This one's for North Carolina! C'mon and raise up!

Alright, let's get this HeroesCon recap underway.

First of all, the five boys from The Dollar Bin were the greatest hosts ever. Adam, Brian, Devin, Tre and Kris are all really nice guys and even spoke to me again after I totally ditched them on Saturday night when Darwyn Cooke invited me to dinner with Matt Wagner, Michael Golden and Francesco Francavilla and their assorted and lovely dates. Because...what are you gonna do? Say no to that?

Alright, so that ends the shameless namedropping portion of this post. I do want to say that I met a lot of my idols this weekend, and every single one of them was completely awesome and nice. I'll get to that in a minute.

North Carolina is a nice place and the people there are very friendly and have great accents. There was less taking off of shirts and spinning them round their heads like helicopters than Petey Pablo suggested, but it was still fun. I was something of a curiosity around the con as a Canadian who seemed to have strayed very far from her Nova Scotia home. My accent also seemed popular with the locals.

You know what else rules about North Carolina? The food! My first night there I ordered something called the Pork Three-Way at a BBQ joint. As if I could not order that. And if you are ever in the Charlotte area, I highly recommend the Cajun Queen restaurant. It's pretty outstanding. Don't let the blinding grape-coloured website fool you.

So I met a ton of people whose work I have admired for a long time, including Cliff Chiang, Matt Fraction, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Frank Cho, Guy Davis, Phil Noto, Jason Aaron, Robert Kirkman, Dean Trippe, Adam Hughes, Mark Waid, Peter Laird, Stephane Roux, Nicolas Gurewitch, and Chris Giarusso, along with the above-mentioned people I went to dinner with. Amanda Conner gave me one of her sketchbooks she was selling. Man, I just love her stuff. And Matt Wagner is just a really great guy. It's so nice to meet people that you've been a fan of for so long and they are just awesome.

I also got to meet Josh Elder, which was exciting as we've been conversing through email for some time. He even gave me a signed copy of his book, Love Bytes. He's a great guy and I really hope Mail Order Ninja gets picked up by someone so we can get some new books!

AND...I got to meet Matt and Mike Chapman of Homestar Runner fame, which was a really big deal for me. I have been tuning into that site regularly for five years now. Meeting them in person seemed so crazy because it was like "Wow! You guys are real!" They were really nice and easy to talk to and I got a Poopsmith sketch from Matt, shown here:

He said it was the best one he ever drew. And then told Robert Kirkman that he got the second-best Poopsmith he ever drew. I compared my sketch with Kirkman's and concluded that mine was indeed better. Mostly because it had a bigger shovel. Rachelle 1, Kirkman 0.

Robert Kirkman, by the way: really nice guy.

I actually have no complaints about a single person at that con. I hear stories sometimes of fans going to cons and getting some pretty rude treatment from their heroes. I have nothing but good memories.

And on top of meeting lots of my heroes, I also made lots of new friends! Benito Cereno is a regular LBW reader, and is a very nice guy and a talented writer. You may have read the Image-published Hector Plasm (which is fantastic and you should get it from your local shop), or the also excellent Atom Eve two-part Invincible tie-in. Or perhaps you've read Tales from the Bully Pulpit, which is drawn by Graeme MacDonald, who is from Halifax (which was in a movie with Kevin Bacon)! Small world!

Anyway, he's very cool. And his art partner, Nate Bellegarde, is also really nice and he drew me this sweet Two Face!
I also met Rob Ullman, who is insanely talented and loves hockey! Almost as much as I do! You should check out his site and everything he's written/drawn. Dude is awesome. And he gave me this amazing print of Barda listening to her Mother Box/iPod!

AND I got to meet some fellow bloggers and blog readers! I met the Invincible Super-Blog's Chris Sims in person after months of gmail chatting. I also met Andrew Kunka, aka Dr K. And I met Chris Haley, who was kind enough to walk me to my hotel late at night.

So the Dollar Bin guys worked insanely hard the whole weekend, running around and recording the panels and interviewing the stars. Especially Adam. I barely saw that guy. Thanks to their efforts you can listen to a lot of the panels on their site. I was at the Collaboration in Comics panel they recorded with Darwyn Cooke, Matt Fraction, Cliff Chiang, Barry Kitson and Jimmy Palmiotti. And you can listen to it at that link. They will have many more posted soon, so keep checking.

They also have some interviews up on their site. They have one with Mark Waid, and one where Adam and I are interviewing Jimmy Palmiotti. Palmiotti is an easy interview because he is hilarious and talks a lot. If you listen to the end of the 10 minutes, you can hear a guest appearance by Amanda Conner. There will be an interview I did with Jason Aaron going up soon. I'll let you know.

And now it's time to post some pictures and some scans of sketches I got.

Francesco Francavilla was great to talk to, as was his wife. He told me all about how he refuses to draw rape scenes in his comics, and that sort of thing only happens off panel in his books. It was really great to hear that. He drew me this great sketch of Zorro as a wedding present! Isn't that nice?

He also generously gave me a copy of his book, Sorrow (rhymes with Zorro) which was written by Rick Remender. I haven't read it yet, but the art is certainly beautiful. By the way, are y'all reading Zorro? Because it is awesome.

After three days of searching for him, I finally got to meet Jeff Parker, who as you probably know if you read this blog, is one of my very favourite writers. He doesn't do art so much anymore, so it's easy to forget that he can also draw. Check out this sweet Cyclops he did for me! was great to meet you too, Jeff Parker!

I got Dean Trippe to do a Superman sketch for me. I absolutely love it.

He did a Batgirl sketch for my friend Tiina, too, but I forgot to scan it before I gave it to her. Trust me. It's great.

Oh, and I was also lucky enough to see a lot of commissioned sketches being drawn by various artists. There were some really amazing ones that made me jealous. I know that Cliff Chiang has the ones he did up on his site. You should check them out. The Mister Miracle is so good I want to explode.

I seem to have misplaced my camera, so I can't post any photos from the weekend yet. I honestly didn't take many pictures. I wish I had taken more. I was just so busy running around looking at everything! I want to do another post where I talk about all the mini-comics and such that I picked up. I picked up some fantastic ones from Jason Horn, Rob Ullman, and Pat Lewis, among others. Rob Ullman has an old timey hockey stories comic! It's like he can read my mind!

It was really an amazing weekend. As I've mentioned, I'd never been to a con before, so I don't have much to compare it to, but this seemed exceptionally amazing to me.

I don't know if the DC Nation panel from HeroesCon is going to be on the DC website, but I did ask a question about Catwoman at it. I learned that she'll be showing up in Detective Comics...fighting Hush...booooooo.

I am sure I am forgetting lots of stuff, but I am getting tired of writing the words "really nice."

Wait'll You See My Mega Rod

This Saturday past was the Strange Adventures Halloween party. There were some truly excellent costumes.

In defiance of the Death of the New Gods, I went as Barda:

That gives you some idea of what her armor would look like if it were really, really shitty. And made mostly of bristol board, electrical tape, and some metallic gold track pants.

Also, I had to wear a hat under the helmet to keep the helmet from falling off. You can see the hat pretty clearly in most pictures, which is too bad. The belt also kept falling down.

I wasn't the only New God! Orion in da house!

Check out the Kirby hand happening in the next photo:

Here I am with my bitches:

Aren't their costumes so cute? Check it out:

Awwww. It was a bowling party, by the way. Thus the bowling shoes on everyone.

Two Harrison Fords are better than one!:

That's Matt as Han Solo, and Ben as Indiana Jones. Not bad, boys.

Winner of best Female costume went to the Ultimate Warrior:

Best male costume went to Jayne from Firefly:

Pee Wee is looking on there. Here's a better shot of him:

Mr and Mrs Skeleton won Most Uncomfortable, but really they deserved so much more. These are some great costumes:

The eyes glowed, too, but you can't really see it there.

The New Gods had the heavy burdon of tallying the votes and announcing the winners. Here's Barda and Orion crunching the numbers:

We left the bowling ally to go to a house party. First a few of us stopped in at Wendy's:

Then on to the house party, at which point my memories become very hazy. I do know that Tigger costume + Superman Returns mask + Beard = scariest thing I have ever seen:

Apparently I was wearing that mask later. I don't recall this, but there are pictures.

I'd love to see photos of all of your halloween costumes! Hook me up with some links!

Comic Shop Love

It's time to celebrate comics once again with the results of another contest. A couple of weeks ago I asked people to send me photos of their favourite comic shop. Specifically, themselves holding their favourite comic in their favourite comic shop. Or their favourite comic shop employee holding their favourite comic. Or whatever.

Here's what I got!

Chris Haley sends photos of Comics & Collectibles in Memphis, TN. (Oh Memphis, how I long to visit you). As Chris notes in his email, the shop uses the classic Fantastic Four font. Nice!

Here's Chris holding All-Star Superman:

And here's his favourite shop clerk, Sean, holding X-Factor:

They are dressed the same. I can't help but notice that.

Dave Prosser wrote a lovely tribute to his favourite shop in this blog entry. It's Bizarro Wuxtry, in yet another legendary music town, Athens, Georgia.

Sadly, Dave had to move away from his beloved comic shop. It looks like a seriously hip shop.

Kevin Johns takes liberties with the definition of "comic shop" by sending a photo of himself and Z-Cult FM. That's not even an online store! That's an online stealing place!

Anyway, he likes Daredevil. Stolen Daredevil.

Christina sends photos of Acme Superstore in, I believe, Orlando Florida.

Here she is reading Transformers under a big Spiderman.

I like the look of those barstools. I could loiter for hours on one of those!

Here's her friend Colleen holding Sandman, under a giant Batman.

Ivonne likes Runaways (and punching):

And here's all three of them, with some more fave selections:

Jurassic Park comic! Awesome! (Man, someone was asking about those in the store the other day).

Oh, and Cuddle Pillow Batman likes Countdown, because, as Christina says, "it's how he keeps up with Joker."

Heather did a livejournal post about her favourite shop, Comic Oasis in Las Vegas (Man, does everyone live somewhere cooler than me?). You can read it here. And here's some of the pictures:

Her favourite comic is Spider-Man Loves Mary-Jane (yay!):

Here's the owner, Derrick, and some of the staff (Charles, Holly and Margo).

And another interior shot that shows the vastness of the Comic Oasis:

Mike, (Batmanisgrim) sent some pictures of Bullseye Cards and Comics, which is sadly now closed. I believe it was in NYC, but I'm actually not sure.

Here's the owner, Rich:

It looks like they had a lot of selection:

Mike also says that his very favourite store was called The Memory Bank, and he wrote this about it:

The best comic book shop I have ever been to and ever will were owned by two sisters. They were around for twenty years and at one point they opened a second store and each sister ran each store. The store was called The Memory Bank and the reason for that was for they would give you coupons based on how much you spent. Those coupons could be used to buy anything in the store. I was really close to the sister that ran the store near me. I was one of her better customers, so she would give me free boxes and good deals on items. I considered her to be a friend. When the new comics would come in, she would even call me to tell me so. When I first started going to the store, it was at a time when comics would come out on Tuesday and Wednesday then it went exclusively to Wednesdays. Then one day Vicky called me from her home and it wasn't Wednesday. She was in a car with her sister, Mona, and a drunk driver hit their car. Vicky had broken her leg and she watched her sister die beside her.
The reason she was calling me was to tell me that she would have the comics when she recovered. Of course I told her that she had more important things to worry about and that I was loyal to her. The second store had to be closed and four months later I went back when the original store had reopened. On that day I purchased four months of comics in one day. Add this to the fact that I also bought my friend's comics it was quite a comic book bill that day. The only comic I missed was Nightwing Huntress #1, which I did purchase a few months ago at the NY Comic Con.I went to the store for another four years and that was how long it took for the lawsuit against the drunk driver to go through. Once she received her settlement she decided it was time to close up shop. Once that shop closed, that was the end of the greatest comic book shop I will ever know. Before I went to her store she used to have art contests among the patrons. The winner of one of her contests was Joe Madureira. She gave me the winning entry.

And finally, we have the winner of the contest, which was scientifically chosen by drawing names out of a hat. Jon Hex sends photos and writes about Big Monkey Comics in Washington DC.

Here he is, being indecisive and holding Batman and All-Star Superman (I guess he's deciding on Grant Morrison).

Nice shirt!

Big Monkey Comics is owned by Scipio of The Absorbascon. Here he is hosting a Quiz Bowl:

From what I can tell, Big Monkey hosts lots of things, like Heroclix tournaments and podcast recordings.

Here's another pic from that Quiz Bowl that shows the store manager, Devon, who writes the Seven Hells! Blog:

And here are some of the staff recommendations, nicely presented:

Congrats, Mr Hex. You have a copy of The Spirit #1 a-comin' your way, signed by Darwyn Cooke! It's compliments of Strange Adventures.

Thanks everyone for sending me your photos and sharing. Yay for comic book shops, a safe haven for nerds everywhere! Possibly the only place where you can go and confidently think "Well, at least I'm not as nerdy as that guy."

Strange Adventures Rules! (Even when new comics are delayed until Thursday).

A little magazine called Reader's Digest just named Strange Adventures the best comic shop in Canada. Was there ever any doubt?

Incidentally, we were the runner-up for best place to see polar bears.

In honour of this...honour...I am launching another contest. Right here, right now. It's another photo challenge, but this time I want y'all to send me a photo of your favourite comic shop. I would especially like to see a picture of you, in your favourite shop, holding your favourite comic. Something like this:

If you're shy, you can also have a picture of your favourite comic store clerk. Or just the store. Whatever. As long as it's a picture you didn't take off your favourite store's website. I want to see a little effort. If you want to say some nice things about your favourite shop, that would be cool. In two weeks, I will post all the photos and comments. You can email them to rachellegoguen at gmail dot com.

Here are some more pictures of Strange Adventures:

Tiina likes Runaways:

Ben likes JLA (specifically, Red Tornado):

Cal likes The Spirit:

Dave likes All-Star Superman:

Dave is a good drawer. He makes nice signs:

I don't understand RPGs:

This is our recommended rack:

Mine is the one with Batman and the Monster Men and stuff (and JUST the annual issue of Superman/Batman).

So I suppose you are all wondering what the prize is. I'ma send the winner, who will be drawn randomly, a copy of the first edition of The Spirit #1, signed by Darwyn Cooke, along with two very rare and limited Spirit buttons (all courtesy of Strange Adventures). Not bad at all!

So let's all show some love for our favourite comic shops.

Geek Museum!

Alright, here we go with the promised Geek Museum post. Thanks to everyone who sent me pictures and I hope I didn't miss anyone. You are all spectacularly geeky. I love it.

We'll start off with a couple of out-takes from my own collection. First, here is a truly terrifying rendition of the Simpson family, made out of pistachio shells. I bought them at a market in Greenwich, England a couple of years ago. How could I resist?

Even more confusing is that piece of tree that came with them as a display base.

God that Homer cracks me up.

And here's the cake that Matt had the good and confused people at Dairy Queen make for my birthday last year. He provided the sketch, and their icing artists re-created it...with some pretty screwy eyes on Batman:

I like Superman's gut oozing over his belt.

Let's see what you guys have...

arch_schatten's got Justice League dishes, an obscure little Robin figure, a cool blanket, a Batman alarm clock, and a genuine Bat Phone!

Chris McClaren has an Alan Moore shrine and Cthulhu poker chips:

Bob Fries has a pretty great little homemade wooden Spider-Man from Acapulco:

Elayne Riggs has some awesome art. I love the Alan Davis Hulk wedding portrait! That's a sweet wedding present.

April Steele also has some custom artwork to show off, these pictures are by Joel Priddy and Dean Tripp respectively:

I love that anti-Supergirl character! I'd totally hang out with her.

Eric DeSantis has an impressive Green Lantern collection. I love how they are displayed. I hope Hal Jordan never sees this because it would totally go to his head:

Jon's got a pretty sexy bed...and a big fluffy kitty!!!

And a Tumbler:

Jennifer and Dan have a pretty rocking collection, including some customized Lego figures, a Bat necktie, and sexily-posed movie figures:

And here are all the Lego figures playing in a rock band!!!

Awesome! Also...a Smallville t-shirt:

John Anderson has a large collection of Japenese Kubrick figures from The Story of Moominvalley. I don't know what that is, but these figures are pretty great-looking:

Jon Hex has a mighty army of action figures:

And if that isn't enough to scare burglars away, there's this Alex Ross Batman print:

Another attractive bed:

And look in his freezer!

Judging by the vast amount of frozen dinners, I'm going to guess that Jon Hex doesn't like to cook.

Martin Henley has my dream bathroom:

No shortage of reading material there!

And he has a whole lot of figures in cool little shelving units:

He also has a pretty cute kid:

Matt Morgan's got all sorts of stuff:

I am impressed by the amount of Mini-Mates, and by the heroes vs villains set-up. But where are the Booster Gold and Blue Beetle ones? Those ones are awesome!

Check out the Doom Room:

And the homemade Green Lantern rings:

Heather Fitzpatrick shows her commitment to loving Smallville with this Smallville High letterman jacket:

She also has a life-size Spider-Man:

That thing would scare me every single time I walked in the room if it were in my house.

Matthew Brown keeps all his friends at work, proudly letting his co-workers know that he is a nerd. And a Brett Favre fan:

Maxo also decorates his office. He's got a Monitor with an eraser for a head:

A break-dancing Spider-Man:

A fleet of pirate ships:

Plus some Cowboy Bebop figures and a bust of a Wampa:

Matthew Heslin sent a (tiny) picture of his Alex Robinson sketch...of the Box Office Poison cast as the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League. That's pretty awesome:

Moriah Sellers has a very impressive (and shiny) crystal collection to rival the Fortress of Solitude:
I love the Smallville Kryptonite octagonal disc. Now THAT is a nerdy item! I want one!

Rachel has an large arsenal of Bat items, including a real live batarang:

It apparently only cost $4. And it's sharp! No girl should be without one. She also has a Batmobile toothbrush:

And a utility belt to keep them in:

Plus...a Mrs Welling t-shirt!

But...I thought I was Mrs Welling!

Tremble before Roy MacKenzie's Gundam collection:

He loves robots of all types:

He also has a whole lot of Batman Lego:

Argh! I want that Batcave set so bad! It seems to have been infiltrated by Marvel villains. And Sandman is punching Luke Cage in the face!

Here's an excellent use of Mini-Mates:

The Mutt has a really old, really awesome ceramic Chewie mug:

He also scored this William Shatner LP:

I'll bet that sounds as good as it looks. Really, really good.

He also dressed like Starbuck at a Jethro Tull concert in 1979. That's not technically an item, but it is very nerdy:
So, I know you are all wondering who wins the contest and the signed copy of Shenanigans. It was not an easy decision, but after much deliberation, I have to go with Paul Hylemon. He painted one whole wall of his house with the Booster Gold symbol. I think this wins not only because it's an entire wall, but because it's Booster Gold. And you know how I love fans of secondary characters.

Plus, this wall looks awesome:

I love it because it could almost fool someone into thinking he's just a Dallas Cowboys fan, but it's really something way nerdier (and way better).

So congrats to Paul, and thanks again to everyone else. Because, in a way, you're all winners. And that's one to grow on.