Attendees and vendors mingle at the 6th annual Comic Book Fest at the Clark County Library, Saturday, Nov. 2.
It will come to not surprise to any of my ex-girlfriends and/or former employers reading this, but I am a member of a social demographic that has been described as a stunted man-child, or fanboy.
I learned to read from comic books and, consequently, believe in their legitimacy not only as an art-form but as a form of literature. I noticed that the Vegas Valley Book Fair last weekend seemed to have a lot of panels devoted to the young adult audience genre, so why not extrapolate further back when my editor asked if I wanted to cover anything this weekend, my response was, “Well, there is this one thing…”
As part of the Vegas Valley Book Festival, the Vegas Valley Comic Book Fest takes place at the Clark County Library on East Flamingo Road, a great location that is spacious both inside and out, as many of the vendor booths are outside with many places to eat within walking distance.
Fortunately, the weather is usually nice this time of the year, and Saturday was no exception.
Upon signing up at the registration booth, attendees get a bag full of free swag; comics, little toys, samples, and coupons. Having gone to three of the festival’s six years, admittedly, this is not the San Diego Comic Con (which I’ve also been to almost as many times). The festival has come a long was over the past few years, with 2012 having the biggest attendance yet, in the high 2,000. A good number of how many attended this year was not available by presstime.
As an old-school fanboy, anywhere free to get into that nerds can be accepted by the general populace is praise-worthy to me. I spent a nice chunk of time looking through tables for some bargains on comics and collectibles. I did cringe a little when a guy said, “They made a book from ‘The Walking Dead?’” but also found amusement at the other fanboys there with their own kids, trying to spread the love onto the next generation with mixed results. You can’t put a 2-year old in a room full of toys and comics at eye-level and not expect them to grab something and wail hysterically when you don’t buy it for them.
The fest was full of great vendors from around the valley, an artist’s alley, and activities for kids such as learning to draw from local artists and portfolio evaluations for aspiring artists. The day included some informative programs such as Critical Care Comics, an organization that, according to founder Jason Golden, “is dedicated to bringing joy to the faces of kids (and adults!) in hospitals by delivering comic books to kids and helping them escape the discomfort and stress of hospital life, if only for only 28 pages.”
I just missed the presentation by with big-time comic book writer and novelist Greg Rucka - whose work includes the miniseries Superman: World of New Krypton for DC Comics - but got to see his work among many other in the “Artist Alley” downstairs in the large conference room.
I did attend the “Cosplay” panel held by the titled “Very Awesome Girls Into Nerdy Activities” which “strives to provide an environment to cultivate and encourage people of all ages to embrace their inner geek and let it shine via community service, social functions, and individual endeavors.” One topic, “Wonder Woman in Bondage” by British academic Ben Saunders, explored the origin of and pyscho-sexual implications of the genre’s arguably most famous female heroine.
Ralph Mathew, fellow tribesman and owner of Alternate Reality Comics on South Maryland Parkway, says that the success of movies and television based on comic books has led to more foot traffic at events like this, and his store.
Overall, the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival exposes folks to comics as an art form, as well as many of the genre’s artists and comic book vendors locally in the valley, a mashup of both new and old fans attesting to the popularity of a medium that has gone from supermarket racks to specialty stores to online apps. CL