23 June 2008

HeroesCon 2008. (Or... thanks Rob's mom!) UPDATED 6/30!

UPDATE 6/30: I keep finding more pics on the web. This one is stolen from the HereosCon blog. On the far right, you can see Brad McGinty, Josh Latta and me. It appears that we are lining up to take a penalty kick.
UPDATE 6/26: Hey hey! People keep posting about the show on their blogs and I keep stealing their pics. These top three are stolen from Brad McGinty's blog.

(Josh Latta on the right and myself on the left. I think this one speaks for itself. And yes, Josh really is seven feet tall.)
(Me taking a picture of Brad taking a picture of me taking a picture of Brad. What happened to the picture of Brad? How knows? What's next?)

(Every time I see J. Chris Campbell he sets my world on fire.)

(That's me on the right. I don't know why I look so surly. I guess my face is just made that way. I had a great time. Really! The pic is stolen from Rob Ullman's blog.)

(The #1 goal of my journey.)

(The hot air balloon I drove under somewhere between my 2nd and 3rd energy drink Saturday morning.)

I had a great time at HeroesCon this past weekend. For a proper report, I suggest you visit The Comics Reporter. For more pics than seem possible you can visit Comics Related. For podcasts of the panels and other goodness visit the Dollar Bin. I'll cover some of the books I picked up at file under other.

(Todd Dezago is one of the nicest guys on earth and when not recollecting on how he wrote some of the better DC comics of the past decade and his new book The Perhapanauts he likes to check out the indie kids on Indie Island.)

I stayed at the Hilton with my Georgia pals Brad McGinty, Josh Latta and Patrick Dean . Hanging out with those guys all weekend would have been reason enough to drive to Charlotte. The fact that there was a comics convention going on was just icing on the cake.

(Even after sharing table space with me at cons for the past six years, Brad McGinty and Josh Latta can still fake smiles in my presence and make me feel good about myself.)

(Patrick Dean is as cool as a Herb Trimpe signed Hulk comic.)

I also got to hang out with most of my favorite comics peeps from the south whom I've gotten to know over the past several years of comic con travels; Rob Ullman, J. Chris Campbell, Andy Runton, Duane Ballanger, Scott Ellingburg, Dean Trippe, Jason Horn, the Dollar Bin guys... and more folks I'm forgetting to name.

(J. Chris Campbell marvels at Duane Ballenger's powers of consumption.)

It was cool to see my pal Robert Venditti. I heard some interesting stuff about the making of the Surrogates movie. You can read about it here. Just scroll down to the post titled "ROLLING!" I was also excited to notice this on the Top Shelf site. I can't wait. I'm super excited about that movie. However, what was better than all of that (at least for my belly) was that Rob's mom made a bunch of food for the Top Shelf gang and friends and I got to enjoy Rob's mom's awesome cooking for breakfast and lunch. Thanks Rob's mom! I really can't over emphasize how awesome it is to not have to worry about tracking down some lunch when you are at a convention. If not for Rob and his mom's generosity, I probably would not have bothered to eat lunch.

I saw some of my new Virginia comics pals like Brian from Cavalier Comics and Jeremy Massie. (Everyone go check out Jeremy's comics. Good stuff.) I was really surprised to see how many creators, dealers and fans from VA were at the show.

I met a lot of cool people I had never met before like Alex Robinson, Jeffrey Brown, Pat Lewis, Stephanie Gladden, Terry Cronin and the Students of the Unusual gang and more indie comics creators than I've ever seen in one place. I met Charlito from Indie Spinner Rack. I really like the show. He looks nothing like I expected. I met Tom Spurgeon and Heidi MacDonald. I read both of their blogs every day. They were both very nice. I got a sketch from Jaime freaking Hernandez! Thanks to Patrick Dean, I was able to get my oldest Hulk comic signed by Herb Trimpe. It was cool to be a guest and set up shop with my pals from Cute Girl Demographics but it would have been just fine to have walked around all day meeting all the talent in the room. There were so many creators it was nearly overwhelming.

(The shining beacon of hope that is the Cute Girl Demographics table.)

Charlotte is such a nice clean relaxing city and Shelton and the gang go out of their way to make sure that everyone has a good time. And I do mean everyone. The fans, the kids, the parents, the creators, the dealers... everyone. And the whole staff is super nice and never flustered. From the check-in desk to the security to the concession stand. Smiles all around.

(My chunk of Indie Island sand.)

(On the right side of this pic you can see Brad teaching me how to do the dance from the Scooby-Doo title sequence. Pic stolen from Comic Related.)

The show itself was a dream for me as a fan. More talent than I could even get to in two days. I had a good time as a creator too. Hanging out with all the fine folks on Indie Island and looking through all their great stuff was a blast. The fans at the show are great and I had a lot of fun doing some sketches and selling some books. As a creator would I have liked to have sold more books? Oh, of course but you always wish you sold more books. I worked in book retail for seven years and I can't remember one single day where the other managers and I stood back and said, "wow, we sold more books today than we could have ever wanted". You always want more, the grass is always greener etc. Sales did feel slower at this show but when I did the math after I left I realized that I had a pretty good weekend. Times are tough. Money I would have normally spent I was saving for gas. I spent less so I shouldn't fault the con attendees for spending less. A lot of us were lamenting the slow sales and I've seen some talk around the blogosphere about how the indie crowd did poorly at this mainstream con but to that I would like to say this; if you want the mainstream comics audience to buy your books you can wait around for them to magically want your books or you can take your books to the mainstream audience and show that audience how great they are. It won't happen overnight and it won't happen at just one Indie Island appearance. You can lead the horse to water buy you can't make it drink. Sometimes you have to wait on the horse to get thirsty and you have to keep the trough full. The way I see the whole Indie Island thing is that Dustin and Shelton have built a trough of magic indie water right in the middle of a mainstream horsie playground. Right now the horsies have plenty of mainstream water to drink so they are not thirsty but if we keep the indie trough full they will notice that the water is nice and cool and tastes really good. I'm not about to tell publishers or creators how to spend their time and money. I'm just saying that I think Indie Island is a great idea and I hope it will continue to be supported.

A big thank you to Shelton Drum for making HeroesCon such an enjoyable experience year after year. A big thank you to Dustin Harbin for making Indie Island so much fun for me both as a creator and especially as a fan. And a big thank you to all the dealers without whom these things probably would not be possible. I shake a lot of hands at comics shows but I probably need to spend more time shaking the hands of the guys that actually make the whole business possible. Thanks dealers!

(You can't say that Indie Island was hurting for customers.)

And now some random unrelated thoughts on the weekend:

The talk of the show? I can't say but the conversation I heard most often around Indie Island and the bar at the Westin was about how badly we all want Archie comics to not suck.

People really dislike Ian Harker. It says a lot about the impact Ian Harker has had when multiple people at a show Ian Harker is not at (and may have never been at) and mention how much they dislike Ian Harker.

The pros read the message boards. (See above.)

People love the boobies. My Phillip! book with the boobie cover outsells my other foldies every time.

People love Stormtroopers. People still ask me when I'm going to do more My Dad the Stormtrooper Strips. I think it's been about four years since I drew one and people still ask me about it. I'll set the record straight now. Yes, there is an outline for a full length Dadtrooper comic. It involves secret origins and disco. Will I ever draw it? Who knows? If I did, would Lucasfilm let me print it? Probably not.

Drawing standing up is hard.

No matter when you enter the parking garage, the correct time to leave the parking garage is Sunday afternoon after the attendants have left and don't let the lady behind the desk in the lobby tell you otherwise.I look enough like my bio comics for a person to recognize me. (Which is kind of sad because I always try to draw myself kind of goofy looking. The truth hurts.)

I need to think of a response for when people say "I like your work". That one always stumps me. I'm thinking to myself, "you think this stuff looks like work?"

The best thing about being a "guest" is that you get to watch the sassy security guard ladies tell everyone else to get in line and pass though the turn stall properly but you get waved through with a big smile and they call you "sweetie".

Phat Burrito has not changed at in the three years since I was last there. And that's a good thing!

"Draw you as a hot chick" is the best con sketch idea ever.

(Scott Ellingburg is a hot chick thanks to Brad McGinty.)

Even though I didn't do a lot of shopping I picked up some good stuff. Please visit file under other in the next day or so for a rundown of what I got.

Your best pal ever,

Shannon Smith

p.s. If any of you readers have sketches I drew at the show and have a scanner or digital camera handy I'd love for you to send me a jpeg I can post up here in bloggy town. Thanks!
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