heroes con 2013

we were in north carolina last week for heroes con. the con has been running for over 30 years and has a reputation for being maybe the best east coast convention, with a family atmosphere and emphasis on comics and comic creators–none of the pop culture nonsense that so many other cons have made the focus of their shows. it’s fair to say we were looking forward to this one.

josh and i left early thursday morning, hopping on a train, where we met up with our roomie for the weekend, ulises farinas. ulises is a fantastic artist and an easy guy to spend 13 hours on a train with. here’s the cover to his book coming out in july…

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there’s not much to say about a 13 hour train ride. we traded comics biz stories (shame on some people out there, ha) and ate lousy train food and discussed the eternal subject, women. we got into charlotte around 9 pm and headed for the hotel. andrew had flown in earlier and scouted out the bbq options, which, by the time we unwound and ulises had donned his RATTICUS costume, were limited. who’s RATTICUS, you ask?

we wound up eating at QUEEN CITY Q, a middle of the road BBQ restaurant that had good ribs, terrible brisket, and weak drinks.

friday was set-up time, and we were in INDIE ISLAND, along with the pittsburgh boys (jim rugg, jasen lex, ed piskor, and tom scioli), chris pitzer of ADHOUSE BOOKS, rafer roberts, and some other folks i’m spacing on right now. we were tabled next to chad bowers, who was from the area and a real nice guy to be stuck next to for 3 days. chad did a bunch of ‘terrible sketches for $1’ over the course of the 3 days, and they were all worth a chuckle. the show got off to a slow start, sales-wise (more on that to come), so i decided to hit the floor, say hi to some folks, and try to get creators signed on to our LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM project.

i saw neal adams with only 1 or 2 people around him and figured what the hell, i’d give it a shot. after listening to some hilarious off-color stories about roy thomas and stan lee from neal, i pitched him nemo. i was excited and a little abuzz when, without too much work, he said yes. this kicked off a pretty spectacular weekend of recruiting creators for the project. when i got back to the table to hear sales were slow but josh had talked to–and gotten a yes from–peter bagge, the tone and type of weekend it was going to be was set. before the end of the day, tom scioli, ed piskor, nick pitarra, shawn crystal, and ben marra had all joined in. we also got to meet drew moss, who illustrated one of the stories in ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE and is doing stuff at IDW now. drew is a swell guy, great finally meeting in person. Continue reading

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from here to fabletown & back

last week we set out for minnesota and the FABLETOWN convention. i took a train instead of flying. long train rides are equally relaxing and a test of endurance. i was able to hole up in the cafe car once it closed and stretch out and read. Image pulling through the country and approaching minnesota i was struck by the emptiness and isolation of the countryside. vast open spaces dotted with a small house here and there. it seemed silent and lonely, and reminded me of an abandoned civilization. i arrived in FABLETOWN thursday night, after an amusing shuttle ride from the train station into rochester, host city of the convention, in which i learned that another word for a skunk is ‘wood’s pussy’.  i met up with andrew and josh, who had flown in earlier in the day, and we set off to explore downtown rochester after dark. you don’t see many people out on the streets, owing to the cold and the fact that all of the big buildings are connected by skywalks as well as an underground walkway. this was new to us, and added to the surreal, alien feeling of the place. we walked around and found NEWT’S, a bar&burger joint heartily recommended by andrew’s cab driver. apparently they had a burger named THE JUICY LUCY, and if you poked her with your finger she squirts. a somewhat odd endorsement for a burger, but we bit. none of us tried out the old girl, but josh had a mammoth burger that had to be 2000 calories: Image that’s a bacon cheeseburger with fried onions wrapped in two grilled cheeses. with some kind of mayo sauce slathered on it. the peanut butter bacon burger i tried seemed genteel & dainty by comparison. back at the hotel, andrew and i planned how to maximize the handsomeness at josh’s command.Image friday was the start of the con, and we were up early and ready to set up. a bellman from our hotel, caleb, helped us bring our boxes over to the civic center. little did we know that caleb would help turn us into a hot commodity when we gave him a copy of ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE. Image Image Image this was the before. there’s no after. i got caught up and never got the pics. the con got rolling, and we had a good response to the book right off the bat. and it wasn’t long before we met our biggest fan, jacob. jacob, we adore you.jacobby the time the opening ceremonies kicked off at 5 we already knew this was going to be a great trip. bill willingham, creator of FABLES, was the host of FABLETOWN, and he took to the stage during the opening ceremonies to set the tone for the weekend and introduce some of the folks most responsible for putting this show together. Image stephanie cooke, seen here behind bill apparently updating her OK CUPID profile, is bill’s assistant and a delightful, thoughtful wonder. the empty chair belongs to brad thomte, bill’s partner in crime. brad’s a high-energy fount of enthusiasm. next to him is stacy sinner. it turns out stacy runs the prisons in rochester and the surrounding area. she also is a warm, accommodating, charming woman who made me smile when she told me i was one of her favorite characters from the whole weekend. she likes red wine. if you see her, buy her a glass. speaking of wine…

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