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10 June 2009

HeroesCon for the indie hipster.

(Art for this year's Indie Island t-shirt by Joe Lambert.)

HeroesCon kicks off next weekend in Charlotte, NC USA. With mainstream comics big guns like Bendis, Brubaker, Claremont and Fraction it is easy to forget that HeroesCon also hosts one of the east coast's finest gatherings of indie and small press talents in the con within a con known as Indie Island. Between Indie Island and the show's Small Press tables there is a staggering amount of talent for the indie hipster to check out. The Indie Island guest list is here and the Small Press list is here. Check them out and start making your list of all your favorite indie folks. I can't comment on all of them but here are some folks I recommend you check out...
Wide Awake Press will have an all-star lineup including J. Chris Campbell, Duane Ballenger, Brad McGinty, Josh Latta, Ben Towel and Rob Ullman.
J. Chris Campbell will have the new t-shirt pictured above for sale as well as "Neatobots collectible cards". From J. Chris, "Stop by my table at Heroes and pick up the first of an ongoing series of cards. Each one will have a bio and stats of a unique Neatobot. It's a professionally printed full color glossy trading card. I'm going to be doing a new one for each big show from here on out, so make sure you get in at the start!"
The WAP table will also have some variant cover editions of the new Fluke anthology. You need to go buy the Fluke anthology. It has this awesome dude named Shannon Smith in it. (And it's one of he best looking minicomics anthologies you are likely to see.) You should probably just go ahead and hand J. Chris about thirty bucks and just tell him to hand you all of his minis. I think I have most of them and they are all great. Some of my most re-read books in my collection. (And if you are reading this J. Money, I promise to get a proper review of your goodness up soon.)
Fellow "Wappie" Brad McGinty will be there with his new book Tobey Magquire Comics and Stories. This is a hilarious full color collection of his strips from Paper Pusher. Brad also tells me that he will have a Man-Dar DVD. I really, really want the Man-Dar DVD. You can get a peak at it's cartoon goodness here.
Josh Latta will have his new WAP book Avatards featuring "25 revealing caricatures". Don't know what an Avatard is? Go here to check them out. Josh will also have copies of Redskin Rashy which, as far as I'm concerned is one of the two or three must have comics of 2009 so far. (Review coming very soon. Soon as in as soon as I spell check and edit it.)

I don't know if Duane Ballenger has anything new for the show but he does have a new baby. Isn't that enough for you people? Me made life! And, he does a great Admiral Ackbar imprsonation so swing by and say hi.
According to Rob Ullman's webisite his new Atom Bomb Bikini book does not come out until July but I am sure he will have lots of great minicomics and prints for you. Rob is one of my favorite artists. His Grand Gestures comic is on my personal spinner rack right now. You should hit him up for a sketch. In fact, you should hit up all the "Wappies" for sketches. You will be amazed.

UPDATE: J. Chris has sent out a complete list of all the WAP goodies they will have at the show:
"The Ancient Age (very few copies)
Avatards - Josh Latta
Traffic & Weather - Robert Ullman
Broken Rekkid - Duane Ballenger
Blast It - J Chris Campbell
Neatobot Trading Card - J Chris Campbell
Decision Decider Coin
FLUKE (variant cover very few copies)
Tobey Maguire Comics & Stories - Brad McGinty
Redskin Rashy - Josh Latta
Mandar DVD by Brad McGinty
Apple Devil and Music Bot T-shirts
Heroes Convention Attack Poster
New Duane T-shirt (not pictured)
Back in print Rob Venditti's Dads
New Dollar Bin Book with WAPPIES Brad, Josh, J Chris and Pat Lewis (and some jerk named Shannon Smith)
J Chris Campbell has a story in the AWESOMER anthology with cover by Heroes Con guest Jeff Smith.
Joey Weiser will have some of the FLUKE poster "

I personally am considering jumping off a bridge because I won't be there to get all that new stuff from my favorite peeps. Pray the bridge has water below it. Pray the wappies remember me and save me copies.

My pal Jeremy Massie will be at Alterna's booth with his new graphic novel The Deadbeat. The book is a must have and Jeremy is another guy you need to hit up for a sketch. He can draw the pants off Kitty Pryde and/or Dazzler. Wait. That did not sound right.
(I stole this picture of Alec Longstreth from The Daily Crosshatch because it is awesome.)
Alec Longstreth makes great minicomics and might let you touch his beard.
Robert Langridge is awesome. I remember last year that time I didn't get to buy a Muppet Show minicomic that didn't exist because J. Chris Campbell and Pat Lewis didn't buy up the last copies that didn't exist. Cut to a year later and I did get to go to a comic book shop that did exist only to find out that they were sold out of the Muppet Show comic that does exist. Or does it? Find out at HeroesCon! (Apparently Boom will have an exclusive HeroesCon variant of the Muppets comic that does exist. For reals!)
Top Shelf will be there so you will probably want to just set aside a hundred bucks to hand them when you walk in the place. One of their newish books they should have on hand is the new Indie Spinner Rack anthology Awesome 2: Awesomer. Andy Runton will be there with all his Owly goodness as well the man behind the "based on the graphic novel" part of the new trailer for The Surrogates movie, Robert Venditti.

The Dollar Bin has posted a pretty funny HeroesCon preview podcast (that I'm listening to as I type this). (Full of profanity and tips on how to get free drinks.) They will be at the show with thier new anthology book, Dollar Bin Friends Assembled Volume 2: This is Your Brain On Comics (Any Questions?). Some dude named Shannon Smith has a comic in that book too so you will want to buy seven copies. They also hope to have some buttons, shirts, prints and all that other stuff that makes life worth living.

UPDATE: The Dollar Bin will be hosting a minicomics panel on Saturday at 2:00.
"MINICOMICS: The Best Little Comics In The World
Room 217A

Minicomics can be as simple as a photocopied booklet of stick figures or a hand-made, screenprinted masterpiece—but most importantly minicomics are comics you can makeyourself! Join the Dollar Bin’s Adam Daughhetee as he sits down with J. Chris Campbell (Attic Bugs), Drew Weing(Blar), Andy Runton (Owly), Brad McGinty (Wisteria) andJosh Latta (Rashy Rabbit) to talk about what minicomics are, how they make them, and most importantly how YOU can make them too!"

With that lineup, I promise you that panel will be hilarious.

Dustin Harbin is the creative director for HeroesCon so if you see him (and you will) then give him a thank you for his hard work but also check and see if he has any of his minicomics with him. I know he has two issues out so far. I have not seen them in person but I enjoy his strips on his blog. I don't know if he will have any time to be there in cartoonist mode but if so, check out his comics.

Andrew Mansell points out some panels of interest.

Andy Mansell sits down with some of the greats of strip cartooning, including Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac), Jim Scancarelli (Gasoline Alley), Marcus Hamilton (Dennis the Menace), and June Brigman (Brenda Starr). Don't miss this look into one of America's oldest and most unique art forms, the newspaper strip!

SATURDAY 12.30 pm
Join moderator Andy Mansell as he sits down with Jeff Smith (Bone, Rasl), Roger Langridge (The Muppet Show Comic, Fred the Clown),David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Chris Schweizer (Crogan's Vengeance) and more as they discuss making comics that kids and adults alike can enjoy! Sure to be a can't-miss conversation.

The Heroes Discussion Group's own Andy Mansell sits down with three of comics most talented voices to discuss dealing with history (both real and imagined) in comics and graphic novels. Featuring Jason Lutes (Berlin), Matt Kindt (Superspy), and Jim Ottaviani(Suspended In Language), this is sure to be a triple-fascinating panel discussion!

Ben Towel informs me that... "Midnight Sun cartoonist Ben Towle and Thought Balloonist blogger Craig Fischer host an extensive tribute to one of the most creative and enigmatic figures in comics: Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko! The first hour will be a screening of Jonathan Ross’s provocative BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko (2007), featuring interviews with John Romita, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and other high-profile Ditko fans. Following the documentary, two comics legends who worked extensively with Ditko–writer/editor Roy Thomas and artist/editor Dick Giordano–will share their memories of the man and his art. The tribute ends with Ben, Craig, and cartoonist/educator Chris Schweizer analyzing their favorite Ditko pages and dissecting Ditko’s contributions to comics history." Sounds pretty freaking cool to me. Ben also just posted a whole bunch of info about other stuff he will have going on at the show. Check it out at his blog. (Which reminds me. I got Midnight Sun at HeroesCon last year and it is great.)
Ed Brubaker will be there and apparently there is some big thing going on with this old obscure character called Captain America. I know he's a big mainstream star now but to me he will always the be the indie guy that did Deadenders. I loved that book.
An up and coming indie comics artist by the name of Jeff Smith will be on the Island. Maybe you've heard of him. He did this thing called Bone. Personally, I'm more excited about his new book Rasl. Rasl is one of the main thins keeping me going to comic book shops. I've never met Smith but I hear he's a swell guy. I suspect you will want to find his spot early and get in line. Here is a look at his HeroesCon schedule.

Random thoughts:

Bring some pocket sized portable food. Granola bars etc. The food in the center is no better or worse than what you would expect but to get it you have to stand in line and waste time that could have been spent on comics or a proper meal. Treat yourself to a real lunch or dinner. I recommend Fuel or Uno for pizza and Phat Burrito for, well, fat burritos.
Try to find some time to just enjoy the city of Charlotte. It is amazingly clean and friendly. It's like they just built the whole city last week for a movie or something. I really love the place. One thing I really like is that you can walk it. From the Westin or any of the hotels near the convention center you can easily walk to nice resturants or bars. I used to live in Atlanta. Ya know where you can walk to in Atlanta? No where. No freaking where.
I've always been able to park in the Westin's garage for free (even though they once told me it would be $30). This might work for you but if it doesn't, don't blame me. I'm certain that if the gate is closed and you can't get out that if you hit it at around 35 mph you will be able to bust out with minimal damage to your car.
Bring an empty bag to haul all the loot you are going to pick up.
Don't feel like waiting in line to meet a creator? Just hang out at the Westin's bar on Friday or Saturday night and you will probalby be able to have a drink with them. I'm serious. It is a super laid back show.
Speaking of the bar. BYOB. Buy bottled beer of a brand you know every bar has (Miller Lite) and you can drink it by the Westin's bar or the Westin's lobby and the bartenders will be too busy to worry about whether you bought it from them or not. (Be nice and leave a tip if you use their tables though. This is a civil society here folks.)
If you make comics, have all your books and stuff together before you get there and don't expect to find a Kinkos nearby.
Hydrate. Something about convention center air and flourecent lighting sucks the life out of most humans.
Give Shelton Drum a hug.
Tell Herb Trimpe you love him.

Have fun at the con you crazy kids.

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith

p.s. Thanks to all the folks that hooked me up with the info.
p.p.s. If you have any other indie/small press/minicomics news you think should be included in this report then just let me know.
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