3:52am Whaaaaat? Why am I awake? Roll over, close eyes.
4:18am Obviously it is time to get up. Since it is Friday, and a vacation day, and I don’t need to be up for another two hours.
4:36am My head hurts. Shower should help.
4:52am Hmm. Head still hurts. Caffeine? Maybe? Dress in comfy yoga pants and a long fancy t-shirt I like because it is super soft. Feel like this outfit is closest thing to wearing pajamas in public so I should be pretty comfy.
5:11am Sip diet Coke, stare at computer screen reading things on Facebook and Twitter. Wonder if I have my passes. Remember I don’t have my pass yet. Is why I am meeting Carolyn and Megan for breakfast. For passes.
5:38am Debate: Should I bring my entire wallet, or just tuck my credit card and ID into a little change purse I have?
5:43am Shove entire wallet into bag. Will regret this later.
5:44am Ready. But don’t need to leave till 6:30 or so. How to kill time? Don’t even have passes to check for. Carolyn is bringing passes to breakfast!
5:45am Stare vacantly out window. It looks super cloudy outside. Like Vancouver on a summer morning. Wonder if I could handle ever living in Vancouver again. I mean, if we weren’t poor. Poor people can’t live in Vancouver. Unless they want to live, like, under a bridge or something.
5:56am Still though. Not everyone I know in Vancouver area makes a ton of money. Maybe we could live in Surrey. Or Burnaby. Or Coquitlam. No. Coquitlam kind of blows. Let’s not live there. I know! We could move back to Britannia Beach. Evil Rob would like it there because no one else lives there.
6:04am I swear that Arrow-Flash-Supergirl crossover episode part with the aliens in the weird building was filmed in the old mine building where my dad worked when I was a tiny child. Honestly I can’t believe that thing is still standing. But I guess it’s nice for when film crews need a weird old building with a lot of glass for a scene with aliens.
6:10am Why is it ALWAYS aliens?
6:12am I wonder why they never made a sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Man, that mom was a terrible mom. It’s almost like she didn’t even care that her kid got kidnapped by aliens. He’s literally running around in the yard at 3 in the morning and she just stands at the window and goes, “Oh hey, come back.” But not very loudly. Weak, bad mom. Very weak.
6:22am The aliens in Close Encounters don’t even seem that creepy or cool anymore. Like, we’ve all seen so many aliens in pop culture by now, the Close Encounters ones are just quaint and practically cuddly.
6:26am Still. A sequel would have been cool. Like the little boy is all grown up and played by Ryan Gosling and something bad happens up in space and the aliens come back to ask for our help but humans are too stupid and cynical and only Ryan Gosling can save the day along with the aliens. And only the really smart people get to leave and go to space with the aliens.
6:30am Making list of people I would take to space with me.
6:32am Oh shit! I gotta go!
6:33am Black Birkenstocks! Proper con footwear!
6:34am CRAP! I forgot my portable charger. Run back to get it.
6:35am And the iPhone cord! This is going poorly.
6:37am Seriously though, why is the weather so dreadful?
6:45am Stop at convenience store for beef jerky and small bottles of Diet Coke. Convenience store clerk tells me my hair looks really great. She is now my all-time favorite morning person.
6:57am Park at Light Rail. Watch commuters rushing to catch train. Judge them for their fashion choices.
6:58am I mean, for real, this one lady is wearing a shirt as a dress. How do I know it’s a shirt? Because I own the same shirt. And trust me when I tell you, it is not a dress.
6:59am I also don’t get these women who carry two purses, a large tote bag, and a giant Dunkin Donuts box. Why not just put all your stuff into an even larger tote bag and just carry that plus the donuts?
7:00am Or just prioritize the donuts. Really.
7:01am On train. Damn, I am SO tired. Better take a selfie!
7:18am Commuters are not morning people.
7:19am Except this old dude across the aisle from me who greets each person who sits near him with a quiet, “Good morning.” Guy in seats in front of me turns around to glare each time this transpires.
7:27am Arrive at convention center. Not much of a line yet. Someone is dressed as Pikachu and train commuters all look puzzled. I would explain but is not yet 10am so I can’t speak to other humans. Especially ones I don’t know.
7:35am Meet Carolyn at Sam’s No. 3 Diner. There is apparently a notary public available in this place.
7:45am Our waiter pours coffee before Carolyn even finishes asking.
7:48am Menu seems confusing. Like, a lot of info for it being so early and my head hurting so badly. Carolyn points out something called the High-Maintenance Dairy Free, Gluten Free Breakfast Skillet. SOLD! To the super tired lady with ten million allergies.
8:05am Megan arrives. She is also confused by menu. I feel less alone now.
8:08am FOOD! OMG. This is the best High-Maintenance Dairy Free, Gluten Free Breakfast Skillet EVER.
8:10am Listen vaguely as Carolyn and Megan discuss the panel they are doing later in the day. Carolyn is super nervous. Reassure her that it will all be fine. Promise I will take video of the whole thing.
8:40am Walk back over to convention center. Line is getting longer now. We have to locate the media entrance. Everything is in different place than years past.
8:41am Ugh. Am not a fan of change. And it is SO humid outside. Why. WHY!
8:42am And they still won’t let the Blue Bear in! Why. WHY!
8:45am Line confusion.
8:46 am Volunteer confusion.
8:47am Convention center staff confusion.
8:48am SURPRISE! No one knows where we are really supposed to go.
8:50am Get sent back to Lobby B entrance. Convention center staff lets us in even though is clearly not the right place.
8:57am Carolyn stands in line for badges for her other panelists. Megan heads upstairs. I watch volunteers try to coordinate other volunteers. Lady comes up and says, “I need two of you.” Three nerdy dudes try to follow her. She says, “Just two. You stay here.” They look super sad to be separated. It reminds me of the two super nerdy kids in Just One of the Guys who speak a fake alien language and get upset when they are separated in gym class.
9:15am We head upstairs to show floor. We find Megan fangirling out over Jody Houser, the writer for the Faith comics and the Rogue One comics. Faith is one of Megan’s favorite comics right now so this is a big moment for her. Jody is super nice and has brought her parents along to help her out. Her parents are also super nice. Go figure.
9:25am Drag Megan away to visit with Ben Byrd, one of our favorite artists who always has a booth at Denver Comic Con. He and his wife are just finishing their set up and take some time to talk to us while we squeee over new things – especially his new Wonder Woman piece! I drop $45 on art and it’s not even noon.
9:38am Stop to talk to a lady who crochets tiny dolls of, like, Baby Groot and Cthulhu and stuff. They are super cute.
9:45am Find Meg McMuffins’ booth but she is not there yet so we wander on to find Monkey Minion Press.
9:47am Find Monkey Minion Press and they are home, so we stop to talk and look at things. I find a print of a sloth. And make this face:
9:50am Have now dropped $50 more on art and it’s not even 10am.
10am Carolyn and Megan both have other places they want to be and I want to go over to Celebrity Summit to see if I can pay onsite for the photo Pook and I want to do with the Weasley twins, and then eventually head down to the Bellco Theatre area to line up for a celebrity panel, so we split up.
10:11am Oh my. It is already getting crowded in here. People are doing the thing where they stretch their group all the way across the aisles so no one else can get through. Why. WHY???
10:18am Celebrity Summit on site purchases are cash only and about $10 more expensive for each photo op listed. I will take my chances and do this online tonight at home!
10:19am I see this good-looking dude in an orange volunteer shirt walking right towards me, smiling. Realize is our friend Todd. THE TODD! We hug and make brief chitchat. He has an hour to kill and wants to wander around and look at stuff. Wandering already sounds like torture and it’s not even noon. I send him to find Megan and Carolyn back in the artist area.
10:25am Heading out of show floor finally. Bump smack into my friends Ashten and Kyre, who are just arriving for the day. They look so happy. I am already exhausted and have only been here for basically an hour. Maybe THIS is why waking up at 4am is bad, BRAIN. I’m just SAYING.
10:45am Make my way downstairs and to the area where line entrances begin for the two main stage theatres. This area is a total and complete shit show (spoiler: it will remain thus all weekend long).
For some reason, Denver Comic Con was once again unable to book the entire convention center, and once again, another convention is taking place at the same time as comic con. This other convention has booked the entire front end of the convention center, where the usual main entrances and exits are. So DCC has had to move the entry points all the way to the Speer Street side of the convention center, right next to where lining up has to happen for the theatres where the celebrity panels are held. So over here we’ve got an endless stream of crowds coming in through the main doors, and over here we’ve got giant clumps of people trying to figure out where to get in line for the panels. And in the midst of it all we’ve got a bunch of super overwhelmed volunteers trying to manage all of these crowds. I don’t pretend to have any solutions for any of this, other than it worked way better when the main line to enter con was a literal half mile away, on the other end of the building. But there has to BE a solution, or people are going to stop coming to con.
10:50am I find a chair and sit down to regroup for a few minutes. I have scheduled my day using the Denver Comic Con app but I am suddenly feeling overwhelmed and confused and have to look it over to make sure I’m still on track.
10:53am Plus this way I can see all the cosplayers coming in from the main entrance. Bonus!
10:55am Except so far, there is nothing good. I bet all the really good cosplayers have Apparated straight onto the show floor.
11:00am Anyway. Time to locate the media line for the Khary Payton panel!
11:06am That went smoothly, if incorrectly. This year’s media guidelines say we will be lined up “next to the Speed Pass Holders”, but the volunteers back here send us to the ADA line, as in years past. Spoiler: This will cause a great deal of confusion for both volunteers and media members all weekend long.
11:08am Chat with a couple of other media pass holders while waiting, comparing entry experiences from this morning. Watch a super jerky guy with a Speed Pass berate the clearly disabled man guarding the doors for not allowing him to line up with the ADA line. He keeps insisting it is the SAME THING. We all jump in and point him to the actual Speed Pass line. He tries to insist it is for the other theatre. We point out the actual sign saying it’s for this theatre. He finally marches off in a huff. This happens four more times before the doors finally open.
11:30am Garrett Wang comes out to introduce Khary Payton! I’m very excited about this. Khary Payton plays King Ezekiel in The Walking Dead, which makes him third only to Carol and Daryl as my favorite character. ALSO, he is super good looking in real life. ALSO also, he does a ton of voice acting in various Justice League/Teen Titans cartoons.
11:31am Khary Payton is less than ten feet away from me!
He is hilarious right off the mark. He is asking if there is a dispensary inside the convention center (I mean, it IS Colorado). Then he tells a funny story about the first time he met Mark Hamill in person (because they both had voice parts on the same show) and how he was just staring, awestruck, as Mark Hamill did his line readings, and everyone laughed at him for staring, and then when he was able to introduce himself, all he could manage to say was “I’m Khary Payton,” and Mark Hamill was like, “How nice for you!”
He also talks about doing all his own stunts, because it’s fun. Someone asks who his favorite Walking Dead castmate is, and he won’t outright say a name but it’s totally obvious that it’s Melissa McBride, who plays Carol. He says she’s a great acting coach. And he also talks a bit about Norman Reedus and how greasy his hair is.
At the end of the panel he jumps down off the stage and high fives the whole front row, which includes ME, and he smells really nice, like cinnamon and clove and other spices. I don’t know. This seems weird now. I made it weird. I’m so sorry.
12:25pm Find room for next panel. It’s a small room and filling up fast, and I’m in the back having trouble committing to a location. Finally I decide on an end seat in the second to last row.
12:29pm Super tall dudes sit right in front of me. I move to the very back row.
12:30pm Panel begins but everyone is still talking and shuffling around because moderator is speaking so quietly. Then a video is playing on a screen situated near the front, but volume is down too low and people are still talking. This is so confusing.
12:32pm Apparently the moderator has pre-taped interview segments with the subject of the panel and is showing those instead of asking him questions in person. Even though he is sitting right here.
12:38pm This… is too quiet. I have no idea what is happening.
12:45pm This is not getting better. I have to escape. Except now the room is super quiet because the panel is super quiet and everyone will notice if I leave.
12:46pm But I can’t stay here and miss something else that might be pretty great for something this dull.
12:47pm Person nearby coughs. OMG. That’s IT! I’ll fake a coughing attack and leave!
12:49pm Honestly I’m still kind of patting myself on the back for that acting job.
12:52pm Take seat in front row of panel room right next door. This has to be better!
12:55pm Megan shows up! Yay!
1:00pm Panel begins. Topic: Can Men Write Women and Women Write Men? It’s a comics panel featuring writers Amy Chu (Red Sonja, KISS, Deadpool, Ant-Man, and ten million others), Kyle Higgins (Nightwing, Batman Eternal, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and ten million others), Jeremy Whitley (Princeless, Raven: The Pirate Princess, The Unstoppable Wasp), Ian Flynn (chief writer of the Sonic the Hedgehog series for Archie comics), Crystal Skillman (award-winning playwright and screenwriter whose plays include Geek, Cut, King Kirby, and Rain and Zoe Save the World), and Jody Houser (Faith, Rogue One, Mother Panic, and Megan’s new BFF). Pretty stacked with amazing talent.
Right off the bat, the writers let us know that they think the panel title is kind of bullshit and that the question should really be SHOULD men write women and women write men? The general consensus is sure, but only if they’re going to do it well.
1:18pm I am in my own little heaven of hearing working creative people talk about creative work. This is what I love about con. Sometimes I forget.
1:22pm Amy Chu is kind of hilarious, especially when she talks about writing KISS and meeting Gene Simmons.
1:28pm Kyle Higgins has feelings about fans who send him death threats about the direction he took Power Rangers.
1:35pm Much talk of how often comics get the look of women wrong, and how there are artists out there drawing for hugely popular titles who literally draw the same face on every single woman they have to draw. There is gentle mocking of a male artist who gives every woman the same upturned nose. Megan and I giggle because we know exactly who they are talking about. Hint: check out some X-Men titles.
1:50pm Panel ends and Megan and I check schedules to see where we are going next. Here! We are going here! To this room! Yay! Jeremy Whitley is also on the next panel and doesn’t have to leave his seat either. Honestly, I would love that if I were a panelist. I bet there is a lot of running from one end of the convention center to another for panelists.
1:51pm Ugh. Running.
1:52pm I have spread my crap out across three seats, trying to get organized. Megan is eating a Lara Bar.
1:56pm Megan is eating a banana.
1:57pm We live here now.
1:59pm Seriously I have never see anyone consume a banana slower than Megan.
2:00pm Panel begins. Topic: Not Just Angry Supermen: Comics Young Women Can Identify With. The panelists are artist Erica Henderson (Jughead, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl), artist Carolyn Nowak (Lumberjanes), writer Jeremy Whitley (see above), and writer Sam Sykes (comic series Brave Chef Brianna, fantasy series Aeons’ Gate and Bring Down Heaven, son of Diana Gabaldon… but he doesn’t mention this).
2:06pm Megan: still eating a banana.
2:07pm Sam Sykes makes snarky comment about how he, as a 34-year-old white man, has his finger on the pulse of what young women want to read.
2:19pm Then Sam Sykes makes Megan and I a tiny smidge weepy because he says really all that young girls and young women want out of their reading is to feel like they are recognized – like someone sees them. And he is SO RIGHT.
2:20pm So I guess Sam Sykes really does have his finger on the pulse of what young women want to read after all.
2:26pm Carolyn Nowak is one of the all-time best snarky bitches. I wonder if we can bring her home with us.
2:50pm Panel ends. Somewhere along the way Megan has finally finished her banana.
3:00pm I decide to try and figure out where I go to exchange the tickets for Pook’s Saturday and Sunday passes for actual badges.
3:06pm Entire front of convention center is blocked off so it can’t be here.
3:20pm Still wandering.
3:25pm Have ended up back where we entered in the morning so I go ask volunteer at the Information desk if she knows where I exchange tickets for badges. She babbles at me but the gist is, “Not here.” I attempt to say, “I know it’s not here, I’m asking if you DO know where.” But her blank face is not encouraging.
3:28pm Helpful convention center staffer is able to point me in correct direction and opens a rope so I can bypass going outdoors and coming back inside. Thank you, helpful convention center staffer.
3:30pm It takes two seconds at the Registration booth to exchange my tickets for badges. Now I have an hour to kill until Carolyn and Megan’s panel.
3:33pm Stop at cafeteria and pay $11 for a soda and a bottle of Gatorade.
3:35pm Honestly this corridor outside the hallway of panel rooms looks pretty comfy. I’m going to charge my phone and take photos of cosplayers if I see anything fun.
3:38pm Take to Facebook to whine about lack of fun cosplay today.
3:46pm Megan appears but immediately abandons me to go talk to some people she sees in line for a panel.
3:54pm See epic Silent Hill – Pyramid Head cosplay.
3:55pm Lady THOR! Things are looking up!
4:09pm And then I see what will be my favorite cosplay of the entire weekend. Check it out.
I know. A lot of people don’t get it.
Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy 2 yet? You won’t get it if you haven’t.
It’s Yondu Mary Poppins!
He’s my fave.
4:18pm Follow Megan and Carolyn and their team into panel room. “I’m with the band,” I tell the volunteer guarding the door. He looks confused.
4:22pm Carolyn’s face is turning red. She is very nervous. “What if it’s just a bunch of fanboys and they hate us?” she asks. I mean, we’ve been to con a few times, so this fear is not entirely unfounded. But I think everything will be fine and tell her this.
4:30pm Panel begins! Topic: Natural 20: How RPGs are Changing the World. The panelists are Carolyn, Megan, and Christian and Shayla Gentry, the Dungeon Master duo for their Dungeons & Dragons group. I sit near the front and take video.
4:38pm Room is actually pretty full. Things are going great. They have made an effort to involve the whole room in the discussion and people are responding.
4:50pm Carolyn’s face finally stops being bright red.
4:52pm I realize this is that one panel that I go to every year that’s on a topic that I don’t really know much about or doesn’t even interest me all that much, but I go to learn something new and maybe have some fun outside my comfort zone. And I’m super excited that it’s my two best friends putting on that panel this time! Because how cool is learning something new from people you actually adore?
5:20pm Panel ends. Everyone has survived and the audience seems pretty happy with how it went down. I’m so proud of my friends!
5:25pm People have followed panelists into hallway to continue discussion.
5:38pm Eventually we make our way back to the Bellco Theatre to get seats for the James and Oliver Phelps panel. Because Weasley twins!
5:50pm Megan and I are saving a seat for Carolyn, who went to grab a beer and a water.
5:52pm I see Carolyn coming down the staircase inside the theatre.
5:54pm Carolyn has disappeared.
5:59pm Carolyn reappears and takes her seat. “They said media can’t bring alcohol into the theatre, so I had to go chug my beer real quick.”
6:00pm WEASLEY TWINS! Er… I mean, James and Oliver Phelps, of Harry Potter film fame.
6:01pm Claire Kramer starts taking audience questions almost straightaway. James and Oliver are both so funny, and play off one another in a fun brotherly way.
Someone asks if they ever switched roles on set and Oliver says he tried to play Hagrid once.
James’ favorite movie to film was Goblet of Fire.
(I get distracted here and have one of those fan moments where I realize I am in a room with real Harry Potter people and I don’t hear what Oliver says in response to this same question.)
Oliver tells story of everyone leaving for lunch after filming Fred’s death scene and leaving James strapped to the stretcher.
Kids ask the best questions. “How old are you?” James: “He’s 31 but I won’t tell you how old I am.”
James says he’s a space nerd and collects guitars.
Oliver geeks out over sports.
Someone always asks the famous guests to pick cast member favorites! James is like, “All of them.” Except naming names. And also says “Dame Julie Walters.” And tells a nice story about Michael Gambon helping him prepare for another role.
Everyone wants to hear about behind the scenes pranks!! And James says they can’t tell about their favorite because the person still doesn’t know.
“What was it like doing Quidditch?” Oliver: “It was long, and it was painful for a boy.”
“Did you take the Pottermore Sorting and if so which houses did you get?” Oliver: Gryffindor. James: Hufflepuff.
“What is your favorite memory of Alan Rickman?” James says the scene where he whacked Ron on the head in Goblet of Fire. This is also mine. Twins!!
Someone asks if there is scene from the books that they are disappointed didn’t make it into the films. Oliver says it was disappointing that Peeves wasn’t in the movies so they could say “Give her hell for us, Peeves!” when they left Hogwarts.
Oliver’s favorite book is Goblet of Fire. James’ is Prisoner of Azkaban. Because of how it smelled the first time he opened it. OMG. SAME!
6:50pm The panel ends and the whole audience makes that disappointed “Aww, man” sound, but then stands to cheer. I would be sadder, but they are appearing again on Sunday and doing photo ops.
6:55pm Besides, I am dead tired now and ready to head home. I trudge up the stairs of the theatre behind the crowd, wondering how I will manage to walk all the way back to the Light Rail stop.
7:14pm Somehow I have managed and a train is supposed to arrive in two minutes!
7:15pm Some people next to me spot a kid in Ravenclaw robes on the other side of the train platform and start shouting “Ravenclaw pride!” A bunch of other people join in. It is moments like this that are some of the best parts of con.
7:40pm Aaaaand there is a parking ticket on my car because I accidentally parked in a reserved row. Oops. But they let me off with a warning! Yay!
8:02pm Drive past Chinese restaurant where I was planning to stop for takeout and go straight home to call for delivery. Because I am too tired to get in and out of the car twice.
Stay tuned for Day Two, in which I take two teenagers to con! Will they be cranky? Will Megan slowly consume another banana? Will I spend more money on art?
Denver Comic Con is an education program of Pop Culture Classroom with more than 600 hours of educational programming and 9,000 sq. ft. of convention floor dedicated to the Pop Culture Laboratory, an area designed to engage kids in S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) educational activities, and spotlight the PCC program and its students and graduates. Further, it provides educational, youth-based programming and fun activities for our younger attendees and their families, and allows young creators to work directly with professionals from the comic book and animation industries as well as other creative professions.
PCC Mission: Pop Culture Classroom ignites a love of learning, increases literacy, celebrates diversity and builds community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression.
PCC Vision: Pop Culture Classroom envisions individuals transformed by the educational power of popular culture who create diverse, inclusive and engaged communities.
- Quality service to kids and communities
- Respect, inclusiveness and diversity
- Equality of opportunity
- Alternative approaches to education
- Recognizing each person’s intrinsic dignity and importance
- Open communication, responsibility and honesty
For more information about Pop Culture Classroom’s role in the community, please visit http://popcultureclassroom.org/