HeroesCon 2016 / Z-View

HeroesCon 2016 was, as are all HeroesCons, a blast.  Read on and I’m sure you’ll agree.

The Pre-Show:

Doralya and I left Thursday morning.  Several of our friends were going up early and so we decided to meet them for dinner the night before the show.  We met at Merts Heart and Soul.  By we, I mean Doralya, John Beatty, Little John and his bride Patricia, Mike Cross, Richard Cox and his wife.  The food was good, but the company was even better.

The Convention Hotels:

This was the first year that we stayed at two hotels.  Usually we can either be found at the Westin or the Hampton Inn Charlotte – Uptown.  This year, depending on the night we could be found at either.  When we decided to go up early the Westin (our main hotel that we had already booked for the con) couldn’t fit us in.  Thankfully, the Hampton came through.

People:

  • Hung with John Beatty at his table on and off throughout the con.  Joined by Doralya, Little John & Patricia and Mike Cross while John sketched in his room on Friday.  A lot of laughs.
  • Went to the start of the HeroesCon auction.  Saw a lot of nice art.  Happy that Little John won a few pieces!  It was cool seeing DMC from RUN DMC take the podium and get the crowd rocking.
  • Even cooler meeting DMC in the hotel gift shop later that night.  What a nice celeb!  Very gracious and willing to pose for photos.

Sketches:

  • Picked up HeroesCon Black Panther by Brian Stelffreeze t-shirts for me, John Higashi, The James and one of his friends.
  • Picked up sketches from Mike Torrance: 1] Jack Carter and Lono from 100 Bullets, 2] Jack Carter and Marv from Sin City, 3] The Specialist Card, 4] Capone (Sly as Frank Nitti) Card and two Sly Artist’s Choice Cards.  Mike came through like a champ and selected Rocky from Creed and Judge Dredd for the Artist’s choice cards.
  • Picked up Jack Carter sketch from Uko Smith.  Iconic.  Second year in a row for an Uko piece!
  • Picked up Jack Carter and Lono piece from Megan Levens.  First time commission from Megan but will not be the last.
  • Picked up Bullet to the Head mugshot by Dave Wachter.  The HeroesCon/Dave Wachter sketch streak stays alive.
  • Picked up Rocky sketch by Shamus Murphy.  Dug it so much, I went back for a bigger sketch by Shamus and he came through with Sly as Jack Carter.
  • Saw Casey Jones, who was drawing for Heroes Initiative, and was able to serve as the middle man to get John Higashi the Audrey Hepburn piece he wanted.
  • Commissioned and got a head sketch from Joe Delgatta.  I love Joe’s art and the Cobra sketch he did for me is a real highlight!
  • Met Reid Beaman and got a Jack Carter sketch from him.
  • Met (after many mail commissions) Thomas Boatwright and got a Rocky and Apollo watercolor sketch from him.
  • After hearing Little John talk about a sketch he got of Gargoyle on Batman on a Gargoyle all weekend, I got Chris Flick to do a Rocky with arms raised in victory on a gargoyle.

Autographs:

  • Danniel Warren Johnson – my Space Mullet trade.  So happy for his success!
  • Eric Bonhomme – his pinup in my The Package trade
  • Vanessa Del Rey – my Hit 1955 and Hit 1957 trades
  • James Harren – my Rumble 1 and 2 trades
  • Jason LaTour – his new sketchbook, my Noche Roja hardcover, my Southern Bastards 1 hardcover, and my HeroesCon 2016 Southern Bastards print.

Panels:

  • The Inkwell Awards (and keeping with tradition, LittleJohn312 and Patricia joined me — or did I join them?) were fun. It is always great to see deserving artists receive recognition.  It’s even better when Steranko is the keynote speaker!
  • Went to the Drink & Draw at Buffalo Wild Wings on Friday.  Got a Chris Flick Sly from Rhinestone sketch.
  • Crime Panel – Joe Rauch talked crime/noir comics, tv and movies with Justin Greenwood (The Fuse), John Lees (And Then Emily was Gone), Rich Tommaso (Dark Corridor), Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa (High Crimes).

The biggest surprise is that we only ate at Fuel once. It was good to keep that tradition alive, but not over do it.

In closing:

HeroesCon this year was huge. The wider aisles made movement easier. There were also additional sections this year with chairs and tables for con guests to sit, eat and visit.

Seeing old friends and meeting new ones is always a fun part of the show. I won’t try to list them all because invariably I would leave some out.

This year I was able to talk Doralya into coming into the show on Sunday. We walked the floor and met a lot of artists (new and old friends).

Thanks to Shelton and his crew for another great HeroesCon — see everyone next year!

HeroesCon Fever!

Yeah, I’ve got con fever.  Or con fevah, as my good buddy, John Beatty calls it.

If all goes as planned, the fever [or fevah, if you prefer] will break tomorrow when Doralya and I load up the Jack Carter mobile Queen’s Kia Soul and head for Charlotte to attend HeroesCon 2016.

We’re going in a day early to make the most of the weekend.  We plan to meet up with friends [Little John and Patricia, others?] for dinner and catching up.

Friday through Sunday will be non-stop fun.  Look at the guest list, artist’s alley and the schedule of events! I’ve pre-arranged for some Stallone sketches for pick-up and will be on the lookout for others to add to the collection.  I’ve packed my books ready to be autographed, made the list of artists to see and haven’t forgotten the HeroesCon shirts I have to pick up for John Higashi and The James Howell.  Higashi has a sketch mission for me as well.

HeroesCon has been a Zablo family tradition since my sons were kids and it is always a blast.  If you’re able to make it, come on down.  I’ll be the guy getting the Stallone sketches.

Saturday at MegaCon Report

Saturday I spent the day hanging out with my best bud, John Beatty at MegaCon.  John was a guest of the show along with Mike Zeck and a gazillion big name comic artists, animators, actors (sci-fi, horror, anime,tv, movie), tattoo artists, cosplay folks, gaming people, crafts people, and fans of all of the above. Thousands and thousands of fans were in attendance.

Because I was there for just one day and knew I wouldn’t have time to commission any artists, my goal was to touch base with friends I seldom see, check out artist alley and hang out with Big Beatty.  All three goals were accomplished.

I was able to at least say “hi” to Mike Zeck, Michael Golden, Hoyt Silva, Manny Aguilera, Gene Gonzalez, Jason Walker, Jason Solbol, “The” James Howell, John Higashi, Steve “Born to Be Alive” Martinez (who we hadn’t seen in over 25 years), Mike Kott and I’m sure a few others I’ve forgotten to mention.

That’s Mike Zeck getting a photo with a fan and getting photo-bombed by John Beatty.

Neal Adams came over to say “Hi” to Zeck and Beatty.  I looked up and suddenly Neal Adams was there.  For those that don’t know, Neal Adams is one of the living legends of comics.  Over the years, because of all the shows I have attended, I’ve met a lot of famous artists but I’d never met Neal Adams.

Anyway, I was sitting behind the table next to Beatty and as Neal spoke to Zeck and Beatty he would look over at me.  I know Neal was thinking, “Who is this guy?  I guess I should know him.”  As Neal got ready to leave I stood up with the intent to just say that I was a fan of his art, but truth be told I became tongue-tied as Neal reached out to shake my hand.  What I hoped to be, “Nice to meet you Mr. Adams” turned into something like, “I’m not an artist – I’m just a friend of John’s – I’m a big fan of your work, Mr. Adams.”  Definitely a fanboy moment.

The guy above was making the rounds and looked so much like The Beast I had to snap a photo.  He said the only thing not real was the “blue” and his choppers.  Yikes!

I did pick up a few things at the show… Manny Aguilera was set up in artist alley and he did a cool sketch of a scene with Sly from Lords of Flatbush that he surprised me with.  Josh Hood was sketching for fans and had copies of We Can Never Go Home.  I picked up a copy.  (Check it out and maybe you will as well.)  I also bought two prints: Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed fight poster by Brian Hoang (for me) and a Predator print for my nephew.  I also got to check out some of the Frank Miller originals that were on display.  The rest of the time was spent hanging with Big Beatty who had Zeck on one side and J. O’Barr (from The Crow fame) on the other.

All in all, it was a fun day… and I’m glad it was just one day.

Big Beatty, Mitch Hyman and the Infinity Toy and Comic Show

I spent the day yesterday with my buddy, John Beatty at the Infinity Toy and Comic Show in Orlando, Florida.  When Big John wasn’t selling prints of his art or signing autographs for fans, much of the day was spent conversing with Mitch Hyman [in the photo above].  I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much.

The Infinity Toy and Comic Show had a nice turnout and some surprisingly great cosplayers [for such a small show].  The show was big enough that it took up three hotel meeting rooms — and that may have been the biggest downside.  I generally prefer one room for shows and my guess is most folks do as well.  That aside (and it is a small quibble), the Infinity Toy and Comic Show made for a fun day.  Of course hanging with Beatty and Hyman didn’t hurt either.

MegaCon 2015 Report

Yesterday was a good day.  I spent it hanging out at MegaCon with my best bud, John Beatty.  That’s John in the photo above trying out some Star Man shades.

MegaCon started out as a comic book convention but has morphed into a comic book / celebrity / cosplay convention that gets bigger and bigger with each new year.  Reportedly 30,000 people came through the doors yesterday.

My goals for the show were to get Darwyn Cooke to sign two Parker novels, pick up Chuck Dixon’s Winter World novel, try to get sketches from a few artists, meet Lee Weeks and hang out with Big Beatty.  I had Friday and Saturday budgeted to get everything done.

The drive to Orlando went smoothly.  Big J and I loaded up and headed to the convention.  We had a couple of hours before the show opened which gave us additional time to catch up.  I walked the convention floor (which was HUGE) to get the lay of the land.

Justin Orr was there, but hadn’t brought sketchbooks — he’s doing a Kickstarter for a new huge sketchbook later this year — and he wasn’t able to take sketch requests.  Jason Walker was just getting to his table.  I set up a sketch with Elliott Fernandez. I got to speak with Gene Gonzales, Joe Pekar and Frank aka The Voice of MegaCon briefly.  Mitch Hyman gave me a couple DVDs (one for Beatty) of his movie, Bubba the Redneck Werewolf.  I got Darwyn Cooke to sign my two Stark novels and picked up Chuck Dixon’s Winter World novel.  Everything I planned to do over the course of two days was done in one!

I then spent the rest of the day hanging with Big John and Lee Weeks (who is such an amazing talent and cool guy who even does magic tricks).  John Higashi invited Beatty and I to join him, Jason Walker and James Howell for dinner at Logan Steak House after the show and we did.  It was a great meal with friends I don’t get to see near enough.

I drove Beatty back to his motel and decided to avoid the morning traffic and head home.  MegaCon 2015 goes into the books as the year I was able to get everything done in one good day.

 

Deland Comic and Collectibles Show

If you live within driving distance, you may want to come out to the Deland Comic and Collectibles Show on January 11, 2015 from 10am to 5pm.

My buddy, John Beatty will be there sketching, selling prints and signing autographs.

Other artists include: Tommy Castillo, Todd Allen Smith, Greg Frei, Austin Janowsky, Jeff Balke, C. Bradford Gorby, Jeff Fauvel, Graven and Monica Ravenwolf. [What?  No Alex Saviuk?]

There will also be a ton of comic book dealers, costumers, and more.  It should be a fun day.  Hope to see you there!

Z-View: HeroesCon 2014

That’s the self-titled Corduroy Mafia at Heroes Con 2104.  From left to right we have John NacinovichJeff Streeter, meJohn BeattyBrian Jones and Royce Thrower.. How we gave ourselves the name Corduroy Mafia is a tale for another time.  Instead I present my HeroesCon 2014 summary.

The Drive Up:

Doralya and I left Thursday afternoon.  We drove halfway up and spent the night in Savannah at a Fairfield Inn.  We got up early the next morning and finished our trip to Charlotte in plenty of time to get to the show.

The Convention Hotel:

We used to stay at the Weston, but for the last two years (and the foreseeable future) our con hotel is the Hampton Inn Charlotte – Uptown.  What a great hotel!  It’s super-clean with the friendliest staff I’ve ever seen.  Free shuttle service and free breakfast made the stay even better.

Main Sketch Goal of the Show:

My main sketch goal was to meet (for the first time) and get a sketch from Hoyt Silva.  I’m happy to report that Hoyt is as nice as he is talented — yeah, he’s really that friendly!  Hoyt and I discussed a couple of possible Stallone characters and decided on Jack CarterHoyt said he could make that happen and is doing the piece as a take home commission.

Books signed:

  • My original Berni Wrightson’s Frankenstein (personalized to Doralya)
  • The Package pin-ups by Andrew Maclean and Robert Wilson IV
  • Scout: The Four Monsters by Timothy Truman
  • Crimeland by Rafael Albuqerque
  • Black Beetle: No Way Out by Franchesco Francavilla
  • The Goon: Nothin’ But Misery by Eric Powell
  • The Fifth Beatle by Andrew Robinson

 

Sketches:

  • Jamie Cosley: Rocky (surprise gift from Little John and Patricia)
  • Andy Fish: Lords of Flatbush
  • Corin Howell: Lords of Flatbush
  • Dave Wachter (mini-head sketch): Rhinestone
  • Derrick Fish: Expendables
  • Drew Moss: Get Carter
  • Hoyt Silva: Get Carter
  • Joel Carroll: Get Carter
  • Kevin Mellon: Get Carter
  • Mike Torrance: Jack Carter / Gravedigger plus several sketch cards

Panels, Drink and Draw and HeroesCon Art Auction:

  • The Inkwell Awards (and keeping with tradition, LittleJohn312 and Patricia joined Doralya and I — or did we join them?) were fun.  It is always great to see deserving artists receive recognition.
  • Doralya, Little John, Patricia and I attended the Drink and Draw.  It’s a tradition that continued again this year!
  • For the first time I ever, I missed the HeroesCon Auction.  I had a bad cold/flu bug the week before HeroesCon and was still feeling worn down.  Since we had the rest of our vacation ahead of us, I decided to pace myself at Heroes and sadly missed the auction.

Meals:

The biggest surprise is that we only ate at Fuel once.  It was good to keep that tradition alive, but not over do it.  The best meal we had was at Fujo Bistro — we will definitely hit that place again next year!  Buffalo Wild Wings also got our business.  Sadly we did not make it to Mert’s.

In closing:

HeroesCon this year was huge.  The wider aisles made movement easier.  There were also additional sections this year with chairs and tables for con guests to sit, eat and visit.  The bigger painting area was also a plus.

Seeing old friends and meeting new ones is always a fun part of the show.  I won’t try to list them all because invariably I would leave some out.

This year I was able to talk Doralya into coming into the show on Saturday. We walked the floor and met a lot of artists (new and old friends).  Doralya’s highlight was meeting Berni Wrightson!  She has always loved his work and he personalized my copy of Frankenstein to her!

Thanks to Shelton and his crew for another great HeroesCon — see everyone next year!

HeroesCon 2014!

If all went as planned, Doralya and I will be arriving in Charlotte today for our annual trip to HeroesCon.  It’ll be nice to get away for a “long” weekend… especially since I’ll be spending it at Heroes.   There’s always plenty to do.  Look at the guest list and schedule of events and you can see I’m not kidding.

Hope to see you there, but if you can’t make the show, don’t worry, I’ll post a full report later in the week.

[And Chris, remember: No parties!]

 

Kelley Jones, John Beatty, Batman & Daytona Beach Comic Con

Nice, huh?

Batman by Kelley Jones and John Beatty… how could it be anything less than nice?

It couldn’t.

If you’re in traveling distance of Daytona Beach this Sunday, June 8th, you can get a signed, limited edition of the print from John Beatty his-own-bad-self.  John will be at the Daytona Beach Comic Book Con signing and sketching along with…

  • “Captain Cartoon” Dick Kulpa
  • Rob Smith Jr. “Swampy’s Florida”
  • Jim Fern – Marvel and DC Comics artist

Heck, I’ll even be there… but don’t let that keep you away.   Source: John Beatty.

Scott Quick Draw Jack Carter

One of the things I love about going to comic book conventions is meeting new artists… or at least artists that are new to me.  When I was at MegaCon this year, I met Scott Quick.

Scott does the web strip Camden Bottoms.  I took a look at Scott’s sketchbook and decided to see if he’d be interested in doing a Stallone sketch.  He was.  I ended up getting two.  This is the second.  I’ll post the first next week.  In the mean time check out Scott’s Camden Bottoms!

 

Celebrity Encounters at MegaCon 2014

This Friday and Saturday I spent time at MegaCon with my buddy John Beatty.  While I was at the show hanging with Big John, my wife, Doralya was relaxing at the hotel.

On Friday afternoon Doralya sent me a text that Steven Yeun (who plays Glen on The Walking Dead) was staying in our hotel and she saw him getting into a limo.  I could tell from her text and the number of exclamation points that she was excited to see a celebrity up-close.

At dinner that night Doralya told me of an encounter that she had with Bryan Johnson, one of the stars of Comic Book Men.  Doralya was sitting outside reading when Bryan Johnson walked by.

They made eye-contact and Doralya said, “I know you! I watch you on tv every week!”  Bryan smiled and replied, “You do?”  He was probably surprised since my wife doesn’t look like someone who would watch Comic Book Men.

A few minutes later Bryan walked back through the area and made a point to say, “Good-bye” to Doralya.

I teased Doralya a bit that the only thing she could think to say was, “I know you” to a complete stranger.  We laughed and headed back to the hotel.

Doralya was standing in front of me as the elevator doors opened and I heard her say in a surprised voice, “Well, hello!”  I heard a voice say, “Hello.”  It was Ming Chen of Comic Book Men.  As he left the elevator we made eye contact…

… and the only thing I could think to say was, “Well, hello.”  Ming replied, “Hello” as he continued to wherever he was going.

As we got on the elevator I expected Doralya to return the teasing I gave her.  At least her comment to a celebrity was original.  All I could think to say was to repeat what Doralya had said.  She didn’t tease me though.  I guess she understood that I wasn’t as used to celebrity encounters as she was.

MegaCon or Bust!

This Friday and Saturday I’ll be in Orlando.  My buddy, John Beatty will be there Friday through Sunday. We’ll be hanging out with several thousand other like-minded folks.  Yep, it’s time for MegaCon

John is going as a guest  of the show.  That means while John is sketching for fans, I’ll either be hanging at his table keeping the fun at it’s maximum level or I’ll be visiting with other artists/friends looking to get a sketch or two for my Stallone Sketch theme collection.

If you’ve never been to MegaCon, you’re missing out.  There’s something for everyone.  There are celebrity guests, comic book creators, dozens of artists sketching for fans, panels, gaming, and more.

If you’re in driving distance of the show, come on down.  If not, there’s always next year.  Hope to see you there!

Z’s Review: HeroesCon 2013

That’s the self-titled Corduroy Mafia at Heroes Con 2013.  From left to right we have Brian Jones, me, Gene GonzalesJohn Nacinovich and Royce Thrower. How we gave ourselves the name Corduroy Mafia is a tale for another time.  Instead I present my HeroesCon 2013 summary.

The Drive Up:

Doralya and I left Friday morning.  We planned to leave earlier, but a late start got us on the road at about 5am.  Traffic was terrible, two different wrecks slowed us down and it rained almost the entire way.  From now on, we plan to drive up the night before the con starts.

The hotel:

We usually stay at the Weston, but this year it was the Hampton Inn Charlotte – Uptown.  What a great hotel!  It’s super-clean with the friendliest staff I’ve ever seen.  Free shuttle service and free breakfast made the stay even better. I’d definitely stay here again!

Main Goal of the Show:

My main goal was to meet (for the first time) and get a sketch from Rick Burchett.  I’m happy to report that Rick is as nice as he is talented — yeah, he’s really that friendly!  I hoped to get Rick to draw Jack Carter (Stallone) with Chris Mills/Rick Burchett’s character, Grave Digger (Lee Marvin).  Rick said he could make that happen!

I then got Greg Rucka to autograph two of my Atticus Kodiac novels.  I’ve been a Rucka fan since before he started working in comics — and was pleased when he teamed with Rick Burchett on Lady Sabre.  Eric Newsome was at the table as well.  Eric assists with the Lady Sabre website and more.  Since I am a backer of their Lady Sabre kickstarter, I knew the password to get an advance look at a Lady Sabre script!  Eric also reminded me that he had done a Stallone sketch for the SZ!  It was great talking to Rick, Greg and Eric.

Books signed:

  • My original hardcover Berni Wrightson’s A Look Back
  • My first edition Chandler by Steranko
  • Two of my Greg Rucka Atticus Kodiac novels
  • Road Trip by Sean Murphy.  

All books autographed — mission accomplished.

 

Sketches:

  • Dave Wachter (mini-head sketches): Lords of Flatbush and Bullet to the Head
  • Drew Moss (busts): Get Carter and Rocky
  • Jerry Gaylord: Get Carter and Demolition Man
  • Mitch Gerads (head sketch): Expendables 2
  • Mike Torrance: several sketch cards
  • Gene Gonzales (head sketch): Get Carter
  • Manny Aguilera: Over the Top and Demolition Man (surprise gifts from LittleJohn312 & Patricia), Get Carter.
  • Rick Burchett is going to do my piece from home.

Panels:

  • The Inkwell Awards (and keeping with tradition, LittleJohn312 and Patricia joined me).
  • Jim Steranko (again with LJ & P) – Steranko is a charmer and captivated the crowd with his great stories!
  • Crime PanelGreg Rucka (Whiteout), Jason Latour (Loose Ends), and Jason Aaron (Scalped) interrogated by Vito Delsante.  

It’s only been in the last several years that I’ve made a real effort to attend panels.  Without a doubt, they have made the con experience even more fun.

Drink and Draw:

Because of weather it was held in the lobby of the Hilton.  Jack the Radio provided live music — they’re good!  The place was packed, but the Hilton staff was very accommodating and brought out more seats. Patricia, Doralya and I enjoyed watching and messing with LittleJohn312 as he attempted to win some art — and he did!

HeroesCon Auction:

As always the auction was a fun night.  LittleJohn312 won a Wizard of Oz piece (as well as the companion piece that was in next day’s auction).  The move to have professional auctioneers is helpful, but Alison’s presence as the Mistress of Ceremonies was missed.

Kickstarter:

Some HeroesCon guests had Kickstarter projects that I had backed.  I made sure to swing by and congratulate each on their Kickstarter success:

  • Greg Rucka / Rick Burchett with Lady Sabre
  • Jeremy Haun with Bad Karma  (I missed seeing Alex Grecian, B. Clayton Moore & Seth Peck)
  • Eric Powell with The Goon movie

Meals:

The biggest surprise is that we only ate at Fuel once.  It was good to keep that tradition alive, but not over do it.  The best meal we had was at Fujo Bistro — we will definitely hit that place again next year!  Bojangles and Einstein’s Bagels also got our business.  Sadly we did not make it to Mert’s.

The Drive Home:

We left about 5:30 and arrived home at about 12:30am.  Traffic and rain were both light and we were exhausted, but in a good way.

In closing:

HeroesCon this year was huge with twice the floor space as previous years.  The wider aisles made movement easier.  There were also additional sections this year with chairs and tables for con guests to sit, eat and visit.  The bigger painting area was also a plus.

I’ve had to rewrite this sentence several times, because I come off like a real fanboy trying to say how “cool” it was to meet Rick Burchett and Steranko.  Let’s just say it was great and leave it at that.

Seeing old friends and meeting new ones is always a fun part of the show.  I won’t try to list them all because invariably I would leave some out.

Thanks to Shelton and his crew for another great HeroesCon — see everyone next year!

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