HeroesCon 2016.

If you are a creator of mainstream comics who is situated in the East Coast, South, or Midwest, HeroesCon is your convention. It is a decidedly inexpensive event to attend. Table costs are fairly low for the size of the convention, hotel rates are very reasonable, and one doesn’t have to compete with a bloated Hollywood machine for the eyeballs of attendees. Everyone who is there is there for comics. It’s a convention of readers.

The host hotel—the Westin—was surprisingly and stunningly swanky. I am extremely picky about hotel rooms. If it isn’t quiet and the fixtures aren’t up-to-date then I am going to be unhappy. Even with construction going on directly across the street I was able to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep every night. And the bathroom was bubble-bath worthy. Four stars all the way.

As for the host city? Well, Charlotte honestly leaves much to be desired. The region is pleasant, safe, affordable, and walkable, but is also rather dull and mainstream. Every event tied to HeroesCon was held at Buffalo Wild Wings. To have a party in the same commercial venue every night, one that is the height of pedestrian, was frustrating. I’d advise the showrunners to branch out—perhaps with themed parties in the Westin or a street fair at the Latta Arcade. But the final post-show wrap-up at Heroes was amazing. And honestly I was a bit envious. If I had a comic shop of that quality near me I wouldn’t have to depend on Amazon and Comixology for everything. And, good Lord, I had a pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich there that I still think about fondly a week later.

Convention reviews don’t usually talk about this, but I’m going to discuss it. As a woman and as a black person? I felt comfortable there. And I spotted other members of marginalized groups who looked happy and content as well. This is important and is something that isn’t reflected in all conventions. And honestly, showrunners can neither take the credit nor the blame. That safety and comfort is tied not to the comics community, but to the local community. And I was pleasantly surprised to see how welcoming it was.

2016 was my second time attending HeroesCon and the crowds seemed a bit thinner than the last time I attended. During my time in the beautiful—and too cold!—Charlotte Convention Center it seemed spacious and at times downright sparse. While the lack of a Hollywood presence was blissful, I think the absence of major comic publishers impacted the convention negatively. I believe those big-name booths have the power to boost crowd numbers. While publishers should not put the amount of money into HeroesCon that they would reserve for SDCC or NYCC, company representation on the floor would allow editors to scout for new talent that simply can’t afford to attend larger conventions—and I’ll get to that in a separate entry! Three tables, two editors, and a large number of digital freebies and knickknacks would suffice. And I believe knowing DC and Marvel would be there would increase fan interest and attendance.

I promise to get to the event itself next, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about the surrounding city and host hotel given the impact both have upon a show. After all, guests are shared by everyone, but it’s the local flavor that makes a convention unique!