The Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit Preview made its premiere June 4th-6th at Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina and we couldn't have received a warmer welcome! We left for Charlotte with a full bin of the Preview, a lot of excitement, and a little trepidation wondering what our first convention with a table would be like. After three days, we came home with only *5* copies left and a lot of new friends!
The reaction of people at the convention made all of our work worthwhile. People really connected with the concept of Animal Control Officers dealing with patchwork, designer animals. And the spectacular art of Leandro Panganiban -- on the banners, the comic, and inside the book -- caught many a fan's eye!
One of the most heartening parts of the whole convention was the wide range of fans who were interested in giving our Preview a try: men and women; couples and families; young and old and in between -- heck, we even had both an Emergency Vet Technician and a former Animal Control Officer come by! We want to send out a HUGE thank you to all of you -- everyone who came by to chat and check out the book! And an additional thank you to those of you who have been writing us since the con ended. We love hearing what you think!
Our full con report, with pictures, is below.
We began setting up on Thursday, June 3rd. It was pretty quiet when we arrived, but by the time we left, set-up was in full swing.
After set-up, we proceeded to the Comic Geek Speak "Feast of the Pants"! Pants, Murd, and many fellow CGS listeners were in attendance. This was really one of the highlights of the convention, and not just because of copious amounts of steak and dessert. We made lots of new friends who we got to hang out with for the rest of the weekend! Plus, we received our exclusive "Feast Harder" buttons, displayed below in a place of honor between the Panda Dog Press buttons from the convention. Thanks, CGS!! (The picture of Pants -- in the CGS Booth -- was taken by Patrick Sun, who has a mind-blowing set of Flickr pix which you should definitely check out!)
After (mostly) recovering from the FOP, our brand-spanking-new table was ready for action on Friday! Just about every element of the table set-up, from the table banners to the postcards, the t-shirts to the buttons, were the design work of our good friend and letterer/designer, E.T. Dollman, based in Italy. E.T., we wish you could have been there to see all your hard work in action!
Pictured at the table are Rob Anderson (writer/publisher of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit) and the lovely Grace, who helped tirelessly in the booth for three long, fun-filled days. (Thanks a million, Grace!) Grace only took brief breaks to visit with some of her favorite artists including Mark Brooks and Sean Chen, along with a daily pilgrammage to visit the table of Owly's Andy Runton. (A couple of the next few pictures below were taken by our good friend Chris Flick of Capes and Babes.)
We weren't sure what to expect at our first convention table, but -- WOW! -- we were pleasantly surprised. Rob was signing books steadily all three days. After signing 100+ copies, by Sunday afternoon we were concerned we'd run out of books, but in the end we had just a handful to spare, with our last visitor coming by just 10 minutes before the convention closed.
We didn't take nearly enough pictures of folks that stopped by, and many pictures didn't turn out on Rob's ancient iPhone -- but here's just a sampling. As you can see, we "deputized" many kids with their "Special Creatures Unit" badge buttons (also designed by the multi-talented E.T. Dollman), and got to chat with a ton of friendly folks, both in costume and out.
Plus, we were visited by both a former Animal Control Officer -- in the Green Lantern shirt below -- who said it was "about time" someone did a comic on ACO's (we agree!), and an Emergency Vet Tech and his wife. (He's in the Krypto "Mad Dog" t-shirt, Rob's favorite t-shirt of the convention!) Thanks, everyone, for stopping by!!
We were also extremely happy that Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit inker, Steve Bird of Tsunami Studios was in attendance. As you can see in the pictures below (taken by the Comic Related podcast and by Patrick Sun) Steve was busy inking all weekend. If you have a convention sketch you'd like inked by a guy who's worked on everything from Robin to Blue Beetle, you need to look Steve up at his next convention. He also stopped by the Panda Dog Press booth a couple times and some lucky visitors were able to snag his signature on their books as well. Grace and Rob agreed that hanging with Steve was one of the highlights of the convention.
We had another stroke of luck, too -- we were directly across the aisle from our good friend and "convention mentor" Chris Flick, of Capes and Babes fame! I mean, what were the odds of that in the jam-packed Artist's Alley? But it happened. Chris brought his usual sunny disposition to the con and was swamped all weekend with sketch requests, including the three sketch cards he did below for Rob, featuring some of Rob's favorites: the Panda Dog, Krypto, and Lockjaw! Plus, Chris had an awesome piece in the main Art Auction Saturday night -- a riff on the old "I'm just a Bill" Saturday morning cartoon...after the health care law passed. (ha)
Plus, we had the chance to meet new friends in our other neighbors including Tom Huthinson from Big Dog Ink, publisher of Critter and Penny for your Soul, Josh Smeaton (not pictured) and Donea of Haunted, and Mitch Rogers of The Bogre. We also were happy to meet Martin Pierro, just down the aisle. Martin of Cosmic Times is the writer/publisher of Arthur: The Legend Continues, and he was kind enough to be our first ever customer, right before the show opened! (Pictures of Chris, Tom, Donea, and Mitch are from Patrick Sun's aforementioned Flickr pix, because our pictures stunk! Martin's picture is from Comic Related.)
You probably know that the Westin bar/lobby is the place to hang out at Heroes Con, but one of our other favorite hang-outs at Heroes was the Twenty-Two bar and art gallery. Grace and Rob hit the bar and drooled over the art for a while both Friday and Saturday night. With artwork by everyone from Kirby and Ditko to Adam Hughes, there was a LOT to see. We briefly considered selling our car and walking home, so that Grace could purchase a $4,500 Ex Machina cover by Tony Harris, but decided against that plan in the end.
And speaking of art, the Saturday night Art Auction was the usual exciting marathon. Grace's favorite was Mark Brooks' Black Cat, which managed to tie Adam Hughes' Zatanna, each selling for a record-breaking $8,000! We were also both fans of Sean Chen's action-packed Batgirl.
But one of the top highlights of the auction for us -- go figure, we are dog nuts after all -- was a spectacular piece by David McAdoo of Red Moon. Rob and Grace bid fiercely for the piece, but in the end lost it at $450. Worth every penny, but we needed money to feed the panda dog for the rest of the month; they eat Bamboo Treats by the bushel.
Rob talked to David the next day, and he said the piece was shaped and painted onto a piece of wood he found in his closet. The shape and textures of the piece were quite unique and the pictures below (courtesy of Red Moon Producer/Publisher Steve Kozak) don't do it justice!
We had to be satisfied (and we were!) with the great sketch of Scruffy that David did for us the next day. If you love animals and/or epic adventure comics, you MUST check out Red Moon. Thanks, David and Steve! (Picture of Steve and David, left to right, also by Patrick Sun.)
Finally, we had to share a picture we received right after the convention of our new friend Nina and her own "almost" Panda Dog named Percy. We're glad you enjoyed the book, Nina. We had a great Heroes Con thanks to YOU and EVERYONE willing to try out something new.