Las Vegas Comic Con – Books, Scoops, and Dalek R2s (Day 1)


Did you miss me? Well, I’m back! Fresh off a tour of the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con where I snagged an All-Access Media badge thanks to a RazorCandi shirt (people are big fans!) and a set of brass the size of Neptune (keeping it real). This is Day One of my Three Day tour of the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con. There’ a lot to unpack here, and if you ever wanted to see just what a Comic Con would look like in Sin City, then this is definitely the series for you–and unlike the other Comic Cons where I have to sign an NDA…not in Vegas! In Vegas, I’m unchained, baby.

Day One–Somewhere around Barstow…

I grew up in Vegas. It’s home to me, and that gives me a certain sense of un-reality. To come back for Comic Con was dialing it past 11. Everyone comes out of the woodwork and with names like Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Adam West (and so it goes), Burt Ward, Kevin Eastman, and this one guy…Stan…something or another (STAN FRICKEN LEE!). There are truly so many names in the Comicbook (one word, gotcha loud and clear, Mr Lee!) industry that I really cannot focus on all of them. Heck, I can’t even list them all here! Instead of going down the list of who’s who, I decided to focus on true grit. There are plenty of places that can rehash the same ol’ comic con stuff for every celeb ad nauseum, so I am going to focus on the real people of the con. You know, the people who do a lot of cool stuff but you might not have heard of them (yet) even though they are all fantastical. For those who feed off the celeb news–never fear, true believer, I still have a bit of a trick up me old sleeve.

First up is Oxford. Not only is Oxford the inspiration for Hogwarts, but they have this rather cool graphic novel push going on. I’m a big graphic novel guy. I think graphic novels are important to literature and are a great tool to teach history (or anything for that matter). In my day job, I’ve even designed graphic novel classes (the making and reading of). I practice what I preach and preach is what I’m about to do!

Oxford University Press has released an amazing and rather affordable set of history books that are part graphic novel and part scholarly notation. The novels are actual-factual, and they are works of art. Each novel is created by a scholar who has dedicated their life to the subject matter, and they are paired with some of the best graphic artists in the business (dude, it’s fricken Oxford! Like they’d settle for anything less?). The result is humbling. Everything I worked for–everything I’m pushing now in my own work–comes into a neat little package for Oxford. What better way to teach someone about the Atomic Testing than to do so in a medium in which they are interested? Not only do you absorb the knowledge quicker, but you retain it longer when you read it in a graphic novel. Art touches us in so many places (upstairs and in the cockles), and it does so without a lot of the cultural filters that the verbal text (print for all ya’ll playing at home) just cannot cut through.

I was blessed to be able to look at some of their great titles like Doom Towns: The People and Landscapes of Atomic Testing; Perpetua’s Journey: Faith, Gender, and Power in the Roman Empire; Inhuman Traffick: The International Struggle Against the Transatlantic Slave Trade; and Curious George Goes to Washington and has been Detained Ever Since: Post 9-11 Presidential Greed, Warmongering, and Power to the point where Nixon is rolling in his grave (okay, so that last one isn’t actually Oxford’s….yet–hey, Oxford University Press, call me!). In all sincerity, I was blown away by the product as both a consumer of graphic novels and an academic.

Not only is the work top-notch, but there is a real push from Oxford University Press for this to become a success. I was able to talk to the editorial assistant, Rowan Wixted. She is amazing with her subject matter, and her passion for the literary form of graphic novel is rather apparent. Oxford University Press could not have picked a better representative for Comic Con. Wixted is the person you’d want in your corner if you had a graphic novel. She’s someone who ‘gets’ it and that my friend, is very rare in this industry (academics or graphic novels). I know this is going to be a huge success and I am stoked to see this project come into the mainstream. Art + Knowledge = Win.

If you haven’t already, do click on that link to check out their wares. You won’t be disappointed. These are the perfect gifts for students (young and old) and one heck of a way to introduce significant movements in history that are otherwise under-told. Hats off, Oxford University Press. Oh, and a bonus? If you are still on the fence (seriously, check those prices out–I’ve spent more on a Starbucks order than for what Oxford is selling those novels!), yours truly just might have a small sneak peak in store for you (spoilers!).

Rolling right into the world of academic graphic novels to those of horror, we have Sandy King and her rather amazing collection of artists telling a story because it is the one burning a hole in their soul. But, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. I mean, sure I could tantalize you with a few drops from Sandy King–including a rather large bombshell about her husband, John Carpenter, but that will have to wait for Day 2, dear reader. I’ll give you this hint, though. It rhymes with ‘Fallowpeen’.

Yeah, I’m a tease–like you didn’t know that by now. I will bring that story (and more) later. Promise. But I wanted to close this post on something rather cool. I love comic con. I love the community of comic con, and Las Vegas did not disappoint. It is the most inclusive and loving community there is–and I have the pictures to prove it. At the end, you will find a picture of the Oxford University Press table, a bit of Batman ’66, and even an R2D2 Dalek (creeps the hell out of me, to be honest…poor R2), but there is one con-goer that I wanted to share with you all. She embraces the idea that everyone is Con. It’s a world of pure imagination, and there are not limits than what you set on yourself. I got to talk to her a bit after a Stan Lee meeting, and, well, what she goes through daily is more than most of us will ever see in our lives. Yet. Her she is–in her full comic con glory. Chelle, you are an amazing person who absofreakenlutely demonstrates what comic con is all about (plus, you make a helluva Harley Quinn!).

Damn allergies. My eyes keep watering up–must be time to go. So stay tuned for the next two reviews and catch up with your buddy Jim on all things Todd McFarlane (spoiler spoiler), Harry Potter, Vagina, and something big from Stan mutherhumping Lee. Until then, may all your Jokers be wild and Batmans be the best in the West (good night, sweet prince).


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