HeroesCon is my San Diego.
It is my all-time favorite con. Hands down. So the fact my day job kept me out of the country and away from the con for both 2012 and 2013 left me extremely disappointed. The above photo captures what I love about the atmosphere of the con. Creator Skottie Young has never met me. He was in the middle of signing for folks when I asked for a quick photo. The above was his reaction.
I rarely bring my son to comic book conventions. He's grown up around comics because of me, and he likes to read them. But they are not his passion, and I have never sought to force my lifelong hobby on him. But this year, his schedule (which as he gets older gets more booked in the summer) allowed my 14-year old son to join me for the last day of HeroesCon. Were it any other con, I likely would not take him. Many cons try to make themselves family friendly, and many succeed. But I do not think many have succeeded on the scale that HeroesCon has.
On Saturday a good chunk of panel programming was focused on kids, and getting kids excited about making comics. There was an all ages panel in the morning (I was working on Robot 6 coverage and missed it, alas) and the afternoon had the second session of QuickDraw (they have one each day). You have to love a panel where "Prizes are awarded for first, second and third place in the following age categories 0-10, 11-15, and 16 to 99."
While there is always an element of hype to some comics panels--particularly when moderated by the comic book company's marketing person--it seems to happen less at HeroesCon. I enjoyed getting to hear people talk about the tools of their trade and have audience members ask questions not focused on the super crossover of this month.
Every single industry person seems even more exceedingly approachable at HeroesCon. I thought nothing of waiting for Jim Starlin to wrap up a post-panel conversation to request a photo of him. And he was more than happy to oblige (see below).
Last night as I got on the elevator at my non-Westin hotel (Westin is the host hotel for the con, full disclosure I waited too long to book my room and stayed a few blocks away), I realized industry great Ramona Fradon was getting onboard with me. I held the door for her, but said nothing--wishing to respect her privacy while she was off-duty. Suddenly as the elevator started up, she turned to me and said: "Is your room key hard to get to work?"
In fact, not more than a half hour ago, I had encountered the same problem. So I was happy to admit: "Yes, you have to time it a certain way or it will just not work." She seemed pleased to find she was not alone in this challenge.
It was a small moment, it was a human moment. These creators are talented geniuses to us. That's why many of us come to cons, to meet the people we admire. But at HeroesCon, I love that there is a rapport and relaxed nature to the con that allows you to remember--as talented as these storytellers are, they are normal people with the normal challenges we all face.
So I am glad, if I am throwing my son into the deep end of a busy con (the last time he was ever at a con, he rode through in a stroller at age 2 or 3), that it is in a truly friendly environment like HeroesCon. That's what makes it so awesome to me. And I hope he sees it the same way.