Superheroes in the Rockies: A short look at the Denver Comic Con

DCCLobbyI had slept in until 7:00, but still managed to wake up before anyone else (I usually get up at 5:00 AM). I brushed my teeth and dressed before heading out to find a cup of coffee. My hotel was right across the street from a Starbucks and as I sat there eating my donut and gazing out the window, I saw a browncoat and a female Han Solo step onto the veranda with their own coffees and donuts. They sat at a table chatting before finally moving down Denver’s 16th Street Mall. It was after this quiet observation that I thought to myself, everyone’s morning should begin this way. It usually does, for at least two days during the Denver Comic Con.

This year’s Denver Comic Convention was my second convention ever*. Don’t get me wrong, I love the medium of sequential art and am a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy, but until these past few years, I thought I may never be able to attend one of the big comic conventions. Traveling to San Diego for a weekend could be, for some of us at least, prohibitively expensive. It is for this reason, many in Colorado had hoped that we could have a large con of our own that would reflect both the geekery as well as the culture of the “mile high city”**.

This is the DCC’s 2nd year, and it has grown substantially beyond last year’s maiden voyage, so much so, that thousands of con attendees were turned away during the opening Friday. A new convention like this one is not without its growing pains. Larger crowds mean longer wait times, which have raised the ire of some in attendance. As inconvenient as things like this can be, I had to remember that it wasn’t so long ago that Colorado had no convention with the size and scope of this one, as well as the fact that most of the proceeds from DCC go to Comic Book Classroom, an organization meant to improve literacy through use of a comic book based curriculum.

My first official day of the con began Saturday morning standing gobsmacked in the lobby of the Denver Convention Center viewing all of theDaily Planet
wonderful costumes. Even with all of the incredible stuff there was to see and do, the costumes were by far my favorite. Scaling from horrible to movie quality, the costumes were indicative of why we had all turned out, we are fans. This enthusiasm for comics, games, television and movies presented through the art of costuming, was an excellent way to begin the convention for me, because it just reinforced the fact that there were thousands of people under the same roof that were just as passionate about this stuff as I was.

Though I had a few panels lined up, I wanted to take a look at what the exhibition floor had to offer. Some highlights include, a LEGO display depicting the city of Rapture from BIOSHOCK, The Colorado Movie Cars Exhibit showcasing famous automobiles and an arcade featuring special guests, Walter Day (Twin Galaxies) and Donkey Kong Champion, Steve Wiebe, as seen in the documentary King of Kong and a working cabinet of Fix It Felix Jr. from Wreck it Ralph. The main floor also contained a small recreation of The Daily Planet Newsroom, complete with props and photographs. The area was for media workspace only, but drew attention from everyone at the convention hall.

Man-ThingThe panels I attended were all enjoyable and began with Do Geek Girls Exist which discussed the nature of the label “geek girl” and whether or not it’s even necessary. This panel was fascinating and I was pleased to see that all of the disagreements were respectful, and that the audience added to the discussion with thoughtful comments and questions. I certainly hope they have this panel again next year. The Horror and Mystery panel was entertaining to listen to, but due to a nonexistent moderator, the panel lacked focus. However, thanks to the hilarious sincerity of Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) and Kevin Gentilcore (Teenage Love Zombies), the panel was entertaining and provided a glimpse into how these artists feel about the genre in which they work. Finally, my Saturday finished with a Spotlight on Doug TenNapel . TenNapel (creator of Earthworm Jim) discussed how he got started in the comics and video game industries. He is a brilliant storyteller and was definitely someone I could have listened to for hours, and the event was handled beautifully as moderated by Disney character designer Chris Oatley.

After the final panel let out, my companions and I lingered for a bit, and I noticed others were doing the same. Scatterings of steampunks and superheroes, anime characters and hell of a lot of Adventure Timers laughed and took photographs. None of us really wanted to leave, even though we were all exhausted. All of us had spent a day in the company of those who shared similar passions, bolstered by enthusiasm for things that we once may have been excluded for. Our stuff is main stream now and its expanded from the coasts to the dwarven-like fortress of the Rocky Mountains, and it’s growing. I can’t wait until next year.


*Third if you count Comic Fest in 2011

**Being the buckle in the U.S. “beer belt” we even created our own brew to commemorate the occasion.

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