On Saturday January 25, 2014 the Charlotte MiniCon returned to the Grady Cole Center. With over 2,500 guests in attendance, comic book lovers of all ages came out to enjoy the day. Admission to MiniCon was free as always, though a donation of a non-perishable food item (even pet food) was encouraged. Five tons of food, in fact, was collected for the Second Harvest Food Bank, a local non-profit organization.
The MiniCon was founded by Shelton Drum in January of 1977. In 1980, Drum would go on to found Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find and the annual Heroes Convention, which is also held in Charlotte. Said Drum, “We did the MiniCon for a while and then focus shifted to Heroes. But we brought it back in 2007 and it has been growing bigger ever since.”
Founder Shelton Drum
The convention focuses primarily on comic books, highlighting the writers and artists that bring them to life. One such writer, David Pinckney, traveled all the way from Atlanta, Georgia to attend the single-day MiniCon. “I actually found out about it on Convention Scene’s website!” said Pinckney. He was there promoting his comic book, No West to Cross, which is the story of a female gunslinger, “…the first cowgirl in the wild west.” Interestingly enough, though published a year ago, Pinckney has never met any of the artists associated with his work. “I utilized websites like Pencil Jack and Digital Webbing to find artists to work with. “I have team members located in Nebraska, Florida; it’s pretty cool.”
Artist John Hairston, Jr. works on a portrait at MiniCon.
Someone else who drew a sizable crowd was gallery artist, John Hairston, Jr. from All City Studios. “This is my favorite environment,” said Hairston. “I’m among my people, if you know what I mean?” Hairston has been working conventions for 12 years. Painting free-hand on canvas at the MiniCon, he claimed he always knew he wanted to illustrate comic books, yet his work crosses the line into fine art. “I get a lot of commissions from a Con like this.” I, for one, could have stood and watched him paint all day!
Amberle Linnea and Kristin Jann Fischer.
It’s no secret that the cosplay scene in Charlotte is very impressive. Characters of every kind lined the stage at the Grady Cole Center to register for the costume contest, while Charlotte cosplay legend DJ Spider played that funky music. Fan favorites included Kristin Jann Fischer, who looked positively painted into her Black Widow costume, even going so far as to adopt a spot-on Russian accent as she chatted up the other guests as Natalia Romanoff. Amberle Linnea wowed the room with her homemade rendition of Hunger Games character Effie Trinket. Painstakingly piecing together over 1,000 tiny butterflies–including those on her eyelashes and body–Linnea laughed, “You should have seen me trying to ride in the car on the way over here. This dress doesn’t bend!” That’s dedication.
Charlotte MiniCon 2014
All in all, it was a fun day. The Grady Cole Center had plenty of upper deck seating for those needing to take a break. They also had a concessions booth set up in the lobby. Charlotte MiniCon was a shopper’s paradise. We know of various sports’ seasons, wedding season, award season and so forth. For me, the annual Charlotte MiniCon each January is a fantastic way to kick off my “convention season” of the new year. Up next for Shelton Drum and his crew will be their annual 3-day Heroes Convention June 20-22, 2014.
Photos courtesy Garrett Marks