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HeroesCon Proves Good Comic Shows Don’t Have To Be Hard to Find

“Hello neighbors,” I say to the circle I’m standing in the middle of.

“Hello neighbor,” the circle intones back happily, including Bitch Planet co-creator Kelly Sue Deconnick, who is running this panel. This is just one of the games she’s taught us. The same games she teaches her Girl Scout troop to teach them how to set boundaries and learn about their community.

“I love all of my neighbors, but especially the ones who watch professional wrestling,” I say to the circle. I cover it professionally. I wanted to see if someone was at least interested.

Silence. No one gets up.

“Just me? Okay.”

I change my prompt to those who like combat boots and we scramble to find chairs, leaving someone else in the center to greet their neighbors. I’m not salty though. It’s not long before I’m talking to someone else about pro-wrestling at the end of the panel. It’s HeroesCon after all. Most of us are just neighbors who haven’t met yet.

HeroesCon is an annual comic book convention in Charlotte. Every Father’s Day weekend, comics creators and fans from all around the country descend upon the Queen City to mingle and to sell books and art. It was started by Shelton Drum, the owner of the local shop Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, but the con has extended beyond the reach of the shop. Especially 35 years on.

I went to my first one in 2014 on a whirlwind day trip from Atlanta to Charlotte, determined to meet my newfound comics heroes Deconnick, Matt Fraction, and Chip Zdarsky. Three years later, I’m still making friends and greeting friends every time I walk the floor, and that’s honestly part of the charm of HeroesCon.

The con is unique in this day of entertainment industry powered comic cons, where comics often take a back seat to television and movies. HeroesCon is comics and comic creator focused, still even after 35 years. The local CW affiliate sets up a booth where they give prizes away relating to the DC Comics TV shows on the network, but that’s about as far as the TV involvement goes. Walk a little further, and you’re bound to find some of your favorite creators sitting at tables, selling their books and art. Or maybe even your future favorite creator. That same con three years prior? That was the first con I met Babs Tarr, excited to see the Bosozoku Sailor Scouts art in person. This year, she was selling exclusive trades of Motor Crush that could only be found at the convention, with Domino and Lola blasting past Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find. It’s hard not to feel proud.

The games panel is different from the other panels I was able to make it to during the weekend. The other two were more traditional. Well, as traditional as you can get with Zdarsky talking about going undercover at a skeezy nudist resort as the long way of saying his parents are into Sex Criminals during his spotlight panel and Fraction reading quotes from his supervillain daughter Tallulah Louise during the Milkfed Criminal Masterminds panel (which I livetweeted here).

It feels like only a panel that could work at HeroesCon though. Laid back and concentrated on being open. There is no pressure to participate. It’s not crunched and stressful like Dragon Con and it’s not about promoting the next big property. We’re here to learn about our community. To share in a mutual love.

“I feel welcome in my fandom,” Deconnick asks the room in a game of Across the Room, where we cross to the other side of the room to join a line.

I stay firmly planted for the time. I feel welcome at HeroesCon. It’s not a con of exclusion. They’re here for all fans of comics. But comics fandom? I’m a queer woman. I barely feel welcome. For pro-wrestling? I constantly feel like I’m loitering around a door, screaming at the residents inside, even if I do write about it professionally.

“I want to make people feel welcome in my fandom.”

There, I take the opportunity to aggressively stomp across the room.

“My mom wanted me to give you a hug from her,” I tell Deconnick after the panel. She met my mom at a Bitch Planet signing in Toronto a couple of years ago and asks me about her every time we see each other at a convention. We exchange hugs and she ‘awws’ about my mom.

It’s one of those things I wish I could tell me of three years ago about, nervous about meeting her idols. It’s also one of those things I feel grateful to HeroesCon for. Helping break down barriers and anxieties to help me figure out my career.

Every year I’ve gone, it’s expanded a little more, but it still feels like a family reunion. It’s the con I look forward to the most every year just because I get to see my comics friends without the added extra stress of packing five days worth of cosplay or having to time running across five hotels to make it to a panel in a basement. It drains my wallet with good art and good food, but it’s welcome. Where else can Kris Anka make jokes about having to fix Joe Quinones’ art when I come to pick up a commission of Captain Marvel? Or the press liaison that I have not previously met recognizes me and thanks me for tweeting while he goes to attend to delivering extra books to creators from the shop?

HeroesCon is special in those ways. It’s not about the big press push, but reminding the world that comics and the people who make them can be pretty great. And that everyone can and should be welcome in their fandoms, despite whatever state laws exist in North Carolina or in the patriarchal confines of old fandom structures.

2017 Inkwell Awards Winners Announced

The Inkwell Awards has released the names of the winners of its 10th annual awards for excellence in the art form of comic book inking. As before, nominees were chosen by a separate and independent nomination committee; this year had more nominees than ever. Voting by professionals and fans alike took place via live ballot at the non-profit advocacy’s website. One winner was chosen in each of five categories based on American-based interior comic-book work cover-dated 2016.

Separately, the Inkwells internally selected the two recipients of the annual Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award and, this year, two recipients for the Special Recognition Award (SRA) category. Winners were contacted and many of the invited guests were present to receive their trophies during North Carolina’s Heroes Con, the host show for the Inkwells, for their seventh live ceremony. Winners and nominees are listed below, along with the percentage of votes received, where applicable.

FAVORITE INKER: Scott Hanna (21.06%)
(Action Comics, Batman, Justice League, Superman: Lois & Clark, Wonder Woman [DC]; A-Force, All-New Wolverine, Avengers: Standoff, Civil War II: The Fallen, Drax, Nova, Squadron Supreme, Uncanny Inhumans, Web Warriors, [Marvel]).
Other nominees: Sandra Hope-Archer (16.02%), Danny Miki (12.95%), Jonathan Glapion (12.53%),  Matt Banning (12.22%), Tim Townsend (11.44%), Eber Ferriera (9.15%),  Stefano Gaudiano (6.92%) and Mick Gray (5.2%)

MOST-ADAPTABLE INKER: Walden Wong (19.97%)
(Earth 2, Robin War [DC]; Jupiter’s Circle v2 [Image]; All-New Wolverine, Guardians of Infinity, Max Ride, Web Warriors [Marvel]).
Other nominees: Scott Hanna (14.87%), Sandra Hope-Archer (12.43%), Jonathan Glapion (12.38%), Mark Morales (11.23), Victor Olazaba (9.57%), Norm Rapmund (9.2%), Danny Miki (8.01%), Jay Leisten (4.42%), Wayne Faucher and Dexter Vines, both at (4.06%)

PROPS (inker deserving of more attention): Scott Hanna (24.34%)
(Action Comics, Batman, Justice League, Superman: Lois & Clark, Wonder Woman [DC]; A-Force, All-New Wolverine, Avengers: Standoff, Civil War II: The Fallen, Drax, Nova, Squadron Supreme, Uncanny Inhumans, Web Warriors, [Marvel]).
Other nominees: Jonathan Glapion (19.14%), Klaus Janson (18.72%), Dexter Vines (13%), Tony Kordos (12.64%), Andrew Hennessey (9.67%) and Jason Paz (6.76%)

S.P.A.M.I. (Small Press and Mainstream Independent): Jonathan Glapion (23.45%)(Reborn [Image]).
Other nominees: Stefano Gaudiano (23.09%), Karl Story (22.93%),  Brian Shearer (13.68%), Ryan Winn (12.43%) and Cliff Rathburn (6.66%)

ALL-IN-ONE (pencilling and inking together): Erik Larsen (18.46%)
(Savage Dragon [Image])
Other nominees: Nicola Scott (16.33%), Liam Sharp (16.28%), Stan Sakai (13.99%), Walter Simonson (12.95%), Jerome Opena (9.98%) and Joelle Jones (6.71%)

THE SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD (SRA): Violet Barclay, aka Valerie Smith (Golden/Silver Age) and Allen Milgrom (Bronze/Modern Age)

Other nominees (in alphabetical order): Michael Allred, Sy Barry, John Byrne, Ernie Chan, Jack Davis, Tony Dezuniga, Will Elder, Mike Esposito, Frank Frazetta, Gerhard, Geoff Isherwood, George Klein, Frank McLaughlin, Mike Mignola and Mike Royer.

THE JOE SINNOTT HALL OF FAME: Jerry Ordway and Rudy Nebres. Other nominees: Mike DeCarlo, Mark Farmer, Bob Layton, Pablo Marcos, Bob McLeod and Mike Royer.

2017 Inkwell Awards Ceremony at Heroes Con Headlined By Legends Joe Giella and Allen Bellman

Results from the 10th annual Inkwell Awards will be presented at the inking advocacy group’s 7th live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. The awards ceremony is scheduled for Friday June 16, 5:00 PM at the Charlotte Convention Center, in room 209-210.

Golden/Silver Age ink artist and famed DC Comics mainstay Joe Giella is scheduled to appear as Guest of Honor. Golden Age and Timely (Marvel) pioneer and penciller/inker Allen Bellman will act as Guest Speaker for one of two Special Recognition Award recipients.

The Inkwells have five categories: Favorite Inker, the “Props” award for under-recognized professionals, the S.P.A.M.I. for Small Press And Mainstream-Independent work, Most-Adaptable Inker, and the “All-in-One” for the artist who inks his/her own pencil art. Thousands of voters cast their ballots at the group’s website in April to log their support and choose their favorites.

In addition to Giella and Bellman, other speakers/attendees include host and presenter Almond, hostess Hailey Skaza-Gagne as spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell, Inkwell Assistant Director/co-presenter and artist Mike Pascale, and other volunteer staff members. Announced with the publicly-chosen award-winners will be the internally-voted two recipients of the yearly Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award and two recipients of the third annual Special Recognition Award.

Other related guests at the Heroes show itself include Inkwell ambassadors Laura Martin, Mike McKone, Cully Hamner and J. David Spurlock. There may also be surprise appearances at the ceremony by member-creators, the award recipients or other supporters. 

As an added bonus, the first 25 non-member attendees will receive a raffle ticket for an automatic door prize. After the event, every ticket holder will win a prize as explained at the ceremony.

The Inkwells will be set up in Artists Alley at an as of yet unspecified location to be announced soon at the Heroes Con website, offering (for donations) their recently-released Ms. Inkwell Gallery art book, signed by cover artist Bill Sienkiewicz as well as Joe Sinnott, Bob Almond and Hailey Skaza-Gagne, along with plenty of other Inkwell merchandise to help raise much-needed funds. (The organization will delay the next Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge book until 2018 to celebrate their tenth anniversary.)

The Inkwell Awards (www.inkwellawards.com) is an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize the best ink artists and their work. Now approaching it’s tenth year, the organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and numerous contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

Web site: inkwellawards.com.

The Inkwell Awards Voting Open From April 15-30

Who’s your favorite inker? The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit organization devoted to the education and promotion of the art of comic book inking, invites all to vote for the industry’s best of the year. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwells’ homepage from April 15 through April 30.

Voting is open to fans and professionals alike. In addition to “Favorite Inker,” categories include “Most Adaptable,” “PROPS” (inkers deserving more attention), the “S.P.A.M.I.” (Small Press And Mainstream Independent) and “All-In-One” for pencillers who ink their own work.

As a courtesy, also listed on the ballot are the nominees for the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame (“HoF”), a lifetime achievement honor for an outstanding inking career of 25 or more years in American comics, whose winners are chosen by an internal committee (to avoid a “popularity contest” where recent names have more influence than past masters).

Two years ago the Special Recognition Award (SRA) was introduced and nominees for it also listed on the ballot with voting being done internally. This lifetime achievement honor differs from the HoF award due to one or more factors such as the artist being out of the “public eye,” having limited name-recognition due to semi- or full retirement or death, limited-yet-influential output, social barriers such as gender/race, or other factors that might otherwise limit them from being nominated for a traditional HoF award. The SRA nominees are not listed this year but they will be discussed at the awards ceremony along with the SRA award recipients.

Once voting ends after April 30, the winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC on Friday, June 16th.

Heroes vs. Mile High for Charity!

For those who might not know, there’s a rather big sporting event this weekend, the Super Bowl. The Carolina Panthers will be going against the Denver Broncos and with that match up, lots of bets will be flying all over.

Heroes and Mile High Comics are having some fun with it in the name of charity. Heroes announced in their newsletter:

Shelton has put together a fun and friendly wager with his pal Chuck Rozanski at Mile High Comics in Denver, CO. Since both our teams are playing in Super Bowl 50, we will both have auctions starting tonight and ending Monday with the losing city’s shop donating the proceeds to charity! We’re playing for Greg Olsen’s Heartest Yard and we’re auctioning off some very nice Deadpool books!

Both auctions start tonight and end Monday at 10PM Mountain Time. Check our Facebook and Twitter for direct links once the auctions are live!

We are putting up some key Deadpool issues with a bonus SuperPro Super Bowl Special!

Awesome to see them both doing this, and I hope folks join in on the fun and get some bids in.

Heroes Mile High Charity

ComicBlitz, the latest digital app, launches at HeroesCon

ComicBlitzA new digital app for comics is launching this coming weekend at HeroesCon. ComicBlitz will be entering its open Beta on a first come first serve sign-up process, which folks can sign up for at the convention. They’ll be located at booth #919.

The beta will be open to the first 300 people to sign up, but what platform it’s form has not been announced. While an official launch date is still pending, the official launch will “follow very shortly.”

ComicBlitz will initially launch with comics from Valiant and Dynamite and follows a Netflix like all you can consume model for $9.99 a month.

It’s been a long time coming as the app first begin to peak its head out in 2014, and an initial beta sign up was launched through their website.

ComicBlitz Header

 

Disclosure: I consulted on the project for a time, though did not receive compensation to do so and am no longer affiliated.

Guest of Honor Klaus Janson to speak at the 2015 Inkwell Awards Ceremony during Heroes Con

jansonResults from the 8th annual Inkwell Awards will be presented at the inking advocacy group’s 5th live awards ceremony this June 19-21 at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. Legendary ink artist Klaus Janson will be one of the speakers.

Rather than just “Favorite Inker,” the Inkwells have five categories, including the “Props” award for under-recognized professionals, and the S.P.A.M.I., for favorite Small Press And Mainstream-Independent work. Thousands of voters visited and voted during May at the group’s web site to show their support.

The awards ceremony is scheduled this year for Friday (not Saturday as in the past), June 19 at 5:00 PM in room 209-210. In addition to past Hall of Fame award-winner and guest of honor Klaus Janson, other speakers include host Almond, presenters Mike McKone (Inkwell special ambassador) and Mark McKenna (2012 Sinnott Hall of Fame winner), plus Steve Hampton, Craig Yoe and Orion Zangara. Announced with the award-winners will be the two recipients of the annual Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award and the first recipient of the Special Recognition Award.

Other attendees include Inkwell ambassadors Mark Brooks, Cully Hamner, Laura Martin and Mike McKone, contributors Randy Green, Enrica Jang and Dan Panosian, and more. Also appearing will be the Ms. Inkwell spokesperson character, portrayed this time by Massachusetts model, Holly Black.

As an added bonus, the first 20 non-member attendees will receive a raffle ticket for an automatic door prize. After the event, every ticket holder will win a prize as explained at the ceremony.

The Inkwells will be set up in Artists Alley at table 307, offering for donations their new, 4th annual Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge book and plenty of other Inkwells merchandise to help raise much-needed funds. “We’re immensely grateful to Shelton Drum and the Heroes Con staff for supporting the community and giving fans an opportunity to learn more about and appreciate this often overlooked industry craft.”

The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. Now in its 8th year, the organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and numerous contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

Inkwell Awards Announces 8th Season Convention Tour

inkwell bannerThe non-profit Inkwell Awards has scheduled their upcoming convention appearances for the first half of their eighth season tour to support the group’s mission of promoting, educating and recognizing the art form of inking and ink artists in the comic book industry.

granite state comiconThe first stop the Granite State Comicon in Manchester, NH this September 13-14. The advocacy is making its first appearance there since 2010, with Inkwell founder/director Bob Almond and Anna White as their spokesmodel Ms. Inkwell. Along with assorted merchandise available at their booth, they will hold raffles for original art featuring Batman, Poison Ivy and Thor by industry and fan favorites.

Rhode Island Comic ConNext is the Rhode Island Comic Con in Providence on November 1-2. Joining Almond and Ms. Inkwell will be several committee members and special Inkwell ambassadors J. David Spurlock and the legendary Joe Sinnott, the namesake of the charity’s Hall of Fame Award and its annual Inking Challenge event and book collection.

Later show stops will take place towards the end of the season in May and June of 2015 with the Hartford and Heroes Cons, to be announced later.

The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization and the world’s sole registered advocacy for the promotion of the comic-book inking art form. In addition to its stated mission, “The Inkwells” annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. The organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the annual Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

Voting Is Open For The Inkwell Awards From April 15-30

The Inkwell Awards, a non-profit organization devoted to educating and promoting the art of inking, invites the public to vote for the industry’s best of the past year. The official public ballot will be available on the Inkwell Awards’ homepage from April 15 through April 30. Voting is open to everyone, whether fans or professional peers. The winners will be announced at the live awards ceremony at Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC June 20-22 on Saturday the 21st at 12:30pm.

As with last year, the ballot will still list the nominees for the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame lifetime achievement award, which were chosen by the internal and separate Hall of Fame Nomination Committee (made up of the core committee, former committee members, ambassadors, contributors and existing Hall of Fame award recipients). To avoid a “popularity contest” where recent names have more influence than past masters, the two winners have been chosen by the HoF Nomination Committee rather than the public and will be announced at the ceremony. Current nominees are listed as a courtesy. Past Hall of Fame award recipients include Joe Sinnott, Terry Austin & Dick Giordano, Klaus Janson & Al Williamson, Wallace Wood & Kevin Nowlan, Mark McKenna & Scott Williams, and last year, Dick Ayers & Murphy Anderson.

Bob Almond, founder and director of The Inkwell Awards (AKA “The Inkwells”) said in a release:

We’re so excited for this event, where everyone’s hard work will pay off and the best of the best ink artists and their work will be recognized. Inkers have their own fans and followers, and often go unsung or glossed over in traditional awards events. Ours caters specifically to ink artists and allows several to be recognized and appreciated in various categories.

Ballots and instructions can be viewed at The Inkwells’ web site beginning on tax day, April 15. A direct link will additionally be posted on their Facebook group page, where people may also ask any questions.

The Inkwell Awards is an official 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and promote the art form of comic-book inking, as well as annually recognize and award the best ink artists and their work. Now in its seventh year, the organization is overseen by a committee of industry professionals and assisted by various professional ambassadors and numerous contributors. They sponsor the Dave Simons Inkwell Memorial Scholarship Fund for the Kubert School and host the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame Award.

inkwell banner

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