Denver Comic Con 2016. Star Wars! Cosplay! And Cary Elwes!
I consider myself a comics baby—okay, perhaps a comics toddler. I’ve been a copyeditor and occasional contributing writer at Women Write About Comics for about a year and a half now, and yet, I still have so much to learn about the comics world. Manga, like Sailor Moon, and standalone graphic novels, like Persepolis, have been my main areas of interest when it comes to comics. But since starting at WWAC, I’ve slowly, but surely found myself exploring beyond these categories.
So this year, for the first time ever, I decided that it was about time I attended a comic con, and Denver Comic Con (DCC) looked like as good of one as any. I’ve been to several anime conventions before, including Tekko, Nan Desu Kan (in 2014 and 2015), Otakon, and Katsucon, so I’m not entirely new to the con scene, but none of these conventions are as big as DCC. DCC is a fairly new convention; it’s only about six years old. Back when it first started in 2012, it was about as big as Otakon is now. But over the years it has grown exponentially, bringing about 100,000 people last year to the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver.
Since I am a comics newbie who didn’t want to spend too much money on the con, as well as the fact that I live nearby, I bought my badge ahead of time and only purchased one for Saturday. Luckily for me and my newbieness, DCC—and most comic cons for that matter—is not just about comics. It showcases a wide variety of “geek” entertainment, including books (like Terry Brooks’ Shannara series), films (like Star Wars), TV shows (like Game of Thrones), video games (like indie games), and anime (like the voice actor Todd Haberkorn), just to name a few.
This year, Star Wars was definitely the fan favorite at DCC. There were so many Rey and Kylo Ren cosplayers; it was spectacular! I very much enjoyed checking out the droids, including R2-D2, made by the Mountain States Droid Builders, as well as a C-3PO, a BB-8, and a life-sized X-Wing on display from The X-Wing Project and the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. I also talked for a while with some of the friendly people at the local 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, and Mandalorian Mercs; they got me thinking about how much fun it would be to join such non-profit organizations, if only I had the time.
I have to post one more photo from #DCC2016: The X-Wing Project, which is normally housed at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. It was so cool seeing a life-sized X-Wing. #denvercomiccon (I wrote about my experiences at #DCC2016 for @womenwriteaboutcomics. Check it out here: http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2016/06/27/con-diary-denver-comic-con-2016)
Speaking of time—I felt like the con was over in the blink of an eye! I was looking forward to it the entire week leading up to that Saturday, and yet, I feel as though I barely experienced everything the con had to offer. I had every intention of attending every panel I was interested in, every “Spotlight On” session with various celebrities that I could get into, the Cosplay Shindig in the evening, get Cary Elwes’ autograph, and thoroughly explore the Exhibitors Hall and purchase some comic books and art. In the end, however, I made a huge rookie mistake that cut down my con exploring time by almost three hours.
I ended up buying a voucher for Cary Elwes’ autograph online through the DCC website, and while it seemed like this would make my experience easier and perhaps expedite my time in line, it did not. Instead, it added an extra hour of queuing to my day, for I couldn’t just take my receipt that I printed when I purchased my autograph online and go right to Cary Elwes’ booth. No, I had to wait in the autograph voucher line first to get a little ticket from them, then I could go get in line for Cary. The voucher line should’ve been fast, given that the receipt I printed out was just a QR code, but the line took an hour. Then, I had to wait another two hours to see Cary when I probably would’ve gotten through in an hour if I had been able to get in his line when I first got in the voucher line. Also, later on, I learned that my advanced purchase didn’t guarantee my a spot in his line or his autograph either, and it was nonrefundable. So, what did I learn from this experience? Cash only is your best bet if you want to get anyone’s autograph at DCC.
In the end, I have to say, the confusion I experienced regarding how autographs work at comic cons was well worth it. Cary Elwes was so sweet! Unlike many of the other guests who sit at tables, perhaps shake your hand, and sign things out in the open, Cary’s booth was behind a curtain. While some people seemed worried that this meant he was a so-called diva, it was actually the complete opposite. By having a curtain up, Cary didn’t have to sit down behind a table; he could stand up and talk with the people who were getting autographs, shake hands, and even give out hugs! Yes, that’s right, I hugged Cary Elwes!
Day 18: I'm totally exhausted. #DCC2016 was so much fun, but it was hot outside today, and there were lots of people, and now I'm resting and eating ice cream. #fullybookedjune16 #bookchallenge is "book and ice cream" today, so here's my copy of Cary Elwes' book, which he signed today. And I got to hug him! Sorry while I fangirl it up a little 😆😍😁 #denvercomiccon #bibliophile #bookstagram #bookworm #igbooks (I wrote about my experiences at #DCC2016 for @womenwriteaboutcomics. Check it out here: http://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2016/06/27/con-diary-denver-comic-con-2016)
So, while I missed out on some panels—including “The Writing Process of Bestsellers” with Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Saves the World), Eneasz Brodski (The Bayesian Conspiracy podcast), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), and Terry Brooks (Shannara)—and later on, I skipped out on Cary Elwes’ panel too, I still had a wonderful day. After my harrowing journey through DCC’s autograph lines, I checked out the Exhibitors Hall. This was a whirlwind experience too, for the hall had hundreds of vendors, artists, organizations, and even a little area for shows. I’ve been in vendors rooms and artist alleys in anime conventions before, and while Nan Desu Kan and especially Otakon have fairly impressive vendor/artist areas, they were nothing compared to DCC. I was overwhelmed to say the least. I really wanted to visit each and every table and devote time to each and every artist, many of whom had some amazing work on sale. But in the end, I more or less meandered about the Exhibitors Hall in a haphazard sort of fashion. I did end up increasing my Pop! Funko collection with a Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Tuxedo Mask, and Monkey King, and I also got this cute t-shirt from TeeTurtle.
After walking and shopping and just generally feeling dazed by the immense size of the con, the amount of people, the amazing cosplay, the fact that I hugged Cary Elwes and saw many other celebrities from a distance, and of course the heat (apparently, the high temperature was 89°F, although they were saying it was going to reach 100°F that day; either way, it was really hot), my partner and I went to dinner at the Paramount Cafe, where we had fries and burgers and tried DCC’s and Breckenridge Brewery’s official comic con beer: the Snape-ricot Lager. It was good; I was surprised that I liked it, since I feel like adding fruit, like apricot, to a beer can be a hit or miss experience, sometimes making the beer too sweet tasting. But Snape-ricot, named of course for Snape and for Alan Rickman who sadly passed away this year, was good!
I think after dinner, my partner and I were contemplating calling it a day, but we both felt as if we still hadn’t seen enough. So, we ended up going to the Cosplay Shindig. Every good con must have a cosplay contest, and while this one seemed a bit disorganized compared to the amazing World Cosplay Summit qualifying contests I’ve witnessed at Katsucon and Nan Desu Kan, it was still fun. They had a family competition, which was adorable; the teeny-tiny spinning Merida from Brave, curly hair and all, was so cute, and I give the families who made costumes and had the guts to get up onto the stage lots of credit. The other costumes were amazing too; I mostly remember some of the video game ones, including Geralt and Ciri from The Witcher and a female Lavellan Inquisitor from Dragon Age: Inquisition. All in all, it was fun, but I don’t actually know who won, since it was a two and a half hour show, and we were exhausted and left early.
Overall, I had a great time, and if I’m around next year, I’ll definitely attend again. I learned a lot about how the con works, so hopefully next time will be even better. And I like the feeling I get when I walk away from geek conventions. I’m usually pumped up about my particular fandoms, and it also helps to inspire my own creativity with things that I enjoy, like writing criticism and fiction and making art.