EDITORIAL: Matt Fraction on HeroesCon/Wizard World Competing Convetions

Fri, July 22nd, 2005 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Matt Fraction, Columnist

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HeroesCon, an annual comics convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina for the last 24 years, has been threatened direly by WizardWorld who, having been made fully aware of the Heroes tradition and show dates, announced a new show to launch in Atlanta, Georgia, the same weekend. HeroesCon celebrates its 25th year in 2006. WizardWorld was appraised of that fact by HeroesCon founder Shelton Drum last year after their Philadelphia show.

This deliberate and calculated monopolization of the convention circuit may not only drive HeroesCon out of business, but continues a practice of forcing out independent comic conventions nationwide. It's spread can no longer continue unchecked.

More than a David and Goliath story, the Starbucking of HeroesCon signals the end of an era and the terrible reward of the industry's policy of appeasement towards Wizard and WizardWorld. The hope for diversity, for an independent voice, and for shows of, by, and for comics fans are now beneath the boot of Wizard's abhorrent Wal-Mart-style business practices.

HeroesCon is a labor of love for Shelton Drum, the owner of perennial comics store Heroes Aren't Hard to Find. HeroesCon has a well-earned reputation of being tremendously charitable (an annual art auction benefits the Charlotte Firefighters Burned Children's Fund), family friendly, (Dads get in free on Sunday), and, most of all, being one of last true Comics Conventions. Several creators and countless attendees have said as much: Charlotte is the show you go to if you love comics. It's not about Hollywood, it's not about video games, it's not about TV or gaming: HeroesCon is about comics.

And nobody loves comics or HeroesCon more than Shelton Drum; I know this because I worked for the man, I worked HeroesCon, and I know what comics and the show mean to him. I know what the show means to other creators. If comics can be said to have a family reunion, it's HeroesCon.

HeroesCon is home.

There are far bigger and more important creators contributing to this site, but I'm pretty sure that I'm the only one on CBR that rode the register for Shelton and worked his show. And it's humbly in Shelton's debt that I'm writing this to ask for help-- not just from CBR's readers and other contributing professionals, but to use the site's visibility to publicly petition comics publishers to support Shelton.

The support of creators, as of this writing, like the Gaijin studio guys, Tony Harris, Greg Rucka, Bryan Hitch, Scott Kurtz, and Art Adams are a fantastic start for HeroesCon '06, but I'm here to call on publishers-- from Marvel and DC and all the rest-- to support HeroesCon vocally and immediately.

Pro support is massively important in garnering fan interest in a show. Without publishers helping to create a solid backbone alongside the retailers on the show floor, HeroesCon cannot hope to stand its ground against WizardWorld, which will eventually smother HeroesCon to death with its infinite money and reach. It's the publishers that have the strength to take a real and lasting stand against these unsavory and unfortunate practices; it's the publishers that have a voice loud enough to make Wizard listen.

Wizard certainly has the power, but it's Shelton, and those of us who owe him so very much, that have the passion.

I'm not sure if Paul Levitz or Dan Didio have ever made it down to a HeroesCon or not, but hey, 2006 would be a great year for it. But you can ask Joe Quesada, who attended the first of many HeroesCons in 1992. Or Todd McFarlane, who made the 1995 show and signed thousands of books over the weekend. And there are countless others. Ask them what HeroesCon has meant to them, and to comics, in the past.

Today Charlotte. Tomorrow Washington, Baltimore, Portland, or Seattle.

Or San Francisco.

Or Orlando.

Or New York.

Today Shelton. Tomorrow You.

See you at HeroesCon '06 (and not, presumably, in the pages of Wizard any time soon),

Matt Fraction

 
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