For first-timers or the uninitiated in the world of comic conventions, Denver’s annual Comic Con can be an intimidating experience.
The sprawling 2018 event, June 15-17, brings upward of 100,000 nerds, cosplayers and collectors into the Colorado Convention Center for fun, exploration and connection.
“There’s a sense of community that comes with these kinds of events, because everyone shares the same passions,” said Tara Hubner, marketing and communications manager with Pop Culture Classroom, which puts on the con every year. “For a lot of people, this is the only time they get to see some of these people, so it’s like a big family reunion for so many people.”
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With so much going on at the con, including hundreds of booths, celebrities signing memorabilia and taking photos, and panels with all manners of creatives, it can be easy, especially for first-timers, to feel lost and unsure about what is acceptable and allowed by visitors.
Pop culture Classroom set up a section of its website at www.denvercomiccon.com/new-to-the-con/ to answer some basic questions, and we spoke to Hubner and other participants to give advice for those new to the con.
• It’s downtown Denver, so parking is always going to be tricky and potentially expensive, Hubner said. Pop Culture’s recommendation is to park farther away and take a Lyft or Uber, or take the light rail, since there is a stop right at the convention center. That same weekend PrideFest and the Denver BBQ Festival will be happening, so expect downtown to be extra busy.
• With attendance last year topping about 115,000 people, attendees should be prepared for lines and waiting at the June 15-17 event. June 16, a Saturday, will be the busiest day, so Friday or Sunday would be a good day to visit to deal with fewer people.
“The schedule for the con will be announced about two weeks out, and we encourage people to take a look at it and get a game plan, so they don’t lose time wandering,” Hubner said. “We advise attendees to wear comfortable shoes, brings snacks and water to help them.”
• The vast majority of the artists and authors who will be speaking are available for photos and autographs for free, but when it comes to major celebrities, there’s more to consider. Tickets to those events can be bought in advance or at the event, but fans should be prepared for lines.
According to Hubner, lines for photo ops or autographs can take 30 minutes to an hour. “We recommend people go to the celebrity summit first thing and get a sense of the times when their celebrity will be making an appearance,” she said. “Then get there early if you don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting.”
• There are plenty of ATMs around the center, but using them usually requires more waiting in lines, so bring cash if possible.
• Consider staying after hours. A fun part of the con is all the new people that attendees meet, and there are several after-party events available to keep the good times going.
• One of the biggest piece of advice Hubner has is to not be intimidated. There will be volunteers spread all over the con who will be more than willing to answer questions and provide guidance.
“We’re a very welcoming place, and there’s always someone willing to help,” she said. “We want everyone to have a good time while they’re here.”
• One of the best parts about Comic Con is seeing the truly exceptional cosplay work so many people are capable of creating. There are the expected super heroes and science fiction leads, but there’s always more than a few surprises. Don’t be shy to ask to take a photo with a particular favorite — most are very friendly and willing to pose.
• At the Comic Con website, there are guidelines for what cosplayers are and are not allowed to wear and bring in as props. Hubner said cosplayers need to be covered enough that there’s no risk of “wardrobe malfunctions” and said that as a general rule, if a person isn’t sure about a certain prop or outfit, it’s better to leave it at home.
• Littleton’s Reinke Brothers Halloween Costume and Superstore is a great place for cosplayers of all skill levels to suit up, especially as it’s one of the few costume stores open year-round.
“We have the latest and greatest costumes, parts and pieces to make a great outfit,” said Greg “Shof” Shofner, general manager of the store, located at 5663 S. Prince St. “Comic Con gives us a great boost every year, and we start our ordering in January to make sure we have enough of all the costumes.”
Over the years, the store has built up relationships with reputable manufacturers, so all the costumes they sell are properly licensed.
• A big key to the success of many cosplay outfits is the makeup and prosthetics, and Reinke has experts in those areas as well to help provide that movie quality look.
• As Shofner tells it, the key is to get started working on outfits as soon as possible, in case there need to be last-minute alterations.
• Despite all the hoopla over celebrities and special events, Denver Comic Con very much still treasures the comic culture that created this cultural movement. Comic stores and dealers from the metro area and beyond will be selling current and classic books, and many stellar artists and writers will be on hand as well.
• Andrew Middleton, a comic expert at Colorado Coins, Cards and Comics in Arvada, has attended the Comic Con numerous times, and said he loves meeting the variety of people who show up to share their love of the form.
“There’s not one kind of person who loves comic books anymore,” he said. “My favorite part of the con is meeting people who you wouldn’t think are into this stuff, but it turns out really love it.”
• There are two classes of comic buyers, as Middleton sees it — those who like to read the books and those who want to collect them. Those who want to read them are going to be focused on stories and characters, whereas the collectors are going to be more interested in certain issues and willing to spend more money.
Attendees should determine where their interests lie, as that will help guide their shopping.
• One of the best things about the con, Middleton said, is meeting the local and regional artists that most shoppers won’t find online or in stores. Instead, they have the chance to buy them right from the source.
• As with most things related to Comic Con, Middleton’s advice is to do research in advance. If a shopper is searching for a particular issue or collectible item, doing some research online will help narrow down the retailers to meet.
“Most of these people are experts, so keep in mind the stories or characters you most care about, and they can offer recommendations,” he added. “Some vendors are going to feature the latest books, while others will be looking to highlight the rare stuff.”
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