This has been a strange, sad week. Celebrities are dropping like flies and Suzanne and I have a co-worker who just lost his brother. So, rather than sit and home and brood, I thought I'd get on with my Heroes Convention report to boost my spirits.
Despite a slightly rocky start (more car trouble...ugh) our trip down to Charlotte was smooth as silk. The five-hour drive felt like two, mostly because of Christian and his terrific, long-suffering wife Angie. This was Angie's first convention and she was looking forward to it. Christian was as wildly entertaining and bawdy as ever and Angie's repeating of the phrase, "Yep. I married that." cracked us up. Christian usually brings a mix-CD to pass the time and they're always wonderful. The songs (like Richard Cheese's cover of "Down With the Sickness") are always upbeat, often hilarious and usually in bad taste. I tried my hand at it this year but it was a miserable failure. Best to leave it to the professionals.
We checked in and headed directly for the convention center. Christian and Angie were immediately distracted by the siren call of Fuel Pizza but Suze and I went in and hurried to set up. Friday's are usually good days for us and we didn't want to be any later than we had to. Suze went ahead and had our badges by the time I arrived with the cart full of stuff. As we entered the hall, my eyes immediately zeroed in on this statue on display in a case:
It's no secret that I have a fairly healthy obsession with the Nova character and I was practically doing the pee-dance when I saw it. Craig Rousseau had sent me photos of it a while back but I didn't know it was available yet. I told Suzanne to forget the iPhone. This is what I wanted for my birthday in a few months.
We got to our table (finding out we'd displaced poor Jamal Igle—Sorry, Jamal!) and set up quickly, giving hugs to Todd, Craig and Nick. Suzanne made an excuse to wander off and showed up about 20 minutes later carrying the Nova statue. "Happy Early Birthday," she said and handed me the box. I couldn't believe it. I've mentioned it before but, seriously...Best. Wife. Ever.
I've gone over the awarding of the first "'Ringo" Award in a previous post (Go Rae!) and the rest of the weekend was a bit of a blur so I think from here on out, I'm just going to hit the rest of the highlights. Here's my list of the coolest parts of Heroes 2009:
1. Hanging out with Warren Newsome and David Tilly. These conventions get a little overwhelming and most of the folks we know are usually signing books or doing sketches so it was nice to have them come by the table now and again just to chat. They also gifted me with some very nice stuff. Warren brought me a copy of the COMMON GROUNDS trade that I'm looking forward to reading along with a CD of his Heroid stories. And David surprised me with an awesome Nova Toon Tumbler. (This was shaping up to be a Nova kind of weekend.) Thanks guys!
2. Seeing Leanne Hannah and her husband Rod. They're two of the nicest folks Suzanne and I have ever met and have gone out of their way to make us feel like part of the Heroes family. I found out last year that they are both rabid Hammer Horror fans, just like me, and you just can't beat that. Turns out they're both Nova fans too so Leanne and I traded Nova sketches. I was hugely disappointed in the one I did at the convention. I was extremely nervous and out of my comfort zone (I do my best drawing here in my office or at my desk at work.) and it ended up looking like someone threw up ink on the paper. I decided to do another version when I got home and mail it to them. Technically, I guess this isn't a sketch since I did a rough underdrawing and traced it onto the bristol, but I'm much happier with this one:
Hopefully Leanne will post hers soon and I'll link to it. HERE IT IS!!! It's absolutely beautiful. Thanks, Leanne. This was fun.
3. Meeting Joe Staton. Todd invited us to Father's Day breakfast to honor Nick Cardy and while we were listening to Nick's great stories, Joe Staton arrived. Everyone just said "Hi, Joe" so I didn't know who he was at first. Then someone introduced us and I was floored. I got a little geeky on him, complimenting his inks over Sal Buscema on THE INCREDIBLE HULK and his GREEN LANTERN work (the first issues I got into) and he was gracious and appreciative. Then Cully reminded me about the SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN comics he drew and I went all uber-fanboy on the poor guy. He seemed surprised anyone remembered them. Was he kidding?!! When I was a kid, I was the world's biggest SMDM fan. I lived for every episode. I ran around the yard in slo-mo doing nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh sound effects with my mouth. And I had a huuuuge crush on Lindsay Wagner. Oh. And I read every single SMDM comic book and B&W comic magazine. Some of them were horrible. Some were pretty good. But the ones drawn by Joe Staton were absolutely amazing.
4. Meeting Bob McLeod. Mr. McLeod has always been one of my favorite inkers. But my favorite work of his was a fantasy-oriented story he did for the old full-color HULK! Magazine. It was beautifully hand-painted and was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Completely blew my mind. Then, Mr. McLeod, once I'd screwed up my courage to go talk to him, blew my mind again by telling me that Marvel hated it and his career took a hit because of it. He said I was the first person who even so much as mentioned the work to him. I assured him they were crazy and that he should be nothing but proud of it. If you can lay your hands on a copy of this book, please do. You won't be disappointed. When we got back home, I dug out my copy and spent a good half-hour drooling all over the pages again.
5. Seeing the coolest #@%&ing kid that has ever walked the face of the Earth:
I felt like hugging this kid every time he walked by the table and we all took to calling him Li'l Nova.
6. Meeting Chris Sims of Chris' Invincible Super-Blog. Christian turned me on to his blog a couple years ago and it's a real joy. Chris' passion and enthusiasm for comics, particularly the works of Jack Kirby, Batman and a host of Silver Age heroes is completely incongruous with his young age. His site never fails to put a smile on my face. It's interesting, well-written and always, always fun. Chris took the time to show me some stuff he's been working on. I'm not at liberty to post anything about it but Christian and I talked about it all weekend and couldn't stop laughing. I hope he does something with it because it's hilarious. Oh, and if I ever get my video project off the ground, I don't think anyone will be more pleased than Chris. Consider that a hint.
7. Last, but certainly not least, getting to see the usual suspects, Todd, Craig, Sharon, Nick, Cully, Paul, Mark, Brian, Jamal, Shelton, Dusty, the folks from the Baltimore Con, Rich Case, Chris Kempel, the folks at S.C.A.D. and everyone else who has bent over backward to make the scholarship fund not only happen but grow bigger every year.
Before I sign off (This post is way longer than I'd planned.) I want to thank Shelton Drum for everything he's done for us. Shelton (along with Suzanne) really lit a fire under me to get the fund set up in time for the 2008 convention. I was caught up in my grief and dealing with Mike's other affairs and though I really wanted to set it up, I was procrastinating. So, every time I saw him, he gave me a friendly shove. Once we got the fund established, Shelton donated valuable space in his convention to us and has made sure we're taken care of. And it was his idea to get Rae to Charlotte for the announcement. Shelton even agreed to sell the comics Mike left behind in his shop He keeps track of every penny and makes sure we get it for the fund. Shelton is truly one of the great people in the world and it's no wonder Mike thought so highly of him. Thank you Shelton for all you've done and for another great convention.
I also want to thank Brian Pillow, our friend from Lynchburg who worked in Paul's shop. He manned the booth for us for a while on Saturday so we could spend some time with Rae and, though we were on track for a pretty slow weekend, sold so many pages and got so many donations that he took us over the top and we had our best weekend for the fund ever. Thanks, Brian!