Without so much as a telephone booth, Denver Pop Culture Con has loosened its tie and pulled open its button-down to reveal its new identity: FAN EXPO Denver, which will bring its first incarnation to the Mile High City in 2022.
FAN EXPO is the largest comic con event producer in North America, boasting such celebrations as MEGACON Orlando, FAN EXPO Dallas, FAN EXPO Canada and more. The group has hosted some of Hollywood’s and comics’ biggest stars: Mark Hamill, Ben Affleck, Patrick Stewart, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, and 2019’s Back to the Future reunion with Michael J. Fox and the rest of the cast.
“As fans and advocates for the power of pop culture in education and our community, we’re excited to make FAN EXPO Denver a reality,” says Adam Kullberg, interim executive director for Pop Culture Classroom, the nonprofit behind the con. “FAN EXPO brings a whole new scale to the fan experience.”
The fan experience has been both paramount to the Denver con’s past and also a victim of some more recent tumult partly because of the pandemic. After starting in 2012, what was then called Denver Comic Con brought tens of thousands of fans downtown for a summer weekend of four-color fun, and the numbers grew from year to year. But attendance plateaued in recent years (albeit at a still-impressive 100K plus), and after changing both leadership and the name (to Denver Pop Culture Con), the event was already in flux. Then came COVID, and the 2020 and 2021 events were canceled. There was some question as to how, exactly, the Denver fan event would return.
“After being forced to cancel DPCC 2020 and 2021 events, the already reduced staff [of Pop Culture Classroom] were confronted with a heartbreaking reality: They did not have the resources or the capacity to continue with Denver Pop Culture Con,” says Alex Kingcott, president of Shareworthy Content Lab and FAN EXPO spokesperson. "However, they remained dedicated to continuing a pop-culture convention in the Denver area. ... This conversation started there, and everyone quickly agreed that the two organizations joining forces would mean great things — the perfect mix of scale and passion.”
FAN EXPO taking the reins should come as a relief to many fans and the Mile High City. “This is truly a joining of forces, coming together to keep the spirit of fandom alive and well in Denver, and across North America,” says FAN EXPO HQ president Aman Gupta. “We’ve long been impressed with the Denver team’s ability to champion creativity and build community. I know, together, we’ll be able to bring the event back as FAN EXPO Denver, stronger than ever.”
That comeback — because as everyone knows, there is no real death in comic books — might actually come earlier than expected. Kingcott says that some sort of event in 2021 isn’t off the table.
“No details yet,” she says. “We hope to be able to announce details for a big return in 2022 very soon. ... If it’s safe and possible to do something in 2021, we’ll put our hearts and souls into making that happen.”
Kingcott also confirms that everything fans have come to expect from the Denver event will remain in place: “We have no plans to change what fans have come to expect with venue, date and ticket price.”
FAN EXPO Denver will debut as the third-largest event in FAN EXPO HQ’s family of shows, after MEGACON Orlando and FAN EXPO Canada.
“Fans will definitely benefit from that scale,” Kingcott says, in terms of “big guests, marquee vendors and special events. We can’t wait to welcome fans to FAN EXPO Denver.”
For more information on the transition, check out the announcement on the Denver Pop Culture Con website.
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