Aw, man. Heroes Con. I love that show! This year was pretty great, as it always is. Lots of talented artists, good friends, a relaxed vibe and tons of opportunities to socialize with like-minded folks at the show and after hours. A big thank you to Shelton and all of the Heroes Con staff/volunteers for putting on such a fantastic show. Here are some of my thoughts and highlights:
It was great to sit in Indie Island with Paul, Alexis, Andrew and his wife Erin. Those guys are always fun to be around. Ming was positioned in another section of the floor, but not too far away. That's alright, though, because she was soooo busy with commissions, I don't think she had time to talk anyway. Logan had to cancel at the last minute so he didn't make it this year. It's kind of bitter sweet because while we missed him being there, I got to use his table rather than just squeezing in somewhere. Also in our block were guys like Rob Ullman, Jared Cullum, J. Chris Campbell, Andy Runton, Wes Brooks and Hatuey Diaz from Top Shelf. They were all pleasure to be seated with. I know Rico Renzi works hard at putting people together who will enjoy each other's company, so kudos Rico.
I think all of the OOSA artists had a good show. I know they were all drawing a lot. Paul sold a bunch of books and did several commissions. Alexis brought a little of everything, but I think his new Doom Rider shirt was his biggest seller. He also had a bunch of commissions on Sunday. Andrew did great selling his book Head Lopper. Several people came over looking for it based on the recommendation of others that had bought it at the show. Other people would escort folks over to his table in person and say "Here is that book you need to buy". Ming, like I said earlier, had a ton of commissions. I'd be willing to bet it was close to 30. And me? I sold a bunch of the OOSA shirts and Liz Suburbia's zines. After related food and travel expenses for the show, I just about broke even and might have even made a few dollars profit. Which, after last year, is fantastic for me. Driving up Friday morning and going home on Sunday night shaved some costs, so that helped.
I'm sure you all have heard about how big the con floor was this year. I think this had it's pros and cons. As an exhibitor, I really appreciated the extra space behind the tables. Lots of room to put your stuff and still be able to get around without tripping over banners and such. I also liked the linear layout of the floor. There was a nice main thoroughfare through artist alley that allowed you to see the majority of the tables in one pass just by looking left and right. Also, the walkways were really wide which eased congestion and made it nice for people with small children and strollers. This also made it easy to get around slow walkers, sudden stoppers, lines of fans waiting for signatures, people taking pictures of cosplayers, and folks pulling carts loaded with comic boxes. The downside for the large floor space was that there was no quick trip to anywhere. Working a table, I had limited opportunities to get away. If I wanted to go say "Hi" to someone or go buy/look at something, I was gone for at least 20 minutes and there was no time for distractions. I bet I only saw about 25% of what was on display and a lot of that was just in passing. I'm sure the people on the outskirts of the floor saw fewer casual lookers than they would have in a smaller space. I heard random rumblings about how the large space was affecting sales, but then I heard others talk about how great their sales were this year. Not really sure how much of an effect the size of the convention hall had on that, though. Overall, I think having the larger space was a good thing. I know it was an expensive move for the show, so I'm hoping it payed off in extra ticket/table sales.
The organizers did a good job making use of the extra space this year. They had some cool cars in one section, an Akira gallery set up, large areas with chairs and tables for eating/reading/resting/talking, food vendors, etc. They also had several things set up just for kids like a super pet "petting zoo" where you could have your picture made with various comic book animal sidekicks and a kids comic library. There was a kids Heroes Con passport with specific kid-friendly destinations and activities highlighted and a reward of free comics if you got all of your pages stamped. (This was my idea by the way. Or at least I suggested it to Rico a few years ago. Just sayin'.)
Friday night was the Drink and Draw event. It got moved to the Hilton this year, which I think was a good decision. It was nice having a larger space for the crowd, and the indoor/outdoor option makes it so the fundraiser isn't at risk of being impacted by the weather. Which is good, because it rained. Hard. I think there might need to be a few tweaks for next year (like perhaps more tables for people to sketch on), but this was this was definitely a necessary step in the right direction due to the growing popularity of the event. My favorite moment of the night was seeing Paul and Dustin Harbin sketching together. Paul was drawing a picture of Dustin. Dustin was also drawing a picture of Dustin. On a side note, it makes me happy that all of the OOSA artists showed up and contributed some sketches for the fundraiser. That display of character in my artists makes me proud.
We had our Brand New Nostalgia/Out of Step Arts panel, "I remember when Brand New Nostalgia was cool", on Saturday. It featured Andrew MacLean, Alexis Ziritt, Tradd Moore, James Harren, Paul Maybury, Joe Dellagatta, Brandon Clarke and myself. Was it well attended? Did people remember when BNN was cool? Let's just say that there were a few available seats in the room. Making the best of it, we just had an informal chat about what everyone submitted to the kaBOOMbox Vol. 1 anthology and showed some preview pages. I think it was actually pretty fun and informative for everyone present. And Tradd got a chance to eat his breakfast, so that was good. I think we'll have a video of the talk available for you to see online soon.
Saturday night was the big auction night. I got invited to the pre-auction shindig Shelton puts on for a select few for the first time (which I really enjoyed and appreciated). Free food, open bar, great company. What a way to start the evening! The auction was packed and there were a lot of great pieces available. Pieces from Adam Hughes and Mark Brooks were notably absent, though, because they are typically the big money pieces. Hopefully that didn't effect the overall income of auction since the money raised goes towards putting on next year's Heroes Con. After watching the auction for a bit, I was invited to go out with Ming, Becky Cloonan, and Jimmy Aquino for oysters (which I had never tried before). I spent the rest of the evening/early morning at the Westin bar chit-chatting with folks. I got to talk a long time with my old friend and consummate class-act, Erik Jones, which was nice because we only get to see each other at Heroes Con. I'm happy that his career is taking off and it was good to catch up.
Sunday I was tired. I left at the end of the show to drive back home so I didn't have a chance to go to the Dead Dog party, regrettably. I hope everyone had a good time.
Other quick thoughts and highlights: - Chris Pitzer's and Jim Rugg's mustaches. - Shelton mentioned the museum exhibit that we are working on together during his panel interview with Jim Rugg. It should be on the TMSIDK podcast. - Next year, I am instituting "Saturday Night Suits". Let's class this place up a little fellas. - It was great to see everyone, even though I had to reintroduce myself to some people because I look so different from years past.
Something I'd like to see next year: I'd like to see more publishing companies on the floor. Especially if the con is going to keep the larger space. Being such a well-respected and popular show, there is no reason that companies like Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse and IDW shouldn't come. I'm sure this more of them deciding not to come as opposed to Heroes Con not inviting them.
Something I don't want to see next year: Aquaman. If you saw him, you know what I'm talking about. *Shudder*