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.*
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.
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.
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.
* 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.