An estimated 48,000 attended this year’s Denver ComicCon almost double the attendees from last year. This could be a result in a bigger lineup including Star Trek actors William Shatner and George Takei in attendance. More awareness also helped as well. I found out about Denver ComicCon last year as it was wrapping up. I had to pleasure to enjoy the festivities on the very last day and was overwhelmed with everything happening at this major event.
I arrived early in the morning, but not earlier than the huge line wrapped around the venue. Christopher Hunt, a member of the military stationed in Denver from Indiana was the very first person in line for the Sunday session. He arrived at 5:45 AM (the doors open at 10AM), but knew this would be more than worth attending. “This is an once in a lifetime experience,” he said, “I don’t mind sacrificing sleep to have some fun.”
And that line stretched around the Colorado Covention Center to get in. Not since the Great American Beer Festival have I seen this many excitable, like-minded people eager to get inside to the Colorado Convention Center. This is a great event for the city of Denver. In fact the Chalk Art Festival happening a few blocks had a tribute to the Denver ComicCon in on of their ark works.
While waiting to collect my credentials for my camera crew, and me a to be unnamed special guest had frustrations missing a few of his panels and poor communication from the event panel. This is a reminder that something so new has grown so quickly can sometimes have people and events fall through the cracks. I briefly experienced this problem, as I had to wait to find someone in charge and stand in various lines only to be told to go elsewhere. Despite this minor hiccup, it was worth the frustration (besides I know what to do next year)!
One thing that caught my eye before I walked in to the main event hall was a Props/Weapons Check. This is a reminder the dark world we live in, but am reassured Denver ComicCon has this. Volunteers who are in charge at the station have a list of what items can and cannot be allowed into Denver Comic Con. Deciding what weapons could be allowed is tricky. Even though the list is clear on some props, discretion from the decision makers is debatable. A bat wasn’t okay, but a wooden cricket paddle was debated, but ultimately accepted.
A volunteer working at the station named Kathleen made a direct point: “If it can kill a vampire, it shouldn’t be on the convention floor.”
Arriving before the attendees was a refreshing experience. I was able to become familiar with where to go and quickly look at all the booths before the madness began. The brisk walk were the final moments of peace on the floor before additional mayhem ensued. Then it happened: Three Doors Down’s “Kryptonite” blares over speakers while enthusiasts begin to flood the floor. (That was a bit cheesy for my taste.) The attendants are a sight to see. Dressed up in various pop culture inspired costume and ready to have a great time.
Vendors arranged from up and coming comic artists, established illustrators, local/regional organizations and events to nationally recognized brands. One vendor that stuck out to me was Kevin Freeman of Action Lab Comics. For a special edition football related comic, he had specialty made NFL covers for every team. He sold out of some popular teams, but when I arrived at his table he had one extra Broncos cover left. NFL themed covers is something I wasn’t anticipating seeing at Denver ComicCon.
Aurora Rising was a non-profit that began last year by Jason Farnsworth of ALL C’S COLLECTIBLES in Aurora, CO in the wake of the Aurora Dark Knight theater shooting. Everything collected goes to the surviving victims and living relatives from the horrific shooting. Visiting there table was a highlight and I had to fight back tears. According to their Twitter account, the organization raised $4,000 during Denver ComicCon!
The Daily Planet Press Room where people covering the convention could recharge or get to writing. It featured nostalgic time warp of all things Superman including pictures and an old-fashioned typewriter next to a laptop. Denver Comic Con graciously provided food, snacks, drinks in the venue. The media team appreciated them.
Speaking of Superman, Warner Brothers reps wisely made an appearance here promoting their summer slate of Man of Steel as well as Pacific Rim (Open Roads also had representation for the next Machete movie). Maybe next year studios will have bigger names to promote their summer slate, or my goodness, maybe even have a sneak peek! Something to keep in mind considering how many people attended this year and how Denver ComicCon has been comapared to San Diego’s convention.
Panels offered a diverse taste from “Taking Your Doctor Who Fandom to the Next Level” to asking “Do Geek Girls Exist?” I attended two panels, which discussed Religion and Spirituality in Comics and another about why sequels and remakes are popular.
Diverse panel of comic artists including Dan Conner, Doug TenNapel, Melanie Gillman, Nami McGuffin, and host Alan Brooks (all pictured with me above). These individuals arranged from conservative Christian comic artist admitting struggles with putting his faith in comics with his editors to a LGBTQ artist who had tough time selling her comic about gay kids at a Christian youth camp. They had intriguing dialogue of religion, spirituality, and culture.
“None of us can shy away from who we are,” Dan Conner said in regards to how the values of the artist are reflected in their work. We need to learn to get along as well.
Sitting in on this panel remided me how Comic Con is one of the only festivals where, say, a man dressed as Two Face, asks a meaningful question to a serious panel of experts in their field.
Contrast that with the Remake Panel which reminded me of free flow townhall conversation where many people contribute as people passionately interrupted one another with facts. It was less organized, but more sporadic. One of the panelists named Kevin who has connections with Star Wars joked how even “George Lucas keeps remaking Star Wars himself.”
This is fans and artists talking about the stark reality of the business. Are animated features of known stories considered remakes? That was debatable. One person declared that Lord of the Rings best adaptation on screen. No one challenged that assertion because what else is consistently better? As I left, we couldn’t help but wonder why have this panel conversation at Denver ComicCon when this place consumes sequels, remakes, and reboots. This is what this audience consumes.
William Shatner came in place of Stan Lee who had to cancel as a last minute. He spook about his life and took questions from the audience. Shatner shared about his new book “Hire Yourself” about how older people are struggling in the economy can use their skills to create businesses.
A man asked a question if people buy William Shatner drinks. He then offered to buy him one. When a woman asked William Shatner who was his favorite Star Trek villain he said, “I don’t count the villains, I count the women.” The audience was in an uproar with this response.
The highlight came at the end when young boy asked “What do you like about playing Kirk?” William Shatner was ecstatic, “See, that’s the perfect question!” He continued excited to why he loved playing Kirk: “I love the words they gave me. There’s a speech about freedom, there’s a speech about saying yes…it was a colorful journey and the accent of command of bringing a group of people and making something happen. It was a wonderful role. ”
To my surprise, people walking in the convention halls compared this to San Diego Comic Con. I have never attended so I have no point of reference. However, this venue and event was packed! (Though one blogger told me, “it feels more like a flea market than a convention.”) There are plenty of vendors selling various products. People do a lot of shopping here.
Denver ComicCon is a big business and if the Entertainment Industry and geek culture realize its potential, it will be larger next year. The Chalk Art Festival happening a few blocks away featured a cool comic book inspired drawing from RMCAD students (pictured above). The city of Denver was really into hosting a ComicCon. Who knows, maybe it could rival San Diego’s big event soon enough?