With Further Ado #253: Now, That’s How You Throw a Comic Convention

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to get down to HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC. At Bonfire Agency, I used to do a fair amount of work with comic shop retailers and attended a lot of comic conventions.  Shelton Drum’s comic shop, Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find (great name, right?) in Charlotte was always regarded as best in class and the convention he runs, HeroesCon, was always very well regarded.

Last year, I finally made it to his shop, and this year, I finally made it to his amazing convention.

HeroesCon 2023

There was an electric-but-easygoing buzz in the air. HeroesCon was full of so much excitement and optimism but with none of the crowded drama that all too often accompanies big conventions.   My family and I got our badges and made our way to the convention floor in record time. It seemed like all the workers were smiling and happy at each and every step.

This show brands itself as America’s Favorite Comic Convention, and I think they are right.  The focus at HeroesCon is on the comics themselves, less so movies, gaming and all the other amazing fandoms that typically find a place under the large tent of Pop Culture.  The exhibition floor was full of so many comic book dealers, comic book publishers (A Wave Blue World and AHOY Comics) and a ton of brilliant comic creators.

A few of my highlights included:

Outstanding Guests

Whenever this many comics people gather together – there’s a natural magic in the air.  Here’s a partial listing of just some of the cool folks I ran into:

I hadn’t seen Matthew Manning in a while, and learned he’s moved his personal Batcave to Asheville, NC.  (That city sounds like it’s become such a cool place. And their comics + craft brew convention is enticing.) My daughter Cassie bought me a copy of Matt’s Exploring Gotham City for a Father’s Day present.   (Published by Insight Kids, 2021.)

Don Simpson has always been a favorite creator – and he’s always got something fascinating to say.  It was invigorating to see him at his booth and pick up the new Victory Folks #1, but also great fun to see him on the street and walk into the convention with him Saturday morning.

Marlin Shoop has always been a favorite and I made the mistake of only buying the first issue of his new Unprepped series (written by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty). It’s a clever premise – “Survivalist Comedy at its best”. I have to hunt down the remaining issues pronto. Maybe I’ll see these issue at a comic shop, and if not I’ll keep an eye out for Marlin at SDCC.

After the pandemic, using the adjective infectious has lost some of its luster. But I will still write that Jamal Igle has an infectious smile. His warmth and professionalism make everyone happy and – for creative types – makes you want to buckle down and get better at your craft.  And it was a treat to watch as he showed my son-in-law Eric his original art pages.  (This was Eric’s first comic con, and I think his head was swimming with all the madness he was exposed to.)

Hillarie and Joe Staton probably got the award for the most charming couple on the floor. I marvel at Joe’s artistic talent, but I also marvel at their kindness and enthusiasm every time I speak to them.

Marvel Comics’ romance comics, like Young Love, always had an advice column to ostensibly help young girls figure out what to do when “that boy in social studies class” continued to ignore them.  It was written by Suzan Lane Loeb.  What a pleasure to meet her and to hear her stories of working in the early (and small) Marvel Bullpen alongside Stan Lee, Flo Steinberg, John Romita, Sol Brodsky and Roy Thomas.  The always-brilliant Jacque Nodell had published this wonderful interview with her on Sequential Crush a few years back.

I ran into a great old friend – comics historian and super-collector Aaron Sultan at this show. It was a friendship with Aaron struck up in 1989 that re-sparked my interest in Captain Action and set my start-up adventures on this mad trajectory.

Carl Potts is a gifted creator for sure, but he’s also been an outstanding editor and is now a top-notch educator and lecturer. I am regretful that I missed his panel at HeroesCon, but our conversation at his booth was informative and uplifting nonetheless.


There was some strong cosplay here but not to an overwhelming degree. So the cosplayers I saw really stood out. It was hard to not smile ear-to-ear when beholding the creativity of these folks.

The Book Store That Got Away

I was really impressed by the vintage books that Tall Stories Book and Print Gallery had in their exhibition booth on the showroom floor. And when I asked if they had any Hal Foster or Prince Valiant books, I was surprised how the staffer there was able to rattle off exactly what their inventory was.  It turns out this store is just about two hours south of Charlotte. I’ve got to scheme a way to get there on my next visit. (I wonder where the closest craft brewery is?)

Next Week’s Column: more HeroesCon, and a focus on Michael Eury

Notes: You can find another review of HeroesCon Here.

And here is walkthrough video of the show floor that we put together.