this very same Side Note in last year’s preview, but it is worth repeating because I have guilt issues about my cheapness: I am very cheap about what I want to pay for sketches, but I don’t think that the artists should be charging less. Those folks have a skill that nobody else has and they should definitely charge top dollar for that skill. I often don’t even ask about sketches because I don’t want anybody to think it’s a reflection of my opinion of their work if I decline. So if you happen to be an artist and read this and a dude in a wrestling mask decides not to get a sketch from you - it’s because he’s a cheapskate, not because he undervalues your talent. And if anybody overhears me clumsily explaining this to an artist, please kick me in the shin.
Here are some highlights of the Heroes Con 2014 Guest List:
ARTHUR ADAMS – AA-303 – Most of my all-time favorite artists spent some time on X-Men books and Art Adams is no exception. His interpretations of Marvel’s Merry Mutants have a major influence on how I see many of those characters in my head – particularly Longshot.
KRIS ANKA | AA-1230 – I can’t say I immediately recognize this name, but I am interested because among his (?) credits is a listing for Sideshow Collectibles. Of course, the other credits are “X-Men, X-Force, Wolverine” so I certainly should be familiar with this person’s work. I want to make contact with this creator and see about a longer form interview. I’d love to talk to somebody that has worked with Sideshow.
BOX BROWN | AA-1021 – I am absolutely going to talk to the creator of Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. I am working on my review now, but just know that it is a beautiful, affecting, must-have piece of comic and wrestling history. Also, I think I pretty much have to have a sketch from Mr. Brown.
CLIFF CHIANG | AA-706 – I first saw Chiang’s work online and was thrilled when he got the job doing pencils on Wonder Woman. His art has a very cool and stylized look that enhances storytelling rather than detracting from it. Sometimes I feel like the guys with a style that goes beyond realism are more worried about cool looking splash pages than they are about telling a story. Cliff Chiang does not have that problem – he can do both. I’d love to have a sketch from this man, but I’m sure he’s out of my price range.
JAMIE COSLEY | AA-523 – The Troublemaker family’s all-time favorite con guest will be back at Heroes Con this year! Jamie draws wonderful cartoons and is one of the friendliest people I have ever met. I encourage everybody to stop by his table and get a sketch, but if you have kids he should be the first stop on your con checklist.
MICHAEL DOONEY | AA-1407 – One of the great Ninja Turtles artists. Way back in the day when I was reading the Mirage Ninja Turtles comics, Dooney was the first artist I accepted that wasn’t Eastman or Laird. Since then I have come to appreciate all of the various artists that worked on that initial run of Turtles books, but Dooney will always be one of the legit originals to me.
KEVIN EASTMAN | AA-1001-1004, 1016 – Man. This is one of those artists that might actually leave me a little star struck. His legacy is almost too big for my brain, you know? Not only were the Turtles such a big part of the years where I really formed my comic book tastes, they have become such an unthinkably massive worldwide phenomenon since then. And Eastman is one of the two guys responsible for them. That is BIG, man.
TOM FEISTER | AA-808 – Feister is one of the big GI Joe artists to me – right up there with Herb Trimpe and Michael Golden. I ran into him at Pallookaville and he said he was going to have some new COBRA prints for Heroes, so GO BUY THEM!
TOM FOWLER | AA-911 – I still need to have that follow-up conversation with MR. Fowler. He’s the artist that originally enlightened me as to the difference between Dragon Con and Heroes Con (other than the obvious, I mean). He was a great conversationalist and an interesting dude. I think I missed him last year because every time I stopped by his table he was engaged in – you guessed it – conversation! Oh yeah – he’s a great artist, as well. He has a very whacked-out, Jack Davis-type style that I really dig.
FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA | AA-1212 – One of my absolute favorite artists. I missed out on his Black Beetle print last year, but we’ll be at Heroes Con all weekend this year so I expect to be able to grab whatever special goodies he might bring this time.
SL GALLANT | AA-1510 – Gallant is the artist on IDW’s continuation of GI Joe: A Real American Hero and his style is a perfect update to the look of the original Marvel comic book. I would love to have him create a Joe cover featuring Phantom Troublemaker alongside Sgt. Slaughter.
DENNIS HOPELESS | AA-704 – Hopeless has been doing fantastic work on Cable & X-Force. I was upset back when Marvel first announced the end of Rick Remender’s amazing Uncanny X-Force run, but Hopeless quickly satisfied me with the Cable book.
STEVE NILES | AA-608 – Steve Niles is one of the most talented writers in the business and he always has neat-o stuff at his table. And he is a super-nice guy, to be writing all that blood and guts stuff.
PHIL NOTO | AA-1216 – Noto consistently produces some of the nicest, most interesting art. Every time I see his name I am pleased with whatever it’s attached to.
JIM RUGG | AA-1019 – I had a great conversation with Jim Rugg last year and I give his Supermag a high recommendation. I’m eager to see what he has at his table this year.
EVAN SHANER | AA-820 – This man’s work on the new Flash Gordon book is absolutely amazing. I’m bringing a copy to get signed. It’s one of my favorite new books.
BILL SIENKIEWICZ | AA-1417 – I still need to get that Venture Bros’ print signed.
MARK WAID | AA-1219 – Waid’s takes on Daredevil and Hulk are two of my favorite books right now. I’ve never been a fan of Daredevil, but the way that Waid and Chris Samnee handle the character is spectacular. Waid’s run on Indestructible Hulk is the best since Peter David’s work on the character. I’m going to have comics for this fella to sign.
BERNIE WRIGHTSON | AA-607 – There are two icons of horror that are never at their tables when I go there – Linnea Quigley and Bernie Wrightson. I don’t know what the deal is. Maybe I can break the Wrightson curse this year.
SKOTTIE YOUNG | AA-801 – Young is another favorite of the Troublemaker family. No doubt he’ll have Rocket Raccoon prints for his upcoming series and no doubt we will buy one for Lil’ Troublemaker.
Obviously there are a lot more Guests than that. And there are even some that I am a fan of but didn’t mention. Mostly that’s because I already have stuff from them or will see them at other cons. But definitely check out the full Guest List:
As I mentioned above we are staying with friends this year. This means that Mrs. And Lil’ Troublemaker will be palling around with them and I will have the opportunity to do something that I have never done at Heroes Con – attend panels.
Heroes Con panels are not celebrity-oriented in the way that some other cons’ panels are. The panels here are almost entirely driven by creators and in some cases are even straight-up instructional. I’m excited to see what Heroes has to offer. Here are the ones that I’m going to try and make:
Friday
2:30 pm - Room 206 - DOWN SET MEGAGOGO! The Live Read Extravaganza That Destroyed Charlotte!


I am all for a live read of a comic book, even if it’s one I’ve never read. The personalities involved in this one guarantee it will be a fun time.

5:00 pm - Room 203A - ARCHER


This is a panel with a few folks that have worked on the show. I am slightly obsessed with Archer and how such a weird cartoon got so big.
7:00 PM – Annual Drink & Draw at the Hilton City Center Bar (?)
There is no mention of a Drink & Draw this year, but I can’t imagine that the con is foregoing such a popular tradition.
Saturday
10:00 am - Room 203A - MODERN MASTERS: CLIFF CHIANG and LEE WEEKS
I am a big fan of both artists.
2:00 pm - WEST SIDE OF THE SHOW FLOOR - COSPLAY GROUP PHOTO
I am going to participate in this, but I’m going to be sure to stand in the back. WAY in the back.
3:00 pm - Room209/210 - Comics Regulation, Comics Censorship: Past and Present
Comic books have been the target of criticism and unfair persecution basically since their inception. I’m always fascinated by things that generate such seemingly unwarranted prejudice and I’m curious about this retrospective.
4:30pm - Room 207CD - INTRO TO COSPLAY
Sean Patton and DJ Spider are on this panel with a few other folks. I think it will be great. I would have loved to moderate this one.
Sunday
12:30 pm - Room 207CD - TMNT: AN HOUR WITH KEVIN EASTMAN
This is my one must-see panel.
1:00 pm - Room 203B - QuickDraw—A HeroesCon tradition.
I’m throwing this in here because it is something I would like to do but probably won’t. I think I’m pretty okay at drawing when I’m inspired and have a specific idea of what I want to do. This is not that type of scenario. I have a feeling that if somebody just tossed me some pencils and a piece of Bristol board I’d run out of the room, screaming. I’d like to think that I could come up with something funny and clever, but it probably wouldn’t happen. This takes place all three days at Heroes Con.
3:00 pm - WEST SIDE OF THE SHOW FLOOR - THE 2014 COSPLAY COSTUME CONTEST
Heroes Con has many different categories for various ages of cosplayer. I won’t be participating because I don’t consider what I do to be cosplay, but I will certainly be there to take pictures and document this fun contest.
To see the full schedule, check this out:
In addition to the Guests and panels listed above, HeroesCon also has a MASSIVE selection of exhibitors and vendors. For the full list check out the Heroes Con website. While you’re there be sure to browse around and look at the tons of stuff I didn’t cover here. Heroes Con truly is the most fun convention I got to. If you’ve never been I can’t recommend it strongly enough.
I put out a call a few weeks ago for Guest Writers so that I would have posts for Needless Things while I was on vacation. I got a few responses, but as of this writing I have not received a single submission. This surprised me as much as the first time I asked for Guest Writers and got a bunch of submissions.
So as things stand right now, there won’t be any new Needless Things posts until next Monday. I had not originally planned on providing content until next Thursday, but the combination of a lack of Guest Writers and a fortuitous event worked out so that I will have some exciting stuff next week. I will be covering the LEGO KidsFest touring attraction. I’ll explain everything on Monday and have an all-new LEGO-tastic episode of the Needless Things Podcast on Tuesday.
Until then, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and as Phantom Troublemaker on Instagram for updates on Heroes Con all weekend long!

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