More Heroes Con Wrapups

Me and Derek Coward

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.”

At Heroes Convention

I’m here in Charlotte a few blocks from the convention center. I’m looking forward to attending Heroes Convention tomorrow. They just had a piece on the con on the 11 PM local news that makes me even more anxious to get there. I brought my full want list of comics I’m looking for, a few issues of things to get signed, and a bunch of stickers and fliers for my various projects. I had considered bringing my Marantz but opted not to because I’m here for fun, not to work it. I do have many of my Reality Break business card and will be handing them out freely.

I know for sure that my friends Andre Pope, Kreg Steppe and Derek Coward will be attending tomorrow. I don’t know how many if any of my friends from Atlanta and Augusta comics fandom (many of whom I haven’t seen for 20+ years) will be there. If you will be there, say hi. I’m leaning my balance of convention travel more towards things like this than Podcast Expo type conferences. I’ll go to the comic podcaster panel tomorrow, get some comics signed, shop for comics until I can’t take it anymore and generally try to have a big time. I think we’ll pull it off too.

Mevio/Podshow “Never Believed in User-Generated Content”

Unaudition: Step Up and Take It
The Dream of Quitting Your Day Job is Now a Reality

Yesterday I got an email from Derek Coward, pointing me to this pair of articles: one about Podshow changing their name to Mevio, and another about how Mevio was focusing on professionally produced content, as opposed to that shitty stuff that they’ve focused on for the last three years, I suppose.
I’ve actually let up on Podshow a lot in the last few years. Their biggest positive is that they have done positive things for my friends. They allowed Drew Domkus and Michael Butler and others to quit day jobs that they weren’t digging and they’ve allowed a lot of people that I like to make some money podcasting. I’ve had my doubts about them and given them shit along the way but I decided that unless and until they really screwed a friend of mine I would give them a break.
Still, I’ve always been queasy about the company and particularly about Ron Bloom. Back when I used to listen to the Daily Source Code and they did that long episode that was Curry and Bloom discussing their views and goals for their newly forming and at the time still unnamed company. After listening to that long painful show, I decided that if I ever found myself shaking Bloom’s hand, I’d count my rings and fingers afterwards.

When I read the story, there is one quote that really stands out to me.

“We have never believed in user-generated content as a business, or even as a sustainable entertainment offering,” said Ron Bloom, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, MEVIO.

That statement puts the basics of the Podshow/Mevio philosophy into a funny state. Now the question is whether Bloom was lying three years ago or is he lying now? It’s really strange to claim that Podshow never believed in user-generated content as a business because, like, we were there. This seems like a form of brass balled, straight in the face prevarication that would be a stretch even for the Bush administration.

I remember the weird feeling I got in my stomach when I went to the first Podcast Expo in 2005 and saw the t-shirts Podshow was giving away. Of all the things they could have pumped, the important aspect to them was about podcasters “quitting their day jobs.” It was a blatant appeal to the wannabes who hoped to become Dawn and Drew. “Come join up with us, and soon you’ll be doing this for a living too!” As it turns out, that was never something Podshow “believed in as a business, or even as a sustainable entertainment offering.” Is there any possible reconciliation of that statement and of the pitch Podshow has used to recruit individual podcasters all through its history? I’ve looked for one and haven’t been able to find it.

I couldn’t remember the exact wording of those shirts, so I put out an appeal on Twitter for someone to send me a photo of themselves wearing the shirt. Slightly vindicating Twitter for me, I woke up this morning to the attached photos of Mr Jamie Nelson in said shirt. If I’m understand his email correctly, he was in fact already wearing it to sleep in when he saw my tweet. Now seriously, look at those shirts. I’m not treating the shirts as the definitive mission statement of the company, but they are a clear indicator of the way Podshow represented themselves to the amateur podcaster. Dudes, you were never part of the business plan, and you were never something the company believed in. How does that make you feel about the last three years of loyalty to the company. It puts me in mind of a quote Patrick Nielsen Hayden frequently uses: “Just because you are on their side doesn’t mean they are on your side.”

So, to clarify my stance: I wish no one in particular ill will. I’m not rooting for anyone’s business to fail, and I don’t want to see any of my friends out of work or experiencing any hardships. I don’t blame any of the Pod* companies for changing their names. When I was naming AmigoFish, the one rule I had is that there would be no “pod” anywhere in the name so I was maybe ahead of that curve. Other than this post, I’m resuming my general apathy towards Mevio. I listen to very few of their shows, and those that I do listen to will continue whether or not the company does. I do think if you are a Podshow podcaster you should pay attention to this. The company doesn’t believe in you, so maybe you should reciprocate by failing to believe in them and acting accordingly.

As someone who was doing a show when you could count the other podcasters on your fingers and listen to every other one produced every day, I can make one definitive statement about the medium. It was all a lot more fun when no one was making any money and only worried about putting out fun shows that mattered to them.