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.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

HeroesCon Cos Play Inteview: Suzann Knudsen

As part as HeroesCon month here on Exile, we're spotlighting some of our favorite things about the con.  Charlotte has some awesome and dedicated cos players, including Suzann Knudsen, also known as DJ Spider.  Suzann was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk about her cosplaying experiences.  Thanks Suzann! We can't wait to see you at HeroesCon. 

How long have you been doing cosplay? Halloween has always been my favorite time of year, so can I just say forever?  :) But I seriously started doing it about 10 years ago or so, after my first DragonCon when I discovered that were TONS of people who were like me - geeky, nerdy and wanted to play dress up!

What was your first costume? I did Jem from Jem and the Holograms.  It was terrible!  But every year I challenged myself to make more costumes and learn new skills, and now I average 4-6 costumes per year (I have a wishlist of roughly 100 more characters I'd like to do, so I think I'll be at this for a while longer!)

How did you become interested in cosplay? That first day at DragonCon, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who were completely comfortable doing what I thought was just a "me" thing.  I looked at my boyfriend and said, "I am sooo coming back here and doing this right next year!"  Since then I have met some of the most amazing people through cosplay, and I can't imagine not doing it.

What's been your favorite con experience while in costume?  I tend to do more obscure characters and costumes, so it's always awesome when you see someone's face light up when they recognize who you're dressed as.  But more than anything, I've loved being a part of the big photo shoots that the Superhero Costuming Forum organizes each year in Atlanta. We did a Teen Titans shoot a few years ago and George Perez officiated, and he was like a little kid seeing his creations come to life.  He even threatened to erase us if we didn't pay attention to the photographer!  And kids in general - they get so excited when they see a favorite!

Is there anything you wish people wouldn't do while you're in costume? It's going to sound silly, but always ask a costumer if you can touch a part of a costume before you do.  It's not because we're protective (well, we are a little) but sometimes a prop is covered in glitter and you'll get covered in it, or you might be wearing a fabric that will snag and get tangled in what we're wearing.  I am always happy to talk about my costumes with people, though, so please come say hi and ask questions!

How many characters are in your current con rotation? Wow, I almost want to say zero because I try to do a new batch every year, but I'm trying to be better about re-wearing characters. I work anywhere from 1-3 months of a costume, I should probably wear it longer than 2-3 hours! Some costumes  have been retired, either because the costume has become damaged or it was a character I really didn't feel as much of a connection to anymore.  Currently, though, my closet holds a Silvestri/Adams-era Rogue, a classic silver Dazzler, a blue Dazzler, Big Barda, Alpha Flight enemy Dream Queen, Sensor Girl, an 80s Black Canary, the George Perez blue sorceress Zatanna, a classic Wonder Woman,the 90's bike-shorts/blue jacket Wonder Woman,  Artemis, Silver Banshee, Black Orchid, Amethyst Princess of Gemworld, Betsy Braddock's Captain Britain, Hela, Looker, Sue Storm's alter ego Malice, Rachel Summer's Excalibur-era Phoenix, and Disney villain Yzma. (whew!)

Who is your favorite character to play? They are all close to me in one way or another, but I love Dazzler.  She's my first love when it comes to comics, so wearing her makes me feel very connected.

From my twitter request for questions: Where do you put your keys while in costume?
My boyfriend's pocket!  Though I've been tempted to make a costume from the Bat Family just so I can have a functional utility belt!

What's your favorite con to attend? DragonCon is a massive beastie that I've dubbed our dysfunctional family reunion, because all of us pretty much pick up right where we left off the year before.  But it's definitely in a class by itself, and as much a sci-fi con and pop culture con as a comic con.  I've been lucky to hit a few other conventions (ConVergence in MN and New York Comic Con) but nothing beats HeroesCon when it comes to the pure comics stuff - everyone is just super friendly and welcoming, and it's one of the highlights of my year!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Interview with Team Cul de Sac's Chris Sparks!

Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the HeroesCon Drink and Draw.  In addition to working the table with the art supplies, I was able to observe the creation of works from a lot of wonderful artists that were donated for sale to raise money for Team Cul de Sac which works to raise money and awareness of Parkinson's disease.  The efforts of Team Cul de Sac are spearheaded by Chris Sparks and their largest project to date is an impressive art book featuring a wide array of artists.  I was able to talk to Chris about this wonderful art book and the efforts behind it. 

Heather Peagler (HP): What was the inspiration behind this book?

Chris Sparks (CS): The inspiration was reading a book one night by Michael J. Fox: Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.  I figured if an actor that I admired could start a foundation to help cure Parkinson's, I could do something to raise money for the MJFF and honor my friend Richard Thompson, the creator of the syndicated strip Cul de Sac. 
I was struck by Michael's ability to be the face (if he wanted to or not) of this terrible disease. Before I asked Richard for his blessing of me doing a fundraiser, I had to think if I would be willing to put myself out there like Richard would have to. It was a no brainer, yes I would do it and if he said yes, I would go about this full steam. 
Richard gave me his blessing and off I went on coming up with a plan for Team Cul de Sac.

HP: How did you meet Richard?

CS: I met Richard at Heroescon in 2008. I had heard such nice things about him from Dusty that I really had to see if Richard was as amazing as everyone said. Well he is. I became a fan/stalker/friend from the moment I met him. He is one of the most talented cartoonist I have ever met. Plus, he is a great guy!

HP: How did you go about gathering the work for the book?

CS: Richard posted information on his blog and Mike Rhode, a mutual friend in DC, spread the news and then it kept spreading. This was almost a total social media effort.
Then Watterson contributed and BAMMM, contributions started to pour in. I also went to Baltimorecon , Heroescon, and the Reuben awards last year in Boston and asked folks. Lee Salem, the president of Universal Uclick syndicate, also asked some of the big guns to contribute. 

HP: How did you team up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for this project?

CS: They have a great fundraising system called TEAM FOX. It is a grassroots fundraising section of the MJFF. Each year they have over 1500 Team Fox members raising money. So I formed Team Cul de Sac.

HP: Which artists are you most excited about including?

CS: I admire so many. Top on my list is Richard do the amazing cover. What a thrill. Also, Sergio Aragones is just one of my heroes in so many ways. He has been one of the biggest inspirations in my life. Bill Watterson, Bill is one of the best storytellers ever. To have him pick this project to showcase his first public art in 16 years is an honor. Plus, his name recognition made everyone take notice of TCDS. Pat Oliphant... Pat Oliphant, I am still shocked by his contribution. Mo Williams, Lincoln Pierce, Tim is really amazing. I might as well list everyone. The talent of both the professionals and fans is quite amazing.

HP: What's been your happiest moment during this project?

CS: It has to be getting emails from people with Parkinson’s or their families emailing me about how much this means to them. To have a lighter look at something that is just not that funny. Also, the outpouring of support for the project and for Richard has been such a blessing. Cartoonists and fans for our hobby are the best folks in the world. I am glad to be a part of this wonderful world we love.

Here at Exile, we're super excited to be able to promote such an awesome book that supports such a great cause.  Seth and I can't wait to pick up our copy of Team Cul de Sac this June at HeroesCon. Plus if you buy your book at HeroesCon, you'll also be able to purchase the special HeroesCon incentive print (pictured below) by Roger Langridge! Books will be $30 at the show with a percentage of the proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF).  There may also be copies of the Author's Edition, which are $60 with $20 going to the MJFF.  All proceeds from the sale of the HeroesCon print will also go to MJFF.

Chris may also have books by Richard at his booth this year since Richard's health has restricted his travel.  So be sure to stop by his booth and pick up some great art to support both the MJFF and Richard! 

You can also add to your art collection before HeroesCon through the Heritage Team Cul de Sac auction currently running until June 10, 2012. 

Thanks so much to Chris Sparks for taking the time to speak to us and for being such a dedicated person in the fight against Parkinson's disease.