Long lines of eager fans were in place for the ten o’clock opening of the doors at Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina on Saturday and the joint was indeed jumping, as they say.
The crowds showed a marked increase in numbers over Friday, but it didn’t mean discomfort for con-goers, as the Charlotte Convention Center’s spacious floor allowed for wide aisles and the air conditioning was powerful enough to keep the masses well-cooled. The con also provided free wireless from the convention floor, enabling quick thinking vendors and independent creators to take advantage of credit cards where previously they might not.
In fact, the con was run so smoothly that the only thing that could be reported as having been a headache was that many three-day attendees were given wristbands to wear for the whole three-days, but had cut them off at the end of Friday. In the case of advance ticket holders, a hard pass was also issued, thus minimizing that particular issue.
As many fans could be found off the floor as well as on, as the spacious concourses outside the main con floor held featured signings, panels and numerous amenities, not the least of which being a Starbuck’s. Among the big draws for the day were Rosario Dawson, Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch, George Perez and Greg Rucka, who continued signing for fans even after his line had been capped and the scheduled time had passed. Perez also created long lines on the floor, signing at the comic creator retirement charity, ACTOR.
One of the main events of the day was the arrival of some West Coaster’s who had trouble getting out of LAX, including the entire Boom! Studios contingent. Once they were set up, though, steady traffic ensued as publisher Ross Ritchie chatted up con goers about some of the company’s upcoming projects.
“We have a new series called ‘Pirate Tales,'” said Richie. “It will have six stories, that will be eight pages each. John Rogers, who is writing ‘Blue Beetle’ and he wrote the ‘Transformer’s’ movie, has a story in it.”
Richie went on to talk about a new project from Yoshitaka Amano, who created “Battle of the Planets,” which was originally slated to be released from Speakeasy before that company closed up shop. “He’s the Elvis of Japanese comics. We have a graphic novel coming out from him called ‘Hero.’ It’s the first volume in a series of five, so it’s a really big project for us.”
Midday, DC Comics hosted a well-attended panel, ostensibly about “52,” but eventually becoming a full on DC Nation panel. It began when “52” co-writer Greg Rucka arrived first and began updating the audience on the events of the double-overtime England-Portugal World Cup Game (which ended 3-1 in penalty kicks midway through the panel).
The panel was hosted by Executive Editor Dan DiDio, who introduced Rucka, cover artist J.G. Jones and newly-minted coordinating editor Jann Jones.
DiDio took the opportunity to talk about the origins of the “52” series, including the fact that Publisher Paul Levitz was not initially fond of the “One Year Later” concept that eventually spawned “52.” “He said he’d seen it all before,” DiDio explained. “In fact, Paul had done a five years later when he was writing ‘Legion [of Super-Heroes].’ Paul said ‘You have to come up with something new to sell me on this.'”
DiDio went on to say it was actually Levitz himself that came up with the core concept. “Paul called us into his office and he said ‘You know, there’s this show called ’24.’ Wouldn’t it be interesting if we told the story of the missing year in real time.” DiDio went on to say, “With no main guns, no Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, we knew we had to have something really compelling.” “52’s” weekly format was it.
J.G. Jones spoke a little bit about sitting in on the meeting, where he sketches cover concepts as the writers break down the story. Of Morrison, Jones said, “Everyone’s talking over everyone else, but when Grant opens his mouth– he’s a low talker and has a thick Scottish accent– everyone stops running their mouths for five minutes just to listen.”
DiDio also spoke of Jones indirect contribution to the forming of “52,” taking the series in unanticipated and even slightly problematic directions. “He drew a cover with Detective Chimp on it,” said DiDio, “that everyone fell in love with so they wrote a story about it, not realizing that it ran counter to what happened in ‘Shadowpact.’ So, we screw up every once in a while, but it’s a great story and ‘Shadowpact’s’ a great book, so I think we’re okay.”
Rucka talked about concepts that got away from the writers or changed unpredictably as the series was plotted out. One of those concepts was that of the Kryptonian Resurrection Cult.
“One of the thing’s we wanted was this humanist religion to come out of Connor’s death. You would see, for want of a better analog, kids going to Jim Morrison’s grave or Kurt Cobain’s grave,” said Rucka. “[Connor] was this guy in jeans and a black t-shirt, who didn’t always know exactly what to do, but his heart was in the right place and they want to emulate this. We may get back to this, but now we have the resurrection cult story.”
Another popular panel was that of Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, as the classic “Authority” team took questions from all comers, covering everything from unexecuted ideas to worst jobs prior to working comics.
Doors to the con floor closed at six, but the con wasn’t officially over for the day yet. Day Two ended with the Art Action to benefit the HeroesCon Hospitality Fund, with the honor of the highest sale price going to Phil Noto for a painting of arguably this weekend’s most popular super-hero, Superman. It sold for $4,400.
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