Friday, June 21, 2013

HeroesCon 2013 Report

Is HeroesCon 2013 really already in the books? While I am glad that I will see more of my dear (and very tired) husband, I did so enjoy my retreat from the outside world this past weekend.  It's lovely to make such wonderful friendships that cement over just a few days together each year.  But y'all don't want to hear me wax poetically about about the bonds formed across a table, you want to know about the art, the guests, and most of all the COMICS! Because at the heart of it, that's what HeroesCon is about.  

There's normally something else going on at the Convention Center during HeroesCon and this year it was the NC Republican Convention.  I will tell you now that I am neither Republican nor Democrat and I don't know that some of the reactions I observed were about political affiliation, but some of the delegates seem just baffled and others rude about how we all show our love for comics.  Now admittedly, some of us at some laughs at the expense of the GOP.  It's hard not to make the cosplay jokes with all the suits and bowties and well, Karl Rove is an entity all to himself.  I do have to say he looks much more grandfatherly than Sith Lord in person.  However, I did get the feeling on more than one occasion that some of the delegates rather than just not understanding the cultures of comics they were encountering, they looked down upon us.  I did have some positive interactions with a few of the delegates, including a dapper gentleman in a lovely sherbet colored blazer, but it was a reminder that people outside of comics don't understand our passion for the medium.     

But enough of that dreariness, on to the fun stuff that makes HeroesCon such a great event!

Cara's Tea Ball Machine
First up: comics, comics, and more comics! There was something for everyone from Silver Age collectors to Cara McGee's fandom teas are a sweet way to celebrate your love of comics and her tea ball machine is an excellent way to sample her special blends.  I came away with Dean, Loki and Draco Malfoy and I have thoroughly enjoyed all three.  I can't wait to try some more tea ball samples in the future.  I also picked up some adorable Marvel Baby variants that I was missing from Apocalypse Comics and Painted Visions Comics.  I also scored some great indie comics which I plan to review on our Tumblr site at a later date (spoiler alert: buy anything Robbi Rodriguez has on his table!).  Seth also had the Heroes booth stocked to the gills with more amazing comics than I can even conceive of-their kids section was outstanding and he put mad hours into keeping the current stock, well, current! ;)
Indie Island lovers and even tea drinkers! While not necessarily "comics",

I attended two panels this year, which is actually less than last year if you count the two panels I moderated, plus Seth's.  I picked some great ones to attend.  Jason Latour, Jason Aaron, and Frank Cho were an entertaining trio discussing their work on Wolverine.  Seth did a wonderful job on his Hawkeye panel with Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber which you can read more about on both CBR and Bleeding Cool.  I am happy to share that Wolverine and the X-Men and Hawkeye are two of my favorite comics.  

Seth working it at the Drink and Draw
Speaking of Seth, I just want to take a bit to tell you all how much work he puts into the Con.  The man is dedicated to doing his part each year to ensure that HeroesCon is one of the best shows around.  This means in the weeks leading up to the con, I hardly get to see him before bedtime.  Not only is he stocking the booth (as mentioned above), but he's editing the Program Book, preparing for his own panel, working on the Drink and Draw, as well as continuing his normal work as the Warehouse Manager.  I never fail to be impressed by all he does.

The Drink and Draw was relocated to the uptown Hilton this year and it was a change for the better.  Not only was it indoors which helped us avoid the monsoon that overtook Charlotte.  The staff at the Hilton was amazing and responded to every request we had with speed and professionalism.  There was also a larger crowd this year of both artists and fans which meant the amount of money raised for Team Cul de Sac was more than doubled from the last two years.  Seth and I are both so happy to be able to play our small part in the fight against Parkison's.

Cosplay! It seemed like there were more costumes than ever, including some that had to be explained to me.  To make this even more fun, two of the Indie Island ladies, Kytri and Pickles, had "Keep Calm and Cosplay Bingo" cards.  Thanks to the assistance of the lovely Suzann Knudsen, I managed a double bingo on my card! I'm actually planning a little bit of cosplay for next year, but that will be a secret that will only be revealed at the Con.  Just another reason to block June 20-22, 2014 on your calendars now!

The art auction was totally packed to the gills with amazing pieces and I was so very happy to come home
So happy to have won Michelle's Harley. Photo by Patrick Sun
with the Harley Quinn painting by Michelle Poust that I honestly had my heart set on since the moment I saw her painting it.  I'm not sure how I felt about the new format this year.  I know the professional auctioneers are very efficient, but they were also very loud and I left the auction the moment I won Harley.  It seems that there must be a good balance between the relaxing atmosphere of the past and the speed and professionalism of this year.  I am sure the staff is already brainstorming as to that very notion.  While it's always fun to hang out in the hallway outside of the auction, we need as many people as possible in the ballroom until the end bidding on all that the HeroesCon auction has to offer.

I want to take the last part of this post to give some mad love to everyone who made the weekend super awesome: Joel Carroll, Kevin Mellon, Ed Piskor, Chris Pitzer, Jim Rugg, Robbi Rodriguez, James Harren, Jason Latour, J.Chris Campbell, Rob Ullman, Joey Weiser, Duane Ballenger, Mike Freiheit, Pat Sun, Steve Lieber, Andy Runton, Dustin Harbin, Rich Barrett, Alexis Ziritt, Sanford Greene, and Chris Schweizer.  Plus Little John for his awesome cookies and Suzann Knudsen for her Doop-napping plans that were foiled! I also had some great lunch buddies in Janis and Izzy Renzi.  Last, but not least, thanks to Linda Drum, who knows that being a Heroes wife isn't always comics and smiles and takes care of us ladies accordingly.  (I'm sure I am forgetting someone, but if I saw you and chatted this weekend chances are I think you're pretty awesome!)

I enjoyed myself so very much this year that I'm not sure if they'll ever get me back behind the Info Booth!  You can check out all the fun I had over on Flickr.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

HeroesCon Drink and Draw

This year will be the third annual HeroesCon Drink and Draw benefiting Team Cul de Sac.  This event gets
Drink and Draw coaster by Evan Dorkin
bigger and better each year and has outgrown its former location of Fuel Pizza and will be taking over the uptown Hilton Bar this year.  The Drink and Draw takes place Friday, June 7 after the show closes for the day.  If you have never been, you could be thinking that if you don't drink and you don't draw, why should you attend? Well, have I got some reasons for you:

1.  Great Cause:  The proceeds of all the art sold at the Drink and Draw go to Team Cul de Sac.  TCDS was founded by Chris Sparks following the Parkinson's disease diagnosis of Richard Thompson, the creator of the comic strip, Cul de Sac.  In 2012, TCDS raised over $100,000 to fund research for a cure.  Part of that fundraising effort was HeroesCon's Drink and Draw.  

2.  Great Art:  Drink and Draw features all sorts of artists who have stopped by and put pen (or marker or pencil or paint) to coaster/bristol board.  Most of those artists donate their creations to be auctioned off by the Heroes staff  for fans to take home.  It's a super opportunity to take home a one-of-a-kind piece of art in a mostly relaxed bidding setting.  Chris has also gathered up some amazing art from creators who won't be at the show that will be available, you can see more here.  

3.  Great Fun: What better way to cap off you first day at the con than unwinding with friends, both old and new? Add in a beverage of your choice and you've got an excellent start to the weekend.  Even better some massive karma points when all of this fun is dedicated to a great cause.  This year also features live music by Jack the Radio, a NC based Southern indie band whose second album "Lowcountry" debuted this May.

Here's a look at last year's Drink and Draw.  Hope you'll stop by and join us this year!  I've been informed that my husband/Heroes manager Seth will be co-emceeing the event along with Heroes' Justin Crouse.  Knowing the two of them, ridiculousness should ensue.

The HeroesCon Drink and Draw takes place at the Center City Hilton located at 222 East 3rd Street, Charlotte, North Carolina 28202.  The fun starts at 7:30pm and goes until the last piece of art is auctioned off.  If you want more information be sure to check out the Heroes' blog post.

Also new this year, Jerry's Artarama is sponsoring Pedi-Cab rides to and from the Drink and Draw.  Just look for the HeroesCon Drink and Draw banners!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Heather's Top 10 Things to Do at HeroesCon 2013

Believe it or not, this will be my first ever HeroesCon as just as fan.  My HeroesCon experience started behind the Info Booth and I have decided to take year off to just enjoy all there is on the Charlotte Convention Center floor.  I picked an excellent year to do this in that HeroesCon will be in two halls which means a bigger Artists Alley and more exhibitors! Without further ado, my HeroesCon 2013 Top 10 Things I will be doing:

Drink and Draw
1.  Drink and Draw: I've been working this excellent fundraising event the past two years and I am happy to just
hang out, eat, drink, and bid on art to support the great cause of Team Cul de Sac.  For those of you that may be unfamiliar, Team Cul de Sac's creator, Richard Thompson, was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and Asheville's own Chris Sparks assembled a wonderful art book in support of both Richard and research for a cure.  Be sure to stop by the Hilton bar after the show closes on Friday!

2.  The Art Auction: Even if you don't win (or even bid on) a piece of art, this is a fun event.  There's so much art to enjoy, you'll want to get there before the auction starts on Saturday night to view all of the pieces contributed by various guests of the show.  

3.  Panels: I've heard rumors of a Wolverine panel featuring my two favorites Jasons and I was able to strong arm Seth into confessing that he will be moderating a Hawkeye panel.  I am reading so much Marvel this year! As always there will be a ton of panels to choose from no matter what your reading selections of the moment may be, so be sure to set aside some time to grab a seat.  

4.  Artist Alley (Guests and Small Press):  Where do I even start? No, really, I need some help mapping out who to see and where to go! I need to assemble my sketch and art "wish list".  

5. Indie Island: It's like a convention within a convention.  Discover new creators and check out the new works of old favorites.  If you can think of a crazy comic idea that you want to read, someone in Indie Island has probably already made it! 

Nick Cardy painting at the Live Art Stage
6. Live Art Stage: Want to see where all the magic happens for the Art Auction.  Stop by the newly enlarged Live Art Stage in the center of the convention floor and watch works of art come together before your very eyes.  

7. Westin Bar: The best place to wind down after a long day at the show and hang out with your friends before heading to bed.  Although it seems like some nights at the con are more like power naps than a full night's sleep.  

8.  Sunday Art Auction:  There's so much great art that the auction has evolved into a two day event concluding with an auction on the con floor by the Live Art Stage that even has it's own place on the map this year.  

9.  Cos-play Photo Shoot: On the Saturday of the con, tons of cos-players will be gathering at 2pm for their
Wonder Woman!
annual group shot.  If you love seeing your favorite characters in real life, this will be a great place to gather to snap photos and see for yourself all the amazing costumes people have assembled to celebrate their love of comics.

10: The Heroes Store Booth: The heart of the convention for many reasons for me.  Admittedly, this will be the best place to find my husband who has been working tirelessly to have the best stock pulled for both grown-ups and kids.  Seriously, the kids' stock is great.  No worries about your little reader stumbling across books they don't need to read for years when they have their own boxes to hunt through.  


Saturday, May 25, 2013

HeroesCon: Where to Eat 2013 Update

Greetings my fellow HeroesCon attendees! Is it lunchtime yet? That's a question you'll overhear from me this year as I will be at my first HeroesCon as fan.  I will be out from behind the Info Booth and in the wild for my meals! In place of doing a whole new post, I have just added some additions to last year's post which you can find here.

Have I mentioned my love of food trucks and that Charlotte is graced with some amazing trucks? We now have a grilled cheese truck, y'all! Few foods make me happier than a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.  Well, perhaps an elaborate and delicious cupcake, but really, dessert is a totally separate food group.  Cupcake Delirium and Roaming Fork are generally parked on Pecan Street (the side street that runs on the Crisp side of the Heroes store) on Friday nights while others gather in the food truck lot on South Blvd.  If you're interested, be sure to check the twitter accounts of the specific trucks for location information.

Food Truck Additions and Favorites:
Papi Queso: @papiquesotruck
Cupcake Delirium: @onthegocupcakes
Roaming Fork: @roamingforkNC
Maki Taco: @makitacotruck

Walking Distance Additions:
Queen City Q: You're in North Carolina, you might as well stroll on over to take part in what seems like one of our main food groups, BBQ.  For those of you of the non-Southern persuasion, BBQ doesn't mean hamburgers and hot dogs, but rather smoked meat like pork shoulder, brisket and chicken.  Queen City Q also has a wide selection of traditional sides like collard greens, potato salad, and green bean casserole.

Worth the Drive Additions:
JJ's dogs have the Renzi stamp of approval
JJ's Red Hots: A hot dog joint with something from everyone now that a veggie dog has been added to the menu.  Seth and Rico can probably give you feedback on most dogs on the menu between the two of them.  I love the salmon sliders myself and their onion rings are delicious.

Bean Vegan: Bean is now open and there's a familiar face behind the counter with vegan chef, Charles, who some of you may recognize from the Info Booth at HeroesCon.  There's a lot on the menu to make both vegans and their meat eating friends very happy.  I recommend the pulled BBQ sandwich and the cowboy cookies (these are up there with some of the best cookies I have ever eaten! If you go to Bean, bring me some cookies!)

Heroes Neighborhood Additions:

Phat Burrito: That's right, Rob Ullman, there are two locations for you to choose from, one just down the block from Heroes.  Pick up a comic or ten and enjoy a pleasant stroll to work off that gigantic burrito you're about to consume.

The Central Burger at Joe Hooper's
Photo by Rico "The Belly" Renzi
Joe Hooper's Beverage and Sandwich Exchange: Seth and Rico love this new restaurant that features insane burgers and other delicious bar food.  They even top their Central Burger with a giant ball of fried mac and cheese.  Unhinging python jaw optional?

Hubee D's: If you're a fan of the delicious banned meat of Chew, be sure to check out Hubee D's, another Fat Friday favorite of some unnamed Heroes staff members.

Happy HeroesCon and happy eating, my friends! See you in two weeks!

UPDATE: I've been informed by Heroes' one and only, Shelton Drum, that not only will HeroesCon be taking place June 7-9, but Taste of Charlotte will also be going on in uptown.  This event gives you an opportunity to sample a number of Charlotte restaurants, just a short walk from the Convention Center.  For my vegan friends, ZiZi's Vegan (which is located more in the University area) will be set up, giving you another excellent vegan option!

I also had some suggestions from friends on some restaurants I missed on the first round.  Be sure to stop by Rick Fortenberry's booth at the Con and thank him for suggesting Mac's Speed Shop, Bill Spoon's BBQ, and Brooks Sandwich House.  The caveat to Brooks is they are only open Monday-Friday, 7am-3pm so you'll need to hit that for lunch on Friday or Monday.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Infertility isn't a four letter word, but damn, if it doesn't feel like one.

Our hiatus from the blog has lasted much longer than either of us anticipated.  I am back with a post that has nothing to do with either comics or music.  We are nearing the end of National Infertility Awareness Week founded by Resolve: The National Infertility Awareness Association.  

A few months ago, I received a diagnosis of infertility.  That diagnosis was probably a few months overdue, but I ignored what my body was trying to tell me because I didn't want the diagnosis that to me meant I was broken and defective.  I still feel that way some days, but I have found an amazingly supportive community online of women in the exact same situation.     Finding that community has enabled me to slowly come out to people about my own struggles with infertility.  

The current estimates are between 1 in 7 and 1 in 8 couples are dealing with infertility.  However many of those couples suffer in silence and, believe me when I tell you there is suffering.  Infertility has been one of the more painful things I've dealt with in my life.  We are still early in the process and don't yet have a clear answer as to what is causing the infertility.  I waiver between hope and despair each month as to modern medicine's ability to solve this issue.  

I don't share this brief bit of my story for pity or solutions, I share for others like me who have been enduring a painful silence to say that you're not alone and there is support out there, don't be afraid to look for it.

On that note, I'd like to share some links that I've found both helpful and comforting: