L to R: Megan, Sally, me (MK behind the camera) outside Lupie's Cafe in Charlotte, NC
All photos courtesy of MK Reed Enterprises, Inc.
Me and MK took the train down to Charlotte, NC for Heroes Con bright and early, 7am on Thursday morning. We were fortunate enough to share the train with Alec Longstreth, who got on at DC and rode with us for half of our 15 hour long journey. Mostly we slept or hung out with Alec in the cafe car, getting work done and shooting the breeze, sharing snacks like a sweet apple pie that MK had brought with her. We were all picked up in Charlotte by Greg Means, who was not driving a rented White Patriot this year, but instead a small, less hilariously named economy car.
We got to the hotel so late there was nothing open but the hotel bar, which thankfully served food and even though they had to come out from the kitchen to confirm that I did in fact want orange juice with my meal at 11pm, and the service took FOREVER (thought probably normal by North Carolina standards) I was very very happy to finally eat. Since our three hotelmates weren't arriving until Friday, we went to the room and stretched out on big beds all to ourselves. Luxury!
On Friday morning we went downstairs to set up (Heroes is a three-day convention) and mostly sat around all day. Traffic in the Indie Island section (where we were) was a touch slow and business showed it. It was sad to look around and realize so many of the wonderful people who attended last year were not in attendance this year and we only knew a handful of people, whereas last year it seemed like a room full of our friends. Nevertheless, we were determined to have a good time.
First, we decided to continue the tradition we began last year of visiting the amazing free-standing 1950's-era Dairy Queen with the borderline racist Alaskan girl sign holding the phallic ice cream cone. Like last year, we went EVERY DAY because you know, they don't have DQ in New York, but especially not one like this. Of course, the tradition would not be complete without the annual Pornographic Positioning Photo Opportunity with the sign:
On the first night, I got a hot fudge and marshmallow sundae. On the second and third nights, I got a medium Reese's and Snickers vanilla Blizzard. Alec and I were supposed to meet there on Saturday night to witness Roger Langridge ordering (with his English accent) and consuming his first DQ Blizzard, but due to a series of unfortunate events they left four minutes before we got there so we missed it. Apparently Roger chose the Strawberry Cheesequake flavor Blizzard.
Generally the show itself was pretty slow, and although I did not do as well as I normally do at shows, I did well enough that I would consider coming back next year (if I can convince even more of my friends to not drop out). I made the excellent choice of doing a series of 12 small superhero-themed watercolor and ink drawings to sell at Heroes for extra money, as well as choosing to charge $10 for sketches. This netted me about $85 extra that I wouldn't have made otherwise, and definitely made a big chunk of a difference in the final tally, especially when comparing this year's sales to last year's.
On Friday and Saturday I was kind of bummed because things were pretty slow at the table, and my social activities had been somewhat disappointing. I attempted to make Saturday night my raucous "party night" but my attempts at getting drunk failed miserably. MK had brought some fancy tequila with her and though I drank a decent amount mixed with some citrus-ey drinks, its only effect was making my stomach hurt miserably without the benefit of drunkenness. On top of that, I found out that the hotel pool was not actually located inside the hotel, but rather was part of an attached YMCA that closed early and was closed completely on Sunday (the best day to go swimming after a con). Sally and I went to bed early on Friday and Saturday nights and everyone else stayed out late to party.
Oh, except for our discovery of the North Carolina newspaper which features mugshots and crimes committed by various people, called THE SLAMMER. It was surprisingly entertaining, especially the section "Kiddie Korner" (juvenile offenders) and "Laughter and Tears" (people either laughing or crying during their mugshot photo).
Reading the SLAMMER with Sally next to the NO LOITERING sign
Sunday, however, made up for EVERYTHING.
Sally and I decided that since it is hard to sell your own books, and way easier to sell someone else's, that we would switch places for the day and she would impersonate me, and I would do the same for her. We even switched my nametag with her wristband. She did a great job of impersonating me and even signed a few comics for people as me, but I did not do as good of a job. I am just not a good liar. I would usually give up as soon as they asked me "Are you Sally Bloodbath?" This also got confusing when people who weren't close friends but knew who I was would come up to Sally's table and get really confused because my comics were not on the table.
impersonating Sally Bloodbath
I guess I had gotten a little bored or something, or maybe the taste of impersonating people got me thirsty for more, but on Sunday afternoon while Alec was at a panel, I decided to dress up like him (complete with fake beard and using his actual cap) and stand on the chair (for height) behind his table until he got back, pretending to be him, and wait for the inevitable collapse of reality when Real Alec and Fake Alec met for the first time.
photo by Jimmy Aquino
Mostly I stood behind the table yelling choice Longstrethian phrases such as:
-I'M ALEC LONGSTRETH!
-It's a FAMILY OF BIRDS! (in reference to the origami family of birds MK made and taped to my napkin beard)
My antics got a lot of laughs for the first, oh... fifteen minutes. Little did I know, Alec would be gone for TWO HOURS! After the first half hour, I just couldn't give up and decided I would not leave the chair until the Real Alec finally showed up. My hope was that he would be with Jeff Smith so we could get the ultimate photo op of Real Alec and Fake Alec blowing Jeff Smith's complete concept of reality. And we did!
My beard was falling off because we had to pick it out of the garbage when we spotted Jeff Smith coming.
My favorite might be the photo of Chuck McBuck interacting with Fake Alec (note the presence of not just napkin beard, but napkin mullet):
So yeah... I impersonated Alec Longstreth for two hours and even sold a comic as Alec, which I was asked to sign as Alec, which I did (as "The Real Alec Longstreth")
After the show we quickly packed up and headed for the after party at Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, the comic shop that organizes Heroes Con. They were offering free pizza, beer and cookies, so of course we headed there immediately to get the best of everything before everyone else got there. Apparently, Greg and Alec had the same idea because we saw them coming out of their car just as ours was pulling into the shop's parking lot!
We were among the first there and quickly ate up a bunch of pizza and cookies, and got started on the beer. They had a great selection that included Yuengling, which is my fave, and Blue Moon! Pretty unusual for the free beer! Just another reason to love Heroes!
Also present at the party, and at the convention in general all weekend, was Scott Adsit who plays Pete on 30 Rock. I kept seeing him around and since he looks like such an average dude I wasn't sure it was him at first (I am a HUGE fan of 30 Rock) but through the grapevine, I learned that it was! Although I wasn't trying to talk to him, he happened to be talking to Alec at one point during the party so I went over and joined the conversation. He was very friendly and immediately introduced himself and we had a nice casual conversation about Heroes Con. Apparently he goes to NYCC and San Diego all the time but people kept telling him Heroes was the best con to go to, so he flew in for the weekend and filled up a sketchbook with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen sketches. Pretty rad!
At one point, Alec showed us how to play two bottles at once with his nose and mouth:
You can tell how drunk Alec is by how far back his cap is turned.
After the party at Heroes I was pleasantly drunk and happy in general, which was the perfect time to go with Alec, Greg and MK for our final evening of DQ. To make up for the disappointments of the previous night, Alec treated us all to Blizzards and even sprung for a little Blizzard shaped antenna topper to give to Sally!
The perfect end to a perfect evening.
BUT WAIT! There's more!
We decided to hit up the bar at the Westin (where most people go to drink after the show) where there was almost no one except Jeff Smith sitting with a group of friends! We decided to hang out at our own table for a while but after some time had passed we made our way over to Jeff and Co. and hung out with them for a while, which was super rad. At no other show would this probably ever happen.
The next day we left early for our epic drive back with Sally and Co. We had to drive Kiril back to DC, and then Megan back to Philly, and then Sally volunteered kindly to take me and MK back to Brooklyn.
Kiril at the Waffle House
A truck full of gazebos passing our car
A pit stop for dinner in Baltimore, MD - sign reads "LIVE HERE"
I got home a little after midnight on Monday evening feeling like I was getting sick, and woke up this morning to find that yes, in fact I had gotten sick. Awesome.
NYC Zine Fest next weekend!