My Time at HeroesCon

Written by Nicholas Doyle.

A few weeks ago, Charlotte, NC played host to the 31st annual HeroesCon, put on by Shelton Drum’s fantastic comic shop, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. The convention is among the best in the country, and is beloved by both fans and professionals alike – mostly due to the fact that its focus is completely on comics, which is a welcome change as the bigger conventions are including more TV/Film/Video Game content and pushing the comic stuff off to the side.

I’ve been going to the convention for a few years now, but this time was going to be different; for one, I was going to be there all three days, which I’ve never done. Also, my wife Brooke was going to join me the entire time – while she’s not super interested in comics, she’s been to the convention in the past and had a good time – another great thing about HeroesCon is that it is very family friendly, and doesn’t include some of the creepier aspects that you might find at other conventions. Her being there meant that we would spend a good majority of our time in various panels – which was also new to me; in the past, I’ve usually gone to conventions to have books signed, and not gone to many panels.

Our author, now with kung fu grip!


The con started on Friday, and after walking around the floor for a few hours, we made our way to the Sports in Comics panel. I don’t care that much about sports, but my friend Rob Ullman ( was going to be there talking about his hockey comics, so I wanted to check that out. In addition to Rob, the panel also included Kevin Freeman (who writes NFL Rush Zone,) Paul Friedrich (who makes hockey comics for the Carolina Hurricanes website,) and Jarrett Williams (who creates Super Pro KO for Oni Press.) The panel mainly focused on the challenges inherent with adapting sports to comics, and why they felt that sports comics were not more popular. While the panel was sparsely attended, I really enjoyed it, and it led to my first impulse buy of the convention – after almost buying Super Pro KO at last year’s HeroesCon (and again at the 2012 New York Comic Con,) I decided to pick it up after hearing Williams discuss it on the panel – I really enjoyed it, and fans of pro wrestling, manga, and Scott Pilgrim should definitely check it out.
After that, we randomly found ourselves in what would end up being my favorite panel of the convention. I wanted to check out the QuickDraw panel (where convention goers are given the opportunity to draw whatever they like and have it judged by instructors from the Savannah College of Art and Design) but when we got to the room, it was standing room only – Brooke decided to walk down the hall and see if one of the concurrent panels struck her fancy. She wandered into the Stumptown panel, where writer Greg Rucka and artist Matthew Southworth were discussing their Portland-based crime book, which is published by Oni Press. After a few minutes, Brooke texted me to join her, and I’m really glad I did. Rucka described Stumptown as a love letter to The Rockford Files, and it was great hearing both him and Southworth discuss the effort they put into the book – for example, there’s a car chase that takes place in the second volume of the book that essentially prompts the reader to hold and turn the book like they themselves are driving a car – which, frankly, sounds awesome. Southworth said that the editor of the book actually filmed a “practice run” of the route of the chase, so that he had exact reference. To be honest, the only Rucka work I’ve read is Gotham Central, but by the end of the panel not only did we both want to pick up Stumptown, I also decided to pick up Lazarus, Rucka’s collaboration with Michael Lark.
That pretty much wrapped up the first day of the convention, but there was still tons to do – the con hosted a drink-and-draw at a nearby hotel bar that benefitted Team Cul de Sac, a charity stated in honor of cartoonist Richard Thompson to raise money for Parkinson’s research (Thompson was diagnosed with the disease a few years ago, and he was forced to end his Cul de Sac Collection strip last year –  if you want to be happy and heartbroken at the same time, go to and read through the archives – Thompson is a master, and it’s a shame the disease has taken the his work away from us.) The D&D was not just limited to professionals – the convention had provided paper and coasters that everyone could use – and  there are few things that are more fun that sitting in a bar, doodling.
Day two of the convention started off with the Marvel Writers panel, which featured Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Kelly Sue Deconnick, and Jason Aaron (Jason Latour was also scheduled to appear, but he was a no-show.) This panel was tons of fun, with Fraction and Deconnick taking center stage – the four writers definitely enjoyed each other’s company, and enjoyed talking about the books they’re writing. Topics ranged from the difficulties Deconnick, Fraction, and Aaron ran into when beginning to write Thor to, well, beards (although I would assume that any panel that includes Aaron would get to this topic sooner or later.)
Immediately following that panel, we came to the one I was initially the most excited about – and it turned out to be the low point of the con for me. Starman is one of my favorite comics, and the convention was hosting a 20th anniversary panel with series artist/co-creator Tony Harris and cover artist Andrew Robinson. I was a little hesitant because James Robinson, the writer of the entire series was not going to be present, and Harris left the book before it ended, but I was still interested in seeing what he had to say. It turned out to be the most boring hour of the entire convention. While I did learn some things (for example: Harris and Robinson are contractually obligated to be included in anything that involves Jack Knight, even if it’s just them signing off on something,) the panel (obviously) revolved around Harris, and his stories about his time on the book (or his eventual falling out/making up with Robinson) just were not that interesting. Add into the mix that Harris seemed to have no interest in anything that happened in the book after he left, and it just felt like a waste of time – we would have gotten up and left, but there were not a ton of people in the room and did not want to be obvious. It definitely would have been great to have had Robinson, who steered the book through its entire run, present on the panel.
One plus side of going to the convention for all three days was that we didn’t feel obligated to be in the convention center the entire time – we pretty much decided to come and go as we pleased, and after walking around the convention floor for about an hour after the end of the Starman panel, we decided to grab some food and spend some time at our hotel’s pool. ConTip: stay at a hotel with a pool. After dinner, we headed back to check out the convention’s annual art auction – another thing I’d never been able to go to, since I’ve always been gone by Saturday night. Team Cul de Sac was auctioning off a couple of items (including a Complete Calvin and Hobbes box set signed by Bill Watterson!) and I wanted to look at all the art that had been created specifically for the auction. When we arrived, there were some empty seats, but by the time we’d looked at the art on display, the room was packed. We only stuck around for a little bit of the auction (enough to see the Calvin and Hobbes collection go for over $1000, which is admittedly a lot, but I wonder what it would have gone for if Watterson had doodled in the book instead of just signing it.)
We only had limited time on Sunday, because Brooke had to go to work in the evening, but we weren’t going to miss the Matt Fraction panel – confession: my wife has a bit of a crush on him – and we were not disappointed. Fraction is currently writing Marvel’s best book (Hawkeye) and spent a good chunk of time talking about that book and how his family has influenced his writing of FF and Fantastic Four. In addition, he also touched on the future of Casanova (Michael Chabon is coming onboard to write back-up stories!) and his two new creator-owned books, Satellite Sam and Sex Criminals. I’ll admit to being in the tank for most of Fraction’s stuff, but both of these books sound great – Satellite Sam looks what goes on behind the scenes on a 1950’s kid’s show (and with Howard Chaykin on art, it’s bound to be risqué,) while Sex Criminalswas described by Fraction as his attempt at creating a Bridesmaids or Knocked Up for comics. 
After another short stroll of the con floor, we decided to grab lunch and head out of town, completely satisfied with our convention experience. HeroesCon is my favorite convention, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in comics and comic art – it’s not as big (or as overwhelming) as NYCC or San Diego, and it really does a great job of being a fun, family friendly show. I’ll definitely be there next year.