1. Maximum Comics has become a comics-retailing juggernaut, with four Vegas-area stores, and the local chain was a dominant presence at the Amazing Las Vegas Comic-Con, with a massive 2,500-square-foot booth near the main entrance, plus two smaller booths behind it. Owner Jay Bosworth is great at promotion, and the Maximum space was devoted more to games of skill and chance (a trivia showdown, “fishing” for prizes behind a curtain, The Price Is Right-style Plinko, tossing plastic poop into a ring inside a toilet seat) than to selling actual comic books. Maximum also showcased local and indie artists (including successful Vegas fan-art duo Ninjabot, now based in Portland), creating a fun, inclusive vibe that did more to build goodwill for the brand (and convert new customers) than hauling all their inventory to the Convention Center possibly could have.
2. Like all comic-cons, Amazing was full of great cosplayers (some of my favorites included a 1950s-style Harley Quinn with a poodle skirt, Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, an incredibly detailed Thing from the Fantastic Four and, um, “Weird Al” Yankovic, complete with real accordion), but the veteran local cosplayer and spokesmodel known as Vegas PG took things to another level. A regular on the convention circuit, she had her own booth and drew a substantial crowd for autographed pictures, just like any other star. The PG stands for Power Girl, a DC Comics hero known for her rather busty appearance, and on Saturday Vegas PG was showing off her impressively accurate Power Girl outfit.
3. Local writer Debbie Lynn Smith was representing her Vegas-based publisher Kymera Press, which boasts comic books with all-female creative teams. Smith writes Gates of Midnight, about a New York City paramedic who fights monsters from another dimension, and Kymera also publishes Pet Noir, about a genetically engineered cat who’s a detective on a space station. Kymera recruited artists, colorists and letterers (all women) online from various parts of the world (including Brazil, Spain, Italy and the Philippines), for the professionally produced series, which are available locally at Alternate Reality Comics and on the publisher’s website.
4. Across the exhibit hall, another local publisher, Horde Media, was using the convention as a launching pad. Writer Eric Borden was touting the first issue of the company’s first series, Scrimshaw, a seafaring thriller set in a dystopian post-global warming Japan. Both Scrimshaw and Horde may be new, but the company has done an excellent job of world-building, with merchandise tying into the series’ world of corporate-controlled feudalism. The booth was a bit quiet when I stopped by on Saturday, but the day before, one of Horde’s visitors was Nicolas Cage, who’d been roaming the convention like the genuine geek he is.
5. Vegas-based artist Ashleigh Popplewell had her own spotlight panel on Saturday afternoon, another sign of how popular her work has become in the six years since she started working professionally as a pop-culture artist. She had a steady stream of customers looking at her prints, stickers and other merchandise featuring comics and genre characters, and she has a full slate of upcoming projects for major companies. She’s doing 25 trading cards for the new Marvel Gems series, featuring female characters and gender-bent versions of male characters (she’s contemplating Thanos and Apocalypse), and she’s also worked on official Walking Dead art for AMC and classic Ghostbusters art for Sony.