“My First Comic Convention” – A HeroesCon 2008 Report

One of the greatest regrets that iFanboy had this year, besides that drunken night in Reno that none of us will talk about, was that we weren’t able to attend HeroesCon this year. 
We had so much fun at that con last year and we were bummed that the stars did not align for us this year to make it down to Charlotte, NC. Luckily, iFanbase member, and fellow podcaster, Will Eslinger made it to the show (his first comic con!) and shares his thoughts with us all below.

It was 6:30 in the morning on the first day of Charlotte North Carolina’s HeroesCon and I was still pretty groggy; the hotel I was staying at had a small breakfast bar with a Starbucks and I felt that coffee would be the prudent choice to begin the day with. So I’m standing in line, minding my own business when I hear two very familiar voices just chatting behind me; one voice was deep with a thick New York accent and belonged to Dan Didio — who is either DC Comics’ Senior Vice President or the destroyer of all things good and beautiful depending on who you ask. And the other voice belonged to Darwyn Cooke — who is either the greatest cartoonist since Will Eisner or the greatest cartoonist ever depending on who you ask.

This was my first convention, and to be honest, I wasn’t really sure of the standard protocol for this sort of thing. No way in hell was I going to pass up the opportunity to shake hands with the guy who gave the world The New Frontier, but I still didn’t want to come across as a complete prick. So after weighing my options I decided that I should probably approach the guy who’s paid to be a cheerleader.

Didio was incredibly friendly, if he was at all annoyed at being interrupted during his morning coffee he didn’t show it. The conversation was really odd for me at times, here I was, in person, talking to a guy who I see blasted on the internet on an almost daily basis and he seems like the most genuinely nice guy I’ve ever met. He asks me what I’m enjoying at DC and then finally introduces me to Darwyn Cooke — who has just been standing there quietly for the past minute. I’m pretty sure that at this point Didio realized that he wasn’t the real reason I introduced myself, because I just start gushing. “Oh, Mr. Cooke! New Frontier is one of my favorite comics ever! I loved your run on The Spirit! Your Catwoman with Ed Brubaker was incredible! I’m just a huge fan!”

“So am I, actually that’s why I’m here. I was trying to get an autograph but this guy just won’t give me one, what the f&#% is up with that?” Didio jokes as my gushing begins to slow. Cooke thought Didio’s crack was pretty funny and let out a guffaw before I began another assault of comments. This time however, I actually tired something that bore an ever so slight similarity to a conversation. Cooke starts to tell me about his upcoming issue of Jonah Hex, saying that it was one of Gray and Palmiott’s strongest scripts — which point Didio chimes in with “put a bounty on the Mounties” — and that there was something “cathartic” about drawing Hex doing horrible things to Canadian law enforcement.

I probably could have talked more, but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome. I told them to have a great con and then went back to the coffee line. This little encounter really was a microcosm of my overall experience with HeroesCon 2008. The convention hall wasn’t too large and only about half of it was devoted to the creators. Guys like Jason Aaron and Matt Fraction were often seen just sitting at their table joking with the other creators around them. Rarely ever did I have to stand in a line to talk to a writer that I wanted to talk to — the exception being Darwyn Cooke who was doing free sketches — and once the first hour of the con was over, and the artists’ commission lists were full, they were just as approachable as well — once again, the exceptions being the guys doing free sketches. If I wanted to talk to someone at this convention, I just did and usually did so at the exact time I wanted to.

And here’s the thing, I really did want to talk to these people. I really don’t think that if the film industry put on a hypothetical convention where one could just walk up to their favorite directors that they would actually want to do that, because I imagine that they’re all pricks. Not so at all at HeroesCon, where almost every single creator was shockingly friendly. Of course, there were a few exceptions, guys who seemed like they didn’t really want to be there — I’m not sure how else to put this, but Adam Hughes really confounded me at this con, he spent the entire show bent over his pad with a set scowl that had me scared to approach, however I really think that his attitude was born more from wanting to get as many commissions as possible done than not wanting to be present – but even these few exceptions were more than balanced out by creators like Laura Martin, Cliff Chiang, and Chris Samnee (pictured above) who have reached transcendence in the art of kindness.

As I sit here typing this, thinking back on what really impressed me most about my first convention experience is that getting to “know” these creator is going to take a real toll on my wallet. Jason Aaron sold me on his upcoming Black Panther arc, — which he sells as a straight up war story of Wakanda vs. the Skrull Empire — Rick Remender got me back on the Fear Agent bandwagon, Matt Fraction has snagged me for at least a few issues of Uncanny X-Men and I may, possibly, maybe get the new Power Girl series just because Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are so awesome.

I could go on for days and days about HeroesCon, but I think that that will suffice. I did a ton of interviews for my show and had some awesome conversations with guys like Jason Aaron, Rick Remender, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman who is probably the smartest guy in comics- and you can find those on an upcoming episode of my podcast, An Entertaining Grime. I also spent way too much money on commissions and sketches, and so if you’re at all interested in seeing Metal Gear Solid characters drawn by Chris Samnee and Ryan Bodenheim, James Bond by Francesco Francavilla, Batman by Cliff Chiang and a whole bunch of others, then come on over to the Entertaining Grime blog.



  1. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Great sketches, Six. 

    Cliff Chiang is the great white whale at this point.  One day!  One day!

  2. Excellent report! I lament that i have never been able to attend a top-notch comic con…an oversight I hope to remedy somday…I would esp. love to be able to make San Diego or New York! Speaking of San Diego, I would assume that the iFanboy faithful will be attending? If so, please, will someone at the DCU or Marvel panels ask a relevant question? I love to read about these panels, like the DC Nation, but it seems like golden opportunities to ask questions are wasted. Instead of getting "Why does the ending to Countdown and Death of the New Gods don’t jive with Final Crisis" we get " Any chance we will see [insert  D-List character that NOONE has ever heard of this last century] appear soon?" ..or are the questions screened at these panels? Don’t get me wrong, i’m sure the person who asks said question about Rex the Wonder Dog has a shrine at home and loses sleep at night wondering when he will make an appearance, but for those of us who can’t make the shows or never ever have an opportunity to interact with the creators of our comics, I want to hear about more timely and hard-hitting questions! In fact, I would love if IFanboy could poll said readership for panel question ideas and present them. …and that is one great thing about iFanboy: the level at which creators participate with iFanboy: wow!

  3. Great writeup!

    I agree this was a fabulous con — and should thank the guys for turning me on to this event with last year’s podcast. It wasn’t my first con; I did NYCC this year, which was great in its own way.  But after all the crowds and general chaos of that event, it was great to a con that had a slower pace, and actual space to see and do just about everything you could want.  And all the creators I met (as well as fellow fans) were incredibly friendly and open to conversation.  Laura Martin fangirled Joss Whedon and John Cassaday right along with us; Matt Fraction actually flagged my friends down as they were walking past his table, thanked them for asking questions in a panel, and introduced them to his whole family; and Robert Kirkman — when we brought him Marvel issues to sign — loaded us down with free trades of ‘Invincible’ (and in my case a hardcover, when I told him I’d read the first one).  

    It was just a terrific atmosphere, and I can’t recommend it enough. I’ll definitely be going back next year, and dragging as many people as I can. 

  4. Thanks guys!

    You’re completely right Caroline. Laura Martin and Matt Fraction were both just two examples of the kind of treatment fans got at this con. (Almost) Everyone was so friendly that it just baffles the mind.

     Re: Paul

    The Chiang sketch is doagble if if you’re willing to spend the money and get up early. He’s a great guy and doesn’t let the exhibitors (that get in early) onto commision lists untill after general admission gets let in. He also had some sweet prints and some straight up paints on canvas for sale to.

    And I’d like to thank Conor for making this write up possible. Writing for ifanboy is kind of like getting to sing the national anthem at a baseball game for me and I’m really floored with the opportunity.

    I hope you guys enjoy it! 

  5. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I did get the print he was selling at NYCC.  I believe it’s the cover for the upcoming Green Arrow/Black Canary trade. 

    I was just late in getting my commissions in at NYCC.  Next year, hopefully.  

  6. Re: Paul

    Heh, he sold out of those prints in like two hours! 😀

    I came back later on in the afternoon to get one (after deciding I didn’t want to carry it around all day earlier) and they were all gone! 

  7. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    If you go to cliffchiang.com you can actually see all the sketches he did at Heroes Con, including your Batman and the Fables themed sketch you mentioned. 

    Everyone should go check it out.  The man’s sketches are insanely good.  Each and every one of them.  I’m amazed, genuinely.  

  8. I was a little sheepish about asking for a Batman, not too original. But he was cool with it and di an incredible job

  9. Nice write up Six.  I’m glad to see you had an excellent con experience.  I’ve been wanting to go to one for some time, and me thinks that maybe this one might be right up my alley.  It would be pretty awesome to meet all those people you met, even if I would feel completely awkward about it.  I saw your sketches on the forum last night, and thought they were pretty badass.

  10. @Neb  I think this would be a really great first con, if the travel is feasible for you.  I was intimidated as hell at NYCC and didn’t talk to anybody, but this was a completely different experience. 

  11. This makes me all the more excited for my first REAL con come July. San Diego here I come!

  12. I think you’ll have an awesome time Eso! But it’s probably going to be a lot bigger than what I experienced so your first con will probably be an even more amazing experience

  13. Like Dave and Blair and I always try to say: coffee makes the world go ’round!  It is great that you had that opportunity above and beyond the scope of the con to chat with some of the industry greats.

  14. Indeed, thank you Starbucks!

  15. Jason Aaron on Black Panther…I can’t freakin’ wait!

  16. @Six I’m actually a bit jealous that you got to go to a medium sized con. I think I would like the freedom that allows more than the lines and crowds of San Diego. The trip will probably end up being more about gawking and shopping than actually getting to talk to anyone. Seems like you had a great time. Glad to hear it.

     I should mention that it isn’t my frist con experience, but the one I went to previously was mostly local talent save for Brian Wood and Paul Dini. Talking to Brian Wood (who, for some reason, had the only table with no line) was certainly a highlight, and its a bit disappointing to know the atmoshphere probably won’t b e like that in San Diego.

    Now I just sound like I’m whining though. I think itll be a blast, just foroh so different reasons. Glad you had fun! 

  17. Re: Eso


    Re: Diabhol

    Aaron made it seem pretty hardcore. And he gave the vibe that he was going after the feel of the old two-fisted tales. 

  18. I’ve actually attended HeroesCon for a few years now.  (I’m stuck in the armpit of civilization know as South Carolina.)  But this was the first year that I made a weekend of it.  I didn’t get there until later on Friday, but I was at the con until about 3pm on Sunday.

    I had the same realization this year… one of the things that fascinates me about HeroesCon is that the writers and artists are all just right there.  Want to talk to Matt Fraction?  You might have to dare crossing Steve Epting’s line, but he’s right there.  And he’s just a great guy, to boot.  When I finally tracked down Darwyn Cooke, he barely had a line.  I didn’t run into anybody who had a bad attitude at the show.

    I didn’t think about trying to get some art until Sunday, so I was relegated to quick paid-for sketches… but I think those are my best mementos of the convention.

    Sadly, from my understanding, as more and more comic conventions lose their focus as they attract Hollywood’s eye, HereoesCon becomes something rarer and rarer… a great way for fans and creators to meet, and tell one another how much they’re appreciated.

  19. re: Jovial1

    I believe that Heroes’ only peers are Emerald City and Wondercon  

  20. excellent report Will! i love your enthusiam and it makes me excited to attend a convention. I honestly can’t wait to hear your interviews. Next time you hit up a con, be sure to pick me up a sketch, cool? 😉