DENVER COMIC CON 2016 SHATTERS RECORDS

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Posted Thu, Jun 23, 2016

BUT THE REAL FOCUS IS ON EDUCATION

Members of the Mountain Garrison – a local Garrison of the 501st Legion, pose for pictures with eager young Star Wars fans at Denver Comic Con 2016. [Photo: ]

Members of the Mountain Garrison – a local Garrison of the 501st Legion, pose for pictures with eager young Star Wars fans at Denver Comic Con 2016. [Photo: Derek Gregory]

DENVER— It’s just after 10 a.m. on Saturday, at Denver Comic Con 2016 as thousands of attendees are filing through the Colorado Convention Center’s doors to celebrate the comic book convention’s second day.

Several early birds are sitting cross-legged on the floor in bean bag chairs in the Pop-Culture Classroom’s 8-Bit Lounge. They are children, for the most part: pre-teens and teens who love to write stories, and a couple of grown-ups too.

Judy Burns, Hollywood screenwriter and creative spark behind the original 60’s Star Trek episode, “The Tholian Web,” ignores the provided microphone, and leans down from her chair to speak. We all scoot closer, straining to hear her words above the rising din of the exhibitor hall:

“You can do this,” she says, looking directly at each of us, “screenwriters make more money than any other writer in Hollywood.”

PCC volunteer -- Toby Swafford, DC Comics writer -- Shea Fontana, and Wonder Woman Voice Actor – Susan Eisenberg, read comics out loud to a large group of children, during the PCC “Magic Hour.” [Photo: Derek Gregory]

PCC volunteer — Toby Swafford, DC Comics writer — Shea Fontana, and Wonder Woman Voice Actor – Susan Eisenberg, read comics out loud to a large group of children, during the PCC “Magic Hour.” [Photo: Derek Gregory]

Everyone nods in agreement. Even the youngest child present, sits quietly and listens as Burns talks about screenplays, and the basic process of writing for TV and movies.

This is the essence of Denver Comic Con, now in its fifth year. Hosted by Pop-Culture Classroom, DCC is the only Comic Con in the country that raises money to fund an educational non-profit. It is also big business, and it generated more than $20 million for Denver’s economy in 2015, according to Richard Scharf, president of the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Denver.

The Exhibition Hall is massive, with more than 150 vendors, artists, authors and celebrity guests hawking their wares to tens of thousands of pop-culture loving attendees. Some dress in elaborate homemade costumes, and everyone takes lots of pictures. Eager convention goers roam from booth to booth, looking to buy T-shirts, art prints, books and replica props and weapons from their favorite stories and shows. Others line up early for panels, featuring celebrity guests and other creative talents from the pop-culture multiverse.

The “Raccoon City Police Department” (and friends!) square off against some of the villains from CAPCOM’S “Resident Evil” series. [Photo: Derek Gregory]

The “Raccoon City Police Department” (and friends!) square off against some of the villains from CAPCOM’S “Resident Evil” series. [Photo: Derek Gregory]

Pop Culture Classroom holds prime real-estate, at the center of the showroom floor. Groups of children, as young as 4 years old, gather there to draw, and make stop-motion animation. Members of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra help eager participants write their own comic book theme songs. Surprise guests like Susan Eisenberg, who plays Wonder Woman on the Teen Titans Unlimited TV show, along with Shea Fontana, writer of the Superhero Girls comic book series for DC, drop in to read comics with their young fans during “Magic Hour.”

Immersed in the parade of costumes, panels and special events, it’s easy to lose track of what makes Denver Comic Con so special: — its focus on fundraising and education. As busy PCC volunteer Becky Franks-Cassidy explains, the spotlight – at the Con — is on “family friendly entertainment,” but the mission is always about standards-based education. If the unofficial numbers hold up, total attendance for the full weekend shattered last year’s record by nearly 15 percent – to 114,800 attendees. That’s definitely good news for pop culture fans, and learners alike.

Pop Culture Classroom and The Mountain Garrison

Pop Culture Classroom is a local non-profit which specializes in standards-based curricula designed to educate and inspire through pop culture. Their programs include workshops that teach storytelling through comics, and Game On! – a program where students learn about and develop their own board games. They also have a program designed to build self-esteem and literacy in the prison population called “Lead with Comics.” For more information, visit their website at Pop Culture Classroom.

The Mountain Garrison of the 501st Legion – a Star Wars Costuming Organization that specializes in movie-quality Stormtroopers, and other characters from the beloved series – assembled to raise money for PCC and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For more information, visit their website at Mountain Garrison.

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About Derek Gregory

Derek Gregory is a Denver-area freelance writer, and blogs for TinyTable3.com.

View all posts by Derek Gregory

One Response to “DENVER COMIC CON 2016 SHATTERS RECORDS”

  1. blake Says:

    AWESOME ARTICLE!!!

    Reply

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