Denver Pop Culture Con opened Friday, May 31, at the Colorado Convention Center, with merchants selling everything under a very nerdalicious sun; celebrities, artists and authors galore; and the usual creative cosplay. The aisles were full of fans early, and all signs point to the first year of the re-dubbed geek gathering (formerly known as Denver Comic Con) becoming another crowded and crazy success.
Every year, there’s something remarkable to discover on the first day. Here are ten things that surprised and delighted as the Denver Pop Culture Con floor opened for business:
The Floor Is Flipped Again
As it was two years back, the “front” of the convention isn’t the 14th Street side, where the Big Blue Bear can be a rallying point for family and friends right at the entrance. Instead, that side is only an exit, which cuts back a little on the fun to be had in the much-sunnier atrium area, where cosplayers can strut their stuff in natural light and the crowds can enjoy more of that Colorado sunshine. Like the date of the convention (which often falls on Father’s Day weekend, something a lot of fans say they prefer), this has more to do with the availability of the Colorado Convention Center than any choice on the part of the organizers. But fans sure do miss that curious and looming ursine shadow.
There’s a solid amount of LGBTQ+ support apparent at DPCC, from the convention patch designed to proclaim exactly that to a large portion of the art available in Artists Alley. That’s where you can find illustrator and comic artist Leanna C., offering up buttons that both support and/or proudly proclaim sexual and/or gender affiliation. Also She-Ra, which these days essentially does the same thing.
CU Denver Engineering…and Light Sabers
What’s a Ph.D. student and instructor in engineering, design and computing at CU Denver doing running a table at Denver Pop Culture Con? Well, for one, he can make light sabers…and he can teach you to do the same. Want to rule the galaxy with an iron fist — one shod in the Infinity Gauntlet? Sam Mills (and a 3-D printer) will show you the way.
For the eighth year in a row, Breckenridge Brewery has created an exclusive brew in honor of the convention, along with an even more exclusive piece of memorabilia: the DPCC pint glass that celebrates said brew. There’s a contest every year to name the concoction; in years past, it’s been the Fantastic Pour, Brews Wayne, I am Brewt!, and other such nerdalicious beer puns. This year, it’s Bocks Machina, in honor of the web series and DPCC special guest group Critical Role. Oh, and Breck has a seriously cool A-frame bar, as well as its own super-hero: Breck-Man, also known as warehouse manager Taylor Ring. Breckenridge Brewery is selling the pint glasses and the brew at the convention, and there are giveaways at various places around Denver this weekend. Check the Breckenridge website for more info.
Back to the Future….for a Cause
Oliver and Terry Holler have a pretty cool car: It’s a DeLorean, and it’s a time machine. Everyone’s favorite time-travel story (that’s not Avengers: Endgame) comes alive on the floor of the Celebrity Summit, supporting the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. It’s a good cause, and luckily does not require 1.21 gigawatts of power — just some fans who care to help.
Karen Hallion is an artist, illustrator, part-time Jedi and frequent exhibitor at the Denver convention. And with good reason: Opening morning, she already had a line waiting to buy prints of her work. It’s inspirational, it’s staunchly feminist and it's unapologetically nerdy — and fans are clearly responding to it. What do Wonder Woman and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have in common? If you have to ask, this probably isn’t the booth for you.
These knickknacks are made by Dale Rae Designs in Monument, and they're not limited to nerd-dream Christmas decor. The booth has fabric ornaments, and keychains, and embroidered hats, and comic and pop-culture-themed shirts. Who needs Hawaiian shirts when you can have an Avengers-patterned button-down? Absolutely no one. Sorry, Hawaii.
Life of the Party
Did you know you needed a yawning barbarian on a coffee cup? You need a yawning barbarian on a coffee cup. These are the things you do not know you need until you come to Denver Pop Culture Con and visit the table of illustrator Travis Hanson. Old-school gaming and coffee? Two of everyone's favorite things.
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The Colorado Department of Revenue
According to Colorado Revised Statute #3926103, it's unlawful to engage in any retail sales in the State of Colorado without first obtaining a sales-tax license. So the State (and the City and County of Denver, at the table right next door) set up this festive and form-filled booth in order to aid vendors. Maybe the revenue department needs a superhero to really promote this mission. Captain Bureaucracy! Justice in triplicate! Something like that.
Speaking of convention swag, the Breckenridge pint glasses aren't all that's available. Denver Pop Culture Con has always had plenty of its own branded merch: shirts, lanyards, water bottles, patches, pins and more. And this year there’s something new: a $25 mystery box with the old Denver Comic Con brand. You’re not just buying a box of unsold product from previous years of the convention; you’re buying the joy of the surprise. And the unsold product. But mainly the joy.
Denver Pop Culture Con will reopen at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 1, and run through Sunday, June 2, at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street. For hours and ticket information, go to the Pop Culture Con website.