I have spent much my life in Las Vegas. The one thing you learn about the comic scene in this city is that comic conventions just don’t work out. As it happens, the mention of Vegas and a comic con is a can of worms with no worms in it. Its a tough town where it just seems people have way too many other things to do. Maybe it’s too difficult to manage an event that winds up competing with the fabled Vegas nightlife–in many ways, Las Vegas is a con that never ends. I myself tinkered around and was thinking of doing a con in my home town, but in the end rejected the idea like a variant cover for NFL Super Pro#1. It’s just not thinkable because the convention template doesn’t fit.
However that template and the myth of a Comic Convention in Vegas was challenged all the same–and finally busted. To no surprise it was Jimmy Jay who rode into town on his white horse–or a a couple of 24 foot trucks anyway–and did the unthinkable. They put together a comic convention in Vegas in just 2 short months and it was a winner in a town that’s been built on losers.
This isn’t a secret. I gave this Con about a 10% chance of success and was astounded at the original location of the convention at the Alexis Park Hotel. Though most might say that with MorrisonCon across the street it was a good mix. However the setting across from each other was essentially meaningless–the two cons were night and day. The Hard Rock (where MorrisonCon set up) is a very nice and glittery venue, while the Alexis Park is almost the opposite; dark and not where you want to be at night. So when the Rivera Hotel replaced the Alexis at the last moments, I moved that estimated success rate to 25%. I was dead wrong as it turned out. It’s a good thing that the sports books weren’t taking bets or I would have lost big time.
Like most cons nowadays its the companies that prominently feature the Pin-up girl, the bad girl, and the lady super hero that gets the very front of the con. So having Aspen, Big Dog Ink, and Zenescope in that position has become common ground and no surprise. I was quite surprised though not to see Avatar at this event, though Francisca and Brian Pulido were there bringing what we all love to see; a Lady Death Vegas Variant. The con-special variant has become a staple at most cons now, though it’s not for every customer who walks in. It is, however, a clear statement that this genre is here to stay.
The rest of the con was an array of artist alley and local vendors. Artist alley was really popping; it was a good mixture of talent, and each table gave good reason to be drawn in to find out what these talented people were doing. It’s also good to see a lot of artists now standing and actively greeting their fans and potential new followers (hmm, I wonder who told them to do that?). There was a nice presence of Arizona talent and a whole bunch out of California supporting this con as well. Could it be the creators who will actually make this con work in the future? Time will tell, but the promise is there. Word is that most creators had a great time. However, whether this will this translate to drawing other creators remains an open question as well.
Most of the local stores were present at this event. However, I feel that they need to participate more in future events. This event needs to have the community back it up on a daily basis, especially at con time. Having, a panel on local comic book stores should be a priority next year to support and promote this idea. Successful cons have very supportive communities, which involve the LCS in major ways. This city has a great group of very nice and aggressive store owners and I think after this con they all will find a way to make the Con even bigger next year.
Now you know I’m a big Cossie (Cosplayers) guy. Not because of how they are dressed but how the keep the crowd moving and excited. You would think that in Vegas,a world of glamor and glitz (and fantastically costumed dancers), attractive people in colorful and exotic outfits would be a natural. However they fell a little flat on this con. There weren’t a lot of cosplayers, so, one seemed to be bumping into the same few Cossies at every corner. Other then Brieanna Brock and AZ Power Girl, most cosplayers seemed kind of lost as to what they were suppose to do; and what their actual value is to a brand new con–given the fact there were really no Cosplay hang out area, or scheduled costume events. I really feel that if Vegas can get the Cossies involved more it will bring out more fans–and a lot more Cosplayers to the dance.
Here are other things the con planners might do that I think will help the out next year. The first thing is find a hotel and casino off the strip. Being a local I just hated going to the strip and most my friends who collect comics decided not to go and deal with the tourist traffic hassle this year. Second, look at your surroundings; you had Elvira across the street and she really would have been a major spark to your con. Of course being one of her top fans I’m just probably just doing mentioning her for my own sake. However I think there would be some Elvira fans willing to stand in line for her or that Cassandra Peterson lady who seems to follow the famed horror-host around. Also, have your after party closer to the con. Many people wanted to go but it was just too far away for them to get there. Also, one of the swags was a huge poster and became to cumbersome for some of the guests to lug around. I would suggest something smaller and not something that can be ruined so quickly.
I really had a blast at this con. I love seeing my friends having fun and meeting other creators. Talking to Jimmy I got the feeling that he was really enjoying himself at this con and that’s very important to me. Jimmy has done so much for the comic book community and I really hope we can help him out by supporting his future events.
So, I tip my hat to the staff at Las Vegas Comic Expo; you did an awesome job in a very short period of time. To the fans of Las Vegas, keep up the good work. The longer the life of the con the better it is for your city. You have recreated the template, now make it yours for the years to come.
Las Vegas Western Warriors Class of 87′ Rules