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HeroesCon Returns in 2022

HeroesCon 2022

June 2022 is the 40th anniversary of the heroes convention and after two years of the pandemic, HeroesCon 2022 will be one hell of a return.

After much deliberation, HeroesCon will skip 2021 and instead return in 2022 to mark 40 years.

All 2020/2021 HeroesCon tickets, Artist Alley tables, and Exhibitor Booth reservations will transfer to 2022. Hotel rates will be made available as soon as the 2022 show dates have been finalized.

The convention has been watching vaccinations and most importantly listening to attendees who responded that 95% would not be comfortable attending a June 2021 convention. That along with construction at the convention center, capacity restrictions until the fall, limited on-site concessions, and social distancing helped guide the decision.

Heroescon Canceled Due to COVID-19

Heroes Convention

Heroes Convention has announced that its 2020 convention has been canceled due to COVID-19. North Carolina has extended its stay-at-home order to May 8 which would likely prevent mass gathering of more than 10,000 as the state “reopens.”

The convention has decided that with the time line so unpredictable it was best to skip ahead for next year’s convention which will take place on June 18-20, 2021.

All 3-Day Advance Tickets, Artist Alley Tables, and Exhibitor Booth Reservations for the 2020 Heroes Convention will automatically transfer to the June 18-20, 2021 show. Requests for refunds will be addressed on a case-by-case basis as soon as possible but will need to be postponed until the country, and Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, have reopened and finances have stabilized.

You can read the full statement by the convention at their site.

HeroesCon 2018: A Tale in 3 Panels

HeroesCon felt a little different to me this year.

Maybe it was the fact the event snuck up on me as a scrambled to get ready and gave up on the idea of cosplaying as I packed for the con. Maybe it was the fact that my one usual guaranteed time of the year to see Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue Deconnick was not actually guaranteed since Fraction cancelled and Deconnick never even made it on the guest list to begin with. Maybe it was the fact that my year away from the comics community in an attempt to be a wrestling news writer sucked the life out of me and I was in the middle of a creative dry spell. Even now, I feel regret writing this up more than two months after the fact as I currently get ready for my next convention, but that’s literally how bad it was.

Still, “different” doesn’t mean “bad” and I still had a great time at HeroesCon this year. Especially getting a chance to get to hear from new creators or ones I wasn’t as familiar with.

The first panel I made it to was the Batman Family panel, which featured Cully Hamner, Joelle Jones, Lee Weeks and Ben Caldwell talking about their experiences of working on books in the Gotham universe. Moderator Adam Daughhetee tried to see if they could go the entire panel without mentioning Batman, but that only lasted about two minutes of a 60 minute panel.

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The entire panel was enlightening about what it is like to immerse yourself in Gotham as a creator and featured a lot of complimentary words on Tom King, but I walked away from this panel especially charmed by Caldwell and Jones. Caldwell because he spent a lot of the panel talking about the YA comic he’s working on with Frank Miller about Carrie Kelley, my personal favorite Robin. You could tell that his love of the character has been a genuine lifetime one since he first read The Dark Knight Returns, which he personally described as operatic and cartoony over the dark and gritty reputation it has earned over the years. He described his work with Miller as being “very carnival-esque,” keeping in line with the vibe of The Dark Knight Returns while still doing their own thing and expressed happiness that DC isn’t afraid to aim for younger readers anymore. It’s hard to imagine Miller writing for a younger audience, but Caldwell’s enthusiasm for the book has me convinced. As for Carrie Kelley, he summed up the appeal of the first girl to be Robin very succinctly: “She curses like a sailor and shoots things with a slingshot. What’s not to like?”

As for Jones, she was quietly hilarious through the panel. I had been familiar with her work through her Dark Horse Comic Lady Killer, but hearing her talk about process and Catwoman was on a whole other level. She talked about taking pressure off of herself by setting her Catwoman book in another city instead of Gotham, which had given me my first suspicion that something was going down in Batman #50. She also expressed regret over making Catwoman’s dress so complicated because she didn’t know other artists would be drawing it, let alone cosplayers attempting to make it. “I would NEVER sew that dress.”

The next day had my favorite panel of the weekend, which was about wrestling and comics. The panel included Tini Howard, Andy Belanger, and J Gonzo.

I always worry about panels about wrestling turning into real life wrestling internet, but it was actually a fascinating discussion about, and to paraphrase Howard here, the type of storytelling like comics, wrestling and drag that deals a lot with the liminal spaces between the fiction and the creator. “I really respond to wrestlers that when I look at them and I can see ‘you’re an artist!’”

Belanger especially had a lot to contribute to this discussion since on top of being a comics creator and working on wrestling comics for Boom! Studios as well as an upcoming one for Image that takes place in space, he wrestles as well under the name ‘The Animal’ Bob Anger for IWS in Montreal, which has also paid host to Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, PCO, and Vanessa Kraven, among others. He treats them as equal creative outlets, saying, “There’s zero difference between me making comics and me wrestling.”

While Gonzo didn’t have experience as a wrestler, he did talk a lot about his book La Mano Del Destino, which features luchadors fighting battles for corporate overlords, and the idea of masked luchadors being judged on actions instead of their identity. He also talked about the time he created a character named Mil Amores for a Halloween stand up comedy gig and stayed in character the entire time. Amores was a luchador who constantly gave love advice, but could never not contextualize it for wrestling. I definitely picked up La Mano Del Destino from him after the panel.

As for Howard, along with her discussions of the cross sections of wrestling and comics and even calling me out for the story of when I met Diamond Dallas Page’s daughter, she  summed up the experience of being a newer wrestling fan who is not immersed in decades worth of history and childhood feelings in one sentence that I have borrowed shamelessly since the con: “I don’t have a 20 year hate boner for Stephanie McMahon.”

Finally, the Sunday panel titled “Dotted Lines” was another very affirming moment of the weekend as it featured creators talking about queer representation in comics and included Howard, Dan Parent, Yoshi Yoshitani, Tamra Bonvillain, Sarah Stern and Eryk Donovan.

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As many panels with queer creators start, early influences and first encounters with queerness in media came up. Yoshitani and Donovan talked some about Ranma ½ and Yoshitani, who identifies as genderfluid, went further to mention the persistent trope of a woman disguising herself as a man and having the man fall in love with her. Howard, unsurprisingly, mentioned Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and how she mentally imagined herself turning Alicia Silverstone into a vampire and living in a Barbie Dreamhouse together.

Of course, it wasn’t all laughs as Bonvillain brought up the first time she ever saw a trans woman on screen: the scene in Crocodile Dundee where he assaults a transwoman. She admits that it sucks a lot and served as a reminder that not a whole lot has changed since the 80s.

While the panel bounced back and forth about queer coding, tokenism as a creator and with characters, and one hilarious discussion about Kimberly in Power Rangers being a bright and peppy murder machine, I think what stuck with me the most was Parent talking about the creation of Kevin Keller for Archie Comics. He admitted that when working on the creation of Keller, he wanted to be sure it didn’t come across as some sort of publicity stunt or an after school special, but have Kevin be a likeable character in his own right. “In my head, Kevin was supposed to be the gay version of Archie.”

Kevin has gone in many different directions since his introduction, including the version on Riverdale that cruises in the woods and the bit more mature version in Life With Kevin, but Parent admits that the initial pushback he got with Kevin was not because he was gay. Rather, it was because Kevin’s coming out story didn’t include harassment and hatred. Parent admitted that maybe that was true, but for Kevin, it worked. “This is Archie Comics. This is what a coming out story is SUPPOSED to be like.”

Stern followed up that there is, can, and should be room in comics for coming out stories like Kevin’s, but also stories of complicated queer people who may not fit in the idyllic world of Riverdale. “There’s value to Archie and there’s value to ‘Oh no, I shouldn’t have done that.’”

HeroesCon felt different this year for me, but I think in a weird way, I needed it to be. By shaking my comfort zones with the con, I was able to spend time appreciating creators I was not as familiar with personally, finding new stories to lose myself in and coming to appreciate the thought process behind characters I thought I knew. It was a good way to hit a reset button mentally and think about how I want to tackle my next set of stories.

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.

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It’s a new week! What are you looking forward to in comics?

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The Beat – Live from HeroesCon plus cosplay photos – Some nice cosplay.

The Verge – Nathan Fillion to make cameo in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ – Do we need to know everything?

Kotaku – New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Figures Revealed – Still undecided what I think.

Kotaku – These New, Simpler Transformers Are The Worst – Called it.

Kotaku – Here Are The Best Upcoming Transformers Toys – Want.

Christian News Wire – First Graphic Novel by Apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias – Uh…

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The weekend is here! I’m spending it at a wedding and reading comics when I’m not. How are you enjoying it?

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Group State – HeroesCon kicks off in Charlotte – I need to go some year.

Wizkids – Marvel Dice Masters Update! – Be nice to be enough around I have someone to play against.

The Mary Sue – Pros & Cons: HeroesCon Promotes A Harassment Policy While Special Edition: NYC Takes Issue With Fan Attire – One step forward. Two steps back.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night #1

CBR – Nova #18

Talking Comics – Velvet Vol. 1 Before the Living End TP

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It was new comic book day yesterday! What did everyone get?

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The Beat – HeroesCon unveils harassment policy – Your move SDCC.

ICv2 – Fox Nabs Rights to ‘Malignant Man’ – Congrats!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – Batman and Robin #32

Comic Vine – Batman Eternal #11

Comic Vine – Daredevil #4

Comic Vine – Harley Quinn #7

Comic Vine – Iron Patriot #4

Comic Vine – Nova #18

Comic Vine – Original Sin #4

Comic Vine – Sex Criminals #6

Comic Vine – Star Wars: Darth Maul – Son of Dathomir #2

Comic Vine – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #35

Comic Vine – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time #1

Comic Vine – Thor: God of Thunder #23

Comic Vine – Uncanny X-Men #22

Comic Vine – Unity #8

Comic Vine – The Witcher #4

Talking Comics – The Wicked + The Divine #1

Comic Vine – Wonder Woman #32

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How’s the weekend going for folks? I’ve been catching up on comics, lots and lots of comics.

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Charlotte Observer – Superheroes descend on Charlotte Convention Center Really should have gone.

USA Today – Wonder Woman: Not strong enough for silver screen – yet – Or she totally is.

CBR – HeroesCon 2013: The New “Green Lantern” Writers Should be interesting to see what they pull off.

CBR – HeroesCon 2013: Inside the Summer of ValiantThey’ve been cranking out solid comics.

The Beat – On the Scene: Image Crowds the Dais at Heroes Con 2013 The company continues to pump out solid comics.

ABC News – Captain America Comic Pitches Skin Care Products I’ve always wondered how these comic together.

The Hollywood Reporter – Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsley to Adapt Graphic Novel ‘Term Life’ Huh.

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The weekend is here, what’s everyone doing?

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CBR – DC Comics Shifts ComiXology Pricing WindowWould love to see the stats to back this one up.

ComicsAlliance – Hasbro To Deliver ‘Deadpool Corps’ Action Figure Box Set In A Taco Truck At SDCCWANT!

Bleeding Cool – HeroesCon To Clash With Republican Convention In Charlotte This Weekend Now I’m pissed I didn’t go.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

The Beat – Dan the Unharmable

CBR – Daredevil: End of Days #8

The Beat – Deep in the Woods

Bleeding Cool – Empowered Special: Animal Style

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