DCC Spotlight: Natural 20 Panel (Full)

Natural 20This year at Denver Comic Con we had the honor of presenting a panel for the first time. Together with our friends Christian and Shayla, Dungeon Masters for ATK, Inc and all around amazing humans, we led a discussion on the role that tabletop RPGs play in making the world a more awesome and accepting place, as well as how to get involved in your own tabletop RPG and find the perfect adventuring party! We had a blast, met some incredible gamers of all ages and we already can’t wait to come next year! Check it out, and make sure to give us your feedback. Thank you Denver Comic Con and Pop Culture Classroom for the opportunity to be a part of this year’s programming. See you in 2018!

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.

PCC Values:

  • 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/ 

Do Gargoyles Eat Eclairs? An Interview With Amalie Howard

Amalie Howard HeaderAnother Denver Comic Con is in the books, and once again we had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our favorite Colorado authors, the award-winning Amalie Howard. We chatted about all sorts of things, including her new romance series, diversity in YA literature and, well, pastry. Trust me, it all makes sense if you just stay with me! The following interview has been edited lightly for clarity, grammar and continuity. As always, we are grateful to Amalie for taking the time on such a busy convention weekend. We spoke between signings at her booth.

Carolyn: So, how is the new romance series coming along? When does the third book come out?

Amalie: It’s going great! The third book is out on July 25th, in a few weeks. It’s been really fun to write, and of course getting to write steamy sex scenes is great. The third one is called My Hellion, My Heart, which is just great.

My Hellion, My Heart Cover

I’ll be in my bunk.

Carolyn: OMG, it really is! I drool over the new cover art. I don’t read a lot of traditional romance, but when I do, I like to read it in the bathtub with bubbles and a nice glass of wine.

Amalie: Obviously. That’s the best place to read romance.

We go on a full on tangent about custom bathtub caddies that sadly my recorder did not capture. But rest assured, it was epic. The point is, we like to drink fancy wine. While reading. If you don’t do this, you should.

bathtub caddy with wine

Amalie and Carolyn approve this bath setup.

Carolyn: Besides making for great bathtub reading, what’s different about writing romance versus YA, which is your usual wheelhouse?

Amalie: Well, there’s a lot more…freedom in the romance market. YA has a very specific set of expectations, of what they are looking for. Romance is more varied. And of course, again, writing steamy sex scenes is really fun. But YA will always be my home. I love writing for that audience.

At this point, a young woman and her mom stop at Amalie’s booth. Watching Amalie talk with her is just lovely. She’s engaged and funny, talks directly to the girl, asking questions, and giving honest answers. She doesn’t talk down to her, or over her head and encourages this fan to expand her reading horizons without pressuring her. It’s great to see. She signs a copy of The Almost Girl for her and poses for a picture. I am suffering from full on Con Exhaustion at this point and try very hard not to get all weepy about seeing young girls who love reading. Fortunately for me, Amalie makes a hilarious comment about the potentially awkward photo angle and my emotional moment passes.

Carolyn: So, your process for writing the Lords of Essex series is a bit different because you’re working with a writing partner. How does that work, and what were the challenges?

Amalie: When you are collaborating with someone the key is planning and communication. We had a very thorough outlining process. I’m talking long, dense outlines. 15-20 pages single spaced. You have to map out all the story beats because if one of you changes something on your own, everything can break down. It actually changed my process for writing my own stuff, I didn’t use to outline at all, and now I do. Much less complicated, just a couple of pages of bullet points, but yeah, writing with a partner has helped me evolve my own process too.

Carolyn: Your writing partner, Angie, also writes historical work, right? I don’t know anything about her.

Amalie: Oh she’s awesome. She writes about Paris and gargoyles. In the Gothic style. It’s awesome, and also YA. You should check it out.

Carolyn: I wonder if gargoyles eat eclairs.

Amalie: What?

Carolyn: Gargoyles. Do you think they eat eclairs? I mean, Paris has the best eclairs. If I was in Paris, I’d be eating eclairs.

I wonder if there are any eclairs down there?

I wonder if there are any eclairs down there?

Amalie: You ask the best questions.

Carolyn: Important questions. Deep, philosophical questions. Not but seriously, those sound really fun and I’ll definitely have to check them out.

I think about eclairs and the gargoyles who love them for several minutes while Amalie engages with fans and talks to some other Con guests who stop by her table. While not pondering Parisian pastries, I think again about how much I adore this event. I love the accessibility both every day fans and small media outlets like Sisters in Geek have here. the camaraderie of the guests, how they help each other and support each other. I try to remember the name of the author who helped me find Amalie’s table when I was hopelessly turned around and running late. I fail because I’m thinking about eclairs.

Eclairs

These eclairs have fruit on them. They are totally health food!

Carolyn: What’s it like writing both YA and this new historical fiction series at the same time? How do you switch between the two styles? It sounds like such a different mindset.

Amalie: My secret weapon is playlists.

Carolyn: Really? Tell me more! I am obsessed with playlists.

Amalie: Yeah, so I have different playlists for each thing that I might be working on. For the Lords of Essex books it’s all classical, it just gets me in the right head space for the time period and the vibe. When I’m working on the Alpha Goddess series, it’s a lot of trance and then Nine Inch Nails. And then for Almost Girl it’s dubstep.

Carolyn: Wait, Nine Inch Nails? That’s unexpected. I wouldn’t immediately associate NIN with Alpha Goddess.

Amalie: Really? It’s so perfect for me. The energy of it, and of course…

Carolyn: Identity, NIN is all about identity and the discovery of the self, yeah. Absolutely, can’t believe I didn’t think of that! I would love to listen to those playlists, I love playlists. I use them all the time in my D&D campaigns for my characters.

To her everlasting credit, Amalie does not give me a hard time for making this conversation about me and lets me ramble about D&D, the panel we presented this weekend and other nonsense for at least 3 minutes. She also keeps feeding me chocolate.

Carolyn: I’m going to have to message you for those playlists, I’d really like to listen to them.

Amalie: Oh! They’re on my site, you can listen to them anytime you want.

Carolyn: Excellent! That’s awesome. Well, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. Any last thoughts, upcoming releases or ideas you’d like to end on?

Amalie: Well, My Hellion My Heart is out on July 25th, the next sequel in Alpha Goddess is out next year. Read more books, and remember that healthy sex is important and women need to be able to ask for it! That’s what I learned from writing Regency Romance.

I collapse into helpless giggling.

Carolyn: Well, that’s the perfect way to button up this interview. Thank you as always Amalie!

Carolyn and Amalie

No, but seriously, what do gargoyles eat?

AMALIE HOWARD is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national IPPY silver medalist and Children’s Moonbeam Award winner. She is also the co-author of My Rogue, My Ruin in the historical romance series, the Lords of Essex. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. She is very active on social media and we highly recommend following her for shenanigans and adventure.

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.

Pop Culture Classroom Logo

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.

PCC Values:

  • 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/ 

DCC Last Minute SQUEEEEEEing

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE DENVER COMIC CON AND AND ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE… SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Alright, I don’t have time for a fancy organized post. So here are some random last minute con prep thoughts!

1. You, fellow nerd-person, are formally invited to attend our Denver Comic Con panel Natural 20: How RPGs are Changing the World on Friday 6/30 (TOMORROW! OMG!) at 4:30PM in room 607. It’ll be D&D story time, and we’d love for you to come and tell your own D&D stories on the positive theme of how D&D helps us all with team building and making friends and joy and story telling and snacks. If you haven’t played pen and paper RPGs, come anyway! We are fun people.

We’ll also be giving out a few things because why not? Critters, we love you. Please come and say hi! OMG can you believe that last episode? EEEK!

2. Jody Houser is coming. JODY HOUSER IS COMING TO DCC! 

She’ll be in Artist Alley at booth O-01. Faith, guys. Not Buffy Faith, but flying super sarcastic superhero faith. If you aren’t reading it you should be. It just won some fancy award. It is hilarious. FAITH! JODY HOUSER!

DCC17_JODY-HOUSER (1)jody houser

3. Carolyn Nowak is also going to be there. LUMBERJANES! It is such an oddly cute and deep comic. Plus they DCC17_CAROLYN-NOWAKhad a crossover with my other favorite cute and deep comic Gotham Academy! So much love. She has some really great comics up on her webpage too. One is about almost astronauts and evil bitches next door. I just started it and want to read it instead of typing this sentence. You can find her in Artist Valley Table N-26! Or at these panels: Creating your own Independent Comics Friday at 12PM 8bit Stage @ Kids’ Lab, Not Just Angry Superman – Comics Young Women Can Identify With Friday at 2PM Room 503, Boom! and Kaboom! Saturday at 1PM room 503 (also includes Sam Sykes, Jim Campbell, and Ian McGinty), Comics Writing Careers for Young Women Saturday at 4PM 8bit Stage @ Kids’ Lab.

 

DCC17_GEORGESJEANTY

 

4.   Georges Jeanty (artist for Buffy Season 8, 9, Firefly comics) is back this year for the 20th Anniversary of Buffy! He’ll be at Artist Valley, Table A-02. He has the party table. Last year there was music, and people were just hanging out talking nerdy stuff. It is a very entertaining place where you can feel free to discuss if that big thing that almost ate fake-buffy at the beginning of season 8 is a dragon or not. He’ll also be on these panels: Diversity in Comics I – Are Things Really Changing? Friday at 1PM DCCP6 Coast City Room, Buffy Comics 20th Anniversary Creator Celebration Sunday at 1:30PM Room 501.

 

5. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed at Comic Con. Since it may reach temps that put wookiees in danger, you should think about bringing some. Snack bars! Dried fruit! Undried fruit! Trail mix! Put some snacks and water in your bag right now before you forget!

6. Oh wait, that was it. I’m going to go back to reading this comic about the bitches next door to almost astronauts. It is pretty vital for my con prep right now. HAVE FUN THIS WEEKEND, CON PEOPLE!

DCC 2017 Preview: Authors!

Comic Cons are always a series of difficult nerd choices. Who do I meet? Which panels do I go to? What do I do when I’m not buying more art than I have wall space for. (I’m considering putting art on my ceiling now.) I’ve been studying the Denver Comic Con guest list and panel schedules. Here are the authors I plan to attend at least one panel for. They’ve written some pretty amazing things, and if we all sit very quietly in a room as they talk, maybe we’ll hear something incredible, funny, true, and/or insightful.

(Updated, sadly, to remove Bonnie Burton. She had a last minute emergency and can’t make Denver Comic Con this year.)

Catherynne M. Valente is a New York Times Best Selling and award winning fantasy and scifi author. She’s written a lot of things,DCC17_CATHERYNNE-M-VALENTE-New but my favorite so far is The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making which starts out wonderfully: “Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents’ house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog. Because she had been born in May, and because she had a mole on her left cheek, and because her feet were very large and ungainly, the Green Wind took pity on her and flew to her window one evening just after her twelfth birthday.”

Catherynne M. Valente’s DCC Schedule:

Mistakes Were Made (Friday 6/30 2:30PM Room 402),               The Writing Process of Best Sellers (Saturday 7/1 12PM Room 407), Millennials Rising -YA Literature Today (Saturday 7/1 3:30PM Room 402), Start Short, Get Good (Saturday 7/1 5PM Room 407), Is This a Kissing Book? (Sunday 7/2 10:30AM Room  402), The Best Writing Advice I Was Ever Given (Sunday 7/2 3PM Room 407).

She also has signings on Friday 6/30 (11AM-1pm Author Signing Booth 2), Saturday 7/1 (1:30-2:30pm Tattered Cover Signing Booth), Sunday 7/2 (12-2PM Author Signing Booth 1).

 

DCC17_CHARLIE-JANE-ANDERS

Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All the Birds in the Sky, which won a Nebula award. She’s also co-founder of i09, and has published a lot of short stories. All the Birds in the Sky is pretty hilarious, but a heart breaking kind of hilarious that most of us nerds understand. Based on her writing she may also know how to program spells. I’m going to all her panels just in case.

Charlie Jane Anders DCC Schedule:

Steampunk vs. Cyberpunk (Friday 6/30 12PM Room 407), Avadakedavra! Magic in Literature (Friday 6/30 1PM Room 407), Fight the Power! Fiction for Political Change (Friday 6/30 4:30PM Room 402), I Wish Someone Had Told Me (Saturday 7/1 4PM DCCP4 Keystone City Room), Representing Gender Non-Conforming People in Fiction (Sunday 7/2 11:30AM Room 402), Writing Strong Women in Fantasy and Scifi (Sunday 7/2 1PM 8bit Stage @ Kids’ Lab).

She also has signings on Saturday from 11AM-1PM at Author Signing Booth 3 and Sunday from 4PM-6PM at Author Signing Booth 3.

 

DCC17_CORY-DOCTOROW

Cory Doctorow is the award winning scifi author of Little Brother and Homeland. Books that delve into protecting our privacy and personal freedoms against a surveillance state. He’s also a co-editor of Boing Boing, a journalist, an activist, and has a mention in Ready Player One by Ernest Cline as a geezer who “had been doing a kick-ass job of protecting user rights for over a decade.”

Cory Doctorow’s DCC Schedule:

The Future is Here (Friday 6/30 1:30PM Room 402), Fight the Power! Fiction for Political Change (Friday 6/30 4:30PM Room 402), The Writing Process of Best Sellers (Saturday 7/1 12PM Room 407), Creating the Anti-Hero (Saturday 7/1 1:30PM  Room 402), Millennials Rising -YA Literature Today (Saturday 7/1 3:30PM Room 402), Economics, Value and Motivating Your Character (Sunday 7/2 11AM Room 407), Urban Science Fiction (Sunday 7/2 3PM DCCP4 Keystone City Room)

He also has signings on Friday 6/30 from 2:30-4:30PM at the Tattered Cover Signing Booth, on Saturday 7/1 from 4:30-6:30PM at the Tattered Cover Signing Booth, and on Sunday 7/2 from 12:30-2:30PM at the Tattered Cover Signing Booth.

 

DCC17_DIANA-GABALDON

Diana Gabaldon is the best selling, award winning author of The Outlander series that is now a TV series on Starz. There time travel. There is action, doctoring of gross wounds caused by the action, and sexy times with kilts. What more do you need?

Diana Gabaldon DCC Schedule:

Young Women – Write Yourself a Novel Career! (Friday 6/30 1pm 8bit Stage @Kids’ Lab), Mistakes Were Made (Friday 6/30 2:30PM Room 402), Outlander – with Diana Gabaldon & Andrew Gower (Saturday 7/1 11:30AM Night Lynx Stage @ Main Events), From Page to Screen (Saturday 7/1 1PM Room 407), The Art of the Complex Villian (Saturday 7/1 4pm Room 407), Is This a Kissing Book? (Sunday 7/2 10:30AM Room 402).

She also has signings on Friday 6/30 from 11AM-12:50PM at Random House / Del Rey Signing Booth, on Saturday 7/1 2pm-3:50PM at The Tattered Cover Signing Booth 2, and on Sunday 7/2 12-2pm at The Tattered Cover Signing Booth 2.

 

DCC17_FELICIADAYFelicia Day is an actress, creator, and writer of the web series of The Guild, and author of You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost). She’s also a co-host/creator of the web series Vaginal Fantasy Book Club.

Felicia Day’s DCC Schedule:

Felicia Day (Saturday 7/1 4:30PM Night Lynx Stage @ Main Events)

She also has photo ops on Saturday 7/1 from 12-12:30PM and Sunday 7/2 from 12:30-1PM at the Celebrity Summit that require tickets.

 

DCC17_JOHN-SCALZI

John Scalzi is the author of many fun Scifi books with some serious bits. He likes to pull you in with silliness and sarcasm then break everything and get serious. He’s known for his series Old Man’s War and Hugo award winning Red Shirts. He’s also hilarious on twitter and his blog.

John Scalzi’s DCC Schedule:

Laughter in the Face of Disaster (Friday 6/30 11AM Room 407), Military Scifi an Institution (Friday 6/30 3PM DCCP4 – Keystone City Room), Fight the Power! Fiction for Political Change (Friday 6/30 4:30PM Room 402), The Writing Process of Best Sellers (Saturday 7/1 12PM Room 407), The Hardness Scale – Is Fiction Better Squishy or Solid? (Saturday 7/1 3PM Room 407), Economics, Value and Motivating Your Character (Sunday 7/2 11AM Room 407).

He also has signings on Friday 6/30 from 1PM-2:50PM at Tattered Cover Signing Booth 2, and on Saturday 7/1 from  10:30AM-12:30PM at the Tattered Cover Signing Booth, and on Sunday 7/2 from 2PM-4PM at Tattered Cover Signing Booth 2.

 

DCC17_KOWAL

Mary Robinette Kowal is an award winning author of the Glamourist History Series, which is like Jane Austen with cool magic. She’s also an award winning puppeteer, and has cool picks of dragon puppets and weirdo creepy hearts on her webpage.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s DCC Schedule:

Kicking Butts in Corsets (Friday 6/30 2PM Room 407), The Past is Here – Writing Romantic Fiction with an Historical Backdrop (Friday 6/30 5:30PM Room 402), Let the Wookiee Win! It’s Okay to an Uplifting Story (Saturday 7/1 11AM DCCP4 Keystone City Room), I Wish Someone Had Told Me (Saturday 7/1 4PM DCCP4 Keystone City Room), Is This a Kissing Book? (Sunday 7/2 10:30AM Room 402).

She also has signings on Friday 6/30 from 10:30AM-12:30PM at Author Signing Booth 2, and on Sunday 7/2 from 2:30PM-4:30PM at Author Signing Booth 2.

 

DCC17_ROBINHOBB_2

Robin Hobb is an award winning, best selling fantasy author known for her Farseer Trilogy. From her writing, I assume that she possesses all the writing secrets in the world. I’m so glad she’s coming to Denver Comic Con. I can’t wait to hear her talk.

Robin Hobb’s DCC Schedule:

Avadakedavra! Magic in Literature (Friday 6/30 1PM Room 407), Mistakes Were Made (Friday 6/30 2:30PM Room 402), Creating the Anti-Hero (Saturday 7/1 1:30PM  Room 402), The Art of the Complex Villian (Saturday 7/1 4pm Room 407), But is it Epic Enough? (Sunday 7/2 11AM DCCP4 Keystone City Room), The Best Writing Advice I Was Ever Given (Sunday 7/2 3PM Room 407).

She also has signings on Friday 6/30 from 4-5PM at the Random House / Del Rey Signing Booth, on Saturday 7/1 from 11AM-1PM at the Tattered Cover Signing Booth 2 and 2:30-3:30PM at the Random House / Del Rey Signing Booth, and on Sunday 7/2 from 4-6PM at the Tattered Cover Signing Booth 2.

Finally, some of our favorite authors from previous years are returning to Denver Comic Con to impart more of their writing wisdom, including: Amalie Howard, Kristi Helvig, Sherry Ficklin (Booth D12 and D14), Corinne O’Flynn, and Sue Duff. Also, Callie Bates has her debut book The Waking Lands due out tomorrow! Possibly not enough time to read it before DCC, but it has some great early reviews so it might be worth catching some of her panels too!

Download the new 2017 Denver Comic Con app to view the full schedule and add these and other panels to your schedule!

Ermergerd It’s Almost Time for Denver Comic Con

DCC is only a few days away, and we can barely contain our excitement here at SiG headquarters. I want to see everyone and everything and talk to everyone and buy all the art, but I am an adult gods damn it, and I know there are limits in life. Of time, of energy and of money. I’ve got to prioritize. So, I made a list. 

Top Ten Things I am the Super Most Ever Ever Excited About for Denver Comic Con. 

1. Clare Kramer moderating on the main stage again. Clare is a genius host and really elevates the main panels at DCC to the highest levels. She’s witty, open, gracious and generous. She gets great stories and epic laughs. I hope she is having as much fun as she is giving the audience. This year, I am specifically excited for the Buffy Villains Reunion and the Art of the Voice panel.

2. Felicia Day. Felicia is one of my heroes, and the absolute hands down number one reason I am brave enough to have started this site with my friends, among many other things. Her honesty is refreshing, her comedic timing is absurd and her talent blows me away. I can’t wait to hear her speak. It’s gonna be amazing.

3. Art. Artists. So much creative goodness. I’ve already covered the many returning guests we can’t wait to see, but the best part is discovering new artists!

4. The cosplay. DCC is stepping up their game this year with a ton of focus on cosplay. Panels, special photo ops and more await this year’s talented cosplayers!

5. Meeting the #critters. Despite the lack of Critical Role cast members attending, I believe that the critters will be out in force! Look for me in my MegMcMuffins original Life Needs Things to Live shirt and let’s hang out and spread some Team Hooman love. #lessthanthree

6. Nathan Fillion’s solo panel. He is hilarious, he is generous and it seems to me he always brings his A game to Con panels. I hope to hear about what’s next for our favorite captain! 

7. I AM BREWT! Theme beers are fun, Groot is adorable and after a long day of talking, walking and squeeing, a girl needs an ice cold beverage. 

8. Meeting…well….everyone. We have made some great connections at DCC over the years. Being amongst your fellow nerds, while exhausting, is also incredibly fulfilling. The geek community is amazing, and this weekend I am super excited to make more new friends.

9. Hovering somewhere between excited and terrified about #9. This year, we are hosting our first panel at DCC! I will be talking about tabletop RPGs and how they are making the world a better place! We hope to see you there! Even if you’re not a D&D player, just stand in the back and give a thumbs up, would you? I need the moral support. 

10. Just being with my fellow Sisters in Geek and seeing their face splitting grins. The memories are worth every aching joint.

What are you most excited for at Denver Comic Con? See you there! Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram all weekend for live panel coverage, photos and more!

DCC 2017 Preview: Artists

Because it's all about the art.

Because it’s all about the art.

It’s almost time for Denver Comic Con fellow geeks! You know what that means, it’s almost time to spend all your money on amazing art to adorn your walls. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Many of our favorite artists are returning to DCC this year, and we can’t wait to see what they’re bringing. And of course, we know that new artists await us on the Con floor, and we’ll tell you all about them too, don’t worry.

But for now, here’s our list of artists whose tables you absolutely MUST visit during DCC.

Credit: Atomic Pixies

Credit: Atomic Pixies

Atomic Pixies – Booth C07

We are so happy that Atomic Pixies will be back at Con this year. If you think I’m not picking up some awesome Stars Wars pieces this year, you’re insane.

 

Credit: Ben Byrd

Credit: Ben Byrd

Ben Byrd – Booth M17

We buy all the Ben Byrd every year. Because every year he has more adorable, wonderful and whimsical art. I, personally, don’t have all of the dragon pieces yet, so I’m excited to finish out my collection.

 

Credit: Elisa Wikey

Credit: Elisa Wikey

Elisa Wikey – Booth M04

I love Elisa’s stuff so much that I want to hug it! Witty, adorable and perfect, this year I’m hoping to stock up on stickers and pins.

 

Credit: Jeannine Schafer

Credit: Jeannine Schafer

Jeannine Schafer – Booth 659

Hands down the best creator of ridiculous cat art on the planet. She does other animals too, but her cats are the best. Plus, she also has t-shirts that are so soft you will weep.

 

Credit: Jenny Parks

Credit: Jenny Parks

Jenny Parks – Booth Q07

OK, OK, maybe Jenny Parks has the best ridiculous cat art on the planet. Don’t make us choose! It’s impossible. I for one am definitely picking up her Wonder Woman cat this year.

 

Credit: Karen Hallion

Credit: Karen Hallion

Karen Hallion – Booth G19

If loving Karen Hallion is wrong, we don’t wanna be right. Her art is beautiful, powerful and awesome. Be sure to take one of her pieces home, won’t you?

 

Credit: Katy L Wood

Credit: Katy L Wood

Katy L Wood – Booth E17

Katy’s work is sometimes dark and gorgeous, and sometimes whimsical and bright. It’s always lovely. For bonus points, Katy hails from Colorado, so show some support for our homegrown talent!

 

Credit: Meg Kirkpatrick

Credit: Meg Kirkpatrick

Megmcmuffins – Booth F05

Meg is the absolute best, and I’m not just saying that because she brought my halfling Bard Portia to life. Her art honors a lot of fandoms, from Critical Role to Supernatural to Hamilton. She’s also hysterically funny and has Blucifer pins available! ALL HAIL BLUCIFER, Lord of the Airport.

 

Credit: Monkey Minion Press

Credit: Monkey Minion Press

Monkey Minion Press – Booth E13

Books! Prints! Magnets and posters! Amazing, beautiful work from the ridiculously talented hands of Dane and Ashlie, Monkey Minion is a can’t miss stop at any Con. Plus, they like space! Space is awesome.

 

Credit: Ryan Cain

Credit: Ryan Cain

Ryan Cain – Booth O23

We love Ryan’s clean style and top notch attention to detail. Also, he’s for sure a gamer nerd, which grants bonus points!

 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all our DCC coverage! We’ll be posting live from the Con floor, sharing favorite moments, panel highlights and chance encounters. And of course the best cosplay. Don’t miss a moment! Find us for free stickers and other Con fun!

Diary of a Comic Con Veteran: Day 2

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Day 2, Saturday

5:10am Wide awake. Know I set alarm for 7. Why can’t I sleep in? WHYYYY?

5:17am Get up. Brush teeth. Sinus rinse. Shower. The usual.

5:38am Dress with care in Tee Turtle Rey and BB-8 shirt and brown pants.

6:12am Ramen for breakfast again.

6:28am Need smaller bag for today. Larger bag was too heavy after about hour 6 yesterday.

6:40am Finish parsing down bag items to fit in small purse. Check for passes. Select dark brown Birkenstocks for today’s proper con footwear.

6:42am Realize I still have an entire hour to kill.

6:48am Read Facebook “On This Day” in its entirety.

7:30am Check for passes.

7:45am Message friend in Ontario to see what she’s up to. The usual: eating poutine and riding moose like horses.

8:10am Head upstairs to wake up teenage boys.

8:12am So. Much. Muttering. And groaning. And grumbling.

8:25am Teenagers sit in kitchen enjoying breakfast of Snickers and Root Beer. Hope son’s friend does not report to his parents on what I feed children for breakfast in my house.

8:38am Check for passes. Get in car.

8:44am Driving to train station. Teenagers express wish that “Maybe we’ll see those girls from yesterday.” Maybe. Maybe we will.

8:56am Inexplicably long line at one of the train ticket kiosks. Glare and huff and skirt around these people to empty machine.

9:03am Catch the 9:03. Tell teenagers not to talk to any weirdos on the train this time. Son says, “What about you? Can we talk to you?” Feel I have walked right into this one.

9:28am Arrive at Convention Center. Bring teenagers with me to media entrance, bracing myself for third degree by security at door (I am permitted to bring my minor children inside with me regardless of their ticket type, but son is always perceived as being older than he is due to tallness and his HANDSOME FACE, so last year I was given a hard time by misinformed door people each day, and it kind of stresses me out). But I needn’t have worried: There is NO security at the media/volunteer/guest/exhibitor entrance this morning. Literally no one checking badges or monitoring the doors.

9:36am Really, anyone could just come in this way. And they are – regular pass holders flowing off elevators from parking garage.

9:38am They are at least guarding the doors to the convention floor with some degree of strictness.

9:45am Carolyn meets me. We have a hot date to see the Lena Headey panel first thing. Ask where Megan is. Carolyn hasn’t seen her yet. Suggests a hangover might be in play. They were out till all hours the night before carousing with writers. You know how writers are.

9:50am Watch people coming up escalators. See a guy in a combination Green Lantern- Captain America costume. Debate ensues: Is this inspired or weird? Also why are he and his cohort carrying four different shields in all different colors? Teenage boys come down on cool side. Carolyn and me come down on “What is the point?” side.

9:53am Oooh, someone’s made a lifelike Artoo robot!

9:54am Lifelike Artoo robot. Heh.

10:00am Doors open. We rush through. We are on a mission to beat the lines for the Main Event stage.

10:04am Are now 41 minutes early for panel.

10:06am Leave teenage boys to the regular pass holder line.

10:45am Room is filling in. Panel not starting. Is fine. We are chill. Totally chill.

No. We are not remotely chill.

No. We are not remotely chill.

10:58am Lena Headey! OMG you guys. I am 10 feet away from LENA. HEADEY. CERSEI LANNISTER. OMG.

11:00am Control my fangirl squeal and take my seat.

11:02am Guess what Lena Headey is wearing, you guys? BIRKENSTOCKS. Proper con footwear. Sparkly black and white Birkenstocks.

11:04am OMG she is adorable. And British. And sassy af.

11:06am Of COURSE Cersei is my favorite character on Game of Thrones. What other characters are there???

11:08am OMG.

11:10am Okay. Just breathe. It’s fine.

11:11am Someone asks Lena Headey what her favorite thing about playing Cersei is. “The long blonde hair, “ she says. “And… erm… I don’t know… so many things…” Questioner: “You can just say it: You like to be bad.” Lena Headey smirrrrrrks and says, “I like to be baaaad.” I turn around to see who has asked this question. Is my friend CJ. Yiiiisssssss. (Edit: CJ has informed me that I have this wrong and his question was actually at the end, and he asked “If you could play any other character, which one would it be?” and Lena’s answer was “Ramsay Bolton” and everyone died. Maybe next year I will take better notes.)

11:15am Lena Headey tells funny story about grabbing ass cheeks of Cary Elwes as he made his way into the convention center in front of her that morning.

11:18am I’m in love with Lena Headey, you guys. Whatever. It’s fine.

11:24am Carolyn goes all Hermione on me and flips out because I keep sneaking photos when we are not sure we’re really allowed to be taking photos (spoiler alert: We are allowed to take photos, just not block anyone’s view with taking of photos). I roll my eyes and tell her to simmer down. Just like a sister would.

11:45am Lena Headey leaves and my life is sadder now. But I feel really good knowing that she agrees with me about proper con footwear. Obviously we would be best friends if she got to know me.

11:52am Whoa. Terrible traffic jam of people trying to leave theatre. This seems like a bit of a crowd control fail.

Oh. Whoa. That's... people.

Oh. Whoa. That’s… people.

11:58am Walled in by people. Starting to panic.

12:00pm People start exiting the building instead of sticking out horrible line. We have bright idea to follow.

12:04pm Being outside with personal space feels good for three minutes. Realization that it is almost 100 degrees outside already hits quickly. This was maybe a terrible idea.

12:06pm So hot.

12:07pm So much cement.

12:13pm Ahhhh front doors. Hello, air conditioning.

 

12:15pm We decide it’s lunch time and then I will go get in line for Stan Lee panel, which is not till 1:30 but I assume it will be full.

12:20pm Purchase terribly mediocre turkey sandwiches and expensive drinks and commandeer a table in the café. Commence people watching. Text friends Russ and Julio to ascertain their whereabouts. They say they’re coming to find us.

12:35pm No sign of Russ and Julio. Whatever. Sitting is comfy.

Heroes gotta eat too!

Heroes gotta eat too!

12:45pm Still no sign of friends. Carolyn has an author interview to get to and I need to join media line for Stan Lee. We split up with plans to meet up for John Barrowman panel later.

1:00pm Oh. Whoa. Line for Stan Lee is out of control.

1:02pm They are not letting anyone through the line to get to ADA and Speed Pass waiting area, which is also designated media waiting area.

1:04pm Is fine. I met Stan Lee last night. Will go find friends instead.

1:09pm Have text from Russ: They are up in food court area. I head that direction, pausing to take lots of photos.

 

1:18pm Food court area is scene from apocalyptic nightmare. So many people. So much concrete. So few places for sitting. So humid.

1:22pm There is no way I am finding friends in this place. Tell them to meet me at Hayley Atwell panel and beat it on out of there. Horrifying.

1:30pm Cue frantic texting from teenage son. His friend’s parents want him home by 6:30pm. We have no plans to even leave con before 7:30pm, let alone be home that early. Do not wish to make complicated parenting decisions for other people’s children in midst of 80,000 people. Tell him to find out if friend’s parents are okay with us putting friend on train by himself (they are 15 years old) and picking him up at the station close to home when he gets there.

1:35pm Friend’s parents are no longer answering his calls or texts. I now have all kinds of thoughts about these people. Tell boys to keep trying.

1:39pm Since midday yesterday, we have noticed that we are not alone in the convention center – by which I mean there is another convention going on besides Denver Comic Con. Keep noticing stuffy-looking people in business attire. Pass by large group of them on my way down main concourse. They look confused. I smile to myself as I walk by. Then I decide to go ask them what they’re thinking – I’m wearing a media badge, after all, so they’ll assume I’m official in some way. Walk up to woman and man who seem to have the most open-minded expressions on their faces. Greet them by saying, “Hey, you all look super confused!” Funny conversation ensues in which they all insist that seeing cosplayers and con-goers is “cool” and “awesome”. One guy says, “I never knew something like this even existed.” I ask them what their conference is for. Awkward silence and sheepish looks. “You don’t want to know that,” a couple of them insist. Automatically I’m assuming they’re either contract killers or undertakers. But it turns out they are all in collections. I make sympathetic noises then take my leave with an awful joke about how I better hide now. Like they’ve never heard that one before.

1:42pm Seriously though. That must kill every party they ever go to. I would just lie and say I’m an undertaker or a contract killer.

1:53pm Reach theatre. Volunteer is sneaking a bunch of late arriving media people into the Stan Lee panel via the side entrance and asks if I want to go in too. I decline, because I do not feel that my media badge entitles me to special treatment.

1:54pm Find nice spot to sit and wait near ADA line. There is an air conditioning vent. I check in with teenagers and friends, and review my photos. It is silent here except for the occasional burst of cheering or laughing from inside the theatre. This is bliss. I love con but it’s hard for an introvert. I’m sure you understand.

2:15pm Stan Lee panel ends with him shouting, “EXCELSIOR!” to the crowd. People start spilling out doors. All are steered left. Bottleneck happens almost immediately.

2:18pm I get some good crowd photos though.

2:28pm Am allowed into theatre to sit down. Sitting down is one of my favorite parts of con.

2:35pm Get text from Russ and Julio that they are here too. Tell them to stay put when panel ends so that I can come up and find them.

2:38pm Son texts to let me know that his friend’s parents are fine with him riding train home alone and will pick him up at station at other end. I tell son to make sure he makes sure his friend gets on the right train.

2:45pm Hayley Atwell! Agent Peggy Carter! OMG! She is ten feet away from me! And she is just as adorable and lovely in real life!

Hayley Atwell, talking about the responsibility of being a role model. Or something cool like that.

Hayley Atwell, talking about the responsibility of being a role model. Or something cool like that.

2:55pm My favorite thing about this panel is all the young girls getting up to ask questions, mostly of the “What’s it like to be such a good role model for girls and young women?” variety, and how genuinely Hayley Atwell responds to them. Even a little boy gets up and asks what it was like to get to boss all the Army men around (referring to the first Captain America film), and she says it was “Quite fun, actually, and a bit empowering.”

3:10pm My least favorite part about this panel are the two fanboys sitting at the end of my row in the media section, muttering under their breath about how stupid “all this girl power crap” is, and scoffing every time another girl asks a feminist-themed question. For real, men of the world: If your manhood is so fragile that it’s somehow threatened by young girls finding power and meaning and representation in a movie character, you have some serious issues that need to be examined.

3:25pm They can’t ruin this for me though. Hayley Atwell says she is fully up for another season of Agent Carter if it somehow gets rescued by Netflix, and believes a series of Agent Carter films would be a fantastic idea too.

3:35pm I finally find Russ and Julio! They are cosplaying as Captain America and Ant-man. We spend some time bashing the jerky dudes who were sitting by me during the panel. Russ goes to find us some water. Julio and I are entrusted with his shield while he is gone.

Ant-Man and Cap... erm... Julio and Russ. I think.

Ant-Man and Cap… erm… Julio and Russ. I think.

3:45pm Russ comes back with water. I decide to hang out with them for the Cary Elwes panel. The theatre is getting packed. I didn’t realize Cary Elwes was so popular but Russ and Julio explain about The Princess Bride. Confession: I have only seen The Princess Bride in its entirety once. It is a phenomenon I don’t really get. I don’t connect with that movie at all. But I do enjoy Cary Elwes!

4:00pm Cary Elwes! The crowd goes wild.

4:10pm Damn, Cary Elwes is funny. He has spent the first ten minutes telling a story about this epic fart that Andre the Giant let rip while they were filming a scene for The Princess Bride, and no one in this room will ever watch that scene the same way again.

4:30pm Fan in the audience asks Cary how it felt to have his ass grabbed by Lena Headey. He just gives us all a devilish smile.

4:45pm Russ and Julio leave me and I go back down to media seats to wait for Carolyn and John Barrowman.  Is clear I have priorities: I will sit up in the cheap seats for people other than John Barrowman. But for John Barrowman, I am all about the media seating perk.

5:00pm There is some sort of drama happening involving the ASL interpreters who are working Denver Comic Con. Lots of huddling up and whispering and switching of places and stuff. Is oddly fascinating to watch in close proximity as it is difficult to imagine what sort of drama there could be.

5:02pm I would be remiss to not give a shout out to the ASL interpreters. They are AMAZING. Our media seating is directly behind the ADA rows and the grouping of seats reserved specifically for those in need of sign-language interpretation. The interpreters at this year’s Denver Comic Con are with Rose Interpreting, a Denver-based agency. I assume a lot of us think having sign-language interpreters present at public events is over the top, just a concession to political correctness, but as I’ve learned with this weekend’s panels, there are around 20 or so people in need of visible sign language interpretation in each of the larger event rooms. And what’s fantastic about these interpreters is that they aren’t up there just signing, but mimicking the entire tone of whatever’s happening onstage with their facial expressions and body language. It’s almost like acting! And that way, the hearing impaired fans at this con are right in on the jokes with everyone else. Anyway, I could go on for days about just this, but let’s leave it at Carolyn and I are super impressed. Kudos to Denver Comic Con for bringing on board such a great team of interpreters, and many kudos to Rose Interpreting for being so awesome.

5:15pm OMG it’s JOHN BARROWMAN! In a DRESS! And a WIG! He is dressed like Castiel from Supernatural!

5:16pm The crowd goes insane!

FAAABULOUS Castiel cosplay.

FAAABULOUS Castiel cosplay.

5:20pm I can’t even – it’s JOHN BARROWMAN. He’s HILARIOUS and awesome.

5:23pm John Barrowman teases the sign language interpreters a bit – they are not remotely phased — and asks for a show of hands from the crowd to indicate who all is need of the interpreting. Way more people than I would have expected. See?? He talks about one of his philanthropic projects in which he’s worked with deaf and hard of hearing people.

5:26pm Then he just gets silly. And takes questions from the crowd. And acts silly.

5:38pm John Barrowman climbs over the seats in the front to go take a question from someone sitting right behind us. I can see it in Carolyn’s eyes: Grab him? Don’t grab him? She goes with “don’t”, which is good because a little kid nearby is gripping his leg for dear life and for a second John Barrowman looks a bit panicked.

He needs to be close to his people.

He needs to be close to his people.

5:46pm John Barrowman tells funny story about his parents sharing Tim Tam biscuits with Lena Headey. Lapses into Scottish accent every time he addresses his parents directly.

6:00pm John Barrowman leaves us and now everyone’s life is sadder.

6:06pm Oh god with the crowd control issues.

6:08pm Still, it turns out this is better than walking outside.

6:15pm Consider going to a panel that starts at 6:20 since I have to wait for my son to finish his last panel, but having to visit the ladies room and then get a snack wins out over one last panel. Am worst reporter ever.

 

6:28pm It is a sad time in the convention center: They have run out of hot pretzels. I settle for peanut M&Ms and a diet soda, then look for a place to sit down. We figure we’ll just hit the floor again like yesterday but then I see my friend CJ manspreading on a comfy couch. He’ll totally let us snuggle up so I drag Carolyn over there instead.

6:35pm Aaahhhh couch life is the best. We can sit here and watch everyone walk by and talk about things and eat snacks.

6:40pm CJ is confused about Donald Trump cosplayer. I look where he is pointing. I laugh and laugh. Is not cosplayer. Is participant from that OTHER conference, with the bill collecting.

6:44pm Other friends come over to meet up with CJ. Kyre is dressed as Ariel and her brother Gib is cosplaying as a punk rock version of Uncle Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender. My friend Ashten shows me his Stan Lee photo and admits that he almost started to cry when he met him. He looks even more insane in his Stan Lee photo than my son and I look in ours, so I feel less alone now.

L-R: Punk rock Uncle Iroh, rabid Stan Lee fan, Ariel, rabid Lena Headey fan.

L-R: Punk rock Uncle Iroh, rabid Stan Lee fan, Ariel, rabid Lena Headey fan.

6:50pm Husband texts to see if we’ve eaten dinner yet. We haven’t even left con, let alone eaten dinner. He wants to go to Illegal Pete’s with us and decides he will drive downtown to pick us up. I assume he remembers that both PrideFest and Comic Con are happening and don’t try to talk him out of this plan.

7:02pm Megan shows up. She has been upstairs on the convention floor all day talking to artists and authors and taking cosplay photos. She looks exhausted. We make room on our couch for her.

7:22pm Teenage son shows up. He is all happy from being in the hyper-nerdy VERSUS! panel just now. It is his favorite thing from last year, in which fictional characters are put against other fictional characters in a hypothetical battle and the audience gets to argue for or against one of the characters winning or losing.

7:28pm As son tells us about some of the battle scenarios and their results, boys sitting next to us jump in to share their thoughts. It is the nerdiest conversation I’ve heard so far this weekend and I love it. This is the best part of con: Making friends with random geeky strangers.

7:35pm Megan and Carolyn finally call it a day. Son and I have to wait for husband. We watch the dudes running around in giant inflatable T-Rex costumes tease and chase people.

7:40pm I tell son to go provoke the T-Rex so I can get a chase scene on video. Said video is priceless. Here… go ahead and watch it:

 

8:00pm Husband picks us up. Attempts to drive through a route that is blocked off by PrideFest in Civic Center Park. I guess he didn’t remember after all.

8:15pm Illegal Pete’s on South Broadway. Taquitos, beer, and hipsters playing bocce. Son is all, “Why are grownups so chill?” In unison, husband and I say, “Legal marijuana, son. Legal marijuana.”

Aaaaand scene.

Stay tuned for Day 3, which I promise will not take me as long to post as Day 2!

Diary of a Comic Con Veteran: Day 1

 

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Day 1, Friday

4:33am Wide awake. Too excited to sleep. This is worse than Christmas.

4:46am Get up. What’s the point of staying in bed when I am THIS wide awake?

5:02am Brush teeth. Sinus rinse. Shower. Etc.

5:27am Search frantically through clean laundry pile for a clean geek-themed shirt. Cannot appear at Denver Comic Con in some shirt I would wear to work.

5:32am Phew. Dancing Baby Groot shirt is clean.

5:47am Inject caffeine and read things on the internet. Check for passes. Put them in bag. Consider breakfast. Need energy for the day!

6:04am Eat ramen. Check bag for passes.

6:18am Still hungry. Eat handful of Ruffles All Dressed potato chips. Check bag for passes.

6:32am Why is it only 6:30? Why isn’t it time to go?

7:07am Check bag for passes. Remember Stan Lee photo op ticket. Add to bag.

7:19am Move photos off phone to make room for thousands of cosplay photos I am going to take at con.

7:48am Check bag for passes and photo op ticket.

7:50am Ponder footwear. Choice is between blue floral Birkenstocks, brown Birkenstocks, striped Birkenstocks, or black Birkenstocks. Because I learned lesson last year: Birkenstocks are proper con footwear.

7:56am Choose floral Birkenstocks.

8:02am Wake teenage son. He asks for five more minutes. I remind him it’s comic con. He settles for three minutes.

8:15am Force feed teenager a Snickers bar and a bottled water. Check bag for passes one last time. Get in car. Ask son to check bag for passes.

8:24am Hit giant traffic jam on highway. Have forgotten today is Friday. It’s rush hour. Why do they call it “rush hour” when it moves so slowly?

8:45am Pick up teenager’s teenage friend. He is not a geek. (This will be important later.)

9;03am Pull into Light Rail parking. No spaces in main lots. Watch 9:03 train pull away.

9:15am Complete hike from far away parking. Is already so hot outside. Glad train and convention center have air conditioning. Purchase train passes. Ask son to double check which line we want. Get entire Light Rail system mansplained to us by schlubby dude in a Flash t-shirt. Will sleep better knowing how it works now. Thank god he was there.

9:16am Mad dash for train car without schlubby dude.

9:23am Strange man with hospital bracelet takes empty seat next to me. Initiates conversation with teenage son and friend. Son and friend will overshare with literally anyone. Am surprised they are not making lunch plans with this man who clearly has some issues.

9:38am Arrive at convention center. Gaze at line to get inside. Thank all the seven gods for media badges.

9:42am Send teenagers off into mean streets of downtown Denver on hunt for coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Go inside to meet up with Megan and Carolyn.

9:56am Realize I didn’t give my child any money. Oops.

9:57am OOOH! People from Sphero are here! Stop to talk to them about my BB-8. Tell them it is my favorite toy I’ve ever owned. They seem pleased to hear this. They are real-deal nerds. I love this.

10:10am Pass through Star Wars fan club area on way to Main Event stage. Lots of characters and robots. Suspect this area will cause crowd traffic issues later on.

10:15am Meet up with Megan outside Main Event stage at the Bellco Theatre. Outside, the line to get into the convention center is still wrapped around the building. People stare resentfully at us. I wonder how people are supposed to make it to panels that start at 10:30 when the line isn’t even moving. We both shrug and assume the con organizers know what they are doing.

10:18am Wander into empty theatre. We are directed to the front by friendly volunteers. Media seating is taped off, just behind ADA seating and just in front of Speed Pass seating. We step over tape to access seats. This is more of an adventure than it should be what with my bum ankle and all.

10:30am Panel is supposed to be starting. There is no one in theatre. Panel does not start.

10:37am A handful of people have wandered in. Panel does not start.

10:45am Announcement is made that panel will begin “in a few minutes”.

10:50am Text from teenage son. He is annoyed by line to get into convention center.

10:55am Panel still has not started. Theatre is still close to empty – maybe 30 people in seating meant for thousands.

11:05am Panel finally begins: Women Working in the Comics & Animation Industry Today. This panel features some amazing women – Barbara Randall Kesel, Cat Staggs, Chrissie Zullo, Dana Simpson, Jennifer Shiman, Marguerite Sauvage, Mindy Newell, and the incomparable Trina Robbins – and is being moderated by Hannah Means-Shannon from Dark Horse Comics, and while I am thrilled to be here, I’m super annoyed that whatever situation with getting the outside line into the convention center has caused the panel to have basically no audience. This panel was clearly set up as a main event to open the weekend in response to the failure last year to really have a presence by women on panels. So to not make sure it has an audience is a big fail.

11:15am Annoyance passes as soon as Trina Robbins makes a sassy remark about not telling us what her new project is, and also threatens to crash another Wonder Woman related panel later today.

11:50am Panel over. Doors are closed for the next panel I wanted to attend so Megan and I head upstairs to the showroom floor. She and Carolyn are very excited to show me a Luna Lovegood print by one of our favorite artists, Ben Byrd.

11:56am Become distracted by Captain America print at Felipe Echavarria’s booth. It’s just the right size and color scheme for an empty spot on the art wall in my writing room. SOLD!

12:05pm Ben Byrd booth. Buy all of the things.

12:20pm Megan and I stop to chat with Mindy Newell and get a photo with her. Mostly she tells us how wonderful Trina Robbins is.

12:30pm Part ways with Megan and go to meet up with son and his friend. We agree to meet near the Tower of T-Shirts booth because it is easy to find. Alas, the floor has started getting crowded and all people look like blurs to me. Stand there absorbing the confusion for what feels like twenty minutes but is really just five. Son and friend show up. They have been looking at hats and artwork.

12:40pm Head downstairs to locate line for Ralph Macchio panel. Find said line breaking up just as we arrive. Apparently his plane was late and he didn’t make it in time for this panel.

12:45pm Teenage boys are hungry. I suggest we leave the convention center to eat lunch.

12:55pm Snarf’s downtown. Score a table and sit, feeling relieved. Still, Birkenstocks were correct footwear – my feet don’t ache anywhere near as badly as they did at this point last year.

1:05pm Delicious sandwich is delicious.

1:30pm Return to convention center. Part ways. Remember to give son money this time.

1:45pm Wander around main concourse on street level, taking photos of cosplayers. There are some amazing costumes.

2:00pm Decide I need a shopping bag for all the stuff I’m carrying around. My messenger bag is large but not large enough, and also feels way too heavy. Stop at Denver Comic Con merch booth and buy a bag and some stickers.

2:05pm Find seat in room for Girls Are the Heroes of Their Own Stories panel. Organize my stuff.

2:13pm Realize that if I stay in this panel, it will overlap with the beginning of the Wonder Woman panel starting at 2:45. Hurry out before it starts.

2:30pm Find seat in room for Wonder Woman panel. See a placard up front for Trina Robbins. Text Megan to let her know.

2:40pm Compliment woman on her owl-print messenger bag as she walks past. She takes seat next to me and starts to tell me about company she got bag from. As she talks I realize she is my old friend Kim whom I haven’t seen in over ten years. We gush and hug. Her daughter who is 5 is graduating from college. I guess she is not 5 anymore.

2:45pm Panel begins: Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Creators, Issue #1. Denver Comic hosted several panels over the weekend featuring different artists, writers, and animators who have worked on various Wonder Woman properties over the years. This one was moderated by Wonder Woman historian Andy Mangels, and featured Cat Staggs, Georges Jeanty, Joe Staton, and Trina Robbins. Staggs and Robbins immediately declare their belief that Wonder Woman has always been a female power fantasy, in that the Amazonians don’t need men to fight their battles for them. Also that Wonder Woman is probably a lesbian and should be written with that assumption in mind, and that her romantic relationships with men always ring false to them.

3:00pm After fourth epically sassy comment in a row from Trina Robbins, Kim leans over and whispers to me, “Old age goals.” And I’m like, “Amen, sister.”

3:30pm Panel ends. Shout out to our awesome Sisters In Geek follower who I met at Denver Comic Con last year and who came over to say hello to me – I am a giant dork for not getting your name or chatting longer. Next time!!

3:40pm Meet up with Megan and Carolyn for next panel. It seems like it shouldn’t take ten minutes to walk from one hallway of rooms to another but making your way through this crowd is like a game of Frogger without the cars or dying. It takes ages.

3:55pm We are settled into seats in back of room. Women with insane hats two rows in front of us. That is the story of con life: There is always a wig or a hat to block your optimal view of the panel guests.

4:00pm Panel begins: Damsels NOT in Distress. This is a discussion by four authors of representation and depictions of young female characters in YA Fantasy and Sci-Fi. It’s a fun conversation. Someone asks about sexy costumes on characters and panelist Sherry Ficklin declares that she is all for female characters being sexy and wearing sexy clothing, but “for god’s sake, put on some real armor.” It is at this moment that we decide she will become our new best friend.

4:45pm Wander main concourse with Megan and Carolyn. Decide we need snacks and a place to sit down. We buy soft pretzels and sodas and find a wall to sit and lean on. This is a good time because we are not far from the main entrance and there is much people watching to do. We get some good cosplay snapshots and talk to some fun people.

5:30pm It’s time for me to head back upstairs and get in line with the teenagers for our Stan Lee photo op. Honestly have spent most of the week in disbelief that this would actually happen but here we are.

5:45pm Son and friend are standing at the back of a crush of humanity waiting for groups for be called to line up for photos. Can’t hear anything. Stand around making snarky remarks, hoping we’ll hear when they call group 2. Notice son and friend noticing the two older teenage girls in front of us. They are very pretty, one on Scarlet Witch cosplay, the other in Captain America. Silently credit son and friend with very good taste.

6:00pm Proper lines begin forming. Enjoy passersby inquiring as to what we are doing there. “Stan Lee? I thought he cancelled.” Nope. And I’m about to meet him!

6:15pm We are in a line behind a family of three. I joke with son’s non-geek friend: “Do you even know who Stan Lee is?” He says, “Kind of.” Dad in front of us turns around with look of horror like we just kicked a bunch of puppies. We laugh.

6:38pm I should have used the restroom before getting in line.

6:40pm Wonder if I have time to run to restroom and get back.

6:45pm Hand ticket to son. “Just go in without me if they call our line before I get back.” Wander to front of line, looking for volunteer or person in charge to find out if I have time to run to the restroom. Only see two police officers talking to some random guy who is not a volunteer or an employee. Ask them if it’s okay to run to the bathroom. The one officer is all, “I don’t know. Can you?” in weirdly flirty voice. I laugh. He asks if I need him to write me a hall pass. “Would you?” I ask, then wave and rush off to nearest women’s restroom.

6:55pm Return to spot in line. Teenagers are now seated on cement floor.

7:05pm Line moves! It’s time! We’re going to see Stan Lee!

7:09pm We are told not to touch Mr. Lee, not to ask him to sign anything, not to engage him in lengthy conversation.

7:11pm Walk into photo room. All I can say is, “STAN LEEEEEE!!!” He gives me a look like, “Yeah, thanks lady, I know my name.” Can see residual of this look in our photo. Son and I both look insane. Son’s friend looks politely interested.

Behold: Three dorks and a legend.

Behold: Three dorks and a legend.

7:12pm And that’s that. It’s very anticlimactic!

7:15pm After picking up our (mostly ridiculous) photo, agree we are all tired and ready to head home. Make our way back through show floor and down to Light Rail station. Wait a few minutes for a train. The young ladies from the Stan Lee photo op line get on same car as us. Watch in amusement as son and friend proceed to sneak glances at them the whole way home. These boys have no game.

7:50pm Chick Fil A for dinner.

9:27pm Bed. Gotta rest up for day 2!

I’ve Divined the Best DCC Author Panels

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Everyone has their own method for choosing from the massive list of comic con panels. I like to focus on writing panels, since often times they will devolve into arguments over whether books should be planned within an inch of their life, and if you should let your four year old be your editor, and more hilarity any writers and readers can enjoy. Oddly enough though, my favorite panels in the past weren’t topics I thought would create my favorite panels. I am beginning to see that yes, topic matters, but the people matter more.

For instance Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, and Patrick Rothfuss. Anytime any of them are on a panel I would go. It doesn’t matter if they are talking about weaponizing spruce trees in space. The people often make the panel. I’m applying this new theory to choosing my author/literary panels for Denver Comic Con 2016. To this end, I’ve read sample chapters to just about every writer coming to Denver Comic Con this year. Many of them I’ve never heard of, which is my own fault, for not quitting my job to read more. I really should find a way to read more. Does listening to audiobooks while you’re sleeping work, or does it just lead to confusing dreams?

Here are some authors who really wowed me with their voices, plotting, and silliness. They really have a good grasp on how to construct a thing. Now I’m not saying they can TALK, which as a speaker is very important. I’m just saying if they can express themselves verbally half as good as they do with written, their panels will be great.

For silliness, I think Dana Simpson will be a great panelist. She’s a best-selling author and a unicorn. I’m not kidding; she says so on her site. She writes the ultra-cute Pheobe and Her Unicorn. If she’s cornered on a panel that has turned serious, I’m sure we can count on her to bring up poop rainbows, and save us all from boredom.

For more silliness (you really can’t have enough), Carrie Vaughn writes the Kitty Norville books about a werewolf DJ who saves the world.

For stories, Trina Robbins is an excellent panelist. She was the first woman to draw Wonder Woman, and has written many great female characters including Wonder Woman and Honey West. When she was told women didn’t draw comics, she started researching and found hundreds at the time. Now she’s recognized as a historian, and recently published Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013.

For award winning talking, Patrick Hester won a Hugo award for his podcast The SF Signal. If the moderator falls down on the job, he can definitely take over. His quick little ebook Witchcraft & Satyrs is about a cranky witch who loves sweet potato pie, and hates to be bothered by the locals. It is a character I readily identify with, and I wish he’d write more cranky witch stories.

For passionate talking, Amalie Howard always brings a lot of passion and energy to a conversation. In panels this is essential, especially in afternoon panels, after lunch, in a slightly hot room when you just start to drift off. I’ve been to Amalie panels before and they are never boring. Amalie wrote the Riven Chronicles and the Cruentus Curse.

For social commentary, A.G. Henley isn’t afraid of setting up an all-female society that steals young girls, in her A Brilliant Darkness series. They are called Fire Sisters. I’ve only read the first few chapters, but I’m hoping living without men gives them the power to start fires with their mind! A.G. Henley is also a clinical psychologist, and if things get slow, can start diagnosing the other panelists. All writers are crazy.

For silly social commentary, Kevin Hearne dissects modern America through the eyes of an ancient druid in the Iron Druid Chronicles.

For Terry Brooks, he has two Shannara Chronicles events, but more importantly, he’s part of the best-selling authors panel with Kevin Hearne and Carrie Vaughn.

Here are the major speaking events and panels these authors are participating in at Denver Comic Con 2016.

Friday

10:30-11:20pm Women Working in the Comics & Animation Industry Today Bellco Theater Dana Simpson, Trina Robbins

10:30-11:20am Lost (and Stressed) in Space: Addressing Mental Health in SF/F Room 506/507 A.G. Henley

2:45-3:30pm Terry Brooks and The Shannara Chronicles Bellco Theater (Not technically a panel)

4-4:45pm The Shannara Chronicles w/ John Rhys-Davies and Manu Bennet, & Terry Brooks Bellco Theater

4-4:50pm Damsels Not in Distress Room 502/503 Trina Robbins, A.G. Henley

6-6:45pm World Building in Fiction Lab 8bit Stage Kevin Hearne (Not technically a panel)

6:30-7:20pm Putting the Apocalypse in Post-Apocalyptic Stories Room 502/503 A.G. Henley, Amalie Howard

Saturday

10:30-11:20am Homage: The Impact of Scifi Pop Culture on Writing Room 506/507 Carrie Vaughn, Amalie Howard

1-1:50pm The Writing Process of Best Sellers Room 506-507 Carrie Vaughn, Kevin Hearne, Terry Brooks

2:45-3:35pm Steampunk: Beyond Gears and Cogs Room 502/503 Carrie Vaughn

5-6:30pm Keynote Address: Here Are the Great Women Cartoonists Room 301 Trina Robbins (Not technically a panel)

Sunday

11-11:50am Womanthology – the Comics and Creators Room 607 Trina Robbins

11-11:50am Twisted Fairy Tales in Media Today Room 502/503 Dana Simpson

I’m So Excited for Denver Comic Con 2016, I could just SQUEEEEEEEEE.

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Guess what, everyone??

That’s right: Denver Comic Con is THIS WEEKEND.

I am excited. Like, more than Christmas levels of excited.

And I have my footwear situation all sorted for this year. I am no longer a newb!

Following are the things I am most looking forward to at this year’s Con:

1) The look on my son’s face when we meet Stan Lee. Stan Lee was scheduled for Denver Comic Con a few years ago and had to cancel. So everyone was leery of getting too excited when he was scheduled again for this year. But it’s already Wednesday and my photo pass is for Friday evening, so I’m going to go ahead and be thrilled. Because STAN LEE.

There are still photo op and autograph slots left for Stan Lee, as well as some VIP packages if you are into that. His panel is on Saturday at 1:30pm on the Main Event stage in the Bellco Theatre. I’d line up early for this one.

2) Lena Headey. Come on. She is Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. Don’t tell me you won’t be hitting up her panel Sunday afternoon.  (2:45pm, Sunday June 19th, Main Event – Bellco Theatre)

3) All the Karate Kid stuff. I am a child of the 1980s. I can’t help but love The Karate Kid. It’s probably second only to The Goonies in terms of my favorite 80s movies. Young Daniel-san himself, Ralph Macchio, is doing panels, photo ops, and autographs all three days of DCC ’16, and there will also be appearances from William Zabka (the evil Johnny!) and Martin Kove (the evil Cobra Kai sensei!). There will be a screening of the original film during Friday evening’s opening festivities, and a couple of different panels (Spotlight on Ralph Macchio at 1pm on Friday the 17th, Xfinity Stage – Bellco Theatre;  and the Karate Kid Retrospective, 6pm, Saturday June 19th, Xfinity Stage – Bellco Theatre).

4) Agent Peggy Carter! OMG! Hayley Atwell is appearing at DCC ’16 on Saturday the 18th, in a Spotlight panel appearance and doing autographs and photo ops. I hope she brings her red hat. She will only be appearing on Saturday so if you adore her the way I do, plan accordingly! (2:45pm, Saturday June 18th, Main Event – Bellco Theatre) 

5) Speaking of badass women: WONDER WOMAN! Denver Comic Con has a number of events this year to celebrate the 75th anniversary (birthday? I don’t know! Whatever it is, it’s awesome!) of Wonder Woman’s first appearance in comics. I’m most excited about two particular panels, both happening on Friday: The Voices of Wonder Woman (11:45am, Friday June 17th, Xfinity Stage – Bellco Theatre), featuring voice actors from two of the most popular cartoons starring Wonder Woman; and Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Creators – Issue #1 (2:45pm, Friday June 17th, Room 712), featuring DC artists working on one of the newest Wonder Woman comics.

6) Speaking of badass women, part two: DCC ’16 makes amends for The Fracas that happened last year. There was a panel last year called Women In Comics. There was an awkward moment (or two days) when everyone realized that there were no actual women on the panel convened to talk about women in comics. A number of prominent women working in comics quickly convened a new panel that was held the following day, but it was last minute and people didn’t know about it, and the whole thing left a bad taste in the mouth of a lot of women and girls, because DCC was paying a lot of lip service to the concepts of diversity and inclusion. Well, this year, it’s lip service no more. Pop Culture Classroom, the organizers of Denver Comic Con, have clearly busted their asses to make sure that women are featured prominently on panels, especially panels about women. One of the main event panels kicking off this year’s con is Women Working in the Comics & Animation Industry Today (10:30am, Friday June 17th, Xfinity Stage – Bellco Theatre)a panel featuring several professional women working in comics, animation, and literature. This panel will include my absolute favorite guest from last year, Trina Robbins. She’s been around this industry a long time and has cool stuff to say. Don’t miss her!

7) Speaking of diversity: DCC ’16 is offering an entire series of panels called Page 23 Litcon, which will present discussions surrounding racial, gender, and sexual diversity in pop culture. There is some super cool stuff being discussed, primarily focusing on using pop culture in educating young people. In addition, there are the panels in the Unity series which will present discussions about depictions of girls and women in pop culture; depictions of Native American and Indigenous characters in comics and film; the nature of LGBTQ depictions in today’s pop culture; feminism and Disney; feminism and Muppets… the list goes on. For a person (me) who likes to geek out over academic discussions about pop culture’s place in THE culture, your (my) cup runneth over.

And speaking specifically to LGBTQ diversity (and the DCC Unity logo at the top of this post), Denver Comic Con is hosting a number of additional events in conjunction with Denver PrideFest, which also takes place this weekend. Panels of particular interest include the Ambiguously Gay Panel, about adding diversity to comics (6pm, Friday June 17th, Room 605), and the LGBTQ From Margins to Mainstream panel (10:30am, Sunday June 19th, Room 605). There are also panels on cosplay, LGBTQ depictions in comics and artwork, and a sci-fi speed dating session. And! The big closing event for this year’s con is a group wedding for a number of gay couples. Everyone loves a wedding and this promises to be a big, fun, geeky one.

8) NASA! SETI! SCIENCE! OMG! There are actual NASA and SETI scientists at this year’s con, presenting panels on technology; Women In Science; exoplanets; sci-fi vs. physics; the real science of zombies; Pluto; SETI; and working for NASA. These panels are all offered as part of the DCC Presents series and are taking place throughout the weekend.

9) John Barrowman.  JOHN. BARROWMAN. My friends in Orlando just met John Barrowman a few weeks ago at MegaCon and tell me he is as delightful as he seems — not that I ever doubted this. He has a Main Event panel late Saturday called the John Barrowman Extravaganza (5:15pm, Saturday June 18th, Main Event – Bellco Theatre).

10) Literally everything else. It’s a ridiculous endeavor, attempting to narrow my excitement down to such a short list. So I’m going to cheat and say that I’m just excited about the whole thing. All of it.

My best advice? Make a plan. Download the Pop Classroom app (that’s a link to the computer app, and there is a more comprehensive version for your phone) and look over the offerings.

Look them over again.

Take a deep breath.

Make a schedule.

Then jump in.

With good shoes. I’m sticking with my Birkenstocks this year.

 

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