ConCarolinas is a general sci-fi and fantasy convention held annually in Charlotte, NC. Attendance was 300 in the inaugural year, 2002, and the guests were small potatoes, but those days are done. Well over 2,000 people (my estimate) showed up this year, and the guest of honor was a bona fide celeb: George R. R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones. Other guests included Anthony Montgomery from Star Trek: Enterprise and Laura Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott from the original Dark Shadows.
Sounds accomplished, right? GRRM was announced over a year ago—not even Comic Con International is that foregoing—so I expected the con to run like a thoroughly Penzoiled Sprint Cup chassis. In some areas, it did. Events started and stopped on time, and they were easy to find, for the most part. One exception was the ballroom divided into three smaller rooms that the schedule called, noninformatively, “Main,” “Programming 2,” and “Programming 3.” I missed the start of one panel because it was scheduled for Programming 3 but took place in Main, and each time I passed these rooms, the only sign I saw bore the Hilton’s name for the room: Lakeshore.
This plaint is piddling, however. The real mess came with Saturday’s GRRM autograph session. It was scheduled for 3:00, and by 12:15, a line was evident. “You should get in line now,” my wife said, to which I replied, “But the sign says the line will start forming at 2:00.” A woman of few words when she’s right, thank God, she pointed to the dozen or so people standing there. Just then, another two or three walked up. I assumed the position.
A few minutes later, a con staffer—I’ll call her “Bee”—came over to wrecking-ball the line. “We’ll start the line at 2:00,” she announced. Until then, we should “go enjoy the rest of the con.” Instead, the now-twenty of us moved six feet away to flank the concrete steps that led from the hotel entrance to a duck pond. Unsatisfied, Bee told us to move on, saying she had to “keep the steps clear.” They were currently so clear that piano movers could have carried a Steinway up them.
A guy who looked like Robert Downey, Jr. tried to tell Bee she was being unreasonable. We had paid for admission, he argued, and it was our prerogative to waste three hours in line—a line that had formed against the fence surrounding the patio, well out of the way. Someone else offered that there was “nothing else to do,” which hurt Downey, Jr.’s case. He wanted to negotiate, not inflame.
Bee was having none of it. She walked away and returned with con security, one of whom asked us nicely, in contrast to his Ghiscari Legion cosplay, to disperse. Downey, Jr. stood up defeatedly. “It’s a little unnecessary,” he said, more soliloquy than direct address, “but whatever.” And we moved away.
Things were tense after that. People arrived by the minute, and because we couldn’t form a line, we had to hang around pretending that we weren’t forming one. Annoyance passed from one person to the next, growing with each utterance as in the telephone game. “This is literally why we bought tickets,” one person said. “I don’t think they were ready for this kind of crowd,” said another. I took a philosophical tack. The con staff had taken an orderly line that had arisen spontaneously and, through human agency, made it into a mob. Maybe they were anarchists.
At 1:16, Bee pulled out a megaphone and announced, “If you are gathered here in order to rush the line, your badge will be taken, and you will be escorted off.” All 100 of us? 200? Versus her little honor guard? We didn’t move. When a Canada goose wandered off the pond, Bee walked up to it and blared through her megaphone, “This is a goose-free zone.” She said it to be funny, but nobody laughed. Too much had passed between her and us.
By 1:45, at least 400 people had gathered. The original group was still camped on the concrete steps, with newcomers forming parallel lines that stretched alongside the duck pond toward the hotel parking lot. About every thirty minutes, a con employee walked between the lines, urging us to keep the sidewalk clear because “the fire marshal is here,” though I never saw anyone official-looking. One person dubbed our station “the line to get into the line,” and we laughed—finally.
At 2:00, Bee started assembling the line. She did it fairly, calling ten people at a time from different spots, starting with the ur-group on the steps. I got in with the seventh summoning. My reward was to wait another hour before the 3:00 start, though this was better: Revolution had been averted, and I was now guaranteed an autograph. GRRM was scheduled to sign for only an hour, and those who didn’t reach him during that time might be turned away. (When someone griped about this, Bee said simply, “He is not a machine.”)
In all, I waited from 12:15 to nearly 4:00 to meet George R. R. Martin, and it was over with a few strokes of his pen. But it was worth it. The writer was gracious, even charming, and he signed two books for me. Autographs are my favorite part of conventions, and Downey, Jr. was right: You can have fun just sitting and waiting. Looking at cosplays. Writing a story (I got most of this done during the downtime). My wife and I rounded out the day with a couple of panels and that evening’s charity auction, hosted by podcaster and voice actor Rich Sigfrit, who also moderated a sci-fi-centric Whose Line Is It Anyway? starring the improv comedy group Pineapple-Shaped Lamps.
So that was it from Charlotte and the 13th ConCarolinas. Next year is already shaping up to be a good one with writer John Scalzi as the guest of honor. My next stop: Charlotte again for Heroes Convention on June 19. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Indication #1 you are at a sci-fi convention.
Indication # you are at a sci-fi convention.
Guys, no need to fight. There are enough tickets for everyone.
I would have seen GRRM sooner if it weren’t for those meddling kids!
Inside the dealer room.
People came from all over for this convention. Even Golgotha.
No, Johnny Depp was not there. Would have been awesome, though.
GRRM signing line: the Haves . . .
. . . and the Have-Nots
I’m not sure why I bought so much stuff at the auction. Any ideas?
GRRM addresses fans during one of his readings.
Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott pose for a picture.
|Hickory Comic Con|
|Convention Website Address|
|This convention will take place:|
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|About This Convention|
|We will have the 501 Star Wars Brigade, Star Trek Fleet and the Klingon Assault Group as well. Bring your camera!
We will have Tons of comics from the Golden age to current. also action figures,anime, and lots of other collectibles to choose from.
Artist list includes Stacey Fleming and Brian Monroe are just a few of the artist that will be attending.You can get you own sketch from any of these guys!
We will also have a yugioh card tournament and 3 booster boxes will be given away in prizes $10 entry for tournament.
Admission to the show is $4.00 entry for adults and $2.00 for children 13 and under at the door. a fun filled day for all. Hope to see you there.
|Venue Name and Address|
|Hickory Metro Convention Center
1960 13th Ave Dr. SE
Hickory, NC 28602
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|Please select the Category that best describes the convention|
HeroesCon 2014 is proud to display the first published comic strip art from Bill Watterson in nearly twenty years! Watterson completed his inimitable Calvin and Hobbes strip in 1995, and has since remained largely private in his life and art. If you happened to read Stephan Pastis‘ popular Pearls Before Swine strip this week, you may have noticed that Pastis employed a guest artist, billed as a second grade girl named Libby, to help him with three strips. Astute readers speculated about the true identity of the guest artist, and today the Washington Post revealed it to be none other than the legendary Bill Watterson! Pastis tells the whole story on his blog.
In conjunction with Chris Sparks and Team Cul de Sac, we are happy to be bringing all three Watterson and Pastis strips to Charlotte to display at HeroesCon, June 20 through 22 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The art will be displayed on the convention floor all weekend, at our Drink and Draw event on Friday night, and at Saturday night’s Art Auction. We’ll also be hosting a panel on Friday, June 20 where fans will get to hear the story of how this remarkable art was produced, how it came to be featured in Charlotte, and the part that Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson plays in all of it.
The three strips produced by Watterson and Pastis will be auctioned off in the coming months, with all proceeds from the sale going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. This charity works closely with our good friends at Team Cul de Sac, for whom we host our annual HeroesCon Drink and Draw charity event. More specifics regarding the auction of these pieces will be available at HeroesCon, here on our site and at Team Cul de Sac‘s page in the coming weeks.
HeroesCon is the only place anyone will be able to see the rare Watterson and Pastis original art in person before they are auctioned off. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for comic and art fans across the country, and we are humbled and honored to be bringing it to Charlotte.
HeroesCon takes place June 20 – 22 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The Bill Watterson and Cul de Sac panel takes place Friday, June 20 at 5:30 at the convention center.
Beloved illustrator Charles Vess will discuss his latest collaboration with fantasy author Charles de Lint, Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale at the Malaprop’s Bookstore on Wednesday May 14th at 7:00 pm. Known for his collaborations with de Lint (Cats of Tanglewood Forest, Medicine Road) and Neil Gaiman (Stardust, Blueberry Girl) Vess is a prolific artist and has won three World Fantasy Awards for his work. Of Seven Wild Sisters, Kirkus Reviews says, “Beautiful bookmaking, lovely storytelling and wondrous illustrations make for a splendid sequel-of-sorts to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest.”
The evening continues with an art opening at our used bookstore, Downtown Books and News at 67 N. Lexington Ave where Vess’s work is on display.
55 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC 28801
For 12 years, Rick Fortenberry and Dave Hinson (of Dave’s Comics in Fort Mill, SC) have been delighting Charlotte area comic book collectors with their Charlotte Comicon. The show is held three times a year–in April, August and December–and never fails to entertain. I suppose this would be a good time to mention that I have been involved with this show in both a volunteer and working capacity for a couple of years now. But, I promise not to let personal feelings get in the way of an honest convention report.
The Charlotte Comicon averages between 1,100-2,000 visitors per show, with ages ranging from toddler to senior citizen. Most of them are die hard comic collectors, as this show is predominantly a ‘trade show’. With 35 vendors and 24 special guests (artists, authors, and so forth) at their April 13, 2014 show, there were plenty of treasures to be found. I have seen this show grow exponentially in recent years, even causing them to change venues to their current home at the Crown Plaza Executive Park Hotel.
One aspect of the show that has continued to expand is the Cosplay participation. Years ago, the number of attendees in costume was less than 100. Now, hundreds show up at Charlotte Comicon dressed not only as their favorite comic book characters, but recognizable characters from movies, television, novels, anime, manga, and more. This year’s spring show had 164 contestants just for their costume contest! I do not envy the job of the judges, whatsoever. There were multiple age divisions for competition and Honorable Mention awards given out as well. Winners from each division were given cash prizes that they could spend in the dealer room. The costume contest is one of the bigger draws for the younger crowd that attends each show.
Seeking to connect with their cosplay fan base, Fortenberry and Hinson arranged for a special Secrets of Cosplay panel. The hour-long panel featured professional cosplayers DJ Spider, Amberle Linnea, Todd Lacey, Eve Madison and ‘The Clown Prince of Charlotte’ Victor Goldberg. Each panelist addressed specific topics such as the politics of cosplay, construction tips, and staying in character. It was standing room only in the ballroom that housed the panel, as the audience hung on their every word. Some went so far as to take notes during the panel and many hands went up when it was time for the Q & A segment. I know a lot of the familiar faces who attend the Charlotte Comicon regularly came away from that session eager to put their knowledge to use. The level of costumes at the summer show should be extraordinary.
Another new addition to the spring show was the Tribute to Charlton Comics panel, featuring Michael Eury (Editor-in-Chief Back Issue Magazine), Dan Johnson (Comics Historian) and Fester Faceplant (Artist, Writer). This hour-long panel with Q & A gave a unique history of Charlton Comics, 1946-1985, and the original characters that ended up being acquired and re-imagined by the likes of DC Comics. I admit, I knew nothing going into this panel, but by the end was fascinated with the industry and the backstory of the likes of The Watchmen. The Charlton Arrow #1 was being sold in limited quantities after the panel. Charlton Arrow is a limited edition collection of stories by Charlton veterans as well as contributors from DC Comics, Marvel and Archie. This historical look at the world of comics was enough to make me hungry for more. I hope that Charlotte Comicon will continue to include such panels.
All in all, Charlotte Comicon is exactly what they claim to be: a family-friendly show. For six hours and $5.00 (free if you are in costume or under the age of 12) you can enjoy a day meeting authors, watching artists paint and draw bringing characters to life before your eyes, and take in one of the wackiest costume parades I have ever seen. Here’s where my honesty kicks in…if you have trouble with tight spaces, you might want to consider that when attending one of their shows. They get more and more crowded each time and maneuverability in the dealer room can be daunting at times, especially if you are wearing a costume. Beyond the tight quarters, I have never had a bad experience at a Charlotte Comicon.
There was a big announcement made at the spring show, however, that should alleviate some of the traffic. Fortenberry and Hinson will be adding a third ballroom for the remainder of the 2014 shows. This additional room will house a Toy Show, with vendors and collectibles as far as the eye can see. With comics in one room, toys and collectibles in another, and cosplay/panels in yet another room, even if their attendance doubles as a result, it shouldn’t feel crowded and will remain a fun and affordable outing for families. I’m looking forward to watching this little show grow and grow. Who knows? Perhaps in the near future it could end up being a full weekend? Until then, I don’t think Charlotte Comicon or its fans have anything to worry about.
The next show will be held from 10am to 4pm on August 3, 2014. Information can be found at charlottecomicon.com
• TOMMY LEE EDWARDS, WRITER: VANDROID ARTIST: MARVEL 1985, TURF, STAR WARS, DISNEY
• RICHARD CASE, ARTIST: DOOM PATROL
• JEREMY WHITLEY, WRITER: PRINCLESS, MY LITTLE PONY, ORDER OF DAGONET, NFL RUSH ZONE
• DALE METTAM, INSPECTOR GADGET, JOHNNY TEST, BATTLE SMASH
• CHRIS WARTON WRITER/ARTIST, GIANT
• LOST STORY STUDIOS, WRITERS/ ARTISTS, EHMM THEORY, DEATH CURSE
• LYLE POLLARD, ARTIST
• BANSON RAGAN, ARTIST: DILEMMA COMICS
• JOE MENO, EDITOR, LEGO MASTER: BRICK JOURNAL MAGAZINE
THEE DIRTY BEATS
AWESOME ACTIVITIES, INCLUDING…
• Live Music!!!
ALL FREE COMIC BOOK EVENTS EVENTS WILL BE HELD AT ULTIMATE COMICS FARRINGTON RD LOCATION BEGINNING AT 10AM, SATURDAY MAY 3.
6120 Farrington Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Artist Dan Dos Santos appears at Acme Comics on Wednesday April 16th for a signing from 5:00-7:00 pm! Dan is the award winning cover artist on the standard edition Serenity Leaves on the Wind cover, the current Tomb Raider series, Fables #136, and even some Magic the Gathering cards!
2150 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC 27408
Rob Zombie appears at Barnes & Noble to sign The Lords of Salem on Saturday May 3, 2014 at noon!
We are very excited to host Rob Zombie who will be signing his book, The Lords of Salem. You must have a copy of The Lords of Salem from Barnes & Noble and a ticket to get in line. Tickets are first come, first served and will be handed out beginning at 9:00 am. Please call our store at 704.341.9365 for more information about this event.
Barnes & Noble – The Arboretum
3327 Pineville-Matthews Road, Charlotte, NC 28226
Joe Quinones, Maris Wicks, Yale Stewart, Jacob Chabot, Erica Henderson, and many more sign at Acme Comics on Saturday May 3, 2014 for Free Comic Book Day!
The countdown is on as Acme steps into the next age of the Triad’s oldest & largest comic book store, consolidating their creative power back into the Lawndale Shopping Center and strengthening it’s partnership with Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema to bring you the best Free Comic Book Day ever!
–57 different comic offerings, up from last year’s 52, PLUS whatever other promo books we find around the shop to add to the mix! The first 50 people in line are guaranteed a copy of each book, an offer so appealing it pushes the physical boundaries of the official Free Comic Book Day bags!
–The air-conditioned and waterproofed Sketch Pavilion in Acme Comics Presents will be streamlined to get you through the line faster than ever before while ensuring all attendees that would like to have the opportunity to get their books signed and get a one of kind commission can do so for FREE!
–Geeksboro’s main floor will also play host to even more artists with which to visit!
–Discover more about one of our favorite publishers as we screen Sequart’s Image Revolution featuring length documentary in the 48 seat theatre downstairs in Geeksboro!
–Get to know renowned local cosplayers like Ed “Static Shock” Newsome, Caitlin “Robin” Rhyne, Ian “War Machine” Raulston, and many, MANY more on the sidewalks of the Lawndale Shopping Center!
–FREE face-painting by Munchie & Me!
–Once again, hang out all night and all day and all night again at Geeksboro as our pals down the sidewalk will be open straight through on Friday for the food, beverages, and facility conveniences for anyone camping out over night, all day Saturday to provide refreshments and entertainment to event-goers, and until 2 AM Saturday night for the after-party to beat all after-parties!
–Pub-style Superhero Trivia on Saturday night complete with cash & comic prizes!
–Have small children and want to avoid some of the crowds? Stop by to pick up a bag of books and visit with creators at the Greensboro Children’s Museum (6 books, 3 artists) and the Windsor Recreation Center (4 books, 4 artists) from 10 AM – 1 PM!
Creators Appearing at Acme Comics & Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema:
—Thomas Boatwright – Orc Girl, Cemetery Blues, Halloween Legion, Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo
—Jacob Chabot – Mighty Skullboy Army, Hello Kitty, Voltron Force, SpongeBob
—Casey Coller – Transformers Robots in Disguise, Transformers More than Meets the Eye
—Chris Giarrusso – G-Man, Aw Yeah Comics, Mini Marvels, Bullpen Bits
—Erica Henderson – Subatomic Party Girls, Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures
—Sandy Jarrell – Batman ’66, Meteor Men, Wasteland
—Tracy Lee Quinn – freelance illustrator, Free Comic Book Day poster
—Joe Quinones – Ultimate Comics Survive, FF, Batman Black & White, Batman ’66
—Amanda Rachels – Flesh of White, Arcana’s the Book, Clown Town
—Gregg Schigiel – Pix Teenage American Fairy, SpongeBob Comics, X-Babies
—Brian Smith – Stuff of Legend, Intrepid EscapeGoat, Uncle Ant
—Yale Stewart – JL8 (Little League), Nova
—Randall Trang – Roller Girl & the Flying Sidekick
—Michael Watkins – Sonic the Hedgehog, Transformers
—Maris Wicks – Primates, Yes, Let’s, Batman Black & White
—Kelly Yates – MonstHer, Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time, Doctor Who: Fairytale
2150 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC 27408
Cartoonist Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, goes on a signing tour across the United States!
Monday, 3/24 Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA – 7:00pm
Tuesday, 3/25 Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW, Albuquerque, NM – 7:00pm