Last year after appearing at my first HeroesCon I wrote up a lengthy Con Report about my experience. Having just completed my second HeroesCon I figure I’d do another one since this was a vastly different experience in many ways. All good. In fact, it was really fulfilling on a number of personal levels culminating in a mind-blowing experience submitting a piece to the annual Art Auction for the first time. I’ll get into all the details below.
First of all, the reason I’m at HeroesCon to begin with is to sell and promote my in-progress graphic novel, Nathan Sorry, and this year I had an upgraded product to sell – my first “trade paperback” sized, 64 page collection of the first part of the story. Previously I was selling some cheaply made black & white, mini-comic style issues and one thing I worried about was that return customers looking for issues 3 or 4 would find me basically re-selling the first two issues plus the equivalent of a third in a new package. And I really did get a lot of return customers whom I had met last year and who made sure to find me again this year. I gave them all a discount on the new book.
Friday and Sunday were really slow sales-wise for me but I made most of my sales on Saturday which was just a whirlwind of a day. The funny thing though is I realized after all this was over that I made the EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY this year compared to last year selling one $8 book versus two $2 dollar books. To the dollar. I’m not sure what that means, really. Is that the maximum amount I can take away at Heroes or was this just a weird coincidence?
I was also selling the new Sketch Charlotte anthology for $2 and I sold a handful of those. They acted as a nice lower-cost item I could hand to someone that didn’t look like they were going to spring for the $8 book.
I had a good spot in Indie Island this year. I was a little closer to the center of it than I was last year. I sat at the end of a small line of this year’s webcomics guests like Evan Dahm (Riceboy), Danielle Corsetto (Girls with Slingshots) and David Malki (Wondermark). I tried my best to snag as many of Malki’s runoff customers as I could but it seems people looking for hilarious, old-timey comics and merchandise are not the same people looking for moody, 9/11 thrillers. Who would have guessed?
This was my first year being invited to appear on a panel. I was part of the Webcomics: Solo Shocker panel with Jay Potts, Tom Scioli, Drew Weing, Mike Maihack and Joey Weiser as well as a special Sketch Charlotte panel with my fellow SC members.
The highlight for me though was moderating a panel that I planned and pitched to HeroesCon myself: Designing Comics. I’ve been working on getting this panel together for over a year now and I think it went perfectly. There was a huge turnout of folks coming to listen to a star-studded panel of designer/cartoonists like Jonathan Hickman, Jim Rugg, Chris Pitzer, Drew Weing and Eric Skillman. It was a huge honor to be in a conversation with these guys all of whom I really admire. The only thing that could have made this better was if Matt Kindt had been able to attend the show and would have appeared on the panel as well. I got a lot of good feedback afterwards from people who were both on the panel and in the audience so I think it went really well.
Though I was nervous at the beginning of the Designing Comics panel I actually found I was more comfortable moderating than I was being on the other side during the Webcomics panel. I guess because I had more control of the situation in the other but really both were great experiences and really interesting discussions. They’ll both be podcasted by the Dollar Bin I hope and I’ll post the links to it when they do.
The entire show was so much non-stop chatting with readers, fans and other guests that I did not make it to any other panels even though I really wanted to. I especially wanted to see Ben Towle’s Moebius panel but the days just flew by.
The Art Auction
All the fun of the weekend came to a head at Saturday night’s annual Art Auction.
I had never attended the auction before let alone entered anything into it but I decided last week that I had an idea I really wanted to work on for it. Most of the artists that attend the show submit a piece and the proceeds go towards funding HeroesCon. The auction is run by Allison Sohn (wife of superstar artist Adam Hughes) and it turns out it is a pretty raucous and fun event. So much so that it’s hard to hear sometimes who did what piece and how much it sold for. I’m not sure what it’s been like in previous years but I couldn’t believe how many pieces sold for in the thousands of dolars. One piece by Adam Hughes himself went for over 10 grand!
Anyway, I submitted this 1960s Emma Frost piece done to mimic an old Simplicity sewing pattern package. I was really happy with the way it turned out and enjoyed working on it. But I had no idea whether it would be accepted into the auction or what it’s value might be set at.
The bidding started at $50 and within seconds there was a bidding war on it (Allison Sohn herself was bidding for it) and it sold for $750! I was kind of flabbergasted but also incredibly pscyhed! As an artist this was possibly the most validating experience I’ve had to date. I was riding pretty high that night.
The next day, the guy who bought the piece sought me out to see what else I had. I did a quick little Emma Frost sketch for him and it kind of made me realize that next year I think I need to be prepared to have some original art to show at this convention. At the very least I’m definitely open to start doing commissions which I never really thought much about doing before. Especially if it is for stuff like this which I really loved doing.
I did a lot more sketches this year than last year. I was honored to be asked by Van Jensen to do something in his awesome themed sketchbook full of quirky names of real people pulled from newspaper archives.
I also did this Gwen Stacy piece for a Spider-man themed book.
My animal alphabet pieces got a lot of attention. I only brought print outs of them and had a number of people asking to buy them which I wasn’t prepared for. Again, next time around I need to have more original art and/or prints.
As everyone says, HeroesCon is a great social event. It was really fun to get to talk to people I usually just chat with online via Twitter like Ben Towle, Brad McGinty, Josh Latta, Shannon Smith, Van Jensen and Rob Venditti. I also really enjoyed meeting and chatting with Eric Skillman and Drew Weing, both of whom were on my Designing Comics panel and Drew and I were on the Webcomics panel together as well. It’s also always a pleasure to see Chris Pitzer of Adhouse Books and talk design and comics with him. I also got to meet and talk shop with Jay Potts of World of Hurt whose work I really enjoy and was just a super nice guy.
For the first time, I went to the HeroesCon after party and though I didn’t stay all that long it was a trip to hang out at my comic shop surrounded by some of the biggest names in comics. Where else can you stand in front of a comic rack talking about the new Muppet movie with Roger Langridge, say hello in passing to Darwyn Cooke, talk about t-shirt design with Paul Maybury, see Neal Adams standing in line for catered pulled pork, or nearly spill ranch dressing all over Kevin Nowlan?
It was such a great experience. Props to Shelton Drum, owner of Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find and show organizer and to Rico Renzi who is one of the nicest guys ever and who did an outstanding job in his first year of planning and running the convention.
EDIT: I forgot to mention Andy Mansell, another super nice guy in the HeroesCon group, who organized all the panels this year and was very encouraging and helpful when I was preparing for the Designing Comics panel.
Can’t wait til next year.
P.S., I bought less books than normal this year simply because I never really had much time. Here’s the few that I picked up though.