Although Denver Comic Con started modestly enough, with 27,700 attendees in 2012, the attendance broke six figures in 2016, propelling the still-young event into third place in the nation in size. Only the 10-year-old New York Comic Con and the 46-year-old San Diego Comic Con-International outpaced it in attendance.
And as the only independently run comic con in the U.S. — and the only sizable event of its kind between the east and west coasts — DCC brings economic gains to Denver along with its heavy dose of nerd culture.
Denver Comic Con draws that high attendance from far outside the Denver metro area.
Artist Jerry Bennett traveled over 600 miles from his home in Oklahoma City to set up shop at Mile High Comics for Denver Comic Con’s 2016 pre-party. Squeezed between an zine artist from Michigan and a Vegas-based plushy and vinyl toy maker, Bennett’s art looks strikingly traditional—think Marvel with an extra dose of cute. And he feels right at home here. Having attended every Denver Comic Con since the first in 2012, Bennett says DCC offers something that other cons don’t.
“I just love how family friendly it is,” Bennett said. “All the kids there wander around, wide-eyed.”
In case you are wondering, Bennett has a table at the Con — for all three days.
Some conventions can have a decidedly more adult feel. DCC rules forbid the skimpy cosplay and adult content seen at other conventions. That’s because the childhood literacy nonprofit that runs the event wants to keep it kid-friendly.
DCC is the product of Colorado nonprofit Pop Culture Classroom, an organization that seeks to enhance learning and literacy through free comic book-based children’s programs. Founders Charlie LaGreca, Frank Romero, and David and Kevin Vinson, four friends and diehard comic book devotees, started Denver Comic Con in 2012 to fundraise for their “The Classroom” program.
Kevin Vinson, President of Pop Culture Classroom’s Comic Book Education Foundation, has high aspirations for the Con, among them, encouraging kids to read 1 billion words per year and reigniting Americans’ love for comics.
“I would love to see everyone on every street corner reading a comic book,” Vinson said. “They are our modern-day mythology.”
DCC’s not too bad for Denver business, either. Last year, the Con attracted over 101 thousand geek culture fiends. Denver Comic Con marketing and communications director Tara Huber said this overwhelming support poured $20 to $30 million in revenue into Denver’s economy. While the team said they do not have any official projections for this year, they expect the 2016 turnout to be even bigger — they’ve got a star-studded roster of guests to match.
The official tally of animators, authors and creatives making appearances at the Con comes to 142, according to DCC’s website, though a staffer at Mile High Comics said the number of local and regional talent at the show pushes 300.
Famous guests include Lena Headey, or Queen Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones, Ian Somerhalder, who plays Damon Salvatore in the CW’s Vampire Diaries, and the legendary Stan Lee, former President and Chairman of Marvel Comics. Though be warned, pictures and autographs from some of these Sci-Fi royalty could put you out some serious Galactic Credit Standard.
What you need to know:
Denver Comic Con 2016
Date: June 17-19, 2016; 10 AM to 7 PM (10 AM to 6 PM, Sunday)
Location: Colorado Convention Center – 700 14th St, Denver, CO 80202
Tickets: $38.50-$44 for adults, $8.50 for children; Saturday passes and three-day passes are already sold out.
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