Another year volunteering. No crowd control: hooray! They did a much better job anticipating the crowds today. There was a separate entrance with ticket booths for the day passes, and more options to pick up weekend passes early. So it wasn't the mess it was last year, but I guess Saturday will really be the test. Just to be on the safe side, I volunteered for afternoon time slots. I spent time at the check in desk, then the bulk of the afternoon at the Information Desk on the convention floor. Biggest surprise: there's a rush on the desk at closing, just like the Reference Desk in a library!
I went shopping first thing. My finds today:
Zombies VS Robots Ominibus by Chris Ryall & Ashley Wood (IDW)
Snarked! Vol. 3 by Roger Langridge (Kaboom!)
Both for $5 each.
I spent some time with Jason Marconnet and Commander Benson after lunch, which was fun. Jason and I plan to go to dinner and the art auction tomorrow night after the Con closes, like we did last year.
I only got to one panel: a Matt Kindt panel with Adam Daughetee of Dollar Bin Productions. Kindt talked about how he broke in to comics, his work habits, and a lot about the process of creating Mind MGMT and the new series Dept. H. Lots of great info for any Kindt fan. One thing I hadn't heard before: he completely finished his breakout book Pistolwhip before he looked for a publisher. When Top Shelf agreed to publish it, it was the first completed project they had published (new to the biz, Kindt had just assumed that was how it was done).
Since it was Friday, late afternoon I found artists Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon almost free at their table (not to mention writer Matt Fraction). So I was able to get quick sketches from both of them, and they signed my copies of De: Tales, B.P.R.D.: 1947, and Casanova: Acedia, Volume One. Bá also signed my copy of the first monthly issue of Casanova, which local boy Matt Fraction had already signed back when it was first released. I love their work, and never thought I'd have a chance to meet them unless I went to San Diego. They both chose to do Casanova sketches:
I had two goals today, which I started on right away. The first was to get inker Andrew Pepoy's signature on my copy of Fables #100. I've been trying to get all of the creators' signatures, and now I have 5 of the 11. I also visited Eisner-nominated writer/illustrator Ben Towle's table to buy a copy of Oyster War, the Oni Press book that was nominated this year. Ben lives in North Carolina, and I've gotten to know him a bit over the years he has been a guest at HeroesCon.
I ran across a really cool prop I didn't even know existed. I couldn't pass up a V For Vendetta replica dagger for only $40.
Attended two excellent panels.
"Sexy vs. Sexualized" dealt with the line between sexy and sexist in comic art. Moderated by Marguerite Bennett, with panelists Kris Anka, Babs Tarr, Kevin Wada, Jen Bartel, and last minute addition Jake Wyatt (who was definitely a welcome addition). The main point everyone agreed on was that sexuality works when there are reasons for it, as with any aspects of characterization. If a female character is portrayed in the expected way, without any thought about why, the result is usually not convincing. Wonder Woman is especially problematic, given her multiple, contradictory back stories. There's no big solution to the problem, but all of these creators try to be conscious of what they're doing, hoping to contribute to a positive resolution.
This year's mega-panel was on the theme "Creatures Imagined and Real." First comics scholar Craig Fischer discussed the monsters artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon have contributed to the Mignolaverse via their BPRD comics. Lots of interesting details about the creation of their BPRD stories, especially about how they tried to fit in with prior stories, as well as how research affected their choices. Then artist Ben Towle discussed the history of "funny animal" comics, and his decision to use animals to tell his story in process called In The Weeds. Finally, librarian Jenny Law discussed dinosaur comics with William Stout, Budd Root, and Dustin Harbin. A remarkable discussion, full of current paleontology research, as well as talk about creative decisions that are sometimes made independent of scientific fact.
Forgot to mention yesterday's evening activities. Jason and I had dinner after the Con, then attended the traditional Saturday night charity art auction. Auctions are fascinating to watch, even if you're not bidding (although Jason had a shot at a Spider-Man painting for a minute, before the bidding ran away on him).
Began the day at a panel: "The 10th Anniversary of Casanova," with writer Matt Fraction, artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, and letterer Dustin Harbin, moderated by Craig Fischer. A fun look at the series, with a group of creators that enjoy each other's company (Matt and Dustin have a long history, both having worked at the Heroes Aren't Hard To Find retail store). One significant fact I hadn't heard before: Moon was asked to illustrate the series initially, but suggested that his brother would be a better match. The decision for the brothers to alternate arcs was also an accident. Ba couldn't do the second arc, so Moon offered to take over because he had become such a fan of the series.
Met up with Jason on the Con floor to take this photo:
Then on to my last panel: "The Comics Canon: Reloaded!!! Fire!!!" With academics (Andy Kunka, Derek Royal and Craig Fischer), a librarian (Mark Englebrecht of my old employer Charlotte Mecklenburg Library), and two publishers of historical material (Craig Yoe and Tom Heintjes), moderated by Heroes volunteer Andy Mansell (who organizes the panel discussions at the con every year). A lively discussion, without much resolution (not that any was expected). The consensus was that a canon for comics--a standard reading list--will happen by default as there are more and more academic studies of the form. Right now all of the academics prefer to pick a syllabus that works with the focus of the particular course they're teaching, and don't feel the need to have a canon that is more formally recognized.
Spent the last couple of hours on the floor at the Information Desk again, which gave me a new perspective on the closing of the con.