Las Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival kicks off this weekend

Wonder Woman and James Bond. Would that be an awesome team-up or what?

While a literary meetup of the comic book-born Amazon and the British superspy remains — for now — just wishful thinking, the two icons will be among those scheduled to make figurative appearances Saturday at the 11th annual Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival at the Clark County Library.

Also scheduled is a panel discussion with contributors to “Where We Live,” a benefit anthology conceived by Las Vegas artists J.H. Williams III and Wendy Wright-Williams for victims of last year’s Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.

Suzanne Scott, festival chairwoman, said the event, which has drawn about 3,500 guests annually over the past two years — is “smaller and friendlier and more comic-book oriented” than such gatherings as San Diego’s Comic-Con.

“I think we’re a little more chill,” she said.

And while adults and “just a smattering of teens” initially made up most of the festival’s audience, it’s now an all-ages event. “We get toddlers up to adults and even seniors. So it’s kind of an interesting dynamic,” Scott said.

Among this year’s guests will be Ben Saunders, an English professor and comic book scholar at the University of Oregon who previously has spoken at the festival about topics such as Batman and the appeal of femmes fatale.

This year, Saunders will take part in two presentations. One, “Wonder Woman: Bondage and Liberation,” will examine the origins of Wonder Woman and how the now-iconic character’s early stories reflected some of the then-radical notions held by her creator, William Moulton Marston.

Long story short: There’s a reason those early Wonder Woman stories involve lots of people tied, or being tied, up.

Marston, a psychologist, had a great “interest in dominance and submission, and he wrote about those at great length in several academic texts,” Saunders said. So when Marston created Wonder Woman as a sort of female analogue of popular male superheroes, his ideas about gender roles and gender identity were reflected in the character and her stories.

Saunders also will host “James Bond, Licensed to Kill: Adapting 007 for 21st Century Comics,” in which he’ll discuss the fictional superspy with writer-artist Jeff Parker, who’s exploring Bond’s beginnings in a comic series called “James Bond Origin.”

“To my knowledge, nobody has ever done Bond’s origin story before. He comes to us fully formed,” Saunders said. “So, I will be asking about what are the challenges about trying to imagine the back story for a character we all think we know.”

One superpower Bond and Wonder Woman seem to share is the uncanny ability to reinvent themselves for changing times.

“Both have been around a long time, and both have had (times) where they seemed to just be period pieces and lost their way and were on the edge of going into the dustbin of history,” Saunders said. “And every time, they’ve come back.”

And that Wonder Woman-James Bond teamup? Saunders suggests not holding your breath.

“I think she’d have a real hard time with Bond,” he said. “I don’t think she’d like him very much. I think he’d represent pretty much everything about man’s world that she doesn’t like.”

11th annual Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival

When: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road

Highlights: Panel discussions, presentations by comic artists and writers, meets-and-greets with artists and comic book creators, games, music, a cosplay how-to and retailers selling comics and collectibles.

Admission: Free


Festival events

Jewel Box Theater

10 a.m. — “The Geek Shock Podcast Live”

11 a.m. — “James Bond, Licensed to Kill: Adapting 007 for 21st Century Comics” with Ben Saunders and writer-artist Jeff Parker

Noon — “Spotlight on The Hillywood Show” with Las Vegas-based creators Hilly and Hannah Hindi

1 p.m. — “Cosplay 101” with Tea Fougner (Tea Berry-Blue) and local cosplayers from the Very Awesome Girls

2 p.m. — “Wonder Woman: Bondage and Liberation” with Ben Saunders

3 p.m. — “Can Comic Books Save the World?” with Benjamin Morse, visiting professor of new media at UNLV and former editorial director of digital media at Marvel Entertainment

Call Classroom

10 a.m. — “How to Draw Anything” with comics artist Gene Ha

11 a.m. — “Comics 101,” making your own comics with creator Jean Marie Munson

Noon — “Write On! Comics by Creators of Color” with comic creators Taneka Stotts, Amy Chu and Gene Ha

1 p.m. — “Turning Ideas into Comics: The Writer’s Life” with writers Russell Lissau and Steve Horton

2 p.m. — “How to Run an Anthology and Not Screw It Up” with comics creators Amy Chu, Taneka Stotts, Jean Marie Munson and PJ Perez

3 p.m. — “Fandom Pictionary! Ready … Set … Draw!” with Russell Lissau

Main Theater

11 a.m. “Jay and Miles X-plain the X-Men,” a special book festival podcast

1 p.m. — “The PDX Broadsides Live in Concert” with Portland-based “folk-pop nerds” The PDX Broadsides

3 p.m. “Where We Live — Art from the Ashes,” featuring J.H. Williams III and Wendy Wright-Williams, creators of the benefit comic anthology about the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting, who will be joined by several contributors to the effort.

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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