The 2017 Denver Comic Con was one for the books. The sixth year even topped last year's record-breaking attendance figures — if only by a hair. Attendees numbered 114,500 in 2016 and registered at an even 115K for 2017. That means that an estimated $10 to $40 million was brought into the Denver economy, with plenty of support for the Pop Culture Classroom, which puts on the Con, and its children’s literacy programs — not to mention all of the happy fans who lined up for celebrities signing autographs, comic creators both legendary and up-and-coming, and more than 500 hours of programming that ran the gamut of geeky goodness.
A success, to be sure...but that doesn’t mean that everything went swimmingly.
There were changes this year, and with changes comes grumbling — especially for a fan community that values continuity. After hearing those grumblings, we checked in with Tara Hubner, marketing and communications manager for the DCC and Pop Culture Classroom, to get her response. In the interest of making Denver’s homegrown Comic Con the best event it can be…and to shut up the nattering nabobs of nerdtastic negativism in 2018, here are the most frequent complaints, and Comic Con's responses.
1. The Date
The weekend of Denver Comic Con has been on and off in terms of matching up with Father’s Day weekend...but this convention was the latest it's ever been, running into Fourth of July weekend and coming up close to San Diego Comic Con. Rest assured: Next year, DCC will once again coincide with Father’s Day weekend, June 15-17. What better way to spend Dad’s Day than surrounded by superheroes?
2. The Space
One of the biggest headaches this year — both for organizers and attendees — was created by the move from the front of the Colorado Convention Center to the back. In other words: from the sunny atrium by the Big Blue Bear to the back of the facility, through the Bellco Theatre entrance. It made for a confusing layout, a lot of misdirection, even a cosplay area tucked into a dim spot where lighting was an issue. To be fair, little of this was the fault of DCC organizers, who had to work around the center’s busy schedule, including a conflicting event that was just winding down when DCC was setting up. It’s been confirmed that next year’s DCC will once again take over the front space, making the atrium — a popular area for meeting and lounging and picture-taking in years past — available again to fans and families.
3. Entrances, Lines and ADA Access
No one likes to wait in lines, and this year’s convention had plenty. What most concerned attendees was the single general admission line. (Two others were specifically assigned to special cases: one for exhibitors, volunteers and media; the other for Speed Pass/ADA attendees). Hubner admits that Saturday was a “volume problem,” but says Friday and Sunday’s entry lines “worked well.” There were also rumblings about ADA access not being up to snuff (despite the dedicated entrance), but Hubner points out that months before the event, Con organizers improved ADA systems, “increasing the number of access points and ADA/Info booth and personnel to address special needs.” It’s possible that ADA concerns might have stemmed from the new Con location; it’s possible that some of the line issues were simple miscommunication as a result of those same changes, made worse by new security policies. “The safety and comfort of all our guests is of paramount importance, especially our patrons with disabilities,” Hubner says — which means that fans have reason to hope that 2018 will see improvements in all of these areas.
Keep reading for more Comic Con fixes.
4. Prop Storage
For an event so dependent on cosplay and associated props, not to mention one riddled with new policies regarding those props, the location for prop storage seemed terrible: On the Stout Street side, far from the new entrance. This was frustrating for attendees, to be sure — but another side effect of the space limitations imposed by the center's schedule. “It was the only access point externally not occupied by something else,” Hubner explains. “It was our only option.” Con organizers are already working on plans for next year, when the space will change, to make the Con a little more user- (and prop-) friendly.
5. New — and Sudden — Rules
There were plenty of surprises on Comic Con’s opening day, but Saturday morning offered up the biggest surprise, especially for cosplayers. Right before the convention opened, DCC changed its weapons policy for the second time, specifically banning guns or anything that resembled a gun. This was a major change from the rule employed just the previous day, when there was a narrow and specific guideline for which gun-related props were still allowed under the rules: no projectiles of any kind, no realistic-looking firearms, etc. As Hubner explains the quick shift: “In order to better provide a safe environment for all those attending DCC, it was necessary to amend the prop policy related to replica guns. We had issues with security staff interpreting the policy in different ways on Friday, so in order to remedy that for the rest of the weekend, we made the change.”
And there will be more changes in the months to come, all with the goal of improving Denver Comic Con in 2018. “Keep on the lookout for our policies,” Hubner advises. "We will be looking at all of that over the summer.”
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.