Heroes Con opened Friday at the Convention center in Charlotte, North Carolina to moderately-sized, but enthusiastic crowd.
Among the day’s big draws were British comics writer Warren Ellis. His early afternoon signing saw a line that traversed the length of the concourse where his table was situated and where fans had begun lining up before convention doors opened at 11:00 AM. From there, it was to a Q&A session hosted by Heidi MacDonald.
Actress Rosario Dawson, on hand to promote her “OCT: Occult Crimes Taskforce,” took a seat at the 12 Gauge Comics booth to little fanfare and was a very-down to Earth presence on the convention floor.
Big floor draws included Adam Hughes and J.G. Jones, Ed McGuiness and Dexter Vines and George Perez, signing at the ACTOR booth.
Heroes Con also hosted two stages at the back of the convention floor for artists to ply their trade in front of spectators. The Luna Brothers, creators of “Ultra” and “Girls,” took a break from the bustling traffic at the Image booth to create watercolor portraits of their characters. Another artist, John Harriston, using acrylics, created a striking image of the Hulk emerging from the shadows over the dwarfed Wolverine. “I was thinking of doing Doop from the Mike Allred’s ‘X-Force,'” said Harriston, but he decided to go with the more popular figures for the first day. “I might paint Doop tomorrow.”
The paintings created onstage are auctioned off to benefit the Heroes Con Hospitality Fund.
As midday passed at Heroes Con, a venerated con tradition got underway as Joe Quesada took unfiltered questions from convention attendees, alongside facilitator Matt Brady of Newsarama.
Brady started things off by asking Quesada about the recently concluded Marvel writers summit. Quesada characterized the meeting as a case of “putting all our ducks in a row,” saying that while there was some focus on closing out “Civil War,” there was much more talk about the direction the Marvel Universe will take at the end of the conflict.
“We touched a lot of Planet Hulk. It’s an incredibly defining story for the Hulk and for the Marvel heroes,” said Quesada.
“It does several things,” Quesada continued of the event that deposits the Hulk on an alien world in the role of an intergalactic gladiator. “One of the obvious problems with Hulk is that everyone wants him to cut loose and smash everything. On Earth, how do you do that and keep him heroic? I mean, he is a monster.” Of placing him on an alien world, Quesada said, “It allows the Hulk to do a lot of the things we like to see him do.”
Asked about his return, Quesada said “Maybe he will come to Earth, maybe he will stay where he is…maybe Earth will come to him. Somewhere down the road, something is going to tick him off…and that’s what we’re all waiting for.”
Not much was said on the topic of Spider-Man at the summit. “We’re pretty much locked down there.” When the topic was pursued by panel attendees, Quesada commented on the recent unmasking of Spider-Man. “Sometimes you have to take characters far off in one direction to make fans appreciate where they were. There’s always a rubber-band effect with Peter Parker.”
He went on to say, “When you look at our universe, 40 years later, Marvel doesn’t need [an event like] a ‘Crisis.’ Peter Parker is still Peter Parker. Steve Rogers is still Steve Rogers and he is still Captain America.
“I do feel there is a point where you can take a character so far that you can damage it….then you have to retcon. It’s sixty years of comics. It’s trying to keep stuff current and vital and healthy. Sometimes you can take it too far. Sometimes it’s done to spike a book [in sales] and before you know it, the character is ruined.”
Of the unmasking, he said “You can’t make that decision without going to licensing, the west coast and all our corporate brothers.
“When the Marvel Universe started, part of the appeal was that these God like beings among us were scary. We don’t know who that is behind the mask. As creators and fans, we become familiar with them. We need to get back to that and Civil War does that for us.”
On the subject of the Newuniverse project, Quesada said that artist Salvador Laroca is finishing up a prior commitment to Marvel and will soon be working on the project. Writer Warren Ellis is three scripts in.
As the topic turned to the prospect of an “Iron Man” film in the near future and Tony Stark’s recent changes in the Marvel Universe, one attendee asked if an eye is kept on the character in terms of keeping it close to what would become movie continuity. The release of the X-Men films and their change to black leather costumes was cited as an example.
Quesada replied that the state of comics and the state of Marvel were very different at that time. “We just came out of bankruptcy, there were one, maybe two titles that were selling over 100,000 copies [per month].” He also added that it was Marvel’s first significant big screen presence. “When a movie of that magnitude opens, we have to play to that. It’s a different world now,” Quesada said of the current film landscape that has seen a Hulk film, three X-Men films, two Spider-Man movies and one on the way. “We’re in a much better position now and we do have things planned for this.”
The first day’s event came to a close not with the clearing of the convention floor but with “After Hours With Warren Ellis.” The comics icon held court with his fans, his smokes and plenty of alcohol. Introduced by Matt Fraction, Ellis first gave a short talk on the nature of storytelling in the world, punctuated by many off the cuff anecdotes. After a short intermission in which Ellis and the audience refilled their glasses, Ellis set aside the podium for a comfy chair and “Storytime With Uncle Warren” which was actually a free form question and answer session.
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