MY TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF HEROES CON:
1) BE SOCIAL
You’ll hear people who have been to multiple Heroes Con liken it to a family reunion that you actually want to go to. This is because it’s a place where friends, both profesional and fan, meet and the convention has a very relaxed feel. I think this is due to the fact that its a 3-day show, but mostly because of Shelton Drum and his staff/volunteers are so accommodating, friendly and organized. This friendly and relaxed environment extends to the after-hours at the Westin Hotel bar. So…..
- get out there and mingle with like-minded individuals over some beverages.
- make plans in advance to meet up with people that you know from fan-forums, discussion boards, twitter, facebook and other nerdy corners of the internets.
- say “Hi” and chit-chat with your favorite artist/writer/publisher/comic shop owner.
- talk to the people next to you in line while you wait for the con to open or for your favorite artist to draw in your sketchbook. (Need an ice breaker? Ask who they are most excited to see at the show or if you can take a look at the art they’ve gotten so far. Discussions will develop from there.)
- did I mention drinking and hanging out at the Westin? Which leads me to my next bit of advice….
2) STAY AT THE WESTIN
The Westin is the “official” hotel of HEROES CON and the hub of comic activity. Its where the guests stay and hang out, its where the art auction is, its close to the convention center, and it’s super posh. Rooms are available* for a really reasonable rate considering it’s typically hundreds of dollars a night.
*rooms may not actually be available at the time this is posted
3) GO TO ALL 3 DAYS OF THE SHOW
There is a lot to see and do at HEROES CON and 3 days is just the right amount of time to get it all in. And since you have taken my advice to stay at the WESTIN, you should plan to be in town from Thursday night to late Sunday, if not Monday. Buy the 3-Day pass and not only will you save some money, but you’ll also get a limited edition HEROES CON 2011 print AND you’ll get to take advantage of early admission to the convention floor every day.
So it’s now the first day of the con and people have been waiting a whole year for this. The early bird gets the worm, so they say. And if your worm is a commission from a really popular artists who only takes a couple of names during the show, you need to make plans to get in line early. Some people start lining up as early as 5:00 am!!! Now, if you’re not that motivated, I would suggest that you at least get to the convention center an hour before the con starts. The line will get reeeaaaaallly long as it gets close to time for the doors to open.
I suggest that you use Friday to get on sketch lists, buy things that are limited or will quickly sell out, and hit your other priorities. Since it’s a work day, the crowds aren’t as big as they are the rest of the weekend.
Saturday is the busiest day of the con. There are tons of people milling about and the lines get long. Use this time to check out some of the amazing panels that are going on. You can also take this time to check out the other booths that you skipped over Friday, look for that hard to find Golden Age comic book, watch the artists work on the live art stage, or just do some good old-fashioned people watching (AKA “nerd observing”). Just take it easy and enjoy the show and the atmosphere. You want to be sure you’re not too exhausted to go to the art auction Saturday night.
By Sunday, things will have calmed down a bit. Some of the artists will have left in order to catch a flight or don’t make it in due to having “over indulged” the night before. The crowds have thinned out. This is the day for looking for deals. Booths are looking to unload their inventory so they don’t have to pack it all back up and carry it out to the van. They are also looking for that last bit of profit to make help cover their expenses from the weekend (drinks at the Westin ain’t cheap!). So go back and make an offer on that thing you wanted if it still hasn’t sold. You might get a great deal.
Speaking of great deals, be sure to check out the silent auction table for some great original art. A lot of artist contribute art to the HEROES CON auction and there’s no way that it can all make it in the Saturday night event. Time constraints would just not allow it. So, swing by the corner where they have everything on display and put a bid in.
4) BE PREPARED
I’m not talking about making sure that you have snacks, water and enough cash on hand (although all of those are important). I’m talking about doing your research. It seems that every year, a couple of months after the con is over, I make a statement kind of like this one: “Crap! I didn’t know this (person and/or item) was at HEROES CON.” Usually it’s an artist that I don’t discover until after the con or a book someone had with them that I didn’t know about. The HEROES CON staff do a great job of not only bringing in some of the biggest names in comics, but they also feature some of the best up-and-coming talent, too. So do yourself a favor; go check out the guest list on the HEROES CON website, as well as the listing of people appearing in Artist Alley. Be sure to click on the links of each person and see what they’re bringing to the table (figuratively and literally). You might just be in the same room with your next favorite artist/writer and I’d hate for you to miss your chance to see them.
5) BRING SOMEONE WITH YOU
Don’t like talking to strangers? Bring someone with you that you do like talking to. Bring a friend! Bring your significant other! Bring your family! HEROES CON is a wonderful, comic-focused, kid-friendly event that represents all that is good about comics, both in content and community. (I have yet to hear about people getting sexually assaulted or stabbed in the eye at a HEROES CON.) Even if these people that you bring with you don’t like comic books per se, what better way to expose them to what is obviously such a big part of your life? Go on, let them in to the inner nerd circle.
These friends and/or family members may not be too jazzed about spending several hours a day for three days on the convention floor, but they can still have a great time in Charlotte because the city has a lot to offer. There are lots of good restaurants and fun activities, especially for kids.
So thanks for reading these general tips and I hope they help you get the most out of HEROES CON. If you have other tips that you want to share, please feel free to put them in the “Ask a Question” section.