Denver ComicCon, Day 3

Yup, there’s a TARDIS.

At this point on Sunday Denver ComicCon has wrapped up, bringing to an end a very, VERY successful convention.

I’ve mentioned a few times that the con is a benefit for Comic Book Classroom, but I don’t think I’ve stressed how many kids were running all over the floor.  It’s a great thing to see, kids coming up in comicdom, after so many years of comics being stuck in the lowbrow end of the entertainment spectrum.  And to that end it’s been such a family-friendly show, deliberately so. 

The other interesting thing about DCC is not only is it extremely comic-focused, it’s very CREATOR-focused.  As expected there were dealers about, and I managed to find some great bargains, but it wasn’t wall-to-wall back issues.  I’d say a good 40-50% of the floor space was filled with comic creators.  That leads to a much different vibe, because with less retailers I think there were more people TALKING about comics than other shows where we all slide from longbox to longbox with our pull lists, hardly taking time to speak to the people around us other than comparing scores.

Dalek Boy, Doctor Who Boy, Cyber MAN.

It’s a strange thing to say, since I spend roughly 40% of my waking hours thinking about comics, but I still left the convention center each night even MORE enthusiastic about comics.  (It doesn’t hurt that the Cellar Door anthology that FotB Andrew and I contributed to was out and available at the show, but it’s not even the main reason.)

With a little more time to let it sink in, I’m sure I’ve got some suggestions for how to make DCC better for next year, but it’s worth noting that the Denver Post is reporting that attendance could hit 20,000 for the weekend, making it the second-largest opening for a convention either.  (They also did the legwork and found out the floorspace is 100,000 square feet, so thanks to them for taking that off my plate.)  And as the con was wrapping up, the DCC organizers made the announcement that will keep guests talking about the Denver’s con throughout the next year: Stan Lee has been confirmed as a guest for 2013.

I’ve got to say I’m exhausted, and all I’ve done is work a couple 4-hour shifts and wandering the floor for three days.  The organizers, who have been living and breathing this con for the past 3 years must be ready to collapse.  But I hope the exhilaration of pulling of such a massive undertaking keeps them going long enough to grab a pint of Fantastic Pour and rest on their laurels for a bit.  But just for a little while, because we’re going to do this all over again in 12 months.  See you there.

This is my favorite picture from the con.

Denver ComicCon, Day 2

Sorry, bear. If you didn’t get your tickets in advance you’re all out of luck.

What a day at the Colorado Convention Center!  And to that end, I’m going to try something new and go with subject headings rather than fussing about with transition sentences.

The Lines

I was surprised that despite rumors of a huge sellout for today, ticket lines never looked insanely long.  In fact, I never saw them as long as the line I waded through last night.  And perhaps DCC noticed a lack of signage in the lobby, too, as today there were volunteers guiding people where they needed to be.  (Though I still think signs would be more efficient.)

How to Draw Phineas and Ferb. And a penguin.

The Work

This was my first time volunteering for a con, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  My assignment was crowd control for one of the meeting rooms, and since it was one of the smaller rooms everyone just came and went as they pleased so there wasn’t much to control.  So four hours of my day was essentially watching panels and monitoring batteries in the camcorder DCC was using to record the panels (hopefully they’ll show up online).

The Crowd

Despite obvious enthusiasm and a large turnout, I found everyone I ran into to be part of a pretty chill, relaxed group.  Everyone was polite, friendly, and psyched.  It’s a nice change of pace from San Diego, where everyone is rushing hither and yon with miles of floor space to traverse.  Truth be told, this is a great size for a con (I should really try to find the square footage).  It’s enough to keep you busy for a full day or more, but not so much it feels like you’ll never make it to everything.  I swear, in San Diego I feel like it takes a full day just to get the lay of the land, much less go anyplace and shop or talk to people.  Several creators (Barry Kitson, Mike Allred, Joseph Michael Linsner) had very long lines, which was nice to see.

Charging for Autographs

Neal Adams, art legend (and personal fav’rite)

It isn’t specific to this con, but it puzzles me so I’ll mention it.  The idea of charging for autographs confuses me a bit.  Sketches I understand since there’s work and craft involved.  But for just signing your name?  That seems a bit off to me.  I understand trying to encourage customers to buy your wares, but especially in the case of celebrity signings when there’s nothing to buy it seems unnecessary.

Perhaps I’ve just always been under the false assumption that signings are ways of promoting yourself and/or giving something back to the fans, but $20-$50 for a couple minutes of time just feels mercenary. 

Compared to James Marsters, the $5 it costs to get Neal Adams to sign a book is pretty minor, but Neal Adams is really the person who got me started down this path.  Not to pick on Mr. Adams, but he’s put me in a bit of a quandary.  I’ve been a huge fan of his for almost as long as I’ve been reading comics and getting a signed book would be really nice.  But at the same time, is that something we should pay for?  (I watched Jason Aaron sign about a foot of comics for one guy last night.  For free.)  To be fair, anything you buy in his booth gets signed for no charge, but quick head sketches on a color print will run you $70, and commissioning art can go for $500-$700 and UP.

What do you think about charging for autographs?  Any and all comments welcome, I’m curious what you think. 

Tomorrow

Only time will tell, friends!

Spider-Man out of carved pumpkins. I haven’t found an organic place to put this yet, but damn if it isn’t amazing (pun intended).

Denver ComicCon, Day 1

 

I not sure why the bear is so angry…

After months of anticipation, we’re finally here: the first day of the inaugural Denver ComicCon.  I admit, I was a bit worried.  Ever since I moved out to the Mile High City, I’ve felt it’s the right size for a good comic convention.  Sure, there are a few hotel cons every year, but those are hit or miss.  The bad ones are REALLY bad, and even the good ones can just be back issues with the occasional local creator.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that — I love those cons! — but I’ve always thought Denver could support more.

While I hoped for the best, I wasn’t really sure what to expect on a Friday night — or at all — from the convention.  Would guests come?  Would talent come?  Let me say, whatever my expectations were they were far exceeded. 

We got off to a bit of a rocky start.  There’s little signage in the lobby, so it’s not obvious where to go for anything, from tickets to the convention floor entrance.  However, it just took a little wandering to find the ticket line.  I bought my ticket in advance, but the line to claim wristbands for entrance took about 45 minutes to work through.  It moved at a brisk clip, but if tomorrow is anything as busy as I expect (rumor has it the con has sold out of all 10,000 Saturday passes) there should really be twice as many ticket booths, along with line guides to make knowing where to go a bit easier.*

Fortunately it moves quickly.

When walking into the main hall the first thing you see is the Comic Book Classroom, a program that helps get kids into comics and reading.  This is really as it should be, since CBC is the beneficiary of all con proceeds, and the intent of the con is to make the kids the stars of the show.  And it works great!  The kids are front and center, drawing, making Captain America shields and other arts and crafts, and sitting next to other family-friendly creators.

Doin’ it for the kids of Comic Book Classroom.

Moving further in…Well, it’s everything you’d expect!  Not as big as a San Diego, obviously, but certainly bigger than the sadly-defunct Big Easy Comic Con (the only other “major” convention I’ve been to).  Everything is logically and easily laid out.  Artists Alley takes up most of the center-rear of the floor**, with celebrity signings along the back wall.

Jason Aaron will sign a LOT of comics for you! Also, be super-cool.

Off to either side are the dealers, everything from anime to steampunk gear to Star Wars squadrons to toy and comic dealers.  Oh, and the guy selling replicas of Batman ’66 gear, which I’m afraid to say may be my splurge of the con.

What I found most reassuring was the focus on comics.  Sure there were media and game people there, but comics really are the focus.  And to that end, there were far more creators of indie books and artists than even back issue dealers.  I find that somewhat disappointing as a collector, but exciting as a lover of the medium.  The floor felt more excited and engaged and everyone I spoke to was really excited about COMICS, rather than snagging an exclusive toy or catching a movie preview.

But because it is so heavily comic-focused there are some really top-notch creators present this weekend.  I got a chance to meet Jason Aaron (Ghost Rider, Wolverine, X-Men), Ben Templesmith (Fell, Wormwood), and Paul Horn (Cool Jerk).  Also present and on the to-meet list for the rest of the weekend: Mike Allred (Madman, X-Statix, I, Zombie), Gail Simone (Secret Six), James O’Barr (The Crow, ’cause I’m a secret goth) and Ethan Nicolle (Axe Cop!) 

And as I stagger to bed to try to prepare for another full day of conventioneering, I sleep soundly knowing the gaming tables will be running all night long.

Pretty remarkable costumes on the floor.

* I admit, I say this with a bit of self-interest.  I’ll be working the crowd control line tomorrow afternoon!

** Behind the Rock Band stage and the famous cars of stage and screen display.  Pictures to come, don’t you worry.

The Con in my Back Yard

We here at the  L.E.M.U.R. Comics Blog are pretty psyched that this summer Denver is going to be hosting it’s first major con.  Sure, there have been small hotel cons here, but it’s a good sign (both for Denver and the comic industry) that someone is trying to put on a major convention in the Mile High City, and the guest announcements they’ve been making keep looking better and better.

So we’ll be running a banner for them until the convention (June 15-17), and I hope you’ll check them out on Twitter (@DenverComicCon) or use the hashtag #DenCon.