It’s Vegas, baby.
I don’t know why, but I think it sounds so much cooler to refer to it as “Vegas, Baby!” Kinda makes me sound like one of the Rat Pack, doesn’t it? You know, the one that can’t sing and never got any of the girls. But aside from that, really, what are the differences between me and the Chairman of the Board?
Anyway, Sin City was having a little comic book convention and I was drawn like a moth to a million volts of neon flame.
I had been there once before for the National Caricaturists Network convention. That time I went off completely by myself. This time, I went out with Bob Ingersoll, comics guy and lawyer, and writer (along with Tony Isabella) of the forthcoming Perry Mason in space Star Trek novel “The Case of the Colonist’s Corpse,” thereby assuring me of having a travelling companion and walking buddy.
And boy, did we walk. But more on that later. On to the show...
WHAT IF YOU THREW A PARTY AND NO ONE ATTENDED?
...yeah, the show.
First off, I had a fine time in Vegas, and had a fair amount of fun at the show. Then again, I can make my own fun, so that may be faint praise. Let’s do the math first. The show was hoping for 30,000. It got 3,000.
Now 3,000 ain’t bad for a show. A few years back, Mid-Ohio-Con (insert required Mid-Ohio-Con plug here) used to garner that. It now gets much more, of course. But it grew into it. Vegas, even being Vegas, shouldn’t have tried out of the gate to become the number two show in the U.S. That’s like me planning to have the September sequel to Raider sell just under the numbers for Jim Lee’s X-Men #1. Love to have it happen, and just about no chance that it will.
I’m split about how I feel about the show itself. I’ve heard from a number of people that they either got their booths for free or at a buy one get one free price. If so, that’s wildly unfair to people like me who had to pay full price. And don’t think that when they try to book me for next year, assuming there is a next year, that won’t come up.
On the other hand, the Vegas people called me a few times, and that’s a few more than, say, San Diego has ever done. San Diego probably wouldn’t notice if I were there or not, and I’m an exhibitor. Vegas called this Artist Alley boy making sure I had all my guest passes and the like.
As far as a next year, I’m always up for a tax deductible trip to Vegas. I sold as many books there as I did at Dallas, and almost as many as Chicago, so something went right. Of course, I’m boyishly charming and have mad sales skillz. So the show met my expectations all right, just not its own.
Programming was fairly weak, in my opinion. There was nothing I had any desire to see except the “Comic Book: The Movie” panel, and that was just to catch a glimpse of any artwork of mine that might have showed up in the finished product.
The dealers, though, I’m sure were hurting more. It’s going to be tough to lure them back. If they throw a show, I might be back, but I don’t know about anyone else.
I met a lot of cool people, as always, The guys from OB-1, a fledgling Sci-Fi Mystery Science Theatre meets the Daily Show show were a stone’s throw from my booth, and we chatted relentlessly. They’re geek like me, and capable of having an intelligent conversation about the nuances of the overlooked classic “Deep Space Nine” and the monumental failings of its sister show “Voyager.”
They’ve produced a pilot that looked pretty sweet, emphasis on the word “look.” Their booth was close enough that I could see their plasma screen from my table, far enough away I couldn’t hear them. Still, I could tell it was funny. They do a Richard Hatch joke that’s pretty funny even with the sound down.
I hope they get picked up, and not just because I’m hoping they’ll have me on as a sweeps week stunt.
THE GAMBLER HEEBRO KEEVEN
When I was little, I always thought “Heebro Keeven” was the name of the Gambler in Kenny Rogers’ ballad. Don’t know what made me think of that.
Oh wait, yes I do. I was in frickin’ Vegas, home of gambling. And free booze, and showgirls. It’s a great town.
Now, I don’t gamble too much. I figure becoming a self-employed freelance cartoonist was enough gambling for one lifetime. I do play a wicked Video Poker though, and broke even, if not a little on the plus side playing an hour a night or so. Plus, if you factor in the free Long Island Iced Teas, well then, my friend, I am definitely on the plus side of the ledger.
I also sank a buck into every “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” slot machine I ran into. I letter Miz E’s comic book, and figured she would guide me to some winnings. She did, and I won $20 on one thin dollar in one of her games.
One of these days I hope to try my luck at a table game. Probably Blackjack. I just didn’t feel ready yet. But next year, look out Vegas... here comes Cleveland Zahler.
Hmmm, that doesn’t sound too Minnesota Fats. Maybe Ohio Twenty Pounds and I’m Working on It? Or Timberlake Thom?
Bob did play Blackjack, and one each of the four hands he played. Way to go, Bob!
But there really is a lot to do in the Neon Jungle if you don’t gamble. Like what, you ask?
SHOW ME THE... um, SHOWS!
Bob and I saw three shows, not counting Halloween. That’s right, we were there over Halloween weekend, and walking the Vegas strip on all Hallow’s Eve is a show in and of itself. There are some pictures smattered about this section of what I saw.
My friend and colleague Mike Norton had a line so good I wish I had said it. “The difference between Halloween in Vegas and at home? Cleavage.”
Okay, I admit it. I like looking at cute girls in sexy costumes. Yeah, I know, I’m weird that way. And there were a lot to be seen. (See, kids, that’s what we pros like to call a double entendre. Don’t try this at home.) There were Elviras, French Maids, and at least two Slave Girl Princess Leias.
There were also, I thought, a surprising number of superheroes. The con was having it’s own costume contest which I thought was outrageously priced, but I don’t think the Justice League I ran into was necessarily from the show.
Costume night aside, we saw three other shows.
BAD BOYS OF MAGIC
Penn and Teller play at the Rio every night, and they do a fine show. It starts off a little early with a chance to visit the stage and check out the boxes from which they’ll do their first amazing escape.
Penn and Teller do an interesting show. They love magic, but they’re not afraid to reveal a trick or two. Somehow, they do it with love, as opposed to that nitwit that Fox employs from time to time. No, not Alan Colmes or even Evan Mariotte, but that masked guy who reveals how all the tricks are done.
At one point, Penn and Teller speak... well, Penn speaks, but you know what I mean... about how they’re going to reveal the secret of an escape. Watch at your own peril, they say. Close your eyes if you don’t want to know, because if not, you’ll never going to feel the magic in this trick again.
I didn’t close my eyes, but I really was tempted. It’s like being given the chance to find out if there’s a Santa Claus or not. Do you really want to know?
Which is not to say they reveal all their tricks. They do their famous bullet trick, and I’ll be damned if I know how. For those of you who haven’t seen the trick, they, with the aid of a couple of audience members, mark a pair of bullets, each on the opposite side of the stage, never touching. Penn and Teller then fire these at each other, breaking panes of glass, and catching them in their teeth.
I don’t know how, but they do it. It’s a show stopper. Literally. After that they stop the show, and go out and sign autographs. I didn’t know they did this, so Bob grabbed a couple shots with his camera phone, hence the grainier-than-normal pictures. I fumbled through a sentence or so with them, time was short and I was very tired, but they both seemed very nice. Teller even speaks outside the show.
MAYBE THE FRENCH AREN’T ALL BAD
Cirque de Soliei has three shows in Vegas. They have their one showed called “O,” one show called Zoomanity which, like many acts in Vegas, features nudity, and the one we saw, “Mysteire.”
Cirque is a, well, they’re a circus of a sort. They have strong men and acrobats, and all sorts of human entertainers, and it’s just cool. I’m not going to be able to describe this adequately. Saying it’s just a circus is like saying the Porsche is just a car.
It’s an utterly entertaining and enchanting couple of hours of bright colors, incredible feats of strength and agility, and funny to boot. It’s pricey, and yet it’s very worth it.
That's only half the Vegas Excitement. Continue on to see if Luck was a Lady that night?