I’m a fan of cartoonist Alec Longstreth. I read his blog, buy his comics, have met him at Heroescon several times and even interviewed him once. I was pleased a few months ago when I saw him blog a reference that he was working with fellow cartoonist Jon Chad on a good old fashioned paper zine devoted to pinball called Drop Target. It combines three of my interests in a nice package – comics, pinball and zine culture. I’ve referenced multiple times on this blog my desire to be more involved with reading and making paper zines as an antidote to the ephemerality of internet culture. This seemed like a great beachhead from which to start that campaign.
I ordered issue #1 from their online store, paid via Paypal and received my copy about a week later. It is a nice package with multiple text features and a long memoir comic about hunting for and playing pinball machines. The text includes some basics of the parts and mechanics of a pinball machine, an interview with the former editors of Multiball magazine, reviews of specific machines and venues with machines. All told, it was a fun and diverting way to spend an hour or so and a great melding of several of my interests. If you like comics, the memoir is satisfying as comics. If you enjoy pinball, the pinball content is informative and enjoyable on that level. If handmade zines are your thing, this is a very good example of that form.
I like zines for the same reason I’ve been a proponent of podcasting and blogging. It rewrites the economic equation by making it so cheap to publish that one can tackle a niche topic and really go for it. This is a great example of that ethos. The second issue is listed as coming in Spring 2011 and I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to pursue trying to interview one or both of these guys for my podcast and I’d even be happy to contribute to their zine. This is exactly the sort of thing that has been making me happy of late. Even as I pull back from social media and the always connected digital world, I’m reconnecting with the tangible artifacts of our real world.
More Heroes Con wrapups come in. I’m glad I got to meet and hang out with Derek Coward. I was a little surprised that the show was not as explicitly social as many such gatherings. Had I known that you could get in with only a wrist band like a record show, I’d have brought my own name badge. I like to know who I’m talking to at these shows and I like them to know who I am.
It seems like Heroes is really a dealers room with a con outgrowth from there. That room is the beating heart of the show and while other things happen, they are not the main event. There are panels and programming but a fraction of what you’d expect from a SF convention with 10% of the attendees. I went to exactly one panel in my one day. Even with doing stuff all day to the point of exhaustion, I still didn’t get as much dealers room “digging through boxes for back issues” time as I wanted. It was kind of hilarious as I took my want list to a cramped 3/$1 dealer that every single guy (and they were all guys) stepping over each other and digging through had their own printout of issues they were looking for. It just made me realize that I was really and truly with my people. One guy had the best format I’ve ever seen. I might steal it for my list next year.
These observations are not a bad thing per se. This con is just different from others, long may it wave.
Here are some reactions from other people to this year:
- Liz Baillie posts her wrapup of the convention, which is not so wildly positive as some. I bought some stuff from her so I did what I could to keep her in the black on the trip.
- Tom Spurgeon interviews Dustin Harbin about organizing Heroes Con and this years outing specifically.
- Alec Longstreth posts about his experience. I also got some of his stuff at the con and am looking forward to reading it.
- Apparently they announced the formation of Rantz Hoseley’s Longbox Digital Comics project on Sunday after I left. I’m interested in seeing how this works. I’d be willing to use digital comics as my issue or two I try to see if I want to actually buy the paper version. I’m not sure if I’d ever buy them exclusively but I can see a place in my comics reading experience for digital comics.
- Derek Coward records his thoughts on Heroes Con at Comic Book Noise.
I’m glad I went and I’m already looking forward to next year. Like I say “Happiness is a stack of comic books too big to carry.”
Here are some Heroes Con wrapups by people I hung out with: one from Andre and one from Derek. I’ve attended before but the last time was in 1991, so it’s almost like a brand new con to me. A few quick observations from my side:
- In a lot of ways, it seemed less like a convention and more like a record show. It’s the only fannish con I can remember where you can get in without a nametag, only with a wristband. In certain ways, it feels like the record shows I used to go to in hotel ballrooms. Even when people had nametags, they were hard to read and about useless for conveying the basic information of “who is is person?”
- The center of the con is the dealers room and everything else works out from there. There were panels but compared to similarly sized events, it was a tiny proportion. It’s all about the sketches and the books. That’s not a problem to me, but it is kind of different from most things I attend.
- I want someone to draw me a cartoon with this as the caption: “Heroes Con 2009: Happiness is a stack of comics too big to carry!”
- I was only at the show for Saturday and that wasn’t enough. We went to Carowinds Friday night. I think we could do the same thing but start one day earlier and it would be perfect. Maybe Friday when many folks are at work it would be easier to get autographs.
- I tried my best to support indie artists. I bought stuff from Alec Longstreth and Liz Baillie and Little House Comics. I also bought a whole lot of 3/$1 and $0.50 comics from longboxes. As I trolled through them with my wish list printout, I’d look to my left and right and there were other guys all with computerized print lists checking off issues as they found them. This gave me inordinate joy, kind of like the bee girl at the end of the ” No Rain” video. I was with my people, even as we jostled each other and got in each other’s way.
- The Hampton Inn seems like the place to stay. It was relatively cheap, only a block and a half away and pretty good. The pool was inside which bummed out people who had the plan of sunning by poolside. I know at least one pro was staying there because I saw him at the front desk on our way to dinner.
- I had a great time. Next year I hope to partake of some of the night life and not be so exhausted the whole time. Staying an extra day would help a lot with that.