HeroesCon Q&A With Seth Peagler
HeroesCon is a little more than a month away, and Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find Warehouse Manager Seth Peagler graciously agreed to answer some questions about it to give you a heads up about one of the southeast’s largest comic conventions.
1) HeroesCon focuses almost completely on comics. Given that it is one of the largest conventions in the Southeast, what are the reasons behind keeping the convention so focused on comics?
HeroesCon is still focused on comics because it always has been. Our founder Shelton Drum started HeroesCon to celebrate not just comics, but the talented people who create them. There are plenty of conventions large and small that prominently feature entertainment and media guests, but ours is all about comics. I think it’s quickly evident once you enter our convention that it’s one filled with comics from all eras and hundreds of comic creators also from all eras. Remaining a comics focused convention is something we take a lot of pride in.
2) When does formal planning for the next year’s convention start?
We like to joke that planning for HeroesCon 2016 has already started. Truthfully, that’s only half a joke. We’re always brainstorming about what creators we’d like to see as future guests. Sometimes it’s just an issue of a creator’s availability, and sometimes it’s just a matter of the stars aligning at the right time. We’re always thinking ahead. As far as this year, the real preparation probably started for us collectively in February or March. By now we’re all well into the long hours and multiple hat-wearing portion of the HeroesCon process.
3) How is it decided which panels to have?
Most of the panel programming is decided by a committee of our Creative Director Rico Renzi, longtime Panel Coordinator Andy Mansell and myself. We also get input from Shelton, our Store Manager Justin Crouse, and our Events Coordinator Karla Marsh. Our goal with programming is really just to think about what panels attendees would enjoy, and find ways to utilize as many of the talented creators as we can. We also try to find a balance between the bigger publisher or event driven panels (Marvel, DC, Image, etc.) and smaller more conversational panels focused on comics process and education. It’s a fun part of the process for us to fit together all the puzzle pieces together to create three days of programming that comics fans of all ages and interest levels can enjoy.
4) How are the guests chosen each year? There are some artists that seem to appear every year, and sometimes artists have shown up never to be seen again at HeroesCon?
Many artists who come to HeroesCon once are quick to become regulars. We always have new artists attend each year as well, but it’s impossible to have every creator attend every HeroesCon. We consider what comics fans seem to be gravitating toward each year, and try to have some representation of those popular comics at each show. It’s just as important to us to have rising artists represented at our con. It’s great to see all kinds of creators each year, from the ones we’ve known forever to the ones we’re just meeting for the first time.
5) Every year, there are a lot of volunteers that help with the convention. How much help do they give in running the convention, and how much does HeroesCon rely on volunteers?
When you have a convention as large as ours, volunteers are an important part of keeping everything running smoothly. The core group of Shelton and the four of us who manage it do most of the larger organizational work. We also have our excellent store staff who help make up the essential infrastructure and are tirelessly working right there with us through the entire convention. Beyond that we utilize all kinds of volunteers, from the established ones like panel coordinator Andy Mansell and art stage coordinator Trey Alexander, to brand new volunteers who help out with everything from registration and the info booth to helping manage long lines. There are always plenty of uses for volunteers each day at the convention, and we’re thankful to have the help. Volunteer information can be found at our website www.heroesonline.com/heroescon.
6) You can usually be seen during the convention manning the Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find booth, Do you, and the other HeroesCon organizers get to roam the floor much and take in the convention?
It’s nearly impossible for us to walk around and take it all in as fans, but seeing it all come together is a truly rewarding thing. There’s nothing better than seeing young fans walk around HeroesCon in awe for the first time. There’s a lot of joy in that hall, and that makes it special for us. Most of us who organize the convention have also done so for years now, and have made lots of friends with many of the regular attending artists, so it’s always fun to see friends from everywhere. Plus, many of us are comic art enthusiasts, and pre-order commissions to pick up at the show. It’s a hectic time for us, but we always enjoy it.
7) Last year, HeroesCon had a very visible harassment policy. As cosplay has increased in recent years, has harassment become something that you guys have seen more of, or is it more of a preemptive move to avoid incidents like have been reported at other conventions?
Cosplay has become a huge phenomenon in recent years. Our harassment policy wasn’t a result of an increased number of incidents at HeroesCon, but was a way for us to publicly establish that we won’t tolerate the harassment of any of our attendees or guests, cosplayers or otherwise. Hopefully there won’t be any kinds of harassment this year, but if there is an incident, it will be handled quickly and efficiently.
8) What you recommend someone who just has a 2 or three hours of one day take in at HeroesCon?
I would first recommend stopping by our Live Art Stage, which is right behind the Info Booth. There you’ll get to see some of our talented guests in the act of creating the amazing pieces that will be auctioned off at Saturday night’s Art Auction and Sunday’s Silent Auction. Then I’d take a right and visit one of our great vendors, and purchase an item or two. Then I’d start walking through Artist Alley, get a sketch or print, make my way through Indie Island and discover a new talent whose work you’ll fall in love with, continue making my way through Artist Alley, wind through the other side of the hall’s vendors to pick up another comic or two. Stop by the Heroes Booth on your way out and pick up one of exclusive variant covers (like our Mike Zeck/John Beatty Secret Wars #1 variant), and then see a panel on your way out of the convention center. That’s a lot to do in a few hours, but it’ll be a full day of comics fun!
9) What is your favorite HeroesCon related event?
My personal favorite HeroesCon event is our annual Drink and Draw, which takes place on Friday night. We started this event five years ago for our friend, the genius cartoonist Richard Thompson and Team Cul de Sac, which raises money for Parkinson’s research. It started small, but has grown each year, and we’ve raised a lot of money for this important cause. What’s so great about the event, to me, is that you’ll see artists of all kind, professional and hobbyists, sitting side by side creating art on the spot, which we then try to auction off right then and there. There’s an intentional looseness to the event, and anyone can walk up and get some incredible art for very reasonable prices. Every cent of the money we raise goes right to Team Cul de Sac. It’s a wonderful example of the selflessness of our comics community, and a continuation of HeroesCon’s longstanding charitable efforts over the years.
10) Finally, what is your favorite HeoresCon moment of all time?
That’s hard to say. This is my ninth year of being a part of the HeroesCon management team, and there have been many highlights. Last year was very important to me because we were able to display the art that Bill Watterson created with cartoonist Stephan Pastis that was auctioned off with the proceeds donated to Team Cul de Sac. We were the first place in the country that people got to see the art up close. Getting to be a part of coordinating that whole process was a memorable experience. Besides the professional highlights, I always think about the great Golden and Silver Age creators I’ve had the honor to meet over the years. Meeting creators like Julie Schwartz, Irwin Hasen, and Nick Cardy as a kid and teenager means a lot to me now. I first attended HeroesCon as a teenager. Having the opportunity as an adult to be a part of the team that manages it a genuine honor. There aren’t many comics focused conventions left, and certainly not any quite like HeroesCon. I’m privileged to still be a part of it.
Thanks to Seth for taking the time to answer these questions. We’ll have more HeroesCon coverage as it gets closer, and in the days afterwards.