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Vegas Comic-Conned
An Insider's Take On "Extrosion!"

originally posted 11-22-03

Scott Zakarin, Billy West, Rachelle Leah as Liberty Lass,
Jess Harnell, Daran Norris, and Roger Rose

Well, it took a little while due to his responsibilities as CEO of Creative Light Entertainment, but we finally coaxed a look at the Con from a guy who wasn't just an attendee, but a presenter, moderating a panel of the talent involved in Comic Book: The Movie.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Scott Zakarin...

All right… so we were all a little conned in Vegas. The communication to almost all the vendors I spoke to, including my own company, Creative Light, was that there were somewhere between 20-30 thousand pre-registered attendees. Now, I don't have the official numbers, but there couldn't have been even 7,500 attendees over the 3-day weekend and that's being generous. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the show wasn't worthwhile.

It was by most counts a fun and well organized con. Don't get me wrong, I would have been far more excited if it had the crowd blistering excitement of the great San Diego Comic-con International, but this was a first year and I did get from some of the organizers that they are committed to the show for the long-haul. They expect to lose money for the next few years as they build attendance. The problem they will face is attracting vendors who were pissed that attendance was misrepresented.

The nice thing about the smaller turnout was the available time to give attention to the fans. Comic Book: The Movie was the big fish in a small pond.

The gang singing 'bout their four color world...
We enjoyed that we had what was clearly the biggest autograph signing session and had a chance to talk with and take lots of pictures with the fans. In this calmer setting, many of the fans became our friends who we would see throughout the weekend and even party with Saturday night at a happnin' music pub, Tommy Rockers. The cast, led by musically gifted Billy West and Jess Harnell, rocked on stage as the rest of us hung out over drinks and dancing with comic con pals.

I spoke to many of the fans as well who were overall happy with this con experience. Among the biggest complaints I heard were, "not enough comic books," which was true. The show seemed to be loaded with action figures but very few comic retailers, and not a real committed showing by the big comic book publishers.

But this did give the small publishers a showcase they deserve, a forum where they could be the stars.

The theories about Vegas at the con ranged greatly. One fan summed up the downside of Vegas as a location by pointing out that kids aren't allowed in casinos and yet the trek from your hotel room to the convention floor (as does everything in Vegas) took you straight through the casino. The con floor did not in fact have many kids or even teenagers.

On a positive note, a fan named John Rosenberger, told me "It's great we finally have something to do in Las Vegas; while his friend said "I'm not even into comics that much, I just like doing nerdy things".

Yeah, I know. I just like doing nerdy things, too. I like my video games, my comic books and my DVD director commentaries. So we took a gamble on Vegas and got a few lemons - I'm still going back next year to try and score the ultimate pulp Jackpot!

-- Scott Zakarin

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