Talking Comics with Tim | Rico Renzi

Not to mince words, HeroesCon is my San Diego. Scheduled for June 3-5 at the Charlotte Convention Center this year, I recently caught up with Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find Creative Director Rico Renzi, to discuss what to look forward to at HeroesCon 2011. Anyone that has read my past con reports knows how much I always enjoy this family friendly/comics focused con, and will not be surprised to learn I will be in attendance again this year. Thanks to Renzi for the interview and for giving us the scoop that  Farel Dalrymple is returning to the con this year. I was also enthused  to learn the con is trying a Friday night event this year, as well as introducing a new section of the convention floor devoted to comic strip creators.

Tim O'Shea: How are things shaping up with less than a month to go before the con, starting to panic? Planning-wise, how do you and Shelton Drum (con founder/organizer and owner of Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find) divvy up the heavy lifting of making this con happen?

Rico Renzi: HeroesCon is like breathing to Shelton so I'm pretty sure he's not panicking. This is my first time doing anything like this so, yeah I think there's some pressure on me. Maybe I get a pass since this is my first year though? Dustin Harbin has been a great help showing me the ropes on a few things, especially the floor plan. Deciding where everyone is going to sit seems like the hardest job to me right now. Aside from that we get great help from our warehouse manager, Seth Peagler. Whether I need someone to brainstorm with or edit my blog posts, Seth is my guy. Also, Andy Mansell has been instrumental in planning and coordinating our programming. These guys keep me sane!

O'Shea: Last year, when describing this con (based on others' con reports), Robot 6's Brigid Alverson likened HeroesCon as sounding "like the exact opposite of San Diego: Laid-back and all about the comics". Would you say that's a fair juxtaposition?

Renzi: Yeah, I think that's pretty fair. We are almost exclusively a COMIC convention with a big focus on the great creators who make the comics we love. You won't see a lot of big corporations pushing their latest movies or videogames at HeroesCon.

O'Shea: Can you tease folks with some of the fan favorite guests that are returning to the con, as well as creators attending for the first time?

Renzi: HeroesCon always has an incredible guest list. Lots of creators tell us this is their favorite show and fortunately for us, they also tell their friends! A few of this year's first-time guests are attending because a friend told them what a fun show we run. Geof Darrow is coming because Mike Mignola, Adam Hughes and Allison Sohn told him about HeroesCon. Eric Canete told Becky Cloonan what a good time he had here so she's coming down for the first time this year. I invited Ryan Sook out because he had never been to the show, he not only said yes but he also provided the art for our program cover! We also went through all our program books from HeroesCons past looking for creators we love who hadn't been to the show in a few years. This led to getting Kevin Nowlan, Ed McGuinness, and Joe Quinones back to the show this year. Of course there are a bunch of fan fave comic creators who we consider family, folks like Adam Hughes, Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner, Steve Niles, Matt Fraction, Phil Noto and many more. They go way back with Shelton and these guys rarely, if ever, miss HeroesCon.

O'Shea: How is Indie Island shaping up--that aspect of the con almost seems in a sense a con within the con, given the diversity of indie talent that always assembled there?

Renzi: I just moved to Charlotte from Maryland, home of the Small Press Expo, and I see a lot of that same spirit in Indie Island. We have some great guests there this year as always. Dustin Harbin did an amazing job building the Indie Island brand. I love the name, I love the idea but I'm wondering how much longer it will be necessary. The comic industry is so small and the lines between indie and mainstream are becoming really blurry.

I will give you a "you-heard-it-here-first" announcement though. One of my favorite "indie" creators just told me he's going to make it down for our show this year, Farel Dalrymple! I'm very excited!

O'Shea: We've already reported about Roger Langridge's piece for the Art Auction. Who else is involved with contributing to the art auction?

Renzi: Isn't Roger's piece amazing? The Heroes Annual Art Auction has been my favorite part of the show since my first visit in '97. I've seen a few more pieces that people have done at home for the auction. Jeremy Bastian, John Tyler Christopher, and Mateo Scalera have all shown us the art they are bringing for the auction. One of the most exciting things for attendees of the convention though, is getting to see some of their favorite comic artists creating these amazing paintings right before their eyes on our art stage. Then, shortly after that, they are able to bid on the art they just saw someone pour their heart into! I know the ComicTwart guys are going to do their contributions to the auction live at one of our panels.

O'Shea: Is it too early to discuss panels, I always look forward to seeing what Ben Towle and Craig Fischer have cooked up for their panels?

Renzi: Ben and Craig have a "megapanel" planned for HeroesCon called The Master of Screaming Metal: A Tribute to Moebius. They are showing Moebius Redux by Hasko Baumann and then interviewing friend and fan of Jean Giruad, Geof Darrow regarding the work of this legendary cartoonist. The rest of our programming should be up on the site later this week, God willing. We have some great stuff planned!

O'Shea: What do you most enjoy about HeroesCon? For folks who have never attended, why do you think they should consider visiting the con this year?

Renzi: The laid back atmosphere of HeroesCon is a big draw for creators and fans alike. Our guest list blows my mind. Something new we're trying this year that should be fun is a Friday night event across the street from the convention center with the founders of the Drink and Draw Social Club, Dave Johnson, Dan Panosian, and Jeff Johnson. The event is open to everyone and if it goes well I'd love to see it become another annual tradition at the show. Also we'll have a new section of the convention floor called The Comic Strip dedicated to creators of , wait for it...comic strips! There will also be a collection of gorgeous Sunday newspaper originals on display in this area called, One Fine Sunday, curated by John Read. We are also very proud to have some special programming featuring Richard Thompson and Team Cul de Sac. There really is something for everyone at the show, whether you are into indie comics, strips, superheroes, mini comics, or webcomics, we really cover a broad spectrum at HeroesCon.

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