Columbia Comics meets Columbia Soul at ColaCon 2011

Time to pull out your favorite super hero/villain costume, Columbia! Our progressive little city is hosting the first of its kind ColaCon at the Columbia Museum of Art from 5 p.m. to midnight this Friday. This isn’t your standard comic book convention, my fellow fantasy lovers. ColaCon is where hip-hop music and comic book culture intersect to create an evening of eclectic goodness.

Organized by the talented Preach Jacobs, ColaCon will feature all of the traditional elements of a comic book convention, including lectures and panels from some of the top professionals in the industry, as well as inkers, writers, graphic novelists, illustrators and more.

Columbia native Sanford Greene, an accomplished comic book illustrator, will be a featured artist and will speak on the panel “Indie Music & Art in Modern Culture.” Green has worked on many high profile comic books including Amazing Spider-Man, Army of Darkness, Deadpool and more. Also a Columbia native, Marvel Editor Jody LeHeup will be speaking on the panel “Want to Get Into Comics” and will give aspiring artists, writers and inkers portfolio reviews.

I took a little time to talk with LeHeup before he heads our way from the Big Apple. Here is what he had to say:

  • What is it like coming back to Columbia for the first ever ColaCon as a Marvel Editor? It’s great! I always enjoy coming home to South Carolina, but it’s especially exciting to be coming back for ColaCon. Preach Jacobs has put together an incredible show and I’m thrilled that as an editor working in comics I can be a part of it. I’m flattered to be asked.
  • What role has Columbia played in pushing you forward to achieve your dreams? When I was living in Columbia, it was not a city that pushed artists forward. The support just wasn’t there. Plenty of artists tried to get things going, put on events, that kind of thing, and people just didn’t come out. It was a very frustrating thing to watch and to experience. You’ve got people bitching that there’s not enough of an art culture in Columbia and then those same people don’t go out and support it, either with their presence or their dollar. It was that stagnation that actually pushed me out of Columbia. That was a few years ago though and things seem to be getting better now. The response to ColaCon and other recent events has been big so that’s very heartening. Much love out to everyone living here fighting the good fight.
  • What are you looking for in the portfolio reviews you will be conducting at ColaCon? I’m looking for a lot of things. First and foremost I’m looking for ways to help the artist whose portfolio I’m reviewing to become better. An artist that’s not ready this year might be ready next year if they work on their craft, so giving them good criticism and enabling them to improve is good for them and it’s good for me as an editor. Beyond that I’m looking at an artist's sense of page composition and layout, storytelling from panel to panel, anatomy, perspective, special relationships between characters and environments, consistency from panel to panel, ability to cartoon and to have characters emote, and a general idea for whether this person’s work is competitive with artists I currently work with.
  • Didn’t you just get a book nominated for a Harvey Award? Aren't the Harvey Awards like the Oscars of comics? Tell us a little bit about that. Hah! Well, they’re more like the Golden Globes. The Eisners are sort of like the Oscars if you want to follow that analogy. But yes, I was nominated for a Harvey Award for Strange Tales Vol. II and it was a huge honor.
  • What are you currently working on at marvel? I’m currently editing a title called UNCANNY X-FORCE along with three other projects that haven’t been announced yet.
  • Are we going to see any of your own comics anytime in the near future? Yeah, I hope so. Not for a while though. Got a few things I have left to do as an editor first.
  • Anything you want to say to those aspiring to work in comics? Stop talking about it, study the craft, and do it. Let nothing stop you. If you get your ass kicked trying, get up and try it again.

Jacobs has planned a solid comic book convention, as well as taking it a step further to ensure our senses are stimulated throughout the entire evening by bringing in some of the top hip-hop, soul and alternative sounds from the southeast. Also appearing is Talib Kweli, an MC from Brooklyn, NY, as the headlining act.  Kweli first gained recognition through a collaboration with MC Mos Def called, Black Star. He is also a frequent collaborator with artists like Kanye West and has sold 2 million albums worldwide.

All around, this is going to be a one-of-a-kind event not to be missed. If you are interested in comics and/or good music, it is a great time for you to check out what is going on in the local and regional scene.

General tickets are $20 and $15 for Columbia Museum of Art members.For more information on ColaCon check out We hope to see you there (in costume)! So, until then, tell Jasper what super hero/villain you plan to impersonate at ColaCon on Friday. For me, I’m thinking Poison Ivy.

-Margey Bolen


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