Denver Comic Con (DCC) is concluding. There were a lot of changes this year, and part of it almost felt like going to a new con, until I headed to a panel and slouched down to my usual spot to watch a familiar video on the Pop Culture Classroom I have been to several non-profit cons and honestly, at other events I have walked away not even knowing what the non-profit part was all about. DCC is the opposite; they are very proud to let the community know what they are doing and which causes they are supporting. I can’t say it better than their website: the “program at Pop Culture Classroom delivers high quality, all-inclusive educational resources to school districts, teachers, and community organizations using comics, graphic novels and related pop culture media.” As I walked down to see my first panel on Friday, I passed a lot of kids with the Pop Culture Classroom program, blue swag bags in hand and excitement on their faces. I was tempted to follow them to see how their day turned out.
I decided not to be the creepy adult following random children around and headed to see Khary Payton. I was blessed to receive a front row seat, something that has never happened for me before at DCC. Khary Payton couldn’t have been a better opener. He was bursting with excitement and ready to talk. While I know him from The Walking Dead, the kids in the audience were excited to ask him questions about his voice work as Cyborg on Teen Titans Go (I love seeing actors crossover between genres), and kids tend to have some creative questions you wouldn’t normally hear.
As reported last year, I had some concerns with how a few things were run at DCC, including not clearing the panel rooms and making it hard for people inside to get out to use the restroom. Last year, it was also difficult to exit the panel rooms due to part of the hallway being narrowed at a corner. I am happy to say that this year, one of these issues have been resolved! Panel rooms are now cleared and but hallways are narrowed with ropes still for the other panel room. I have been going to DCC for four years now. In that time, I have found them to be constantly improving; they do truly listen to those voicing their opinions. This is just one example of how DCC takes feedback from attendees seriously.
What does clearing the rooms mean for you? As a general attendee, it may mean that you have to stagger your panels in order to see what you really want. If you go to one panel in the morning and want to see the next in that same room, you will have to exit, go around the outside of the room, and get back in line. Depending on the popularity of the next panel, you may not be able to get in. Luckily, the majority of DCC panels do not fill up in the Colorado Stage (the largest panel room), so you have a strong chance of getting back in. The Night Lynx Stage (the 2nd largest panel room) is a lot smaller and does tend to fill up more often. The Night Lynx Stage is my favorite because the stage is close to the seats, which gives you a better view.
Denver sells a speedpass, which allows you first access to the panels, and autographs (though you still pay for autographs separately from the speedpass). Many speedpass holders were a lot happier this year with the panel rooms being cleared and felt this added value to the pass that they felt was lost last year. As a speedpass holder, you do not need to go around to get back in when you exit; you can immediately line back up for the next panel. This means that you are pretty much guaranteed to get into every panel. General attendees are seated shortly afterward though, so you must be there on time.
Please keep in mind that as a speedpass holder, you are not going to be able to sit in the front rows of the panels. These are reserved for media and sometimes the family members of the current panelists. You are not purchasing a speedpass to get seats close to the stage; you are purchasing the pass to make it more convenient to attend the panels. This is different from some other cons, so always be sure to do your research (many cons put the media behind the speed passes/VIP badges, or at the sides or on the floor).
As long as the speedpass remains relatively cheap, I would say that it is worth the price – especially if you attend a lot of panels or love getting autographs/photo ops. Keep in mind that DCC sells a decent amount of these passes, so you will not be the only person who has it.
After many years, DCC has finally mastered clearing rooms; with just 15 minutes in between panels, the volunteer staff has to be alert and ready when they empty and fill a room. As an attendee, I found this process to be painless. They chose not to move out those in the ADA section, allowing them to stay in between panels. I feel that this helped to keep the flow when clearing the rooms while keeping their ADA attendees comfortable at the same time.
Another great improvement is that attendees can now leave a panel and come back. This allows you to access the bathroom during a panel and return to your seat. This is my favorite change from last year. With only 15 minutes between panels and moving through a large crowd, it just makes sense to powder your nose in between the chaos.
The general entrance to the convention was right by the lineup for the Colorado Stage. This meant that the area was pure chaos during the day. You had people entering the con and trying to figure out where to go, people stalking to line up for the next panel, and speedpass holders and ADA trying to get through. I’m hoping this changes for next year
I spoke to a few general pass holders and asked how going through the line was with the new bag check. They all said that it was long but did not seem disgruntled about it. The general entrance had lines for those with bags and for those without bags. Most said the only time it bothered them was when they were coming back from lunch and trying to get back in. I will miss the days when we could enter through any entrance. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, this may be a thing of the past.
Looking to chill and have a beer? Well, it is not as easy as it was in past years. On the first day, you could buy a drink on the lower level of the convention center but could not bring it to the exhibit floor. This change made sense to me. As an artist, I wouldn’t want people drinking around my work. The sodas I saw upstairs had lids. On Saturday, they had a Beer Garden, which was a cornered section with food and drinks on the exhibit floor. You could not leave the area with alcohol. This was the only place where you could enjoy an adult beverage. My mission was to find this year’s “I am Brewt,” which was this year’s beer from Breckenridge Brewery. Each year, they make brew a beer just for DCC, and there is a contest to name the beer. This was a good year! I really enjoyed the flavor.
Overall, I would say this is DCC’s most successful year yet! They will definitely have me coming back next year!
Here are a few pictures from the con. Enjoy.
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