Friday, December 30, 2011

A Return to Exile (for me too!)

Heather already wrote a little bit about our unplanned hiatus from blogdom, but I thought I'd add my own two cents to the conversation.  2011 was a roller coaster of a year, but I'm thankful that we ended the year on a happy note by getting married in December.  So while my better half was busy working 3 jobs and setting up her new law firm what was I busy doing?  My job at Heroes keeps me busy for 40 plus hours a week, and I'm thankful to be at a place where I enjoy the work.  In addition to my regular role as the warehouse manager I've been writing a lot for the Heroes blog, including reviews, my weekly Spotlight column, conducting interviews, and acting as one of the editors of all of it.  

Music also seems to be slowly starting to creep out of thought and back into action again as loose collaborations have begun with a few talented friends.  It may well be too soon to talk too much about this potential new lineup of American Motel, but if things continue to progress, rest assured you'll hear about it here.  It won't be for a few more weeks though, as a somewhat serious injury to my guitar chording hand has taken a bit longer to heal than I would have liked.

Beyond that I've been thinking and writing a lot, trying to get to the point of confidence where I can work on the creative side of comics.  There are a few ideas starting to congeal, and with any luck at the very least I'll have a story in this year's Sketch Charlotte Free Comic Book Day Anthology.  Maybe if the self doubt subsides there might be a few other things as well.  It's tough to make any real progress when you find ways of defeating yourself before you ever really get started on a project.  That's an issue that can only be addressed by writing (or playing) through it, and having the determination to get pen to paper in spite of any reservations.

So with that thought, you will definitely have a chance to read more from Heather and I on Exile on Plain Street in 2012, albeit on a more reasonable schedule.  Aside from my musings on comics, music, and creativity, you may well learn of some music and comics that I'll be working on in the coming year. Happy New Year everybody.  Hope it finds you well.
The photo above is by the wonderful Jennifer Parker of Fire Wife Photography

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Return to Exile

It seems we took an unplanned and unannounced hiatus from the blog.  While nothing has been going on here since September, a lot has been going on in our lives, both personally and professionally.  

On December 1, Seth and I were married and have been settling into our home together.  I'm also in the process of opening a law office in Mount Pleasant, North Carolina.  Mount Pleasant is in Cabarrus County, just outside of Concord, which will be the home county of our practice.  For non-local readers, this is right outside of Charlotte.  My law partner, Paula Yost, is a federally licensed intellectual property attorney (which means she does patents, copyrights, and trademarks).  The renovations to our office should be kicking off soon and you'll be able to follow our progress at our site for the Country Law Shack.  We're also building our professional website which I will also eventually link here.  

Seth and I are both excited for the new year and will be sharing with you all the comics news we're looking forward to in 2012.  It's good to be back!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: Habibi By Craig Thompson

As part of our recent trip to this year’s Small Press Expo in Maryland, I had an opportunity to pick up an advanced copy of Craig Thompson’s eight years in the making new book, Habibi.  Thompson has had something of a meteoric rise to fame, with an acclaimed first book Goodbye, Chunky Rice, and his next book Blankets becoming a nationwide phenomenon and Eisner Award winner.  Blankets was a rare comic, a 500+ page original graphic novel memoir that went on to sell thousands of copies and inadvertently become a gateway comic for countless new readers.  Thompson followed Blankets with Carnet De Voyage, a much shorter work that was more travel journal than distinct narrative.  It has been known that Thompson’s newest book Habibi was being worked on for the better part of a decade.  Fans and critics alike have been curious about what kind of book Habibi will be, and whether or not it could live up to the subsequent hype created by the success of Blankets.  Once we got back from Maryland I took it upon myself to read Habibi and post some thoughts about it here on the Heroes blog in hopes of giving you all some idea about what you might expect from this massive book.

The first and most obvious aspect of Habibi is that it represents Thompson’s continued interest in creating long form graphic novels as opposed to serializing longer stories in the same way that creators like Adrian Tomine or Chris Ware typically might.  Thompson admits that there are positives and negatives to this publishing ideology, but the fact that he now has two 500+ page original graphic novels in his catalog is indeed an impressive feat, especially when you remember he’s only in his mid thirties.  These hefty works demand a great investment from readers, but if you see that a creator has put so much time and energy into a work, the book seems to offer a substantial potential for gravity, depth, and hopefully a high degree of entertainment.

While large comics do signify the creator’s dedication to story and craft, they don’t necessarily mean they are always good, entertaining comics.  How does Habibi stand on its own merit?  Habibi is quite an accomplishment because, if anything, it clearly shows how much Thompson wanted to grow and progress in his art after Blankets.  It might’ve been tempting to churn out a follow up to that story and tell another autobiographical story, but Thompson went to an entirely different well for Habibi.  It’s a Middle Eastern story that owes as much to Islamic history, poetry, art, and symbology as Blankets did to Thompson’s own Christian upbringing. Thompson isn’t Muslim, and didn’t necessarily grow up with an understanding or appreciation for cultures outside of his own, but his attention to detail is beyond meticulous.  Every pattern and example of calligraphy, though based on existing examples of Islamic art and history, was painstakingly reproduced by Thompson’s brush.  The fine adornments, chapter fronts, and panel frames weren’t cut and pasted from a computer, but drawn by hand.  To me this exemplifies that Thompson not only wanted to push himself as a cartoonist, but wanted to be very respectful to the traditions and forms that inspired this book.

Beyond Thompson’s clear motivation to make Habibi an accurate and appropriate Middle Eastern tale, it’s worth noting that there are several entertaining chase scenes and action sequences in the book.  I’ve heard from some who didn’t like Blankets that they thought it was too emotional, and not necessarily a story that demanded a visual interpretation.  Habibi reminds us that Thompson is acutely aware that comics are a visual medium, and that he understands and enjoys crafting pages filled not just with fine adornment, but with fluid movement.  The characters of Zam and Dodola are often in life-threatening situations, and that sense of danger is clearly evident, especially in the way Thompson depicts their faces and body language.  While Blankets was very much about individuals growing up in a strict fundamentalist environment, Habibi deals with characters maturing and changing amid a place of relegated status where their lives are often threatened.  For that reason the stakes seem dramatically higher in Habibi, and thus considerably more heavy in their global sense of relevance.

Somehow amid all the danger, Thompson maintains the thread of Habibi’s love story.  Blankets also had a love story, but while its focus was on young people still discovering their identities, Habibi’s love story exists between two very scarred individuals who allow themselves to know love in spite of their tremendous personal struggles.  While we see the characters age from young children to adulthood and witness their individual tragedies, we see them come to terms with their respective scars and still accept love in spite of their pasts.  The characters truly seem to need each other in order to fully realize their own true selves, and that necessity doesn’t come across as contrived or forced.  This feels like a story that could have already or may yet happen.

Habibi gives us plenty of evidence that Thompson has matured in his storytelling and his cartooning.  There is perhaps no better example of that than by simply noting that Habibi is a comic of layers, where symbolism and parallels exist amid the characters and scenes, but are also made more resonant by their reflection of Middle Eastern numerology, spirituality, and philosophy.  Blankets was in part about Thompson’s struggle to accept his fundamentalist upbringing and find his own voice amid that belief system.  Habibi is set in an equally fundamentalist culture, but here faith and the hope it brings act as a buoy for the characters.  Faith is something that the characters have even when everything else is against them.  The characters’ understanding and use of their faith is exemplified by the numerous inclusions of Islamic symbology, and while they give us a better sense of the characters’ identities, they are also a smart method Thompson uses to incorporate themes and symbology he wanted to illustrate in this story.

As with any creator who has a huge commercial and critical success, all their subsequent works will inevitably be measured against that previous work.  It wasn’t hard for me to read Habibi as its own story, but it is hard for me to talk about it now that I’ve read it without noting that this was made by the same guy who created Blankets.  While the stories have some similarities between them, Habibi stands out as a much denser, detailed, adult story reflective of an older, wiser cartoonist at work.  There certainly are some darker, more mature elements to Habibi, but they aren’t included gratuitously.  Thompson carefully researched Middle Eastern history, art, literature, and spirituality, and with Habibi adds his own mark to those centuries old stories.  Regardless of how you react to Habibi, I doubt anyone who reads this book can experience it without at least respecting the continually refining craftsmanship of Craig Thompson as a writer, cartoonist, and storyteller.

Originally published on the Heroes Aren't Hard to Find Blog

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Upcoming Event: SPX (Small Press Expo)

Greeting, Gentle Readers.  Long time no blog for me.  To be honest, writing has become a struggle for me lately.  Luckily, SPX comes along next month to give me something to be excited about and hopefully kick me out of this writer's funk.  

Last year was my first SPX and I found it to be a great convention for exploring independent comics.  You'll find some of the smaller (in size, but not awesomeness) publishers like Adhouse Books and Top Shelf Comics, but most of the rows of table occupying the ballroom of the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center are self published artists and writers. 

SPX is where I was first introduced to excellent Pittsburgh talents, Pat Lewis and Ed Piskor.  Pat won me over with his adorable cartoon style and Ed won me over with his love of Public Enemy.  (On a sad note, it appears they will not be at SPX this year according to the current list.  Neither will the fabulous J. Chris Campbell.  I will miss him so very much on the road to Bethesda.)  SPX is a wonderful con to interact with creators a more personal level.  Sure, they're still behind a table, but there's a more relaxed vibe to this smaller setting.   

I'm also really excited about the Ignatz Awards this year which are being hosted by Charlotte's very own, Dustin Harbin.  The Ignatz Awards honor comics from graphic novels to web comics as well as new talent and outstanding artists.  The nominees are also voted on by those who attend SPX.  I'm sure Dusty will bring his very own special flair to the awards show as he has to HeroesCon auctions in the past.  Is it wrong to hope for costume changes and maybe a little Dharbin Drag?

While I will be sad about some of last year's artists missing in action this year, I am excited about picking up some new books from some old favorites.  I'm looking forward to picking up some more adventures of Ms. Sassypants, the guinea pig who is also a P.I., by Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie YueJoey Weiser will be debuting a Monster Isle mini comic, Big Monster Stuff, that looks absolutely adorable.  I read all of his published Mermin after Fluke and just loved it.  Rob Ullman will have his Animal Alphabet sketchbook which collects all his animal sketches from A-Z.  I really enjoyed all the Animal Alphabet sketches and hope more of the artist who participated collect their works.  I'll also be picking up Remake Special by Lamar Abrams.  There are a lot of great debuts planned and SPX has done us a great benefit by listing them all for those of us who plan their purchases. 

On the debut list is Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami, which is Japanese manga book being released in the US by NBM.  I've never read any manga, but I am drawn to the cover of a small white dog surrounded by yellow flowers.  The story sounds like something I would like as well-a man down on his luck drives away from his life with only his dog.  Who doesn't feel like that sometimes?

I'm also planning to pick up Don't Mess with the Pink Voo-Doo Bunny by Jim8ball and Messed Up Fairy Tales 3 (I hope they have the first two as this book sure does look fun) by the Draw Sucka! artists.  I'm sure I'll see even more mini-comic goodness while there that will draw me in.  I started hoarding cash for SPX a few weeks ago.  Last year, I learned a lot of about my buying habits (cute animals draw me in).  When buying comics from a previously unknown person, I tend to gravitate towards the pleasant and engaging people.  Desperation and aggression send me the other way.  I was also surprised by the off-putting attitude by a few of the exhibitors last year.  A smile goes a long way in making a sale.

We'll be road-tripping to this one with the Dollar Bin.  If this results in any recordings, I'll be sure to link them here.  I'm hoping we'll make what should become an annual side trip to 7-11.  We don't have these down in NC anymore and it's fun to pick up the slurpee of the month.  

SPX is September 10-11 at:

Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center
5701 Marinelli Road.
North Bethesda, MD 20852
Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tales from Reboot Hill

     Thus far I've kept relatively quiet about DC's upcoming reboot/relaunch of their titles.  Too often I've only seen or heard cut and dry comments that were either lavishly praising or harshly condemning this gutsy move.  At the end of the day, once all these books are published, the result will be nothing that unlike what we've seen in the past.  Some of the books will be surprisingly good, some will be as bad as we're expecting, most will be be mediocre, and maybe, just maybe, a few will be really enjoyable examples of comics entertainment.  Can these books really all be great or poor?  Of course not.  That's not how comics, or music, or films, or anything work.  This move does seem to signify several larger issues that are slowly affecting the whole industry.

     What I haven't seen or heard many people acknowledging is that for the past several months Marvel has been releasing new #1 issues (at least one a month) for most of their primary characters.  If you add it up (Invincible Iron Man, The Mighty Thor, Captain America, FF, Daredevil, Uncanny X-men, Incredible Hulk, Defenders, Avengers, and then some), it's pretty clear that they've been employing the same basic strategy as DC, albeit in a likely wiser method of spreading them out over a longer stretch of months.  Nonetheless, they are providing the market with both a greater quantity and frequency of new relaunching #1 issues than we've probably seen in recent years.
An excerpt from Eddie Campbell's Alec
     As a comics retailer I appreciate the idea that someone could conceivably walk into the store and find several books that can ease them into specific character's worlds.  If someone saw the Thor movie, they might be hesitant to buy issue #615 just because the weight of 600 + Thor issues can be intimidating.  If they see an issue #1 (or anything in the single digits) they will be much more likely to pick it up and give it a try.  Longtime readers are a bit different in that they can be understandably weary and jaded about big publishing events or relaunches.  These readers have undoubtedly seen that relaunches or reboots don't always translate into quality comics.  The worry from a retail standpoint is always that if a relaunch isn't very good, it might not only put off existing readers, but also might not sustain any new readers over a substantial period of time.  Isn't it true that anything that gives people a chance to read comics with ease is ultimately a good thing?  Well, yes and no.  I welcome new comics readers however we can get them, but I can't help but feel that all these reboots and new #1 issues are indicative of a greater problem.

     In past decades, or at least in the '80's and '90's of my memory, there were always limited series and occasional new ongoing titles being launched, but if you wanted a good jumping-on issue, you usually had to wait until a new story arc started.  Yes, Action Comics, Detective Comics, Amazing Spider-man, Avengers, Uncanny X-men, and most other big titles had hundreds of issues, but that longevity meant something to me as a kid.  It suggested sustainability of both story and character.  I can't help but think that with the advent of new technologies that have made life so much quicker and information so much more readily available, comics readers new and old are exhibiting more traits of instant gratification.  Titles that reach hundreds of issues might not be as attractive to new readers as they used to be.  More than this, I'd argue that this instant gratification way of thinking by readers is also present in comics publishing plans.

     It's a good marketing strategy on both Marvel and DC's parts to attempt to both capitalize and lead readers into their film properties through their comics (and vice versa).  I just have to question the overall quality control of book when writers and artists know they'll be laying the groundwork for a new #1 issue down the road, or a new costume design, or a death or rebirth, or a company-wide event.  Is this kind of methodology really conducive to long term creativity and character development?  I know comics aren't Shakespeare or Faulkner, but they do still have the potential for great storytelling.  Let's hope solid creators will still navigate the big publishers and find ways of telling entertaining, well-crafted stories.
Another excerpt from Alec

     If you've read Exile on Plain Street before, you know it's not our style to only write about things we dislike in comics.  There are plenty of talking heads, blogs, and podcasts willing to point out the negatives, but sometimes fail to see the redeeming qualities.  So in the interest of encouraging this medium I love so much, here is a list of comics I've recently read, reread, or am anticipating, and what I liked (or hope to like) about them.

> Wolverine: Weapon X vol. 1: The Adamantium Men:  I've dug just about everything that Jason Aaron has written, from Scalped, to X-men: Schism, to Ghost Rider. Why do I like this guy's writing so much?  Aside from making me care about characters I never really cared about before (like all of those I just mentioned), he seems to tap into each character's real personality.  And if you can get past a guy with a flaming skull, or a guy with knives in his hands who can't die, you might find a level of depth that reflects a writer who is hellbent on giving very human motivations to very comic book characters.  He's gearing up to start both a Wolverine and the X-men series, and an Incredible Hulk relaunch.  In both cases I'm there, just because of the guy's track record for cranking out consistently well-written comics.

> Alec: How to Be an Artist: I love Eddie Campbell's Alec stories, as well as his collaborations with Alan Moore.  If you can hunt down a copy of this (or A Disease of Language, which collects his poetic collaborations with Moore), you'll be treated to a historical overview of British comics in the '70's and '80's, as well as Campbell's own musings on the development of his own craft.  Alec is one of those books I reread with regularity every year or so because I'm guaranteed to see something new with older eyes.  This is a rare book that actually grows with you as you age and hopefully progress in your own thoughts.

> Snarked! #1Roger Langridge holds a high place on my list of favorite people and creators in comics.  Snarked! is a solid all ages story that owes much to the writings of Lewis Carroll.  As typical of any Langridge book, his inherent joy and love for comics shines through, but what is especially noteworthy of this particular title is that he's clearly relishing the written word as well.  Langridge has already proven his writing chops on books like Fred the Clown, but this one is affording him a chance to recount his appreciation for a famed voice from literary history.

> Rocketeer Adventures: IDW's new anthology series continues to unfold as a love letter to the late great Dave Stevens with comics creators from across the industry paying respectful homage to his most famous creation.  What I like about this series is its' simplicity and the directness in which these creators are working.  Each story is short, to the point, and full of the same type of pulpy adventure that made me love Rocketeer when it first saw print.

> Animal Man #1: Since I started this post on the topic of DC's reboot/relaunch, I'm including this as the book I'm most looking forward to reading.  Sure, Scott Snyder's going to do great with Batman, and Grant Morrison's going to give us a working man's Superman in Action Comics, but this one has a lot of potential in my eyes.  Jeff Lemire's Essex County impressed me when I read it, but I didn't really enjoy The Nobody, or any of his recent DC super hero books.  So why is this one appealing to me?  Aside from the interesting qualities that make Animal Man unique, this book seems to have its' roots in the idea of the super hero as a family man.  Also worth noting is the preview art from Travel Foreman, which seems to suggest that the book will have plenty of horror elements, which should not only balance the super hero and family aspects, but potentially dig into the darker potential of the character.

     So there you have it, some books I've recently enjoyed.  Comics have been an integral part of my life for almost my entire life.  While I am hesitant and concerned about some things that appear to be happening within the industry at this moment, comics remain a vital and important means of communication and storytelling for me.  It would do us all some good to look at things with a critical eye, but also see and talk about good comics when we find them.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"This Dust Makes That Mud," a review of Rodd Racer

Toby Cypress has amassed a nice set of original work in recent years with acclaimed contributions to books like The Tourist, Popgun, Marvel’s Strange Tales II, and this year’s Blue Estate. It was with the recent book Rodd Racer that I finally fully realized why he’s such a respected creator. As one who processes and writes about new comics every week for this blog, I’m always looking for a new book to capture my attention and remind me why I still love comics. On a first read, Rodd Racer succeeds for me because it pays homage to racing strips of the fifties and sixties, with characters like Frank Frazetta’s Johnny Comet serving as one antecedent. In the same way that Cypress respects the visual traditions of the racing strip, his narrative work doesn’t branch too far away from those original narrative structures. The resulting effect is one of instant gratification, whereby readers can enjoy Cypress’ visual craft while remaining unencumbered by an overwrought story.

Sometimes a creator working within a specific sub-genre might be tempted to elaborate on certain elements of a story, thus taking away from some qualities that made those stories work in the first place. Cypress’ story in Rodd Racer serves the purpose of this particular type of comic. The framework suggests a clear, simple backstory of a murdered mentor and a vengeful pupil, a strong female support role, and the inevitable symbolic and literal victory over the immoral. While there aren’t many unexpected plot twists, the natural progression and rhythm of the racing setting act as a wonderful palette for Cypress to explore elements of inky motion.

While Cypress clearly does a great job of achieving motion with his illustration skills, he also adds meter to the book’s momentum with his use of chapter headings. Aside from being the book’s only inclusions of color, the musical and lyrical quotes are intentionally placed to add to the feeling of movement. Aritists like The Misfits, Miles Davis, Beastie Boys, Television, and Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers are all mentioned or quoted. The range from punk, to hip hop, jazz to rock signifies Cypress’ intelligent use of certain songs, genres, and musical forms to accompany the moods and tempos suggested by certain parts of the book. Visual rhythms harmonize with musical time signatures, creating a natural, built-in soundtrack for the book. At the same time, while operating seamlessly within the realm of comics, Cypress also shows us he has an awareness of the properties of film and storyboarding.

Cypress’ greatest achievement with Rodd Racer is that both he and his readers are knowingly cognizant of the multiple ways a comics artist might convey the action of movement. In a way, the necessary sequential mannerisms of the comics form make it ideal for racing narratives. Cypress allows himself to stretch out and play with the spatial relationships of vehicles at high speed, and the passage of time from panel to panel, page to page.

At the same time, Cypress turns the genre slightly on its ear by making the protagonist’s success dependent on the female lead character, thus subverting the damsel in distress or the strictly eye candy roles female characters were relegated to in the heyday of the racing strips. And while the book takes place in an unspecified time, the suggested dark, neon future portrayed reminds us that some stories might be cyclical, but don’t necessarily lose their entertainment value. Rodd Racer is a clear presentation of an artist who, before our eyes, deftly melds the work of his craft with the innate joy of comics. Check it out if you haven’t yet, and enjoy a solid stand alone volume from a talented creator.

author's note: This review also appears on the blog of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find (

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Loose Ends and the Collectivity of Creativity

(Maybe it's the release of the final Harry Potter movie this week, but Seth's title of this post is channeling the Potter books for me.  And now I'm imagining all three of these guys as heroes of the Wizarding World.-Heather)
When I was but a wee comic-reading lad it never dawned on me that comic creators struggled with their art.  Sure, I knew of writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, letterers, editors and such, and I definitely knew that comics didn't magically assemble themselves.  I just happened to be distracted by the dream-like quality that comics always held for me, and assumed that those actively making them must surely operate with their heads at least partially in the clouds.  And yet even in youth while I loved the thought of working for Marvel or DC, I was more interested in getting my own crazy (unintelligible) ideas published.  As I matured, it became readily apparent that thinking about comics as a career choice just wasn't meant to be for me.  Not only could I not draw to save my life, but my writing took on more poetic and scholarly qualities, which don't exactly transfer over to comic writing.  Five years ago though, I get into the retail side of comics courtesy of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, and in my time there I've gained a much greater appreciation for the endless work that goes into making comics.  I've also become friends with several talented people who work professionally in the field.  This week I'm happy that three of those friends finally bring their long-labored comic to the shelves. 

Readers of this blog will know we've talked about the book Loose Ends before.  Heather and I haven't hidden the fact that we think it's a great book, and that we value the art and friendship of its creators, writer/letterer Jason Latour, penciler/inker Chris Brunner, and colorist Rico Renzi.  With the release date for the book looming, Heather and I talked about different ways of promoting the book.  It recently came to me that if I was going to write anything about the book, it would be something where I could talk about how, from the outside looking in, I've seen all three of these guys work tirelessly to make this project the best that they could.

One of the things about being friends with all three of these guys is that I've been around one, two, or all three of them at various points when the book was being worked on.  It might have just been coffee, or lunch, or random conversation, but I was fortunate to see serious-minded artists in a continual state of refining their work.  As someone who has used everything from being tired to feeling 'unproductive' as an excuse for procrastinating or being creatively unproductive, seeing these three hash out parts of Loose Ends served as a frequent encouragement for me to reevaluate my own work ethic when it came to the creative life.  What's even crazier to me is that I've only been friends with these guys for a few years, and the book was already in production for several before that.  The fact that they've not only persevered with the project, but delivered something that is already deservedly receiving glowing critical praise speaks volumes.  What speaks even louder to me is the fact that all three artists have continued to juggle multiple projects and deadlines, all while continuing to keep Loose Ends as one of their top creative priorities.  Cheers to Latour, Brunner, and Renzi for delivering a solid first issue.  Keep the good comics coming!

Loose Ends is also an interesting proposition from the creative angle because of the friendship of the three.  Creators don't always have the option of selecting with whom they work. With the dissolution of the bullpen ideology and the advent of the internet and newer forms of communication, some never even meet their full creative teams.  With Loose Ends, the guys not only live in the same city (and apartment for two of them), they're friends outside of the project.  When asked about this, Jason answered "I've been fortunate that even a good number of the books I've done for hire have involved my friends. But there is always the arbiter of the "job" in those cases. You're both beholden to the person signing your checks to some degree and that makes the lines much clearer. On a creator owned book with a friend you're in interesting territory because outside of the work itself maintaining the friendship becomes a goal. That can be trying but it doesn't have to be a burden. It can be rewarding. Hopefully in the process of working together you can both grow and learn a lot and hopefully come out of it that much better for it. But in terms of the work, it does help the short hand. Knowing someone in real life  can often times make it easier to understand a person's point of view. That can be a big key to collaboration." Chris put it this way, "It's about as different as a family BBQ and a corporate team building exercise."  Having watched the three work together, the family BBQ analogy is rather apt in describing their relationship.

We both wish all three well with the release of Loose Ends.  We asked Jason what he hoped for both professionally and personally from the release today, "I just hope people enjoy it. If you tell one story well you significantly increase your chances to tell more. And really the largest motive I have is that I want to be in the position to tell stories that excite me. That's what I want to do with my life, professionally and personally."

Both Heather and I, as well as all the guys, hope you'll make it out to Heroes Aren't Hard to Find today from noon-2pm or 5pm-8pm to pick up this awesome book (It's over-sized!), a print, and get both signed by all three of these talented people.  If you don't live in town, then hurry out to your LCS and pick up Loose Ends!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Upcoming Event: Loose Ends #1 Release Party at Heroes Aren't Hard To Find.

This Wednesday, July 13, 2011, Heroes Aren't Hard To Find in Charlotte, NC is hosting not one, but two Release Parties for Loose Ends #1 by some of my favorite people in comics: Chris Brunner, Jason Latour, and Rico Renzi.  On Wednesday from noon to 2pm and again from 5pm to 8pm, all three will be on hand for signing copies of the first issue of their Southern Crime Romance mini-series.  If that's not enough to entice you, there will be a Limited Edition Silk Screen Print with purchase of this issue (while supplies last). 

I'm super excited to see the first issue on the stands and to have a copy of my very own to read. 

In fact, we've decided to declare this "Loose Ends Week" here on Exile on Plain Street.  On Wednesday, we'll have an artist spotlight on all three and on Friday, a review of Issue #1. 

Get yourself to Heroes Aren't Hard To Find on Wednesday and share in the excitement!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Comics Review: Remake by Lamar Abrams

I like fun, happy comics and I was immediately drawn to the cover of Lamar Abrams' Remake.  It features a spiky haired blonde robot floating amongst white clouds in a blue sky with a look of contentment on his face. Inside that happy cover are comics following the adventures of that spiky haired robot, Max Guy. 

I normally don't include other write-ups within my reviews, but I absolutely adore the description of Remake on the Adhouse site:  

         Remake is 144 pages of silly action and crazy nonsense. Right now the story focuses on Max Guy, a robot  boy who can't seem to stay out of trouble. He's got this gun called the >MAX BLASTER< that turns things into stuff. Max Guy likes: 1) blue skies, 2) video games and 3) bread pudding. Max Guy hates: 1) mean people, 2) getting beat up, and 3) crap. Tune in to see what the nextgen of comikers is creating!

There's just something so right about a comic book synopsis that reads like the about section of a Playboy centerfold's likes and hates.  Don't those girls always hate mean people or mean dogs?  Max Guy isn't built like a centerfold, but he's a lot more fun in my abet girlish opinion.  When Max isn't battling evil robots and aliens, he's eating Marshmallow Kitties ("real...real life...marshmallow kitties?").  While it looks like an innocent kid's cereal, Marshmallow Kitties, which meow in your spoon, have the dangerous side effect of turning into an angry cat that eats your friends. 

My favorite character, outside of Max Guy, is Cy-Baby, an adorable teddy bear-like robot that uses his holographic powers to trick pretty girls into being his mother and taking care of his for various amounts of time.  I think he's cuter as his robot self than his baby self.

Remake captures one of the best qualities about comics: joy.  Comics should make you smile and laugh.  I appreciate the light hearted  nature of Abrams' art and storytelling.  Max Guy is a robot I would want to hang out with to see what trouble he's going to get himself into next. 

I can't wait to pick up Remake Special from Lamar and Adhouse at SPX in September!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Comics Review: Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my favorite properties.  I've followed it from the movie to the television series to the comic.  I even read some of the BVS fiction (not fanfic have you, but the actually published books). I wasn't sure about how I felt about trading a feisty, sharp witted blonde for a wooden puppet who gets his stakes from his growing nose, but after meeting Van Jensen at Fanaticon in Asheville, NC, I added Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer to my buy pile at HeroesCon.

While Pinocchio is a different kind of cute than Buffy, he has a similar wit slinging one liners at vamps as he prepares to stake them.  Written by Van Jensen and drawn by Dusty Higgins, the comic picks up where the story we're familiar with from childhood ends.  Instead of the happy ending of Pinocchio becoming a real boy, his surrogate father, Geppetto has been murdered by vampires and no one in the village believes Pinocchio's warnings about the creatures of the night in spite of his nose not growing.

For their readers not familiar with the story of Pinocchio (and those who need their memories refreshed), Jensen and Higgins include a three page breakdown of the childhood story.  It may not be exactly how you remember it, but I wish the Disney movie had more of that flavor than I remember.  (Pinocchio is kind of an ass.)  This short intro is one of my favorite parts of the book.  It has more of a cartoon style than the rest of the art and a comic strip lay-out that is the perfect setting for the humor within each tiny panel.  

Pinocchio is an entertaining read that's quite the twist on an old story.  It blends childhood memories with the supernatural in a way that makes perfect sense.  The story is well-written and matches nicely to the art style of the book.

I'm looking forward to picking up Pinocchio: The Great Puppet Theater (Volume 2) at the next convention I see Jensen or Higgins (it looks like that might be SPX).  The best thing about reading a book later in its lifetime is new volumes already being out when you finish!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

We now resume our regularly scheduled broadcast...

Or at least we will in July.  Admittedly, June has been a challenge for both of us in maintaining a schedule of posts here.  Between losing my mother and all that HeroesCon entails on both our parts, this month has been a major readjustment.  With that said, we would like to thank everyone for all the kind words and support for both Seth and I and for our blog.

We plan to return to our previous posting schedule the first week in July and would like to share with you what's coming up here on Exile on Plain Street.

I'm planning on posting a number of HeroesCon Book Reviews, including Remake by Lamar Abrams, Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer by Dusty Higgins and Van Jenson, Wysteria by Brad McGinty and Welcome to Oddville by Jay Stephens.   I'm also contemplating writing about my take on the DC "relaunch" as newer comic fan who hasn't experienced such an event.  Seth will be back to posting on music, comics and various reflections on life. 

There's a lot of look forward to in the coming months.  The first issue of Loose Ends, a Southern Crime mini-series by Jason Latour, Chris Brunner, and Rico Renzi will be out in July.  The first issue of Snarked, a new series by Roger Langridge will be out in August.  September brings SPX, full of small press goodness.  That's just a very small sampling of some of the comic things we're looking forward to. 

Thanks for your patience everybody as we get back on track with our regular posting.

Monday, June 13, 2011

HeroesCon 2011: Heather's Loot!

I love comics and comic art, which means HeroesCon, in addition to being a great place to see friends and meet artists is also a buying bonanza.  I do my shopping quite randomly, starting with picking up books, prints and commissions that I had decided on prior to the con as well as sketches in my Pinky and the Brain and Pippi Longstocking themed sketchbooks.

This year I came away with a number of books, prints, sketches and original art.  Here's the list of what I scored:

-Owly Tiny Tales by Andy Runton
-Owly A Time To Be Brave by Andy Runton
 -Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer by Dusty Higgins and Van Jenson
 -Remake by Lamar Abrams
 -Wysteria by Brad McGinty
-Sketchbook by Chris Schweizer
-Jay La Soul is Dead by Jason Latour
-Son of the Beast by Jason Latour
-Zzzt! by Ashley Holt
-Big Dog Studios Sketchbook Volume 5 featuring Brandon "Big Dog" Padgett, Terence "Tee Minus" Hoskins, and Henry" Cowboy Hank" Eudy
-Welcome to Oddville! by Jay Stephens
-Frankie Get Your Gun by Robbi Rodriguez
-Penny by Gabriel Dunston
-Dollar Bin Assembled Volume 4: Buried Treasure collected by The Dollar Bin

(I've just started reading my books and I plan to review several of them at a later point.  My first read was Lamar Abrams' Remake and I loved it.  I'm about halfway through Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer and I'm really enjoying it so far.)


-Owly Indie Island by Andy Runton
-X-Babies 2010 Badge Art by Skottie Young
-Red Moon by David McAdoo
-Chewy Gets a Light Saber by Bridgit Scheide
-Community as the Avengers by Chris Schweizer

Pippi Longstocking Sketches:

Pinky and the Brain Sketches:
-Scott Beaderstadt

Original Art:
-Sonam by Chris Brunner: I love Chris' frequent postings on the blog he shares with Rico Renzi, The Kids Stick Together.  I loved this piece from the moment I saw it and was overjoyed to be able to pick this up from Chris at HeroesCon.  I adore Chris' work in general, but he really gets how to draw women and this piece is no exception.  I can't wait to get this lady framed and on my wall.

-Parks and Rec Cast as The Invisibles by Robbi Rodriguez: I commissioned this piece prior to HeroesCon at the suggestion of Rico Renzi and I'm so very glad I did.  Robbi's art is amazing and I loved his take on one of my favorite t.v. casts. 

-The Rocketeer by Robbi Rodriguez: So this is technically Seth's, but I decided after seeing all Robbi's pre-con commission appear on-line, I would be remiss not to start Seth's Rocketeer collection with Robbi.  It turned out beautifully and is a great start to his new collection.

-Thor the Mighty Avenger Cover Recreation by Roger Langridge: Seth and I won this marvelous piece at the Art Auction.  It almost makes up for the cancellation of such a great series by Marvel. 

-The Thing and Ladies Beach Scene by Stephanie Buscema:I first saw Stephanie's art when Rico did an interview with her on the Heroes Aren't Hard to Find blog.  I found her style absolutely adorable and happy and I'm so glad Seth and I are the good home her Art Auction piece has gone to.

-Dondi by Irwin Hasen: I've made no secret of my enduring love for Irwin Hasen.  His Dondi peeing on a tree for the Art Auction will eventually grace the wall of where else, but a bathroom!

-Fin Fang Foom by Joey Weiser: When the first Fingy piece Joey had penciled pre-HeroesCon was purchased before I had a chance to stop by, Joey was kind enough to do a second one for me.  I love it more than the first one.  Thanks Joey!

-Fin Fang Foom and the Swedish Chef by Roger Langridge: Roger Langridge naturally combines two of my loves, a dragon in purple pants and Muppets in his resume.  I'm so excited to combine the two in a piece that will look perfect in a kitchen, with the Swedish Chef and Fin Fang Foom cooking together in a way only they could.

-Oz page by Skottie Young: This is a gift from Seth and it features by favorite Oz character, the Cowardly Lion.  I really love the way Skottie draws the Lion.  He's such a big furball!

-Patrick Dean drivers license button
-Reusable bag and t-shirt from Comics Related (Thanks guys!)
-Melvin Collectors Card in the Neatobots series by J. Chris Campbell

It was a super show! I know I mentioned this in my HeroesCon Wrap Up Report, but I really cannot say this enough: THANK YOU to everyone who had words of kindness and hugs for both Seth and me.  It means so much to both of us that so many of you took the time to check on us and take care of us.  I knew I would leave some people in out in my named thank yous the first time around, so here are some additional people: Shannon Smith, Andy Runton, Robbi Rodriguez, and Scott Beaderstadt.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Seth Reflects on HeroesCon '11

     Before I start my post about HeroesCon '11, I'd like to mention that the past few weeks have easily been the most physically grueling and emotionally exhausting weeks of my life.  Other than the obvious mammoth that is HeroesCon, the main reason for my weariness was the unexpected loss of Heather's incredible mother.  I know Heather appreciates all the support she's received from friends and family, but I'd like to take a quick opportunity to mention that I also appreciate it more than I can adequately express.  Going through a loss at any time is difficult, but going through it the week before the busiest professional week of the year adds a whole other degree of complication to it.  I'm particularly grateful to my boss Shelton Drum for understanding my need to be with Heather and her family as much as I was, right up through the funeral.  That's something I'll always appreciate.  Now on to my Con thoughts!

     This is the first year I've been writing for a blog other than Heroes' own, and this affords me a new opportunity to reflect on the Con in a new way.  As difficult as it is to be a part of the organization of the Con, and as physically demanding as the month leading up to the event always is, there are inevitably countless little moments that occur at HeroesCon that make me want to work even harder at my part of it.  This was my fifth year being a part of the HeroesCon management team, and every year in spite of the stress I'm reminded why I love comics and the people who help make HeroesCon work.  It's always the effortless, unplanned things that I remember, and this year was no exception.

     From a 'professional' standpoint I'm very happy that this year marked my first foray into more writing and editing adventures.  Heather and I co-wrote the introduction to the first ever Sketch Charlotte Anthology, which was sold by several group members at the Con.  In addition to that I was humbled to write the introduction for Henry Eudy's "The Pretentious Pervert" sketchbook of lovely ladies.  Heather mentioned how gratifying it was to introduce Henry and his work to the living legend Irwin Hasen. That too stands as one of my favorite moments of the con.  I also got to introduce Henry to another living legend, Roger Langridge, which was another treat for me.  Heather and I love pushing artists we love, and we both admire the hell out of Henry and his work.

     Though I departed Friday night's Drink and Draw function quite early, I was happy to co-create a one page strip for Team Cul de Sac with my friend and Heroes' cohort Justin Crouse, another fine cartoonist.  Hopefully we'll work on some other silly comics in the future.  Another highlight of Drink and Draw was being able to talk with Richard Thompson, who is as kind a man as he is a skilled cartoonist. And I'd be remiss not to mention that it was truly an honor to help edit the HeroesCon program book with Rico Renzi, my friend and tireless Con organizer.  My first HeroesCon was 1994, and to help put the Con and the book together is something I've always aspired toward.

     Aside from the sense of accomplishment that presently accompanies the ever-present exhaustion, I'm thinking a lot about the people I met and talked to, and the ones I see only at conventions throughout the year, but who always make things more enjoyable for me.  There were state of the industry and conventions conversations with Shannon Smith, Joey Weiser, J. Chris Campbell that got me thinking and planning for next year's con.  There were humorous talks with guys I have humorous talks with all the time, Jason Latour and Chris Brunner, who also introduced me to their talented friends Paul Azaceta and Robbi Rodriguez, both of whom were kind enough to start my collection of Rocketeer art.  There were brief talks with Cliff Chiang, Darwyn Cooke, Ryan Sook, John Arcudi and Geof Darrow, all creators whose work I highly respect.  There were several talks with the incredible Stephanie Buscema, whose painting of the Thing was a great score for Heather and I at the art auction. And there were plenty of laughs with the great HeroesCon staffers and volunteers who make my job a little easier and more enjoyable.  Finally, I have to mention my friends Steve Saffel and Dana Hayward, who were full of their usual kindness, encouragement, and insightful conversation.

     At the end of it all though, we're really all there because we love comics.  Much like my assessment of Free Comic Book Day, I walk away from HeroesCon '11 thankful that I was in a place of positivity and love for comics.  For someone who works on the retail side of the industry and also writes about it for two blogs, events like HeroesCon do a lot to help reinvigorate me and my appreciation for the form of comics.  I guess it has never really dwindled much in my life, but we all need weekends where we're reminded of the joy that comics bring us when we allow it.  Don't forget, next year marks the 30th anniversary of HeroesCon.  You better believe me when I say that Shelton, Rico, myself, and the rest of us are already planning big things.  Now, I think, I can take a nap.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

HeroesCon 2011: Heather's Wrap Up Report

Can I admit that HeroesCon is kind of a blur? It was fun, exhausting, and exactly what I needed after one of the hardest weeks of my life. My HeroesCon started early Thursday morning with a stop at Starbucks and ended late Sunday night asleep on one of the pretty yellow benches in the Heroes Aren't Hard to Find store.  In between those two very different moments, a lot of awesomeness occurred. 

Since there's so much to cover, I'm breaking it down day by day (much like I did my pictures on Flickr) as well as some favorite moments.  On Friday, I'll have my HeroesCon loot list up so you can see all the great stuff I picked up from mini-comics to sketchbooks to original art. 

Thursday: Day Zero of HeroesCon involves set-up and registration.  This year I was doing Small Press registration which meant to go to see old friends and make new ones as HeroesCon Small Press checked in and received their super sweet Iron Man badges.  Day Zero also means I get hang out with the ever awesome trio of Steve Saffel, Dana Haywood, and Scott Valeri. Day Zero ended with dinner and drinks in the Westin Bar with Steve and Dana, as well as other HeroesCon staff members drifting in and out. 

Friday: Day one of HeroesCon started early for both Seth and me (Thank God for David Wray and Starbucks!).  The con floor opens at seven for Exhibitors, Small Press and Artists. It's always great to see people you only get to see on the con circuit.  Friday is always full of hugs and hellos for me.  Day One ended with the Drink and Draw  to raise money for Team Cul De Sac.  Richard Thompson, the creator of Cul De Sace, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2009.  Team Cul De Sac helps raise money for research in the fight against Parkinson's.  This new HeroesCon event was a lot of fun, with both the drinking and the drawing.  There were some seriously funny and beautiful coasters.  Yay Team Cul De Sac!!

Saturday: Ah, Saturday, the busiest day at HeroesCon! What better way to end such a full day of comic goodness than with a fabulous Art Auction? You can read more about our Art Auction experience below in my Favorite Moments section. 

Sunday: Day Three is always my shopping day.  It's my real opportunity to be away from the Info Booth for more than errands or quick runs to drop stuff off and take pictures.  On Sundays, I buy mini-comics, sketchbooks and all kinds of other awesome stuff.  Seth and I also stopped by to have Irwin, Roger, and Stephanie personalize all the auction pieces.  Winning at the auction is great, but I really enjoy these moments with the artists where you can share a real appreciation of their art.  I can't wait to get everything framed and on a wall. Seth and I also moderated the Sketch Charlotte panel which was really more like a well-behaved Thursday night meeting with a few new guests.  If you're an artist in Charlotte, somewhere nearby, or just visiting town on a Thursday night, you should stop by the Showmars on 7th Street and hang out!

Favorite Moments:

Introducing Henry Eudy to Irwin Hasen: If you've ever met me, you know I adore Irwin.  I also adore Henry.  When I found out Irwin was going to be there this year, I knew I had to get a copy of Henry's latest sketchbook, The Pretentious Pervert, into Irwin's hands.  Watching and capturing the interaction between two of my favorite people will be one of my most treasured HeroesCon experiences for years to come. 

Winning awesome art pieces at the Art Auction with Seth: I had my eye on Roger Langridge's recreation of Chris Samnee's Thor the Mighty Avenger cover since he posted it before HeroesCon, so you can imagine my excitement when Seth and I won it Saturday night.  We also came away with the Dondi piece by Irwin and the Thing and ladies beach piece from Stephanie Buscema.

Walking to Day 3 of HeroesCon with Irwin Hasen: Speaking of the Stephanie Buscema auction piece, we got to share it with Irwin as we walked him over to the convention center on Sunday.  Irwin knew Stephanie's grandfather, John Buscema, and it was sweet to see how much he liked Stephanie's painting and how impressed he was with her work. 

Doing shots of The Kraken Rum with SCAD students and Chris Schweizer:  This rum is evil, but Schweizer is not and I love him in spite of the rum that stayed in my system for at least two days (seriously, it's slogan is "Put a beast in your belly.").  I also love the friendly relationship between Chris and the SCAD kids.  I met all kinds of great artists from SCAD this weekend and I can't wait to see what they'll be doing.

The Renzi Family: Wow, did Rico ever do a phenomenal job with his first HeroesCon as Creative Director! The best part about Rico at HeroesCon is his awesome family, Janice and Izzy.  Janice very thoughtfully provided snacks for the Info Booth and store booth that really helped us all get through the weekend.  Izzy is a super hard worker and ran a tight ship at the Info Booth! All three Renzis have been a great addition to the Heroes family.

Super Special Thanks Shout Outs: There's so many people that made HeroesCon 2011 fun and awesome for me and this list in no way will cover everyone (if I left you out, let me know in the comments and I will give you a lovely shout out on Twitter).  In no particular order, these people made my weekend, with hugs, food, coffee, and smiles: Janice and Izzy Renzi, Chad Hudson of Apocalypse Comics, J. Chris Campbell, Josh Latta, Brad McGinty, Chris Schweizer, The Dollar Bin (especially Brandon and Tee), Sketch Charlotte, Jason Latour, Chris Brunner, Steve Saffel, Dana Haywood, Scott Valeri, Andy Mansell, Pants (whose name is Dana Haidar), Chris Pitzer, Lamar Abrams, Ed Piskor, Adam Casey and his beard, Ben and Lisa White, The David Wray, Charles Foesch, and all the wonderful and hardworking volunteers.  An extra special thanks to Shawn for the two pounds of jelly beans that were all eaten at the Info Booth! Thanks everyone! I'm already looking forward to HeroesCon 2012, which will be the 30th Anniversary!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Nick Jones Green Lantern signing at HeroesCon

Saturday, June 4, 2011 at HeroesCon, Nick Jones, the actor who plays Jon Stewart in the upcoming Green Lantern movie will be doing a signing from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm in the Heroes Fallen Studios, Inc and Bat Jeepster Rings Booth located at AA-70-71.  This is a newly added location, so please stop by the Information Booth for location directions.  

Heroes Fallen Studios Inc. will provide a free copy of a comic book for all active duty military members who have an active military ID.  

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow for the signing with Nick Jones and all the HeroesCon Saturday fun! 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Come Find Us at HeroesCon 2011!

  Tomorrow is the first day of HeroesCon! Can you believe it's here already? We'll be busy with set-up today at the Charlotte Convention Center and we're realy looking forward to the start of the con.  There's a lot to do, so other than maybe a short post tomorrow, this will be our stand-in for our regularly scheduled Friday post.

There's so much to choose from at this year's HeroesCon from Artist Alley to Indie Island to panels and vendors, we thought it would be nice to give you a head's up where you can find some of our favorites this year! Look at that awesome map showing Sketch Charlotte members!

AdHouse Books: AA-536

Wide Awake Press: AA-438 (Well, this is J. Chris Campbell's number, but he's the heart of WAP and will point you to all other Wappies.)

Andy Runton: AA-444

Roger Langridge: AA-518

Henry Eudy: AA-336

Chris Brunner: AA-612

Jason Latour: AA-611

Irwin Hasen will be in The Comic Strip-5.  This is the area set up for all the wonderful strip artists. If you are unfamiliar with Irwin, you owe it to yourself to go meet a living piece of comics history.  Irwin will be 95 this year and while I hope he lives to be 195, chances to meet him again grow less and less each year, so go see Irwin and take the time to hear some his glorious stories of Wonder Woman, Dondi, and his life in general.  Pick up a copy of his auto-biography, Lover Boy.  It might be your best experience at HeroesCon this year.

In addition to the fine folks mentioned before, Seth is particularly excited about talking with:

Darwyn Cooke: AA-508

Stephanie Buscema: AA-519

Becky Cloonan: AA-632

Geof Darrow: AA-716

Andrew Robinson: AA-618

Ryan Sook: AA-510

along with Joe Staton, Mark Texiera, Chris Pitzer, Cliff Chiang, Chris Schweizer, Skottie Young, and many more!

     Seth and I will be moderating a panel on Sunday with our friends from Sketch Charlotte.  Here are the details:

3:00 PM
Room 203B

Who are SKETCH Charlotte and what are they doing loitering in Showmars every Thursday evening? Find out as we wind down on Sunday afternoon as we are invited to eaves drop on a special meeting of the Queen City artists as they discuss Comics in general and HeroesCon 2011 in the specific. What a great way to end a memorable weekend.

If you're looking for one of us, Seth will be in the Heroes Store Booth or roaming the con floor to keep everyone smiling and I will be the Info Booth with a smile and plenty of information! We hope to see you there!

Monday, May 30, 2011

HeroesCon 2011: Where to Eat

The all important decision of where to eat during a comic convention can be difficult if you're not from the area.  Luckily, we have home field advantage on this one to share some personal recommendations about eating in Charlotte. 

Walking Distance:
King's Kitchen: Southern food for a good cause.  All the proceeds from this restaurant go back into the community to help those in need and the Brown Sugar Poundcake is fabulous! I can't speak to the fried chicken, but diners do seem to enjoy it. 
Amelie's (Uptown): Three words: Salted Caramel Brownie.  Amelie's has soups, sandwiches and other meals, but let's be honest, we're going there for the desserts! V
Taste: Run by Johnson and Wales students, this place has a wide ranging menu from soups and sandwiches to various hot bars and cupcakes that are out of this world.  V
BluPrint: One of uptown's newest additions, this place gets a weekly visit from me.  The food is super yummy and the owners and staff are super friendly.  They serve breakfast until 3pm so if you're craving pancakes at lunch this is the place for you! V
Fujo Bistro: Good sushi, Good entrees and reasonable prices.  I have had dinner here at least once each weekend since I starting going to HeroesCon.  Works for the vegan, vegetarian and meal eaters alike. V

Frozen Isle: Charlotte's very own entry into the frozen yogurt craze.  There's a rotating cast of flavors and toppings and in June, anything cold is a winner. 
Fuel Pizza: Location of the Drink and Draw on Friday night.  This local pizza place right across from the Convention Center is veggie friendly and has recently added a Gluten-Free Crust. V

Dean & Deluca: I know, sounds completely fancy, right? However, this place has some of the best salads downtown and even though many of the other items do tend into the pricey range, their salads run from $6.99-$8.99 and kick ass.  The Tryon location isn't far from the convention center. V

Gluten-Free Recommendations:
Jason's Deli at the Epi-Center: Yes, it's a chain, but a very good one with a wide ranging menu and a large salad bar. 

In the Heroes Neighborhood:
The Diamond: A vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurant that also features an appetizer known as "Pig Wings" will please the entire crowd. V

Worth the Drive:

Sunday Options:
Admittedly, uptown Charlotte can leave a bit to be desired when it comes to restaurants open on Sunday for breakfast/brunch in a price friendly range.  Many of the hotels, the Westin included, have a breakfast buffet, but those can tend to be on the expensive side of things. 

This, of course, isn't an exclusive list of places to eat uptown.  If you venture towards the intersection of Trade and Tryon, you will find the Epi-Center and the Bank of America building, diagonally across from each other full of lots of chain restaurants like Qdoba, Just Fresh, Smoothie King, Chick-fil-a, and Showmars. 

There's also the Delish Food Court in the Convention Center for those who prefer not to leave for food runs, that has Bojangles, Einstein Bagels and Buoncibo. 

For those needing a caffeine fix, there's a Starbucks in the convention center as well as a number scattered around uptown along with several Caribou Coffees. 

Heather's Note: It's been a long hard week for both Seth and me.  Those of you who don't know us personally won't be aware that my mother passed away last week.  I didn't get a chance to really finish this post, but still wanted to share all the links I had compiled before everything happened.  We'll both still be at HeroesCon.  I'm so thankful for my Heroes family and friends, especially at a time like this. 

Green "V" indicates Vegeterian Friendly