Once Upon a HeroesCon
I don’t write a whole lot about comics for this site. When I came on staff, I came on as a movie/TV guy, and that’s mostly what I’ve stuck to outside of a random interview here and there. That does not mean that I am not a comics fan; I just don’t follow the goings on of the industry that much, but sometimes you’ve just got to write about comics.
My parents took me to my first real comic convention in 1995, and that convention was HeroesCon in Charlotte, North Carolina (we had been to DragonCon the year before, but that’s another type of convention all together). This was the first year the convention, started by Shelton Drum in 1982 as an off-shoot of his Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find comics shop, had been held in the newly built Charlotte Convention Center. Prior to this, I had been to a few local “conventions” which were literally just retailers getting together to sell single issues out of long boxes. Remember; in the mid-nineties trades were just becoming the norm and the internet was in its infancy. If someone wanted a back issue they didn’t have, this was generally your best shot of finding it outside of your local comic shop.
HeroesCon was a revelation to me. Not only did they have all sorts of retailers selling their wares, but the amount of creators there was amazing to my fifteen year old self. I met Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti (there promoting the oft-forgotten Ash), William Messner-Loebs, and was even able to get a bootleg Japanese VHS of the then still in theaters Pulp Fiction. HeroesCon 1995 will always hold a special place in my heart.
It would be over a decade before I attended another HeroesCon, but since 2006 I have only missed one. Although I have been to other conventions since then, I always prefer Heroes due to its focus on comics. While ComicCon and Wizard World along with a slew of others) have become more about all other forms of media, HeroesCon remains true to the art form that started it. It’s a place where a comic fan can truly have a good time and meet like-minded people.
One of the big things I’ve noticed in the past nine years, beyond a noticeable increase in attendance, is the cosplay culture that continues to grow. Although I don’t partake in it myself, it is good to know that what was once a decidedly small and creative subset of h fans has grown by leaps and bounds. In 2006, I would say less than ten percent of the attendees were in any kind of costume; in 2015, I would put that statistic at over twenty five percent. The times are surely a changin.’
Long gone are the days from my childhood when comics were seen as something only nerds and weirdos were interested in; now comics, or graphic novels as the media likes to call them, are hip. The cynic in me questions how long it can last, but I choose to be an optimist on this matter. Although superhero movies will eventually lose their appeal (probably sooner rather than later), I am hoping that comics have turned a corner. Although the industry might be heading for an inevitable bust, I don’t think it will be as harsh as the one in the mid to late nineties after the speculator boom. I also hope that new digital means of publishing will allow more independent artists to get their work out there.
Above all else, I just want comics as an art form to survive. HeroesCon reminds me every year of how important comics have been to me throughout my life, and how great the culture surrounding them can be. Comics taught me to love storytelling and art, and also helped me through some tough times in adolescence and beyond. I am pretty sure that most people at HeroesCon, or any other Con across the world for that matter, can relate to that. There are no outsiders at a comic convention.
Until next time…