First Annual Las Vegas Comic Expo at Riviera Hotel & Casino
Before entering the convention hall, I’d seen no less than three Captain America shields, an Imperial Storm Trooper and a caped swordsman in a breastplate and boots. On September 29 and 30, the Las Vegas Comic Expo (this is its inaugural year) brought comic/graphic novels fans out in colorful hordes to peruse the aisles of the large venue.
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Boxes and racks of comic books covered floors and tables in the Dealer’s section; artists could be seen completing intricate pencil drawings of super heroes and fantasy figures in Artist’s Alley. Games, masks, books, statues, and posters competed for attention during the two-day event that brought aficionados of every type out onto the already busy carpet pattern. That’s just what you’d expect from the old-school casino decadence of the Riviera.
A Typical Convention Display
Touting itself as a Comic Book, Entertainment & Pop Culture Convention, the event featured an astounding number of guests that included Mike Mignola (Hellboy Creator); Len Wein (Swamp Thing, Wolverine); J. Scott Campbell (The Amazing Spider-Man); Mark Brooks (X-men Legacy); Simon Bisley (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heavy Metal Magazine); Eric Canete (Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin); Drew Johnson (Wonder Woman); These are only a sample of the talent which was assembled in one highly creative space.
The Dark Knight
Iain McCaig (Star Wars Episode I-III, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) was on hand to discuss his illustrious career as illustrator, cover artist, designer, director and producer.
Thomas Jane (TV show Hung and The Punisher) signed autographs from his booth for Raw Studios, and Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) posed for photos with appreciative attendees.
Thomas Jane (The Punisher)
Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Gallactica and Burn Notice
Batmen, Spidermen, assorted Avengers, Catwomen, Wonderwomen, and various futuristic soldiers of fortune were on hand for cosplay (short for costume play) which was a scheduled competition. Superheroes came in all shapes, sizes and genders. Most or all of them originated in comic books and graphic novels.
Four Superheroes and a Creature
The large gaming hall held tables full of Pathfinder and other RPG (role-playing games) enthusiasts. One booth prominently displayed a bowl stuffed with entries, all vying for a Stan Lee signing as a prize (the Holy Grail of comic book icons, no comic convention would be complete without that guy’s name mentioned somewhere).
The Game Room - not a slot to be found
Zombies are represented as well. AMC's The Walking Dead is based on a comic series; its #100 issue sold nearly 400,000 copies, making it the best selling comic book of the century. Attendee Alan White, author of The Zombie Effect (Amazon) summed up his Las Vegas Comic Expo experience this way:
“At last Vegas got it right. This was a terrific first outing. The con had a large and well attended dealer's room, an amazing number of guests, and for Vegas, an equally amazing number of attendees, many of them in costume. There were a small but no less enthusiastic number of panels, though wall shaking disco music from the Dart convention next door drowned out some of the chatter thru the paper thin walls. It would be nice to have a hospitality suite to relax and recharge between events; a film room and evening masquerade would be also be welcome additions. All that will come.”
3D Superheroes and Villains
Five workshops and eight panels took place just across the hall, spotlighting writer Len Wein (X-Men, Swamp Thing) artist Mike Mignola (Hellboy creator). Each has worked for both DC AND Marvel, fierce competitors in the comic book industry. A DC52 panel of writers included Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins, Flash Writer/Color artist Brian Buccellato, and Vampire author Joshua Fialkov. An artist panel featured a Round Table discussion with J. Scott Campbell (DC/Marvel) Mark Brooks (Marvel) Stephan Roux (DC, Marvel, Semic) and Chrissie Zullo (DC).
Tricia Helfer, the actress best known to the comic con world as Number 6 from Battle Star Galactica was highlighted in a celebrity panel, moderated by Dallas Comic Con manager Mark Walters. Zombies followed (well, as quickly as they could, anyway) with a panel discussion on trends in popular culture. You know, things like: will brains always be the snack of choice and how can zombies walk so slowly yet routinely manage to catch scores of able bodied humans?
Best Face Forward
Because comic fans are usually generous fans, a charity art auction took place where attendees could bid on unique pieces of art, exclusive comic books, and prints. Proceeds from the charity went to FACT, Family and Child Treatment of Southern Nevada.
Saturday night’s Cosplay Contest awarded prizes to adult and child versions of costumes in a type of superhero/fantasy figure fashion show. Talk about getting lost in a sea of masks, capes and steam punk. Horns, shields, boots and whips made numerous appearances.
Workshop topics in digital coloring, writing, drawing, inking, and a Draw Off that challenged the artistic skills of Drew Johnson (DC, Marvel, Top Cow) April Reyna (The Mark of the Pterren) Shelby Robertson (Morbid Angel, Dark Shrine) and Tony Fleecs (In My Lifetime) among others, also took place on Saturday. In the interactive game show environment, a panel of artists compete against each other in a king of his sketch duel.
Expo organizer Charles Lee stated that, “There has been an appetite for such an event for a long time."
By the looks (and feel) of the Las Vegas Comic Expo, more than the zombies got their fill.
For further information:
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photos by Stephen Thorburn & Alan White
A Tsunami of Ink and Paper
Aisles and Aisles of Images
They Came By Foot, and on Wheels
Micro-Icons For Sale
Heroes in the 'Hood
Something for Everyone
Queen of Hearts
Heads Up!...and to the Side...
In Case You Were Wondering
Yeah, I found a Parking Space all right!
Cat Woman's Purr-fect Persuasion
Artist Len Wein (left) Interview (Swamp Thing, X-Men, Watchmen)
Mike Mignola (Hellboy)
Simon Bisley (Judge Dredd, Doom Patrol)