On its surface, Denver Comic Con (DCC) looks like any other major city con. But, at its core, DCC differentiates itself from similar pop culture festivals.
Comic cons have transformed greatly from their comic book roots. These cons have become gigantic festivals celebrating and showcasing anything and everything in pop culture. Fandom is a powerful thing. And after seeing the success of mega cons like San Diego Comic-Con, nearly every major city in the country now hosts some form of comic con.
Unlike San Diego’s institution that began in 1970, Denver’s comic con has only been around for a few years. The first DCC took place in 2012, and was viewed as a success after pulling in nearly 28,000 attendees. That number jumped to nearly 87,000 in 2014. And, because geeks and nerds seem to be multiplying at an exponential rate, 2015’s attendance is guaranteed to be much larger.
Gigantic cons, like San Diego’s (which drew approximately 130,000 people in 2014), are typically focused on showcasing upcoming TV shows, movies, video games, etc. DCC does a little of this too. But it has another focus that might come as a surprise—enhancing children’s education.
DCC was started by non-profit education company Comic Book Classroom. That organization changed its name to Pop Culture Classroom (PCC) in 2014 to reflect a broader pop-culture curriculum. If the organization running DCC wasn’t telling enough, DCC directly states that it exists for the purpose of “Educating children and the general public through comic books and other forms of pop culture, and bringing together the diverse people and interests of our community regardless of age, race, gender or background.” And the proceeds from DCC benefit “PCC’s overall educational endeavors.”
The event features more than 300 hours of educational programming and a literary conference. But if you’d rather just passively geek out at DCC, you can do that too. It’s got everything you’d expect at a major con, like celebrity guests, photo ops, panel discussions, cosplay, and sci-fi speed dating. And, each year, Breckenridge Brewery creates a special beer for DCC. Fans can look forward to Hulk’s Mash this year—a pale ale made with mango puree and Mosaic hops.
Even many of Denver’s recreational cannabis dispensaries get into the comic con spirit. Last year, several dispensaries offered strains specifically catering to the con crowd, with names like Bruce Banner and Death Star. Some downtown dispensaries even offered special discounts for DCC attendees. I imagine they’ll do the same thing this year.
DCC 2015 will feature a Weird Science panel, celebrating the 30-year anniversary of this 1985 sci-fi comedy. Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith are scheduled to appear. It would be rad if Robert Downey, Jr. shows up. But that’s probably not happening.
There’s even a real wedding taking place at DCC this year. The bride, Daenerys Targaryen, is marrying Batman.
So, if you’re looking for some nerdy education, want to be a fan boy or fan girl, or are curious about transforming your experience from a comic con to a chronic con, DCC has you covered.
Denver Comic Con 2015 takes place May 23-25 at the Colorado Convention Center. More info, including the programming schedule, is at DenverComicCon.com.