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FREE Comic Book Day Today in Las Vegas and the World

In the world of comic books, the first Saturday of May is akin to a national holiday. That’s because every year since 2002, comic book shops around the world have taken the day to celebrate Free Comic Book Day, an event centered on exactly what it sounds like: 100 percent free comics. 

It’s a dual-purpose occasion: to encourage reading, especially by youngsters, and to familiarize people with their local comic book retailer. What started as a grassroots effort is now supported by—along with publishers, retailers and suppliers—Diamond Comic Distributors, the company responsible for filling most specialty store racks and shelves with comics, graphic novels and collectibles.

Publishers use the day as an opportunity to introduce new readers to their titles and characters, often reprinting No. 1 issues and creating special, new comics exclusive to the event. Alternate Reality Comics owner Ralph Mathieu recommends the Iron Man/Thor special from Marvel Comics, the Radical Comics “Bigger Books! Bigger Value!” sampler and the “Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics.”

Here are just some of the highlights of the participating Las Vegas stores: 

Maximum Comics.  One of Vegas’ most popular stores, it will have costumed guests, including the Neon Garrison, the local chapter of famed Star Wars costuming group 501st Legion, free snacks, candy and sodas, a raffle featuring prizes from GameStop, Panera Bread and Regal Cinemas, and, of course, a huge sale on non-free merchandise. 5130 S. Fort Apache Road 

Alternate Reality Comics. The Valley’s most indie-friendly shop is focusing on the comics themselves, unleashing a plethora of back issues and overstock titles in front of the store for a deep-discounted sidewalk sale. 4800 S. Maryland Parkway 

Wishing Well Comics.  Formerly known as Dreamwell Comics, this is one of the oldest comic bookstores in Vegas, and as usual, will host one of its 25-cent sidewalk sales featuring boxes of old and new comics, as well as 15 percent off everything in the store. 5706 W. Charleston Blvd.

Comic Oasis.  Northwest Valley residents will find plenty of goodies at this area favorite, including 20 percent off graphic novels, 50 percent off T-shirts, signed merchandise up for raffle and members of the 501st Legion. 3121 N. Rainbow Blvd.

Avatar Comics and Games.  In addition to the Free Comic Book Day titles, Avatar will feature a storewide sale with up to 40 percent off comic-related merchandise, raffle prizes, costumed characters and ice cream samples from Dairy Queen. 881 S. Rainbow Blvd. 

To locate a participating store near you or to preview this year’s FCBD comics, visit www.freecomicbookday.com

Come one, come all, for after all, Comic Book Day unleashes the inner child in all of us.

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NAB Show Comes to Las Vegas

The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show, the world’s largest electronic media show, conference and expo for film professionals who create, manage and distribute entertainment across all platforms, takes place April 10 – 15, 2010 in Las Vegas (exhibits open April 12). 

This week it was announced that Stan Lee, the iconic co-creator of Spider-Man, X-Men and The Incredible Hulk, will appear at this year’s event.  

“A key theme of this year’s NAB Show is transmedia: developing, integrating and monetizing content for multiplatform distribution,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president, conventions & business operations for NAB Show. “Stan Lee has epitomized the concept of transmedia with his amazing creations, which have been turned into smash hit feature films, television series and innovative digital content.” 

Stan Lee is the Founder of POW! Entertainment and has served as its Chairman and Chief Creative Officer since inception. But he is best known as the man whose super heroes propelled Marvel to its preeminent position in the comic book industry. 

Lee’s co-creations include Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange. Now the Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Media, Lee creates new intellectual property for POW!, which has been in operation since 2001.

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Kiss Planning to Rock into Las Vegas?

A new kind of scary music carnival of sorts composed of famous (and infamous) old, but vital hard rockers may be coming to Las Vegas.   Apparently, old rockers never really die- they just play on.

Veteran rockers Kiss have reportely announced on the sly plans to bring a reported big-budget, Cirque du Soleil-style stage show to Las Vegas with at least a $40 million to $50 million budget, according to those behind the planned production. GeneSimmons

The show, which will purportedly be titled “Kiss: Carnival of Souls,” is being devised by Kiss’ Gene Simmons, a very frequent Las Vegas visitor, and Paul Stanley, with L.A. comic book publisher Radical Publishing and its Singapore-based sister company Storm Lion also involved in putting it together. 

Details still are emerging about the show, but according to Barry Levine, co-founder of Radical, it will be an all-encompassing affair. 

“It involves every aspect of music, movement, lighting, stage design and special effects,” Levine says via e-mail from Singapore. “Since Kiss is the epitome of theatrical rock, we need to make sure it represents the Kiss brand. The Kiss brand has endured and sustained itself like no other group for the past 35 years.” 

No official opening date has been set or even a venue named. Levine says that it will debut in “approximately two years and yes, we do have an idea of where we want it to be, but that will only be revealed once certain requirements are met.” 

Promoters who book The Pearl at the Palms, The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel the Las Vegas Hilton and the 7,000-seat theater at Planet Hollywood, though, played it Vegas-style safe to the vest, saying they either were not familiar with the proposed production or that they had not engaged in discussions with the producers. 

Levine says he first developed a working relationship with Simmons and Stanley as a photographer for Kiss more than 30 years ago. He says that a production like this has been in the works for some time. 

“There have been talks about Kiss creating a Vegas show for the past 20 years,” Levine says, “but the collaboration between Kiss, Radical and Storm Lion seemed to help take it to another level.” 

Levine also says Stanley and Simmons will have a strong hand in the development of the show. “Kiss will be hands-on as they have been from day one and they already have an initial concept,” he says. 

Levine says he has enlisted the help of Michael Gill, who helms the Vegas-based Gill Theatrical Management. Gill’s firm oversees daily operations of local titles including “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular” and he often has served as a go-between for producers seeking to place titles on the Strip. 

If the show does come to fruition, Levine says it will be a mix of the new and the old intended to reach an audience that reflects as much. 

“I feel that Kiss will be reaching its current demographic from 10- to 60-year-olds,” Levine says. “Will it be tailored to a specific hard-rock audience? No, it will be tailored to a Kiss audience with new music along with classics that we all love.”

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