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Bateman: Move over Comic-Con craze. HeroesCon hoopla a better show

By Oliver Bateman

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We hadn’t gone to a comic convention since 2006, but before that we went to them all the time…. We hadn’t gone to a comic convention since 2006, but before that we went to them all the time. It’s not that we liked spandex soap operas or anything, because that would have meant we were really nerdy and pathetic. No, we went because we were part of the hipster indieground ­— whatever that means ­— and we were obligated to cover such things.

That’s right, we covered them all as serious working members of the alternative press, including the hugely popular Comic-Con in San Diego.

Charlotte’s Heroes Convention is one of the largest and longest-running independent comic conventions in America. HeroesCon prides itself on bringing together a bunch of mainstream and avant-garde comics creators without a lot of the pop cultural foofaraw associated with massive productions like Comic-Con.

At this year’s convention, discussion panels were hosted by industry insiders and, with the exception of “30 Rock’s” Scott Adsit, the show could boast of few celebrities from other media.

Instead, HeroesCon focused on comics — and in that respect was quite satisfying. Among other notables, Pittsburgh-based artist Jim Rugg was on hand to promote Afrodisiac, a blaxploitation-inspired work that pays careful homage to a variety of his creative influences.

Given the high quality of the small and independent press material on display, we wasted little time with better-known fare. Comics continuity has always been intricate, and only people without interesting lives could possibly follow the recent exploits of their favorite DC and Marvel characters.

Featured guest Rob Liefeld — creator of such titles as “X-Force,” “Youngblood,” and “Supreme” — attracted long lines of adoring fans. Since we had no desire to wait three hours to shake hands with a man who remains incapable of drawing them, we decided to take our business elsewhere. Besides, we saw Liefeld several times in the hotel fitness center, where we did CrossFit workouts and he did some routine that involved quarter-motion movements with a dumbbell.

Liefeld distinguished himself among convention attendees partly because of his lack of mass. Of the thousands who patrolled the convention floor during HeroesCon’s three-day run, many appeared to be wobbling on their unsteady land legs for the first time in months. Pale, heavyset men of indeterminate age wheeled around carts containing boxes of action figures and comic books. Quite a few engaged in multi-tasking, double-fisting their nachos while negotiating the price of a first issue of “The Immortal Iron Fist.”

To our surprise, Liefeld wasn’t the only person concerned with physical fitness at HeroesCon: Jamie Eason, full-time spokesmodel for Bodybuilding.com, appeared in support of an artist who sold airbrushed images of her dressed up like Power Girl and various other super heroes. We had no idea who she was, but our traveling companion and de facto cameraman informed us that she was some kind of big shot in the exercise world.

Since Eason was at that point relatively unmolested by fans — a fact that struck us as odd, given that tables staffed by elderly, unprepossessing men were drawing sizeable crowds — we scored an exclusive interview. She demonstrated her deep understanding of real fitness by knowing the components of various CrossFit workouts, then proceeded to tell us that we should pursue a career in fitness modeling.

“Like we don’t already know that” would have been our elegant rejoinder if we were capable of either elegance or a rejoinder after several hours spent wandering around 20,000 square feet of comics paraphernalia.

Unfortunately, our interviewing skills had become dull with disuse, and as a consequence, we learned very little about what Eason actually did. Bodybuilding.com is some kind of website for and about bodybuilders, which was all the research we were able to do on a tight deadline like this one. We didn’t visit the site, though, because this has been a really busy month for us. Besides, what with the economy the way it is, who has the time?

We had hoped that this column would capture the essence of HeroesCon, and now we realized that we’ve succeeded. Allow us to summarize our findings: There were some really good artists there, as well as a bunch of obese people and people in silly costumes. There weren’t as many women as men. Finally, spokesmodel Jamie Eason was there and talked to us for a bit, which was nice because we don’t get out as much as we’d like anymore.

Oliver Bateman is the creative genius behind the Moustache Club of America, an internet-only literary digest that publishes hard-hitting original content three or four times a month. Check out the Club’s epoch-defining work at moustacheclubofamerica.com, and visit jimrugg.com to learn more about one of Pittsburgh’s most talented young artists.

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Bateman: Move over Comic-Con craze. HeroesCon hoopla a better show