Monday, August 20, 2012

Upcoming Event: SPX 2012

SPX 2011
Outside of HeroesCon, my favorite type of comic shows are the small press shows.  I adore mini-comics.  Small press shows are a mecca of mini-comics.  The Small Press Expo (SPX) is two glorious days of mini-comics and other wondrous indie comic finds. 

It's a big year for SPX with a rather impressive list of special guests: Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware (one of Seth's favorites), Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, Adrian Tomine, and Francoise Mouly. 

There's a big list of exhibitors this year (they sold out all of their table space!).  While I can't include everyone here I would like to highlight some of our favorite people, especially the North Carolina creators heading up this year. 

Some Favorites:
Animal Alphabet Mini Comic Cover by Ben Towle
  • Lamar Abrams: In the aftermath of HeroesCon, it dawned on me that I totally missed seeing Lamar and his smile at this year's con, but never fear, SPX draws near so I can see what new fun he's bringing to the world of comics. 
  • Adhouse Books: Chris Pitzer is sure to have an awesome collection of indie books.  We were lucky enough to pick up a copy of Jim Rugg's Notebook Drawings at HeroesCon and if you haven't flipped through this wondrous, pink spiral notebook yet, do yourself a favor and head over to Adhouse for this and more! 
  • Alphabet Press: Back in 2011, a drawing challenge was issued by Rob Ullman and Ben Towle: each week following the letters of the alphabet, new animal drawings would be created and posted on tumblr.  The participation seemed to grow each week and when the end of the alphabet was reached with the animals, AlphaBeasts was born and then followed AlphaBooks which is currently ongoing.  This year at SPX, you'll find a table dedicated to these AlphaProjects with works including mini comics, postcards, flashcards, and prints from artists like Ben Towle, Rich Barrett, Sam Wolk, Issac Cates, and Rob Ullman. Some of the participating artists that are unable to attend SPX will be mailing Alphabet items in to the table organizers making this your one stop alphabet mini stop at SPX!
  • Last Dollar Comics: At the last SPX, this was on my list for one comic: "Don't Mess with the Pink VooDoo Bunny", however instead of coming away with one comic, I walked away with the Total Package of all of his comics, plus a toy surprise.  It was awesome and I'm looking forward to visiting Last Dollar Comics again this year. 
  • Alec Longstreth: I'm not sure it is possible or wise to discuss Alec without mentioning what might be the most well known beard in indie comics (maybe in all of comics).  Just do a google image search and you'll see what I mean (some people even keep time based on that beard!) [Update: I was informed via twitter that the beard is no more! A moment of silence for the beard.]
  • Nobrow Press: If pretty European comics and art books are your thing be sure to stop by the Nobrow table and delight your eyes. 
  • Chad Sell: Admittedly, I did not discover Chad through my normal comic channels, but rather Drag Queens.  One of the queens competing on the last season of RuPaul's Drag Race tweeted a portrait done by Chad and I knew I had to see more. I ordered both 30 Queens and Shadow Play and loved both books.  I cannot wait to come home with 40 Queens and maybe some prints for my Drag Race loving law partner and friend, Paula. 
  • Ed Piskor: Ed might just be one of my favorite guys in comics.  He's super nice, interesting to talk to and has an extensive collection of Public Enemy attire.  Beyond that, he's just had his hacker web comic, Wizzywig published in a sweet hardcover.  Be sure to also check out Ed's Hip Hop Family Tree over on boingboing
  • Jim Rugg: What is with these guys from Pittsburgh? Could they be any nicer? Not only is Jim talented on the page, but he shares the knowledge on his new podcast, Tell Me Something I Don't Know.  And as mentioned above, be sure to stop by the Adhouse table and pick up Jim's beautiful Notebook Drawings and marvel at what he does with a ballpoint pen. 
  • Top Shelf Comics: Not only does Top Shelf have an excellent all ages comics section, but their graphic novels of late are nothing short of amazing.  If you haven't picked up Jeff Lemire's The Underwater Welder, be sure to stop by their table for a copy or two. 
  • Ron Ullman: Do you like pretty ladies? (who doesn't?) You should stop by to pick up some pretty ladies of your very own from Rob (his are much less maintenance than real women).  Rumor has it that you may even be able to pick up some pretty lady art to wear, just in case you missed the super cute HeroesCon Indie Island shirt by Rob this year.  
  • Joey Weiser: One of my favorite mini comic series has to be Mermin.  I love that adorable little sea creature on land.  If you haven't read Mermin yet, you're in luck as there are now five issues out for your reading pleasure. 
North Carolina:

Not only do all of these guys hail from North Carolina, but they all participated in the Alphabet drawing projects.  
AlphaBeast prints by Rich Barrett
  • Rich Barrett: Based in Charlotte and member of the local sketch group, Sketch Charlotte, Rich is in the progress of publishing a graphic novel both page by page on the internet as well as in print.  Nathan Sorry is a twist on a 9/11 story in which the title character believed killed in the Towers is actually on the run with money and fake identity that he accidentally procured.  Rich plans to have both volumes one and two as well as Alphabet Press items.  This is his first time setting up at SPX. 
  • Henry Eudy: Also planning his first time behind the table at SPX is another Sketch Charlotte member and one of the funniest and self-depreciating guys I know, Henry Eudy.  Henry will have a selection of minis, prints and original art.  
  • Ben Towle: Ben is manning the Alphabet Press table, but he'll have some non-Alphabet related books with him (if not displayed on the table). Be sure to ask for Strikes, the Star Wars fan comic written by Ssalefish Comics' own Bret Parks and illustrated by Ben. 
I cannot wait to explore all the tables at SPX and fill my bag with mini comics wonders.  Be sure to check back here the week following SPX to see for yourself everything we picked up!  Seth and I will be there to check out the best indie comics around, and will have plenty of info and postcards about the Heroes Pop Swap, Charlotte Mini Con and HeroesCon '13.  If you see us make sure to say hello. 

Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
5701 Marinelli Road.
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Open to the public Saturday and Sunday, September 15 and 16, 2012.

Saturday, September 15: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sunday, September 16: noon - 6:00 pm

One day memberships: $10.00
Weekend memberships: $15.00
Collected at the door the day of the show

Monday, August 6, 2012

Country Law Shack Intellectual Property Law: Sketch and Learn

Whether an artist or a writer, you know your work as a creator has value, but you may not be aware of how to protect your work legally.  You may not know what steps to take when you discover someone using your work without permission.  If you draw sketches or publish sketchbooks with licensed properties, you may be wondering if you are exposed to legal action for something you drew with innocent intentions. 

You can learn the answers to the above questions and more on August 23, 2012 at very first Country Law Shack Intellectual Property Law: Sketch and Learn during Sketch Charlotte's regular Thursday night meeting.  Paula Yost, United States Patent and Trademark Attorney, will be giving a free presentation on how to protect yourself, your art, and your talent. You will learn information you would normally have to pay for in a legal consultation and be able to ask questions in an open forum.  In addition, the Country Law Shack will be offering group discount rates for all IP work for qualified group members. 

If you are unable to attend this presentation and would like to have one for your own creators' group, please contact our office to set this up.  We will travel within reason to meet with your group. 
Feel free to send advance questions to
You may also contact us by calling the Country Law Shack at 704-436-2214 or by emailing Heather at

Sketch Charlotte meets on Thursday nights in various locations in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The August 23 meeting will take place at Showmars located at 2004 East 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204 across the street from Heroes Aren't Hard to Find.  The meeting will start at 6:30pm and end at approximately 9:00 pm.  Both Paula and Heather will be available for questions following the presentation. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Comics Review: Chew

Art by Rob Guillory
Let me begin this review by saying, "Terence Hoskins, you were right.  I should have been reading Chew way before now.  You are a genius among men and your comic advice is not to be ignored."
Flipping through Previews a few months ago, I stumbled upon a cover of a comics I knew I must own, Chew: Secret Agent Poyo.  There was a wonderous rooster with metal parts.  Perhaps some of you are unaware of my love of giant metal chickens which started with this blog post. (This one shot just came out and reading it made me furiously happy.) How was I *NOT* reading a comic featuring a homicidal cybernetic rooster?!? This was a situation that needed to be remedied and fast!

Thankfully, Seth works at an excellent comic shop and loves to make me happy by bringing me glorious comics and Chew: Volume One was in my hands before I could fret too much over missing out on Secret Agent Poyo for so many months.  (Can I side-note for a moment on how much I love trades? Don't get me wrong, I love my single issues, but as far as being able to read through 4-6 issues with no ads in a sitting, trades are sheer comics pleasure.)

On its face, the premise of Chew isn't one I would typically select for myself.  It's rather gory when you contemplate special agents of the FDA that solve crimes (i.e. icky murders with yucky dead bodies) by biting the evidence.  That's right, they bite into those aforementioned dead bodies, chew them to pick up what looks like psychic visions or memories from that rotting flesh.  Grossed out yet? Here's the thing that makes Chew work for me: rather than super realistic way too detailed close of art of horror/crime books, these books have a lovely cartoon style to them.  Biting into some dead guy's arm looks funny rather than vomit inducing.

Chew also brings an interesting state of affairs in that after a particularly bad bout of bird flu, chicken consumption is now illegal in the U.S.  This explains why as mentioned above the FDA is now investigating things like murder.  There's a booming and dangerous trade in outlawed chicken.  You might be thinking, "Outlawed chicken?!? How interesting can that be?" Well, like anything enjoyed widely by the public, demand causes a black market to spring up.  Chicken is the new heroin and the dealers take their business very seriously.  There's also an undercurrent of a government conspiracy leading to the ban of chicken.

Chew assembles a fun and interesting cast of characters from Tony Chu, our lead character and Special Agent of the FDA due to his cibopathic abilities to his partner, John Colby, who becomes cybernetic after being critically injured during a stakeout to Special Agent Mason Savoy, another cibopath gifted with a fabulous mustache as well as Tony's brother, Chef Chow, who rebels against the chicken ban and his love interest, Amelia Mintz, a food critic.

All around, this is a fun read despite of the perhaps disturbing nature of the story.  I have now read the five volumes of trades that have been released to date and am eagerly awaiting the release of the sixth!  Chew is written and lettered by John Layman and drawn and colored by Rob Guillory.     

Bonus Review: Chew: Secret Agent Poyo is one of my favorite one-shots ever. "Poyo is just really, really bad ass." Writer, John Layman, took the words right out of my mouth.  This one shot focuses on Poyo's journey from fighting chicken to special agent.  It's wondrous and you should go by it now. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kickstarter Plea: Go back the Heroes Doc (please!!!)

I have a somewhat selfish plea for all of you: go back the Heroes Doc on kickstarter.  As of the writing of this post, the project is not fully funded and it deserves to be.  Am I coming from a bit of a biased stance in encouraging you to spend your money on supporting this documentary? Perhaps, but that doesn't make it any less worthy of your hard earned dollars. 

Some of you might be wondering why this would be a biased plea and I am happy to disclose my connections to the documentary.  Many of you know that Seth works for Heroes Aren't Hard to Find and I've been volunteering at HeroesCon since 2008 working myself up from volunteer to convention staff.  The wonderful guys behind the documentary have not only filmed interviews with both Seth and me, but our wedding reception in the Heroes store as well.  Of course, I am hoping to see those interviews and a joyous occasion in our lives captured in this documentary, even if only at a glimpse.  

However, I would be remiss not to tell you about all the hard work and long hours this crew has put in capturing, well, all the hard work and long hours the staff and family at Heroes puts into the running of both the store and the con.  Jere and Randy, two of the guys I know the best, actually managed to beat Seth and me to Heroes events (and we're generally the earliest ones there).  There have been lots of early mornings and late nights involved just in the filming of the Heroes Doc.  I can only imagine the time that will be put into editing all the great footage they've captured in what is sure to be a wonderful end product.  

You might be wondering what these guys have been recording since August 2011.  The answer would be a lot.  Not only did they cover special events like the Pop Swap, the annual December sale, the Mini-Con and Free Comic Book Day, but they captured the true behind the scenes work that gets comics from Diamond to your reserve bag every Wednesday.  There's a lot of work to make sure those copies of Wolverine and the X-Men, Wonder Woman, and the Walking Dead end up in the right bags as well as the shelves each week.  I've only assisted in the pull and re-order sorts and I got my fair share of paper cuts and chipped nails making sure comics get in their correct places.

Of course, the documentary captures all the work behind HeroesCon from all the prep the staff does to the actual convention itself.  There were somewhere between five to seven cameras capturing all the action of the 30th Anniversary of the show.  They were recording confessionals with attendees, guests and staff throughout the weekend.  I really want to see those cosplayer interviews I caught glimpses of from the Info Booth!!

Most importantly, the Heroes Doc captures the best part of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find: the family element.  I'm not talking about the biological connection between Shelton and his two kids, Shelley and Winslow, who both work at the store, but rather the feeling of a family you choose amongst the staff as well as the creators and fans that flock to HeroesCon each year.  HeroesCon is like a family reunion with all the relatives you like the most (ok, maybe with a drunk uncle or two thrown in, but hey, we can always use more humor in our lives).  I felt that connection more than ever last year, following the unexpected loss of my mother a week before the con.  No matter which direction I turned, someone was waiting with a hug, a kind word, something to eat or just a familiar smile.  Like any wonderful family, Heroes takes care of its own.

With that, I ask you sweetly, to make your way over to kickstarter and help the hard working guys behind the Heroes Doc fund this project that is so very close to our hearts here on the Exile blog.    

Monday, July 9, 2012

Further On Up the Road

Seth moderates the BPRD Panel at HeroesCon (l-r: Seth, Mike Mignola, Jason Latour, Paul Azaceta, James Harren)
I should start by publicly acknowledging my wife for picking up the bulk of Exile writing for the past few months.  As many of you know, I stepped away for a bit to help wrangle the behemoth that was HeroesCon's 30th Anniversary.  Since many of the con's highlights from her wrap up post were ones I shared, I won't talk too much about my own experiences from the con.  It's always humbling to help people further their comics experience, and always an amazing thing to talk, often about normal, day-to-day things with creators whose work I respect so much.  Conversations with experienced creators are always something that help build my confidence in my own work.  It's like studying at the feet of more learned people.  After recovering from this year's con, I'm excited to be back working on my own ideas again.

So what does that exactly entail?  One thing I've learned from my past experiences in music is not to show all my cards too early.  I feel comfortable in saying that at this point, I do have some other creative projects that I'm actively working on.  'Active' is the key word here because, often, past projects rarely got beyond the thinking or planning stage.  Learning about the craft of comics writing has been a challenging and rewarding experience.  Understanding that there are fundamental differences between comics writing and songwriting or journalism is an obvious but necessary lesson.  It's still probably premature to talk specifics about exactly what stories I'm working on, but those will come to light when it's time to talk about them.  

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to figure out ways of how to use things like poetry in a visual form.  It's also important that I continue to minimize the amount of unnecessary dialogue and verbal description.  This is, after all a visual medium, and far too many writers forget that.  Things like that seem silly and obvious, but look around the comic shelves and you'll see plenty of examples of excessive writing.  I'm learning that the best thing a writer can do when contributing to a comics story is to present an open enough idea that will be enjoyable for an artist to illustrate, then offer up ideas for different options of how to approach it.  This is, I suppose, a supplementary effort.  I don't ever want an artist to feel like I'm dictating every motion and pose on a page.  At best, it's some kind of collaborative result where writer and artist both feel like they're contributing to something bigger than the individual parts.
     There are a few different comic stories being worked on at the moment, I can at least say that.  I'm also still happily writing for the Heroes Blog, though some of my specific roles there will be changing a little bit in months to come.  It's all for the better, and all out of an effort to maintain enthusiasm for this medium I love so much.  My writing for Exile should be picking back up again, too.  I've started several little articles on music and comics, and hope to post once every week or so over the summer.  As for music, that boat may have finally sailed...or maybe it's more apropos to suggest I've lowered the anchor.  Both a lingering injury to my left hand and a recurring bout with tendonitis in my right wrist have limited any kind of productive work on the music front.  I'm slowly coming to terms with this, though I don't think I'll ever completely get music out of my system.  Maybe I'll get back around to it at some point.  Until then, there are other stories to tell. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Heather's HeroesCon 2012 Wrap Up Report

Wow, another HeroesCon in the books and what a giant entry in the books the 30th Anniversary Show is.  I decided the easiest way to break down everything was a mirror of My Top 10 Things to Do with my list of favorite things from this year's show.  

1. Matthew, the Make-A-Wish Child:  HeroesCon was honored this year with the presence of a very special guest.  His name is Matthew and while he's not a name most of us would recognize, this little boy was the highlight of the weekend.  Matthew is 5 years old and has a terminal illness.  His wish was to meet Spider-Man.  I hope Matthew had as much fun meeting Spider-Man as we all had meeting him. 

Matthew and his family aren't the only families out there that need a wish granted.  Be sure to check out the Make-A-Wish Foundation page for all the sweet stories and ways you can help kids like Matthew make their wishes come true.

2. Friday Night's Drink and Draw:  With the second year behind us, I think we can now label this an annual event.  Thanks to everyone's art contributions, we exceeded the amount of money we raised last year for Team Cul de Sac.  Seth and I came away with some great art, including coasters by Evan Dorkin, Roger Langridge, Amy Mebberson, and James Silvani as well as a sketch portrait of Richard Thompson by first time attendee, Nick Galifianakis. 

3. Saturday Night's Art Auction: Speaking of great art, man, was the Art Auction full of it this year.  Seth and I opted to go paddle-less this year and just enjoy the auction without our competitive natures (ok, mostly my competitive nature) running away with us.  This also meant I had one had free for a beverage and the other for my camera.  The camera came in handy when Stan Lee surprised us with a visit.  After a greeting to the enthusiastic audience, Stan signed a beautiful piece by Phil Noto, then stepped back to enjoy the bidding process.     

4.  My Panels: Andy Mansell assigned me to two wonderful panels this year.  Last year would have been my first time moderating a panel, but I was too overwhelmed to take part.  I think that worked out for the best as my first panel was comprised of some of the nicest people in comics: Roger Landridge, Amy Mebberson, James Silvani, and Ramon Perez.  Not only were they so very easy to moderate, but each of them signed and sketched a Muppet on the panel sign that was outside my panel room.  I cannot thank Andy enough for the opportunity to moderate as well as making sure I got that sign.  My second panel with Skottie Young was also great.  Skottie is a joy to talk to and the audience had a lot of excellent questions for him. 

5.  Little John's Jack Daniels Chocolate Chip Cookies: Back around Christmas, Little John tweeted about making Jack Daniels Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I was so intrigued, that I wanted the recipe.  Unfortunately, this is a secret family recipe so I was not able to make these cookies myself.  However, while I was working at the Small Press Check-In on Thursday, John presented me with a dozen of these cookies for my very own.  Not only did these cookies make a wonderful snack for everyone working in Registration, but they also made a wonderful breakfast on Friday morning.  I hope these cookies become a HeroesCon tradition. 

6.  Small Press Check-In: Boy, does HeroesCon have a great group of creators setting up in Small Press each year.  I enjoyed meeting so many of them as they checked in on Thursday.  Everyone was nice and excited about participating and I was excited to hear how many of them were setting up for the first time this year.  It's great to see everything that bring with them from zombie kitchen wares to adorable stuffed characters to mini-comics and prints. 
7.  HeroesCon Volunteers: Did you know that Heroes Aren't Hard to Find has less than a dozen staff members? They all do a very impressive job, not only day-to-day, but also harnessing a con that exploded to over 25,000 attendees this year.  They couldn't do this without the tireless efforts of the volunteers that come from all walks of life to help out.  From line capping to greeting attendees to wrangling creators for their panels, no job is too big or too small for these ever capable volunteers to tackle.  Y'all are amazing!

8.  Awesome t-shirts: We had some great shirts this year, so great that we sold out of more sizes this year than we have since I started working at the Info Booth in 2008.  Both Jaime Hernandez and Rob Ullman gave us some great ladies to wear on the Con shirt featuring Love and Rocket's Maggie and Hope and the Indie Island shirt featuring a cute red head surrounded by super indie comics (including Love and Rockets!).  We also featured a uber-comfy Heroes Aren't Hard to Find tee and a Fun Run tee with art by Eric Cante (which did sell out completely). 

9.  Indie Island: Oh, Indie Island, what little free time I did have on the con floor was spent with you.  Oh, how I love your mini-comics, beautiful prints, and friendly and talented creators.  My favorite pick up of the con has to be the Retro Circus tote bag from Stephanie Buscema.  I started using it the Friday I bought it and it now makes my trips to the post office so much more fun.  If you missed this most useful and cute item, never fear!, it's available for purchase here

10.  Appreciation of the Earlier Generations of Creators: I love when our comic elders appear at the con and get the reception they deserve.  While I missed Irwin Hasen to the point of tears this year, it was nice to see the fans turn out for Walt and Louise Simonson, Nick Cardy and oh yes, Stan Lee.  I hope we'll all continue to appreciate these great creators.   

Bonus Pick: Pinky's tacos at the "Dead Dog" Party.  Pinky's set up a taco bar this year and it was so very delicious.  I partook of both the fish and tofu and loaded those suckers up with cheese and veggies.  I could have eaten a dozen of those and passed out happy.  (Well, I probably would have passed out from sheer exhaustion at that point anyway.) 

What to see more? Be sure to check out my flickr HeroesCon Collection for Days Zero-Three of HeroesCon as well as the evening events. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fighting the Post-Con Funk

So far this week as been dedicated to getting back to my real job and working to get over this post-con funk that has slowly creeped in and taken over my feelings about this past weekend.  I promise a full wrap up report on HeroesCon 2012 will be on its way after the weekend.  

While Seth's only task this weekend will be resting and taking care of his wrist that is currently in a brace due to de Quervain's tenosynovitis, I will beating down this funk with a girls' weekend that includes a viewing of Magic Mike on Saturday and a Drag Queen brunch on Sunday.  I sincerely hope that "It's Raining Men" is featured in both.  If strippers and queens aren't your thing, then let me direct you to some lovely con reports and my con photos to amuse yourself until my report appears on Monday.  

HeroesCon What-not, Links, and Etc.: 
In the meantime, I've been reading the awesome comics that I was able to pick up in the small amount of time I was able to shop this year.  I've also found a way to make carrying legal stuff around much more fun thanks to an adorable tote bag from Stephanie Buscema.  I hope she makes a new one each year as I expect mine will get a lot of us.  

To borrow from Jason Latour, "More soon..."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Come See us at HeroesCon 2012!

Head over to the Charlotte Convention Center and see us at the 30th Anniversary HeroesCon! Starting tomorrow at 11am and running until Sunday at 6pm, we'll be surrounded by comics and awesomeness.  Heather will most likely be found at the Info Booth or on the con floor taking photos and Seth will at the Heroes Booth with lots of great comics and deals! Pick up HeroesCon t-shirts and affordable Stan Lee issues for the signings that will be taking place. 

On Friday night you'll find us working at the Drink and Draw hosted at Fuel Pizza right across from the Convention Center and on Saturday night you'll find us hanging out and relaxing at the Live Art Auction (which are two of Heather's Top Ten Things to Do at HeroesCon).

One of these things is not like the others!
We'll each also be moderating panels this year.  Heather will be moderating the Oz Discussion Group with Skottie Young on Saturday and  a Henson Properties Panel with Roger Langridge, Anne Ebberson, James Silvani  and Ramon Perez on Friday.   Seth will be moderating a B.P.R.D. panel with Mike Mignola, Jason Latour, Paul Azaceta and James Harran on Friday.  We've included the panel descriptions from the Program Book below.  

PANELS!!! (by us):

 Friday at 1:30pm
Room 203A
Roger Langridge, Amy Mebberson, James Silvani and Ramon Perez sit down with Heather Peagler to discuss the challenges of working with the Henson characters. There will be Q and A, but Mrs. Peagler will not accept any questions from the balcony. In your face Statler and Waldorf!

Friday at 2:30pm
Room 207ABCD
BPRD Roundtable
Because Peagler Really Digs (deep), we are having Heroes’ own Seth Peagler moderate this incredible panel featuring Mike Mignola, Jason Latour, Paul Azaceta and James Harren.  Only a Frog or a member of The Black Flame would stay away from this one!

Saturday at 11:00am
Room 203A
OZ with Skottie Young. Come and meet the new Wizard of OZ-- incredibly talented artist and storyteller Skottie Young. There are dozens of topics to discuss, like influences and the challenges of adapting a well-known work. And remember to pay attention to that person in front of the curtain--our Discussion moderator Heather Peagler!

We hope you'll stop by and say hi while enjoying all the great comics and guests put together by the hard working and dedicated Heroes staff.

HeroesCon is located at the Charlotte Convention Center in uptown Charlotte, NC.

 Charlotte Convention Center
501 S. College St.
Charlotte, NC 28202

1-day Pass: $15 per person
3-day Pass: $30 per person
Kids 12 & Under get in FREE!

Friday: 11AM-7PM
Saturday: 10AM-6PM
Sunday: 11AM-6PM

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

HeroesCon: Where to Eat 2012

It’s that time of year again: HeroesCon!!! Which means it is time for an update to the all-important where to eat while you’re here.  One of my favorite things about visiting different cities is finding the awesome local restaurants.  Hope the list gives you a jump start in finding a place that makes you and your tummy gloriously happy.  While this list isn't all inclusive, we tried to think of most of our area favorites.  Please feel free to share any we missed in the comments. 

Walking Distance:
Fuel Pizza: Home of the HeroesCon Drink and Draw and right across from the Convention Center, this local pizza chain sees a lot of business during the con.  With mult-grain and gluten free crusts as well as a number of veggie pizzas, you've got yummy and healthy options on the menu. 
Amelie’s Uptown: Sure they serve soups and sandwiches, but you should really go for dessert.  The salted caramel brownies are the best.  You can also pick up coffee to refuel for a busy day of comics.
King’s Kitchen: Southern food paired with a good cause makes this a popular uptown location.  King's Kitchen features both lunch and dinner hours and now features a new bakery as well. 
Room 112: Decently priced sushi and a warm atmosphere can be found at this little tucked away Asian restaurant.  It does get a little crowded at peak lunch hours with uptown workers so plan accordingly.  Featuring vegan and vegetarian menu items as well, this can be a good compromise for a mixed dining crowd. 
Basil Thai: More on the pricy side of Asian dining, but portion sizes do make you feel a little better about a $12 lunch entree.  It's also a popular lunch location.  Vegan and Vegetarian friendly.
Green’s Lunch: This is for the meat eaters in the bunch-go enjoy a hot dog with chilli for a vintage dining price.  Sure there are other items on the menu (even grilled cheese for the veggies in your group), but why bother? Seriously, my dad has been known to leave the empty bags in a co-workers truck to let him know he's been there without him. 
Mert’s Heart and Soul: I would be remiss not to include a link to this most delicious Southern restaurant (and fried chicken lovers would probably run amuck in the street at such a snub).  Mert's features lunch, dinner and brunch on both Saturday and Sunday (which answers the elusive question of where to eat breakfast uptown that isn't a hotel).  The veggie plate makes this an excellent suggestion for vegans craving some down home cooked vegetables as only the green beans are cooked in animal fat.  The collard greens bypass the usual ham/fatback treatment and are seasoned with fresh tomatoes and onions (and June will be full on local grown tomato season!). 
Alexander Michael’s: This local restaurant and tavern off the beaten uptown path in 4th Ward has a cozy sports bar feel to it (meaning it's a good place to catch up on all the sports news you missed on the con floor, but it won't annoy the non-sports fans among you).

Dean & Deluca: If you're craving a quick and tasty salad, stop in for the salad bar.  While some of their menu items can be on the pricey side, the salads are large and in a reasonable price range (especially for the uptown area). 

Heroes Store Area:
Fried Chicken and Sides by The Diamond. Photo by Rico Renzi
Crisp: Just two doors down from the store, this is a great place to grab a quick and healthy lunch.  Vegan and Vegetarian friendly.
Sunflour Bakery: If healthy's not you your thing, then cross Pecan and head to Sunflour and load up on delicious cupcakes and pastries.  There's also a wide selection of beverages from loose leaf teas to wine and beer to accompany the six flavors of cupcakes you had to try.  For breakfast (or any time of the day), I highly recommend the cheese biscuits! 
Cajun Queen: Enjoy the tastes of the bayou and live jazz just down the street from Heroes.

Dish: Homey Southern food that will comfort your soul after a long day on the con floor.  I think their tomato soup has healing powers.  Vegan and Vegetarian friendly.
The Diamond: Pig wings, fried pickles, and big block burgers, oh my! This old school diner full of all your fried food needs, plus some great blue plate specials.  Vegan and Vegetarian friendly.
Common Market: Sandwiches and salads, plus a large bottled drink and snack selection this local deli/market is a great place to grab a delicious quick lunch.  Very Vegan and Vegetarian friendly.  The hummus is very yummy!
Zada Jane’s: A super popular brunch location on both Saturdays and Sundays, this eclectic eatery is a great local place to check out.  Vegan and Vegetarian friendly. 
Soul Gastrolounge: This tapas bar above the 22 Gallery makes the most of local produce.  They have a pistachio pesto that will make you want to lick your plate, especially when paired with heirloom tomatoes.   Open for dinner and Sunday brunch.  Vegan and Vegetarian friendly.
John’s Country Kitchen: No frills diner with a great breakfast and delicious lunch specials.  Be aware they only take cash and are closed on Sunday.
Bistro La Bon:Delicious food and a relaxing atmosphere might seem slightly surprising when located in a strip mall, but don't let the outside deceive you.  Their buffet style brunch is amazing.  Chocolate Waffles!!!

Kickstand Burgers: From veggie to beef to shrimp, there's a range of options for the burger lovers among you. My favorite on the menu would be the tots which come in both the regular and sweet potato varieties (and can be ordered in a mix so you don't have to choose). Vegetarian friendly.     
Pinky's Pimpin' Fries

Worth the Drive:
South 21:Step back into history and eat at this drive-in restaurant.  My favorite onion rings in Charlotte should always be washed down with a Cherry Lemon Sprite. 
Bean Vegan:The Info Booth won't be the same place without Charles this year, so be sure to stop in and support his restaurant which will be opening soon.  His vegan cupcakes look amazing!! (Update: I have not been able to confirm opening date so please call (980) 939-1234 to check hours before driving out there.)
Pinky’s: We love Pinky's so much, they catered our wedding reception.  Their Pimpin' Fries (waffle fries smothered in their homemade Pimento Cheese) are a party in your mouth.  Another great location place for fried pickles.  Vegan and Vegetarian friendly.

CowFish: Sushi or burgers? Why decide when Cowfish has the best of both worlds? You can even order combos that mix the two.  

Food Trucks:
Cupcake by Cupcake Delirium with Cherry Lemon Sprite
The food truck trend has hit Charlotte! Check out our local trucks on twitter and follow them for locations and menus.  Cupcake Delirium makes those wonderful cupcakes that show up on my twitter and instagram feeds. You can also catch a lot of these trucks at Food Truck Friday located in the South End Charlotte Lunch Lot not far from uptown.  Food Truck Friday runs from 5pm-9pm.  Trucks do sell out so aim for earlier and be aware that bad weather may not permit some of the trucks to be out.

SCQ Mobile Cupcakery
Cupcake Delirium:
Roaming Fork: 
The Tin Kitchen:
Goody Woody’s:
The Herban Legend:
Maki Taco:
Wingzza Truck:
Clover Joes:
Roots Farm Foods:
Harvest Moon Cart:
Chef and Friends:
Dan the Pig Man:  
Auto Burger and Fry Guys:
Smoke and Go: 
Red's BBQ:
Turkey And:
Sticks and Cones:
Sal's Roadside Eatery:

Sunday Options:
Mert’s Heart and Soul: See above in "Walking Distance".
Bistro La Bon: See above in "Heroes Store Area".
Zada Jane’s: See above in "Heroes Store Area".
Sunflour Bakery: See above in "Heroes Store Area".
Soul Gastrolounge: See above in "Heroes Store Area".

Vegan Options:
Bean Vegan:See above under "Worth the Drive"

Zizi's:While not a dine in option, the vegan restaurant delivers to the Convention Center zipcode, so if you're busy and craving vegan just give them a call.  Local Vegan expert, Herc Petmezas, swears by Zizi's.

In addition to the vegan specific restaurants, a lot of the restaurants listed above are vegan friendly. 

Convention Center Dining Options:
Delish Food Court: If you really don't want to leave the Convention Center, then the Delish Food Court is for you with choices of Bojangles, Einstein Brothers, and buon cibo. 
Starbucks: For all your caffeine needs within the Convention Center (there's also a couple of other Starbucks scattered throughout uptown.)

Just check out the EpiCenter and the surrounding building for all your chain dining needs.  From Moe's to Chick-fil-a to Caribou Coffee to Jason's Deli (which is a good option for gluten-free dining), you can find most any familiar chains within walking distance.  As with all dining options on Friday, be sure to consider the uptown lunch crowds.  Going before noon or after one can help cut down on some of the lunch hour traffic. 

And now for something completely different..
Alcohol Isn't Hard to Find:
by Guest Blogger Ted Tarver

This is what Ted looks like. He owes you a drink.
Apparently, I’m the biggest degenerate Heather knows so I’m the person she asked to do a quick rundown of the bar scene in uptown Charlotte.  I still don’t know if I should be offended or not….

After a long hard day on your feet waiting in line, there’s nothing better than a nice adult beverage (classy) to soothe the pain away.  Here’s a quick list of places that can aid your buzz:

Your Room

You just dropped hundreds of dollars on a commission (even though the artist wouldn’t draw the character you wanted because he wasn’t “feeling it”).  Tomorrow, you’re shelling out to yell “EXCELSIOR!” at Stan Lee (no one has ever thought of that!).  The last thing you want to do is spend $10 on a vodka tonic downstairs at the bar.  Well, it’s a good thing you planned ahead and you have BOOZE IN YOUR ROOM!  Catch a ride or take a cab to the ABC Store at 3rd and Cherry and take care of all your liquor-based needs beforehand.  Your wallet will thank you. 

The Westin Bar

Let’s not over-think it here.  The Westin Bar is where you’re going to find the highest concentration of Con attendees after hours and it’s a MUST VISIT Saturday night after the Heroes Art Auction. 

Pros: Frequent creator sightings and convenience (if you’re at any of the nearby hotels).  Saturday night is a BLAST. 

Cons: Usually only two or three bartenders working so the line can be crazy-long.  Drinks are night-club expensive.  Also, creators don’t like it when you interrupt their conversations to drunkenly critique their work.  What’s their deal? 

5th and Tryon

Intersection that serves as home to several really cool bars including: Connolly’s (my favorite bar in all of Charlotte), Ri-Ra’s, Dandelion Market, Town Tavern and Prohibition.  Each bar has its own characteristics, but a common theme among them on Friday and Saturday night will be loud music, crowds and cover charges ($5 or less except for Prohibition, which can get up to $10 or $15).  Also, lots of cute girls out there for us to not talk to. 

The Epicentre

Huge entertainment block in uptown located at 4th & College (you seriously can’t miss it).  Tons of different options here depending on what you’re looking for.  Also houses the two best late night dining options in uptown: Five Guys and Libretto’s. 

- Mez: a movie theater / bar.  Pro tip: After midnight, Mez charges a ton for cover and has a strict dress code.  You know who gets around that?  The folks who went to go see a movie at 9pm or 10pm and then lingered around as the transformation into night club takes place.  I do it all the time. 

- Strike City: bowling alley / sports bar.  Pro tip: Keep your eye on the clock.  Strike City charges by hour, not by game.  If you’re drinking and having a good time with your friends, you can easily burn up your lane time before you finish a single game. 

- Suite / Black Finn / Whiskey River: definitely the places to be if you’re looking to dance or meet someone (hahaha, let’s be realistic…none of us are going to these places). 

Hope that helps you get your buzz on.  If you want some more information, I’ll be the handsome guy at the Dollar Bin table located in Indie Island.  If you see me out and about, first drink’s on me. 

Legal disclaimer: Ted will not actually buy you a drink. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Heather's Top 10 Things to do at HeroesCon

There's a lot to see and do at HeroesCon every year and there's just no way to see and do everything that's packed into the Charlotte Convention Center.  Everyone has their favorite or "must do" list of things you just shouldn't miss.  To help you narrow down what shouldn't be missed at the 30th Anniversary HeroesCon, I have assembled my personal Top 10 (plus some bonus picks).  
ONE: Art Auction: Do you love great art? Who doesn’t? To see and buy wonderful art for your very own, be sure to be at the Art Auction in the Westin Hotel ballrooms on Saturday night. A bonus is watching the Smoker's Jacket Club (I'm sure they have a more official name, but the jackets are what make them easy to spot) bid against each other and just have a roaring good time.   

 TWO: Drink and Draw: Heroes added this event to their line-up last year and it is the only place to be the Friday night of HeroesCon.  Not only can you drink and draw (or just drink), you can pick up the awesome art produced that evening in the form of coasters or Bristol board. It’s an excellent opportunity to pick up very affordable pieces from some of your favorite artists.  Last year’s proceeds went to the excellent cause of fighting Parkinson’s Disease by way of Team Cul de Sac.  This year’s Drink and Draw returns to Fuel Pizza across from the Convention Center starting at 7pm on Friday night and wrapping up whenever everyone has put their pens and pencils down.  This year’s proceeds will go to the great cause of finding a cure for Parkinson's Disease.   

THREE: Panels: Outside of the convention floor, there's a great opportunity to get insight from creators on the HeroesCon panels.  Running each day of the con on the 2nd floor of the convention center, these panels feature writers and artists across the spectrum of  comics.  There's a panel for all interests: super heroes, indie, all ages, group panels and "conversation with" panels.  Chances are, if you can think of a topic, Heroes' own Andy Mansell has probably already put together a panel on it.  Seth and I will both be dipping our toes into the panel pool this year by moderating three panels of our very own.  Seth will be moderating a B.P.R.D. panel featuring Jason Latour, Mike Mignola, James Harren, and Paul Azaceta.  I will be moderating the Marvel's OZ discussion group panel featuring Skottie Young as well as a Jim Henson properties panel featuring Roger Langridge, Ramon PerezAmy Mebberson, and James Silvani.  

FOUR: Sketch Charlotte: There's a lot of a great local talent in Charlotte and a group of them gather almost every Thursday at the Showmars across the street from the Heroes store.  Group members that will be set up at HeroesCon are: Rich Barrett, Henry Eudy, Bridgit Schiede, and Herc Petmezas. For you visiting artists, Sketch Charlotte will have an open meeting for any out of town artist who would like to attend the Thursday before the con.  Just come by Showmars between 6:30 and 9 with your drawing tools.  

FIVE: Live Art Stage: Going hand and hand with the Art Auction, running on the show floor Friday and Saturday, you can watch the artists create the pieces that will be bid on Saturday night in the live auction and Sunday in the silent auction.  You gain a greater appreciation of the art up for sale when you have seen all the work that goes into it. 

SIX: Stephanie Buscema: You might say comics are in Stephanie’s blood with both her grandfather, John Buscema and uncle, Sal Buscema steeped in Marvel history.  Not only will Stephanie have lots of great art in the traditional format (that is to display on your walls), but she bringing notepads, tote bags, barrettes and jewelry all emblazoned with her amazing style.  It’s not a question of whether to buy something from her table, but rather how much to buy. 

SEVEN: Indie Island:  While in artist alley, be sure to check out the awesome section of indie artists all gathered behind golden draped tables. Browse mini-comics and independently published books to your heart's content. There's some great people on this golden island from Love and Rockets' Jaime Hernandez to Chris Pitzer of Adhouse Books to Rich Tommaso, who finished up a great Kickstarter campaign this spring to Top Shelf Books and all the awesome all ages books that come with them.
EIGHT: Heroes Kids Section: A new addition to the Heroes booth this year is a Kids Section! The staff (especially Seth) has been hard at work pulling a very special collection of all ages books that will be featured in their very own corner of the Heroes booth.  Be sure to stop by with your little ones to pick up some great books suitable for lovers of adorable comics, both young and old.

NINE: Handmade Stuffs: Do you like adorable things? Do you like cartoons and comics? If you answered yes to either question, then you must stop by the Handmade Stuffs booth and check out Jennifer's vast assortment of cute plush characters. 

TEN: Chris Schweizer: There are now three volumes of Crogan Adventures to choose from, so be sure to stop by his table in Indie Island and pick up a copy or three for your very own! Chris has also been known to rock suspenders at the con and this a style that no one should miss. 

Bonus Picks:
Info Booth: The best place to find me (and tell me how awesome these lists I keep making are!) You can pick up a great HeroesCon tee or three (trust me, you'll want at least three this year).  It's also the best place to get *information* about HeroesCon from cancellations to delays to the location of the bathroom and Stan Lee.  Speaking of Stan Lee...

Stan Lee:  Perhaps you've heard of a little man named Stan Lee or maybe seen his guest appearances on shows like The Big Bang Theory? Mr. Lee will be joining us at HeroesCon this year to sign autographs, take some photos and probably bestow some comic wisdom on us all.  His table won't be too far from the Info Booth, so stop by and say hello to us both! :)

What are you top things to see and do at HeroesCon? 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

HeroesCon Cosplay Interview: Victor Goldberg

We couldn't possibly do a HeroesCon month without including Charlotte's very own Joker.  If you've ever attended HeroesCon, you've seen Vic Goldberg who stands out for his Joker Killing Joke costume.  Thanks Vic for taking the time from your villainous life of "crime" to talk to us.  We're looking forward to all your costumes this year! 

Name: Victor A. Goldberg but I go by Vic.
Age: 29
Current location: Gastonia
Home Town: Jacksonville, Florida
Favorite Superhero: Spider-Man then followed by Batman
Least Favorite: Superman
 Favorite Villains: Green Goblin (Norman Osborn), The Joker, Venom (Eddie Brock), Carnage
Current books reading: Batman, Dark Knight, Detective Comics,  All Star Western, and Catwoman. I used to Read Spider-Man but I stop after the events of "A Brand New Day"
Relationship Status: Looking for a Harley Quinn

How long have you been doing cosplay? I first start to cosplay back in 2004 so for 8 years now.

What was your first costume?  My 1st cosplay costume was done for Wonder Con back in Jacksonville, Florida in 2004. I did a quick Dr. Curt Connors turning into the Lizard. I did this with a Lab coat that I bought at a costume store and then from a goodwill I got a pair of dress pants and a black short sleeve button up shirt. For the make-up I went to party city and bought some green cream makeup and a eye liner pencil to draw the scales. I would say that the costume cost me about $35 or $40. 

How did you become interested in cosplay? I would say that some of it comes from me taking Drama in both middle school and high school. That and the fact that I had fun dressing up as Dr. Connors for my first con that I just continue to do it. 

What's been your favorite con experience while in costume? Believe it or not, what I do before and after the con. Before the con me and friends will stop at like McDonald's and eat and people just look at you crazy. We also get to eat after the con and I'm still in full costume and makeup and I'll mess with people.

Is there anything you wish people wouldn't do while you're in costume? I haven't really had any bad experience so far.

How many characters are in your current con rotation? I think this is more for the people who go to like Dragon con who go as one character for a few hours then change as this one or will change for a photo shoot. For me I'm a one character for the whole day kind of guy. I mostly do the Joker for two days and then like a made up character for the third to take a break from the makeup but for the past two years (this will be the third) where I have done a version of the Joker for all three days. Last year I did the Killing Joke Joker (from the 2008 deluxe edition) on Friday, then on Saturday I did my traditional comic version Joker, and then on Sunday Killing Joke Joker with Spider-Man swim trunks (a joke from the 2010 con that I brought back for 2011) This year I want to try to do the makeup for Arkham City Joker (though my costume wont be right), Saturday comic version Joker, and for Sunday I'm working on a new secret costume.

Who is your favorite character to play?
I've done The Joker, Black costume Spider-Man, a mask wrestler, A necromancer, and Dr.Connors. Out of all them my favorite one to play is the Joker. With the Joker I can be goofy and loud and just plan out there.

Who would you like to cosplay as? I would like to do a Cosmic Spider-Man. The cosmic suit has always been one of my favorite as in look and the powers that he gain. I would also like to do Green Goblin in the style as in the one used at Universal Studios Hollywood. One that my friends tell me I should do is Deadpool. To be honest that is one I'm looking into.  

How long does it take you to put on the makeup? Depends. If I dye my hair green (yes, for Heroes Con, I dye my hair green), then applying the makeup takes about 45 min. If I have to use the colored hair then an hour and half. I hate using the hair spray because it can run and you have to wash your face to make sure that there is no over spray so you don't have a green tent to the makeup and so on.

About how much did your costume cost?
My Spider-Man cost 20 off of ebay and about 25 to ship. My Joker cost about $100 for  fabric, patterns, and buttons. I don't remember what the makeup cost because I bought 8oz. Ben Nye Professional Clown White which might not seem like a lot but trust me it  is. I've had that makeup for for years and I haven't used a 1/4 of it yet.
What kind of makeup do you use?
For the white I use Ben Nye's professional clown white, the green for the eyebrows I use just use green cream makeup, and for the lips I use a red lip stick that stains.

From my twitter request for questions: Where do you put your keys while in costume? In my utility belt. Just kidding. The nice thing about being the Joker is that I have pockets. But for my Spider-Man costume I carry a fanny pack, I don't wear it but carry around my shoulders. For the mask wrestler I turn the fanny pack around backwards. For my necromancer, I carry around pouches on what I use for a belt and keep my wallet and keys in it.

What's your favorite con to attend? Heroes is really the only con I go to. It's close to home. I would like to make it out to Dragon con one day but right now Heroes is my con.

Is there a Con that you would to attend? I would like to make it to Dragon Con. Hopefully once I'm done with school I can do this.

Any advice for some one who would like to start cosplaying? The best advice I can give is to have fun with it. If its a costume that you made, or bought on line, just have fun with it and have fun in it. That and the shoes. Remember that you're going to be walking around all day so if you need to mod your costume for your shoes, then mod your foot wear. Don't be afraid to put your own spin on something. A buddy of mine did a Riddler that was in all black with a green question mark on his tie and hat and it looked amazing.