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Fans pack Denver Comic Con 2013

Photo: Kami Christiansen - Through the "artists row" hundreds of up and coming artists showed and sold their original sketches.
Photo: Kami Christiansen - Original artwork by Cody Vross who was displaying at the show.
Photo: Kami Christiansen - Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman posing as one of the most popular characters at any show.
Photo: Kami Christiansen - Felicia Day of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame signs autographs for a large group of fans during Saturday's Denver Comic Con.

By C.J. McMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter

For those of us who cut their teeth on Spiderman, and Superman before moving on to Batman, Sandman, Spawn and Lobo, Comic Con is Mecca. No matter where, Comic Con is king.

It is the convention to end all, a place where fans from far and wide can come together and revel in a universe of art, literature, fantasy and toys. However, when I stepped into the packed Colorado Convention Center for Denver Comic Con 2013, I noticed that the rest of the world is catching on to what comic junkies have always known. The nerds, the geeks, the gamers and the outcasts are actually cooler than most anyone else.

In walking toward the convention, the first thing one notices is the massive 40 foot tall blue bear peering in at the costumed masses. The composite sculpture titled "I see what you mean," added yet another level of fantasy to the already eclectic show.

The giant bear is part of the center's public art program and demonstrated Denver's commitment to the arts and those willing to put their neck out to look unique. Comic Con is one of the only places in the world where someone in jeans and a T-shirt feels strange next to life-sized Pikachu.

Originally formed in the 1970s as Golden State Comic Book Convention and held annually in San Diego, Comic Con has blossomed into a multi-state convention phenomenon which draws millions of fans every year. Originally focused on comic books, fantasy, film and television the shows now include the stranger side of pop culture including horror art and toys, animation, manga, card games, video games and web based content. Early on, it became a tradition that those attending the show dress as their favorite character, hero or villain. While San Diego is the International grand daddy of the all, other cities have laid claim to large cons, including New York and Denver.

Last year's inaugural event in the Mile High City broke records for a first time con with 27,700 attendees. In Denver, the show's proceeds go to benefit the Comic Book Classroom, a charitable organization that educates through alternative approaches to literacy, learning, and character development. While Stan Lee's scheduled appearance as the guest of honor at the 2013 show had organizers looking for a big increase, they had no idea what was coming.

The line for Friday's opening wrapped all the way around the massive Colorado Convention Center for the better part of the day. By the afternoon, the State Fire Marshal had forced more than 6,000 potential attendees to leave the area for safety reasons. Staff was increased mightily for Saturday and Sunday's crowds in order to accommodate the more than 61,000 fans which descended upon Denver at the end of May.

Trying to describe all that the show had to offer would be a joke, however it is reasonable to say that every product and or medium associated with the supernatural was available. From life sized replicas of Han Solo encased in Carbonite and working R2D2s to stuffed animals representing every popular Nintendo game every released, the show had it all. Up and coming visual artists including San Francisco's Cody Vross to revolutionary comic book creators like Ted Intorcio and his publishing house at Tinto press.

Celebrities galore were in attendance and incredibly accessible. George Takei, Mr. Sulu of Star Trek fame, stayed late on Friday night to sign autographs and talk with fans. He said that he knew many of the patrons would not make it back in the next day. Standing in for Stan Lee, who had to cancel because of a movie filming conflict, Star Trek's William Shatner did not disappoint, as his address was both witty and quirky. Would you expect any less from James T. Kirk, who was a massive hit, reading "Where the Wild Things Are" to kids in the Comic Book Classroom. Also drawing large crowds was the sultry Felicia Day who is best know for her work on "Dragon Age" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

While the celebs and artists were amazing, it is the fans and vendors that truly made Comic Con for me. Endless rows of discounted comics just begging for a noble collector to find a hidden treasure, towering walls of paraphernalia including robes, figurines and voodoo dolls. It's a little slice of heaven.

The fans are amazing. Every comic book character a true connoisseur could think of is most likely represented in this crowd as patrons work for months perfecting their look and choosing their costume. As unique as their costumes, is the polite nature of those who attend this giant show. Media personnel from all across the western U.S. met with me in an area we had been provided and the prevailing topic of conversation as that never had photographers had such an easy time asking for photos or comments. The collecting group is a great bunch of people and they put on quite a show.

If your interest has been peaked, note that Utah will be hosting its first ever Comic Con this September. Based on what I witnessed in Denver, get there early and be ready for an epic show.




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