Today as Hawkeyes, Robins, Batmen, and other assorted comic characters flocked to the Charlotte Convention Center a bystander on the street asked, “what event is today?” What else would have drawn in that many costumed superheroes? Sure, in Charlotte Storm Troopers and zombies attend every event in town but when that many colorful spandex substitutes are moving to one spot it must be Heroes Con. Heroes Con is celebrating its 30th year in Charlotte and is a great event.
Today my goal was attend a few panels and lap the floor to get my bearings. Tomorrow I have a list of creators to find, talk to, and get signatures. It’ll be easier when my wife joins me at this great family event. Today while my wife was at work my daughter and I had a great time. Taking a 3 month old to a convention is a great experience that cannot be described. Have you ever changed your daughter’s diaper on the floor while George Perez discussed Teen Titans? I almost did. It was a close one.
Before the panels, my first stop at the convention was to get a sketch of my 3 month old daughter. The artist was doing free caricature head shots in black and whites, but I opted for the full body full color image to capture this special occasion.
Check out www.locoduck.com to see more pieces by this artist. His day job is working Disney in Orlando so he does more princesses than most people, but loved the chance to turn a small girl into Venom. I was impressed with this piece and his other work. I can’t wait to frame it for the nursery!
This year Heroes Con has 70 + panels happening in four rooms over three days a few floors above the main part of the show. The variety is nice. Today’s panels included:
- Teen Titans discussion with Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Romeo Tanghal Sr.
- SCAD Perspective Tips and Tricks Workshop with Dan Glasl
- Creating Your Comic/Manga from Concept to Publication
- Strange Talent of Luther Strode Discussion with Tradd Moore and Justin Jordan and Chad Bowers
- Neil Bramlette discussing Out of Step Arts
- First X-Men with Neal Adams and Christos George and Jason Wheatley
- Fables discussion with Bill Willingham and Cap Blackard
- New Crusaders discussion with Ian Flynn
- Roundtable with Seth Peagler, Mike Mignola, Jason latour, Paul Azaceta, and James Harren
- SCAD Inking Tools and Techniques with John Lowe
- Quick Draw
- Coloring Tips
- Creator Owned Comics with Steve Niles, Phil Noto, and Kevin Mellon
- Secrets and the Manhatten Projects with Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra, and Ryan Bodenheim
- Vertigo Visions with Bill Willingham, Scott Snyder, and Adam Hughes
- Writing Forum with Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt
- SCAD Cartooning Crash Course with Brian Ralph
- Cosplay showcase
- Iron Man discussion with Bob Layton, Matt Fraction
- and Comics Canon with local professors teaching about comics
- Cover Discussion with Adam Hughes, Bill Sienkiewicz, Stuart Immonen, and Lee Weeks
That is a lot to choose from between 12:00 and 7:00 when the show closed for the day. I like it when every hour makes me choose between two panels that I would like to see. Alas, alone with a baby in tow I could only do so many panels. Since there were no wrong choices it was a great day of panel listening amid laps around the show floor—3 month olds are like Keanu Reaves movies because you can’t let them stop.
The Titans Tower panel discussion of Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Romeo Tanghal Sr (moderated loosely by Michael Eury of Back Issue) may not have revealed anything new and cutting edge, but it sure made fans happy to hear this group of innovators discuss the land mark Teen Titan run. Much of what they had to say many fans already know from the 30 years of interviews on the subject however being there listening to them banter was magical. Romeo Tanghal Sr inked the title for 8 years–longer than George Perez was on the book– but was the quiet man on the panel. Wolfman and Perez bantered unaided for most of the fast hour and a quarter.
During the entire hour and a quarter one issue stood out and was discussed repeatedly: Teen Titans vol 1. #8. All three creators agreed that this issue is the one that really captured what they were trying to achieve on the title and the direction that they wanted to go. Perez and Wolfman discussed the plots loosely, then Perez supplied the pages and Wolfman wove the story across the finished art by adding the script to the images. This issue really captured how Perez became a co-plotter on the title and how the art influenced the story direction. It also revealed the Teens to be more than just an action oriented group by giving them soft moments as well and time dressed but out of costume. Wolfman suggested that anyone who hadn’t read the story should seek out a reprint or collection because they were economical and accessible.
Besides the continuous discussion of this issue a few other points stood out to me. One was Romeo Tanghal Sr discussing how much he learned while working at DC comics and how he became a better artist after adjusting to the American comics system. In the Philippines Tanghal said, “I am an artist” and when discussing how odd inking seemed at first. He had been responsible for writing and art back home before moving to the United States and only had assistance on the lettering. He pointed out that much of what he learned about art he learned from working with artists as their inker. He typically could ink an entire Perez issue of Teen Titans in a week or less because Perez supplied so many nearly finished details. Later artists that worked on Teen Titans provided good work but work that took Tanghal two or more weeks to ink. Despite being the quiet man on the panel he happily recalled how he would stop everything when Perez pages arrived just so he could look at them and study them.
Perez discussed how much of the praise for his art is interesting given that the finished product being celebrated was inked by someone else and that his art was hidden underneath or erased. Tanghal claimed he never changed a thing with a Perez page.
Perez also discussed his fondness for Cyborg. “Being a Peurto Rican from the Bronx” gave Perez a fondness for the potential and dangers of the black character. Wolfman and Perez discussed how African-American heroes were universally angry at the white oppression in that time. Cyborg was initially angry but not at society but instead at his father which they resolved during the run and allowed the character to grow. It was important to the creators that they treated him like any other character. Cyborg made it possible to incorporate urban and sci-fi elements into the run but they didn’t want him to become a stereotype.
Wolfman discussed that leaving Marvel to work at DC he was adamant that he did not want to do a team-up book and the was given Brave and the Bold and other team-up books. He found them forced and stilted because every issue had to bring people together quickly and separate them ever quicker. When given a chance to do a full team book he took it in part to stop teaming characters randomly. He assumed he might be able to get out 6 issues before the comic was cancelled but it would give him a chance to create a team -family oriented book like Marvel’s Fantastic Four. Although the Teen Titans was wrongly compared to Marvel’s X-Men, they were trying to create a Fantastic Four type book.
One X-connectin was the Terra character. Wolfman wanted readers to assume she would be the Kitty Pryde of the series so that they could do something unexpected, ie. make her a villain and kill her. Wolfman was pleased that the last Teen Titans cartoon was able to utilize that story and Terr characterization well.
New Crusaders #1 was intended to be a panel discussion. Unfortunately due to travel problems only the local Ian Flynn made it to the first day of the event. Flynn then tried to do a one man show, stretching his portion as long as he could. Luckily, freebies and a robust Q&A helped make it an enjoyable event.
Last year the Archie’s panel showed sneak peeks of Mega Man and Sonic covers for the rest of the year. I was curious what Flynn would divulge about Archie returning to the Red Circle character in house for the first time in 30 years.
One main point is that they are trying to respect the past and build on the past 60 years of Red Circle and Mighty Crusaders while telling a story in their own direction and style…essentially what DC tried to do twice with the characters. Although they will not directly reference issues or events but rather build on them.
New Crusaders is a digital first release for Archie comics. Remember that Archie was doing same day digital and print release nearly two years before DC and Marvel. They are quiet innovators. Batman Beyond Unlimited may be available on line a few weeks before the print version hits the comic shops, but New Crusaders has a huge digital first lead time. The series has released the equivalent of two print issues so far but will not put out the first issue to retail until August. A sampler has been created for San Diego Con which is being given out first at Heroes Con both in this panel at at Ian Flynn’s booth.
Flynn discussed that missing Red Circle characters will be joining the series sooner or later. Hangman and Bob Phantom both made the crowd curious. Only a small handful of characters have questionable ownership which must be finalized but hopefully a successful series will help bring those into the line up too.
Flynn also mentioned that they have conceptualized the first two seasons of the book. Borrowing from television lingo–also used by IDW– the seasons are roughly 24 issues or two years a piece. Each week 6 pages are made available on line so that each month brings out a full comic in installments.
So far this title has been successful for Archie comics and everything looks promising. The print edition will start in August with a trade paperback available in April. I will do a review of the preview issue that won’t be widely available until after San Diego soon. Meanwhile, check out what they are doing digitally.
Creator Owned Comics began by Niles mocking his collaborators for not showing up to promote their own book since he was on time and they were late. After a few jokes, the panel became a discussion of the recent team up between Jimmy Palmiotti and Steve Niles. Discussing this title at Heroes Con is fitting since the idea was born at Heroes Con. Niles pointed out that at a past Heroes Con he was sitting beside of Palmiotti. They realized that while they both had long lines of fans and supporters no one ever moved from Niles’ line to Palmiotti’s line or vice versa. They joked that if they put out a book together it would sell twice as many copies. That joke became Creator Owned Comics or rather an untitled version of the anthology and magazine book they decided to create.
The title Creator Owned Comics was born from frustration and Twitter. Palmiotti, Niles, and everyone involved agreed that the anthology should not be titled Tales of because that had been overused. In a tweet Niles used the term Creator Owned Comics casually when discussing what he was working on. Later Palmiotti pointed out that Niles had titled the book. Niles thinks it is a silly title but admits it has been weirdly controversial. The title has met backlash from people deciding it means he and Palmiotti are heroes. It is also being used as a cry of us vs them for self publishing versus the corporation more than the creators actually intended. Niles mentioned that he’d never work for Marvel again but would write a Batman anytime DC wanted one.
Phil Noto had worked on both Creator Owned Heroes and Before Watchmen. Both titles hit the stands the same week. Social media began to buzz with people that bought one versus the other for quasi-philosophical reasons. Noto made money either way and he’s fine working for both the big companies and on the riskier independent projects.
Kevin Mellon discussed how the independent projects took believing in oneself and the talents of others more than the corporate work. It was interesting when he said, “you can work on Superman for 10 years and not own any more of it than when you did when you were a fan reading it before you started working” to sum up the corporate experience. Mellon liked the potential of controlling the future of a comic and its property rights differently with work on Creator Owned Heroes.
Niles next story for the anthology will be a Western.
Future issues will have other contributors once TriggerGirl6 and American Muscle conclude in a few issues.
Niles and Noto discussed the dangers of anthologies and how this could have been risky. Overall they are pleased by the reception of the first issue and have higher hopes for the future. They want this to become a staple like Dark Horse Presents but at a more affordable price.
Veritgo Visions sounded like a dated panel discussion given that the imprint was collapsed into the DC universe. Since I started the day with a historic look at Teen Titans, I thought this might be interesting as well. Pleasantly surprised that they were discussing Vertigo as an ongoing line since most of the titles have not been forced into the continuity with DC and are being treated as stand alone projects. Notably the panel discussed Fables and American Vampire heavily given that the panel included Bill Willingham and Scott Snyder.
During the previous panel Steve Niles pointed out that most of his independent titles were rejected by Vertigo before he published them. Niles was creating stand alone stories. Vertigo wanted stories that could then lead to other world building secondary creations which would make years of comics possible. Fables and American Vampire have both found ways to tell complete stories in arcs but still leave room for more stories. Fables and American Vampire have both also brought in many talented people to work on the projects over the years and hope to continue for years to come.
Adam Hughes is a cover artist. He has written–like Gen13. He has supplied comic interiors–and has lost count of the amount of naked man butts he has drawn for Dr. Manhattan mini series as part of Before Watchman. Mostly, he is the “last line of marketing” which is how he describes his cover work. The internet can tell you all of that, but if you haven’t watched him describe his craft as make up on an already beautiful woman with hand motions and inflected voices then you haven’t been exposed to Adam Hughes. Exposed is the right word. Seek this man out at a comic convention and ask him about what he does. Bill Willingham also pointed out that Hughes does a great Fozzy Bear impersonation but their was no demonstration. Willingham has worked with Hughes for years and would like to have Hughes create a series of covers, pass them out to writers and give them 24 hours to draft stories, and then let artists try to put together art quickly so that the covers could become the first step in comic creation. That would be a fun project. Hopefully if they keep repeating it at enough conventions it will become true.
These are just a few quick thoughts from the end of my day 1. Per usual this is a great event already and it still has 2 more days. If you’re close to Charlotte, NC then you still have time to head down. Don’t forget that Stan Lee is appearing, speaking, and doing autographs on Saturday and Sunday.
TheDeensList was also covering this event. He’ll be chiming in with his thoughts on other panels from throughout the weekend. Unencumbered by an infant he is taking more complete notes and photos. So if you’re not close enough to come into Charlotte this weekend be sure to check out our continued coverage of this fine event.