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Two big comic shows draw Las Vegas into the national spotlight

This weekend, Las Vegas may finally land on the national comic-book scene with not one, but two new comic conventions. The serendipitous double booking of Las Vegas Comic Expo and MorrisonCon could make up for the fact that Sin City hasn’t yet snagged Comic-Con International from America’s Finest City.

“Vegas is the convention capital of the world,” says Charles Lee, organizer of Las Vegas Comic Expo. “And yet, unlike other cities big and small, there hasn’t been a comic-book convention [here] since 2003.”

The two conventions couldn’t be more different. Taking over the Riviera, Las Vegas Comic Expo appeals to casual fans. MorrisonCon, at the Hard Rock Hotel, is for die-hards. The latter is touted as “an intimate gathering” for attendees to hobnob with namesake comic-book writer Grant Morrison and his hand-selected guests from the upper echelons of the comic-book world.

The Comic Expo’s guest roster is its strongest asset, featuring legendary creators Len Wein (co-creator of Wolverine), Herb Trimpe (classic Incredible Hulk artist) and Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy), as well as top industry names and Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer. Alternate Reality Comics owner Ralph Mathieu says the Comic Expo is offering “a good mix of guests for a first year.” The Riviera will also host costuming workshops, panel discussions, tabletop gaming and multiple exhibitor rooms featuring vendors, publishers and an Artist Alley.

At MorrisonCon, meanwhile, you won’t find self-publishers promoting their wares or rows of artists plying their trade—just panels, symposiums and one-on-ones with the carefully curated roster of creators, which includes The Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman, DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee and The Umbrella Academy co-creator (and My Chemical Romance singer) Gerard Way. MorrisonCon will take full advantage of the party atmosphere of its host property, including the official Friday night “Ninth Gear Engage” after-party in Body English.

Given their different approaches, audiences and pricing—MorrisonCon tickets (which include hotel accommodations) start at $699, while Las Vegas Comic Expo tickets are $40 for the weekend (with children 7 and under free)—the two conventions are more complementary than competitive.

“MorrisonCon seems to be marketed as more of an exclusive event, with more nighttime and adult-oriented programming,” Lee says. “Las Vegas Comic Expo is geared more as a general pop-culture event, with something for everyone, in a family-friendly setting. There’s no doubt that fans have the opportunity to attend both events coming up.”

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