Robot 6

Heroes Con & Supercon make Con Love, not Con War

Heroes Con

Heroes Con

Not every comic-convention conflict has to end in tears. So Heroes Con organizer and Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find retailer Shelton Drum discovered when he ran into a seemingly unavoidable scheduling overlap with Florida Supercon, the Miami-based show organized by Mike Broder. The two shows have announced that Supercon has voluntarily switched its 2010 dates to June 18-20 in order to accommodate Heroes Con, which will be held on June 4-6.

According to Drum, the increasingly busy convention season and a booked-solid schedule at the Charlotte, NC convention center during the June-July timeframe during which Heroes Con is traditionally held combined to limit his scheduling options.

“I had actually just about given up on doing anything at the Charlotte Convention Center in 2010,” Drum tells Robot 6. “Using a smaller venue was an option as well as just taking a year off.” But when Drum put out feelers in these directions at the Baltimore Comic-Con, he was met with such an overwhelming response that he feared hosting the show at a smaller site would lead to overcrowding.

Things changed last week, when Drum learned that the June 4-6 weekend had opened up at the Convention Center.

“The only problem was the already planned Miami Supercon that I had promised myself to respect,” he says. “I called Mike Broder actually to apologize that I was going to have to use that weekend if I was going to have a show at all in the summer of 2010. Mike’s response without hesitation was, ‘I love your show. I enjoy attending it. I think I have some flexibility with my center, let me see if I can reschedule.’”

The Florida Supercon mascot

The Florida Supercon mascot

Broder tells Robot 6 he wasted no time when he heard of Drum’s predicament. “He gave me a call to see what could be done on Thursday. I have the utmost respect for Shelton and Heroes Con, and I think they’re a great show, so [I told them if there's] anything I can do to help I will. I called my convention center and set up a meeting for Friday to see what our options were. They had the June 18-20 date open on the space I needed, so we moved things around to make it work. It was mostly a matter of pushing a bunch of different papers around.”

Both Drum and Heroes’ Creative Director Dustin Harbin report that they’ll try to return the favor by attending Supercon as a vendor, promoting the Florida show to their customers, and even helping out with its guest list. It’s a method of dealing with other shows they prefer, given their contentious history with Gareb Shamus’s Wizard Entertainment. “We’re sensitive to that sort of thing, having been on the David side of the David/Goliath metaphor before,” Harbin says.

Whatever their reasoning behind their confrontational recent scheduling against Reed Exhibitions-hosted events like NYCC, Wizard seems to have learned that their perceived bigfooting of regional shows like Heroes Con in the past has done their convention efforts more harm than good. In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News (scroll down to the last item), Wizard VP of Business Development Stephen Shamus (brother of Gareb) calls the show’s past scheduling against Heroes Con in 2007 and 2009 “stupid” and lays the blame at the feet of unnamed former employees: “The people that did that are gone and I can guarantee Wizard Philly will never again be going head to head with Heroes Con. Ever!” Presumably Shamus is not referring to former staffers Adam Tracey or Benjamin De John, both of whom had spoken to Drum in order to ensure that no conflict would take place in 2010 after a last-minute 2009 date switch by Wizard led to their Philly show’s second overlap with Heroes Con.

It’s worth noting, however, that the surrounding article appears to have a rather dubious grip on the facts — avoiding any mention of the Big Apple/NYCC kerfuffle despite ostensibly being about con conflicts, referring to Big Apple as “the New York Con,” and claiming that the Philly/Heroes conflict “hurt both shows.” Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Heroes’ Dustin Harbin, who recalls how pros like J. Michael Straczynski, Greg Rucka, Tony Harris, Cully Hamner, and Brian Stelfreeze were among many who rallied to Heroes Con’s side following Wizard’s soon-to-be-aborted Wizard World Atlanta counter-scheduling in 2006.

“The upshot was that 2006 was one of our best years ever,” says Harbin. “It was just a great resolution to that story, to be honest. Does that sound petty? When someone does something bad and your entire community responds by lining up behind you, resulting in a hugely successful convention…well, how can you help loving turning that frown upside down?”

Is Wizard frowning or smiling lately? Their official and semi-official stance continues to emerge only in drips and drabs — a mainstream-media promotional piece here (like Stephen Shamus’s Philly.com interview), a message board post there (like the series of posts by staffer Mark Allen Haverty, which were since deleted from both the Wizard Universe message board and from Rich Johnston’s BleedingCool.com, per Haverty’s request).

Perhaps the most interesting indication of where Wizard’s coming from emerged through Johnston, who recently posted a seemingly Wizard-derived “origin story” for the current “Con War” with Reed. The story centers around some antagonistic promotion for a party hosted by retailer Chicago Comics during this summer’s Wizard-owned Chicago Comic Con and cross-promoted by Reed — but the explanation has been met with skepticism, most notably by Chicago Comics manager Eric Thornton.

Elsewhere, Heidi MacDonald’s epic Con War round-up chronicles a variety of problems Wizard/Shamus’s conventions arm has experienced, many of which predate or exist independently of the battle with Reed’s C2E2 and NYCC. And former Wizard convention staffer Brett White has posted a before-and-after photo comparison of Wizard’s 2008 staff in which only one of the pictured employees remains at the company today.

The ultimate source of the Con War notwithstanding, Drum, Harbin and Broder all agree that when it comes to comic conventions, communication rather than competition is key. “I’m very happy that we could do this with Heroes Con,” Broder says. “It’s great that it was so easy to fix the problem, and not cause any more drama in the con world. There are 52 weeks in a year, so there’s generally always another weekend to do a show when a date conflict arises.”

Conflicts can cause trouble not just for those promoting the cons but for those selling at them as well. “The fact is that most of us ‘regional’ convention promoters are comic retailers as well,” Drum explains. “I want to go to most of the shows as a vendor, or attendee. I can’t do it if I’m having a show on the same date. Plus a lot of the dealers at our shows count on making every one. They miss a ‘payday’ if they have to choose one show instead of another.”

“We are pretty close with our ‘sister’ conventions like Baltimore Comic-Con, Emerald City Comic Con, and others,” Harbin elaborates. “These are the shows that would be our competition if we weren’t such good buddies with Marc Nathan and Jim Demonakos. Instead we gossip, share information, promote each others shows; basically do whatever we can to help each other.” Indeed, both Drum and Broder report that Baltimore’s Nathan played a key role in facilitating communication between Heroes Con and Supercon.

“I mean seriously, this is comics, right?” Harbin continues. “It is not so small an industry that there isn’t room for everyone who wants a seat at the table.”

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Comments

18 Comments

I find it disturbing that the convention center didn’t reserve a date for Heroes Con.

Mike Broder is a real class act, a nice guy and puts on a GREAT show. So, with all the contention usually found in such stories, it’s great to see two show runners working together. This is a SMALL industry compaired to so many others, and I think we could make great strides towards increasing the comic industries profile if more cooperation like this occured!

It’s nice to see two people working to try to help each other out instead of deliberately trying to sabotage each other despite being “competitors.”

Question: The first paragraph lists SuperCon’s dates as July 18-20, but later on the dates are reported as June 18-20. SuperCon’s website says June 18-20, which makes way more sense than July 18-20, which are Sunday-Tuesday. Just wanted to clarify that SuperCon is in JUNE, not July.

Sean T. Collins

October 26, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Good catch, Laura. Thanks!

HeroesCon is the only sizable Con I’ve ever attended, and it’s always been great.

Very very very awesome that Broder was so helpful in rearranging things to, hopefully, help out both Cons.

Always nice to hear some good news of people being awesome instead of assholes. :)

AWESOME. I’ve been waiting for the schedule for HeroesCon to come out since the last one this summer. Its really awesome to see cooperation between the shows. CAN NOT WAIT :D

Heroes Con=AWESOMENESS!
Charlotte convention center management=not so awesomeness
Their goal is to get people to come to Charlotte to hold a convention, and yet they make it extremely difficult to do so.
YAY! Shelton and Mike!

Hi Alan (and everybody)–yeah, the convention center never holds a date for us, they are kinda notorious around here. But it’s the only place big enough to hold us, and it is a good facility once you dry your tears and forget about the beating it takes to get in there every year. BUT that’s not your problem! Sniff, choke, sigh..

Excellent conflict resolution by two reasonable adults! :)

I’ve been attending HeroesCon for many years, but unfortunately missed this year. I love the new date and really hope to make this one next summer. Their cons are incredible. I’m a fan of Supercon as well. They came here to Atlanta last year and put on a really fun con. Without the Wizard World Atlanta that fell through years ago or Supercon coming back, it feels that Atlanta is usually forgotten come convention season except for DragonCon. So it is great having HeroesCon relatively close to us. Excited to see what guests from the Baltimore Con they were able to line up. Sounds like another great guest list this year.

I loved this story- and as Heroes is one of my favorite annual shows (along with Baltimore and Pittsburgh) i’m not surprised they accomplished this with Supercon (which i’ve not been to yet) because Shelton and his professional and very personal staff are a delight.

I look forward to Shelton’s show-in fact,having been unable to go the last few years has left a hole in my heart-i miss it-sincerely…;o)

–Neil

I am glad to see that this is happening.
I personally have always felt that Convention Organizors should realize that other conventions do not need to be considered competition.
You are all doing your thing in service of the Comic Industry. to promote comics and related products. Trying to steal attendance from another show does nothing but make everyone a loser.
guests have to make choices of which show they can attend.
Attendees have to decide based on who the guests will be or where the show is held for where they will go.

I had always thought that it would be a win for everyone if the various organizers would create a group to plan when the shows would take place so they could all reap the maximum rewards.

Maybe this is a first step in the right direction.

Now on a slightly different tangent, since there are Convention organizers reading this article, I want to put a bug in your ears.

I live in Virginia Beach, Va. We have a beautiful new convention center here that is in this link right here.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nilopictures/3253557810/
We have no conventions that come here and honestly that should be a crime.

Here are a couple of reasons why this would be the BEST place to have a show.

1. Convention Center is 5 blocks from the Oceanfront. There are over 70 hotels on Atlantic Ave. alone. Along with endless restaurants and bars.

2. If a show is established for springtime (pre-tourist season) the Hotel rates are very low.

3. Virginia Beach is located directly in the center of the Est Coast. Making it the best location to actually maximize attendance. You could easily draw people from as far away as Boston or Florida. Not to mention the fact that much of our tourist traffic comes from the midwest..
Bottom line, If properly scheduled and promoted, this could make for a HUGE convention.

4. If you make it an annual show that happens at the beginning of the annual convention season, It could easily become an East Coast Version of the San Diego Comic Con.
Big talk sure, but fully possible.

5. Virginia Beach is the hub of 5 connected cities and 4 Military bases.

I personally have wanted to do this for a long time but do not have the funds or financial backers to Invest in it.
That is why I am posting it in this article. Those of you with background in this area can see and take advantage of this potential.

That would spell WIN for everyone.

Mike W. I know exactly how you feel. I am from Miami, Fl. and for a long we did not have any big conventions in the area. The closest was MegaCon ; a 5 hour drive away. But thanks to Mike Broder we now have Florida Supercon which keeps on getting bigger and better every year. So I hope the con organizers reading this take heed an do something for you guys in Virginia Beach.

I also want to say good job to Mike and Shelton for resolving the scheduling issue amicably. This is the type of cooperation that keeps our much beloved comic book industry going.

Sounds like HerosCon was Not going to be as Nice as the article makes it sound if he is quoted as saying this “I called Mike Broder actually to apologize that I was going to have to use that weekend if I was going to have a show at all in the summer of 2010″. Makes it sounds like he was not going to repect is earlier agreement. lame heros

Hey Mill… I specifically told Shelton (thru Marc Nathan) back in August that I’d do whatever we had to do to make sure he could get a date at his convention center… even if that meant me moving my date. To Shelton’s credit he spent months trying to work on alternate solutions so no one would have to move… I know he tried with his convention center, hotels in the area, etc… after he ran out of options, this was the only solution… and I did promise him back in August that I would move for him (as long as I had the ability to). After 20 years of hard work putting on a great show, I figure the guy deserves some respect from those that came after him… and if I could make life a little easier for him by pushing a few papers around… i’m more than happy to.

Thanks,
mike

Shrimp Fried Comic

October 27, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Cherry Con is the same weekend and is already snatching away several guests from Heroes like Ethan Van Sciver, Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, George Perez. 2010 will be a battlefield for all conventions.

If only the ridiculous car show that’s inevitably scheduled the same weekend as HeroesCon would be as facilitating / at least not as loud and obnoxious.

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