Rocky Mountain Con Hosts Comic Legend Jim Steranko

The always-dapper Jim Steranko and his comic oeuvre.
The always-dapper Jim Steranko and his comic oeuvre. YouTube
It’s been a common complaint among collectors for years now: There aren’t enough comics at comic cons anymore.

That criticism has been leveled at Denver’s convention as it’s changed over the past decade, and it's not an uncommon beef with the national convention scene. But Rocky Mountain Con is here to save the four-color day. The Comic Collector Showcase is expanding to two days this year, and will take place on June 3 and 4 at the Embassy Suites Denver Central Park. Tickets for the event are $10 per day and are available now on the event website.

Founder and owner Tim Moret calls the event “really specialized to comic book collectors.” Specifically, the show will bring together some of the top vendors in the United States, sellers with massive back stock of books from the Golden Age up through Moderns, from first appearances to key books along the way to the hottest new issues, with truckloads of longboxes to search through. Names collectors will recognize include Graham Crackers Comics from Illinois, Harley Yee Rare Comics from Michigan, Terry’s Comics from California. Locally, Boulder’s Time Warp Comics will be there, too, along with many more.

Perhaps most notable is special guest Jim Steranko, a legendary artist and true original, both as an illustrator and a man. Steranko’s art style is most closely tied to the “pop art” movement embraced by Marvel in the 1960s, a cinematic and sometimes surreal portrayal of old-school superheroics. He’s also known for being one of the most dashing men in comics — not to mention one that began his career as a magician and escapist.

click to enlarge
Jim Steranko's first Marvel cover.
“Jim Steranko is an absolute comic icon,” Moret says. “This will be our second time bringing him out, and we’re just honored to have him.”

It's an important thing these days for fans to have the opportunity to meet industry giants, now that so many are being lost to the passage of time (Tim Sale, Neal Adams, George Perez and too many others).

“It’s a joy to see the heroes of your favorite medium,” Moret adds. “That’s what we want to provide fans — the ability to meet creators face to face without having to stand in these massive lines at much larger events. We’re not going to have a mob like that. We’ll have a good crowd, but no one wants one of those experiences where you get a signature on a favorite book and they don’t even look up, just slide you along. I want fans to be able to have an interaction. To be able to talk with the guy. So that fan can go home and honestly say that they’d met Jim Steranko once, and really mean it.

“Rocky Mountain Con is a throwback,” he continues. “It’s an old-school comic con, an event by collectors for collectors. It’s for people who love digging through boxes."

This collector’s showcase isn’t Moret’s only show. He’s put together an up-and-coming X-Mas in July toy show that happens this July, and his November event is celebrating its tenth year of comics, toys, sci-fi and all things nerd-tastic — much like what you’d see  at FAN EXPO, but on a smaller and more intimate scale. But comics are clearly the thing for Moret, the collectible closest to his longbox-loving heart.

“I love being able to share this with other collectors,” Moret says. “Especially those of us who have been around a while and remember the way comic conventions used to be.” While comic events have come a long way from the time when they'd be found on a weekend at a local mall, or at a single local comic shop bringing a big-name guest, there’s something essential to the form that’s been lost along the way.

But Moret and fans like him are doing their best to keep the hobby’s heart in the right place. Each one of the events donates a significant portion of proceeds to charities like Cap for Kids, a nonprofit devoted to supporting families of children going through cancer care. “All we do is pay the expenses for the show, and the rest goes to charity,” Moret says. Last year, he reports, the November con raised more than $6,000 for various nonprofits.

Moret’s involvement with running local conventions actually began with one specific charity: Aurora Rise, which was created to serve the victims of the Aurora theater shooting in the summer of 2012. Moret served on the board of directors for that organization for nearly five years.

As important as the charity support is, Rocky Mountain Con’s Comic Collector Showcase is really about the comic books and their many fans.

“It’s the people that I’ve met,” Moret says. “That’s the best part of these events, and why we keep doing them. Not even just the comic book people, the artists or the vendors. It’s really about the sense of family. We’re all about giving that family a place to be themselves. A home that’s all about comics.”

Rocky Mountain Con’s Comic Collector Showcase, June 3-4, Embassy Suites Denver Central Park, 4444 Havana Street. For tickets and more information, see the event website.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen

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