(photo by Matt Knapik)
I spent last weekend in Charlotte, NC at the Heroes Convention. It's always a great time, well-run and just about the friendliest con in the biz, thanks to the awesome staff led by Shelton Drum, Dusty Harbin and Shawn Reynolds. Also, it's a great chance to hang out for a few days with all my awesome comics pals: J Chris Campbell, Duane Ballenger, Josh Latta, Brad Mcginty, Justin Gammon, and so many others! Being a dad and, well, old, I seldom have an opportunity to geek out and drink for three straight days, so the annual weekend in Charlotte fits the bill.
Some memorable and enjoyable stuff from this year:
• Catching a ride to Charlotte from Greensboro with Ben Towle. I've known Ben for years, but, usually seeing him at cons and larger gatherings, I haven't had the chance to speak to him one-on-one for any appreciable length of time. He's just a smart, hilarious and fascinating dude. Next year, maybe I'll offer to drive!
• Having so many folks coming up to talk about hockey in general and the Penguins Stanley Cup win in particular. I wore my Brooks Orpik/#44 Penguins t-shirt on Friday and gave anyone who said "How about those Pens?" or some such one of the little Pens Girl stickers I made up before the show. There were more than a couple folks who remembered the ignominious details of my Stanley Cup bet with Jeffrey Brown last year, so it was nice to be able to take a little more pride in this year's showing. Also, Rachelle of Living Between Wednesdays, a Nova Scotia native like Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, surprised me with the front and sports pages of the Halifax Chronicle Herald from the day after Game Seven. A rare treat!
• MAN-DAR! We hosted a screening in our hotel room of Brad Mcginty's new animated sword-and-sorcery spoof on Friday night, and it was almost-pee-your-pants hilarious. The twenty or so folks we had crammed into our room were cracking up so loudly that the staff had to come up and yell at us. Even cooler, we used a projector to screen it on the massive window shade, creating an 11th floor show for those outside as well. Wish I had a photo of that!
• I scored some great con deals...the first volumes of both the MAD Archives (which DC put out a few years back) and Kurtzman's Two-Fisted Tales...for ten bucks each! Retail on each of them is $50...that's the find of the show right there. I also picked up the New Frontier Martian Manhunter figure for $3, and managed to talk a guy down to less than half price on the Jim Aparo Batman: Black and White statue. Aparo's Batman was the one I grew up with, and they did a great job on this supremely geeky item.
• The last several years, I've gotten up a little bit early and gone for a several-mile run down past the Panthers' stadium on Saturday morning. It's a great way to clear the head before the biggest day of the show, and it makes consuming nothing but crap food and alcohol for three consecutive days feel a lot less dangerous.
On the not so good side, there was the fact that I had so few books to sell...well, so few expensive books to sell. I had a preview of the new Atom-Bomb Bikini book on the table, and a lot of folks took a gander...I woulda sold a shit-ton of 'em if I'd had them there. Ah well, there's always next year. My other books all seemed to do fine, including my new mini-comic collection of the Traffic & Weather strips from Richmond Magazine, and (to my surprise) the super-gay Atom-Bomb Banana Hammock, which lots of people really got a kick out of and really seemed to genuinely enjoy. It was awesome.
I did a lot of sketches for folks as well, and though my on-the-fly chops aren't in the neighborhood of some of my peers, I do feel like my con sketches have gotten a lot stronger in the last couple years. I didn't bring a camera (it went to Aunt Sandra's lake house with mom and Evie), so I didn't get photos of any of 'em, but maybe they'll end up on Comic Art Fans or somewheres.
Alas, not having any photos to talk about probably also means that's about all there is to tell...In fact, I had to steal the one of J. Chris Campbell, Dollar-Binner Brian Eison and myself at the top of this post from Heroes' Flickr stream! I promise to take tons of 'em in San Diego next month, where JCC and I are headed next!