Heroes Of The Queen City

  Pepper and Tony-Brian Stelfreeze (1) Trent Pitts writes;

Charlotte, North Carolina is known as "The Queen City". Sheldon Drum welcomes and celebrates creators at his annual HeroesCon , a con that is known to be the unofficial Kingdom of comic creators.

Creators are the royals of the comic industry. We watch them. We search for rumors about them. We eagerly wait for the offspring of their creative juices. We want to be them or at least hold their title within the industry. In recent years it has been quite common for an upstart class to receive more praise and attention at cons than our beloved creators.

Cons have begun deposing our royalty for the actors and actresses who often portray their creations. As cons look to bring in more revenue to their 3- day- Kingdoms, they trot out faces you might recognize from a movie screen or a small screen to guide you to their particular city.

You won't find any Z-list celebrities littering the aisles at HeroesCon. (It's fair to call all the zombies extras from the Walking Dead "Z-list" isn't it?) Instead you'll find row after row of the writers and artists making the books you love to read. This comic convention is about the comics. It's about gathering the people who make them with the people who read them. There aren't big announcements from the big publishers. There aren't people waiting in line to squeeze into a panel room and hear a "surprise" announcement they read online months ago.

Evil Queen-Kalman AndrasofszkyThe lines at HeroesCon are to get signatures from Kelly Sue DeConnick and tell her how much you love her writing on Captain Marvel (This was a popular line and seemed to always include multiple Captain Marvel costumes). The big announcements are hearing that your commissions got finished. The crown jewel of HeroesCon is, without a doubt, the annual Art Auction held on Saturday night.

This year the HeroesCon Art Auction was held at the Westin Charlotte, which is adjacent to the convention center and one of the con's official hotels, at 8 p.m. local on Saturday, June 8. The evening kicked off with announcements from the Inkwell Awards which honor inkers:

  • Dick Ayers and Murphy Anderson were selected as the newest members of the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame
  • Klaus Janson won Favorite Inker
  • Jonathan Glapion took Most Adaptable
  • Skottie Young wont the All in One award

From there the evening began to move into the auction portion of the event. Team Cul de Sac auctioned the first items on the block, which were two books Bill Watterson had signed and donated. Of the two pieces The Complete Calvin & Hobbes signed by Watterson brought the most and the proceeds of these items were to be donated to The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

Psylocke-Phil NotoThe art auction itself had 116 tremendous works of art including pieces by legends such as Neal Adams and Bernie Wrightson. Modern masters were also well represented with tremendous talents such as Phil Noto, Paulo Rivera, and Ming Doyle all contributing pieces.

The list of artists was so impressive it saw artists themselves battling over pieces their contemporaries had contributed. Mark Brooks and Skottie Young went head to head on a beautiful Andrew Robinson painting. Young fresh off the Inkwell victory took the victory in this joust of auction paddles and celebrated the acquisition of his new Dusty Star/Beatles painting by Robinson.

Brian Stelfreeze's transcendent painting of Pepper Pots and Tony Stark was the high water mark of the auction, as far as prices went. The winner of that particular piece left with a prime example of Stelfreeze's mastery of color and color theory.

The quality and quantity of pieces donated to the auctions presents compelling evidence of how much attending creators enjoy the show. While 116 pieces were auctioned on Saturday night to both professionals and fans, there were many other pieces that time wouldn't allow to be sold on Saturday and so as they have in years past smaller auctions were held on Sunday at the con proper. ("Auctions" plural, yes.) Anyone not lucky enough to win a piece on Saturday night had chances to pick up pieces by the likes of Becky Cloonan, Kalman Andrasofszky, and Chris Spouse among others.

Rocketeer-Stephane RouxThe creators are appreciated in the Queen City and they return the appreciation. Reverend Dave Johnson took the pulpit with his new animation project "Eyevis". Stelfreeze held court as always, sharing lessons with any who made the pilgrimage to Charlotte and asked for sage advice. Sketches, commissions, and signatures flowed freely in the Queen City over the weekend.

When the weekend kingdom of Sheldon Drum dispersed for the weekend many a Sharpie had been extinguished. Drum has taken up the knightly duty of keeping sacred our royals and the illuminated manuscripts they produce. It's appropriate that his store is named "Heroes Aren't Hard to Find". They're everywhere at HeroesCon.



About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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