Heroes Comic Con 2016

Heroes Comic Con is a big comics convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina. This year it was held over the weekend of June 17-19, 2016 in the Charlotte Convention Center, right beside the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

We drove over on Wednesday in order to be in place and ready when load-in started Thursday morning. After having been in an accident as a result of being exhausted after Indiana Comic Con, we decided not to get up quite as brutally early as we did the previous year.

I also made sure to drink caffeinated pop every time I started feeling at all drowsy. It kept me awake, but it also had another unfortunate effect on me. As a result, I stopped at just about every single rest area between Indianapolis and Charlotte.

Because we got a later start and made so many stops, it was quite late when we got to the outlet mall. We were even worried that the Vitamin World might be closed by the time we arrived. However, we did get there in time and were able to pick up the stuff we needed.

Then we headed over to our hotel. After our horrible experience the previous year with the Super 8, this year we were staying at a Quality Inn a little further out. It seemed nice enough, until we discovered that no, they would not let us pay cash on checkout. The charge had to stay on our credit card, which could make things very difficult two weeks later when we went to Miami for Florida Supercon.

We had just a little time to eat supper and wind down before bedtime. I did manage to squeeze in a little writing time, but it was pretty much token effort.

The next morning we got up and ate the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Then we headed over to the convention center, wanting to make sure we didn't lose valuable setup time waiting for a place in the loading dock. However, there was already a line forming when we arrived, almost an hour early.

I pulled out my Treo and set to work on some old con reports, determined to put the time to good use. Then the doors opened and we began working our way through the loading dock to the place they assigned us. As soon as we were in, I dug out our cart and started hauling merchandise in. My husband snagged one of the flatbed carts and soon I was just swapping loaded ones for empty ones until we had everything in.

Because the loading dock is so very small, they want us to get our vehicles out just as soon as we unload. So I drove the van over to the parking lot for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, figuring I could park there cheap. Instead I discover that they're full, so I have to find some other place to park.

Just down the street I find a church parking lot that rents out its spaces during the week. It was a little more expensive and I had to pay by credit card, but at least I had a safe spot to park. With the van in place, I hiked back to the convention center to get down to the process of assembling our structures and putting out merchandise.

At least this year we were a lot closer to set up when the exhibit hall closed for the evening. I retrieved the van and picked up my husband so he wouldn't have to walk so far, and then we headed back to the hotel to have supper. I worked on my novel a little before we turned in for the night.

On Friday we headed back to the convention center to finish setting up. At least this time I was able to park in the NASCAR Hall of Fame lot, which made it that much easier to walk to and from the convention center. Then we pushed as hard as we could to get set up. We finished just in time for VIP opening, but we didn't have any chance at all to look around.

Because of all the trouble we'd had the previous year with AT&T connectivity, we made a point of acquiring a Sprint hotspot to ensure we could run credit cards. However, I noticed that we were getting AT&T on our iOS devices just fine right up until the doors opened for sales, at which point it went kaput. Worse, we had all kinds of trouble keeping the iPhone and iPad Pro connected to the hotspot, and the Bluetooth chip card readers connected with the devices. It was pretty clear that yes, the convention center was jamming our connections, trying to bully us into buying their overpriced WiFi.

Sales were pretty steady all afternoon, but they were stubbornly behind where we really would've liked for them to be. I'd hoped to see better sales this year, but we hadn't been able to get more superhero-comic related merchandise and were still heavy on anime stuff.

In the evening we retreated back to the hotel for supper. I pulled out a novel I'd been working on and considered whether a chapter needed to be split for length.

On Saturday we got up and had the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Then we headed back to the convention center to get our setup ready for business.

We were still getting sales, but they didn't pick up like I'd been hoping to see. I ended up spending a lot of time on my feet for very little result. By the time the exhibit hall closed for the evening, our poor little hotspot was out of power and had shut down to protect its battery. I made sure to take it back to the hotel with us, and when I plugged it in to recharge, it was showing 1% power. So I now know that it can't go a full eight-hour day on a single charge, and I'll need to keep that in mind at any other cons where we use the older iOS devices which no longer have broadband.

Then we had supper. I got a little more writing done before we turned in for the night.

On Sunday we ate breakfast, then headed back downtown for the last day of sales. We continued having iffy Internet, even with the hotspot, and sales really weren't picking up much to speak of. A little after noon I started breaking down the grab bags and putting them away. Then I started putting away the merchandise that hadn't gotten much interest all weekend.

By the time we had most of the merchandise packed, I headed over to the parking lot and retrieved the van. I thought I'd beat the rush, but the line still wrapped around the convention center. I remembered the previous year's experience of getting into the loading dock only to find our helpers vanished and having to load out entirely by myself. At leas this year things went more smoothly and they were still packing when I got parked. However, that task wasn't all that easy, because the dockmaster wanted me backed into a difficult position. Fortunately, he was very patient with me and gave me step-by-step directions instead of just yelling at me and getting angry when I froze up.

Loadout was interesting because we couldn't snag a flatbed cart, and our volume of merchandise hadn't gone down that much. I carried load after load of stuff out and ended up stacking it beside the van to sort and put into place after the cart was in its place. By the time we were finished, it was really late and we didn't have all that much time left to wind down before bed.

On Monday we got up and had breakfast. Then we carried our personal possessions out to the van and checked out. Since we weren't going to come back, we really wanted to make a quick visit to South Carolina before we left. We were happily surprised to find cheap gasoline there and filled up. We also found a branch of our bank and made the deposit before leaving the area.

The drive home was a long, hard slog and we had to get through some pretty steep mountains, if not as severe as the Bitterroots in Idaho on our 2015 Worldcon trip. I went through eight cans of caffeinated pop just getting home, and when I pulled in at our driveway, I was pretty much exhausted. Worse, some of the boxes had tilted over on the drive home and weren't cooperating when I needed to get them out so I could bring our personal belongings in. I just didn't have any patience left to deal with them and had an explosion all over the place at them.

Copyright 2017 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated December 23, 2017.