Three years of hard work and devotion have finally paid off. Denver had its first Comic Convention this past weekend, June 15th through the 17th. Held at the Colorado Convention Center, as well as the Hyatt Regency Denver hotel across the street, the Con appealed to all ages and levels of comic book knowledge, as well as helping to raise money for the non-profit organization Comic Book Classroom.
Comic Book Classroom teaches kids how the structure of comic books, and how to create their own during after school programs. Illya Kowalchuck, executive director of Comic Book Classroom, says that they picked middle school ages (5th-8th grade) mostly because that is about the age when kids stop telling stories, and lots of kids these kids are on their own after school during the time when juvenile crime is most common.
Kowalchuck says of CBC: “The benefits are unmeasured… Kids’ literacy and art skills improve. The students interact with the story, because the art is actually the story.” Paul Marx, a graduate from Comic Book Classroom, was at Comic Con selling some of his artwork. Marx is going to be a fifth grader, and said his favorite part of CBC was learning about the different types of panels in a comic book and that his writing skills improved.
Kowalchuck and Adrian Neibauer, a 5th grade teacher for Cherry Creek Schools, recommended some graphic novels and comic books for ages 8 to 12. Bone by Jeff Smith and Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke. Also, a new comic series called Princeless by Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin, whom also attended the Comic Con. Be sure to check out some of these graphic novels!
Denver Comic Con itself was full of vendors, artists, and people in costumes. CBC hosted an area full of kid activities, such as making your own Captain America shield, and comic book artists with comics especially for kids. In the back section of the room was Artist Alley: rows filled with artists who have worked with DC, Marvel or other comic book publishing companies, do a weekly web-comic, or write and draw their own comic books. Artists who attended included Jimmy Gownley, author and illustrator of Amelia Rules!, Greg Guler, who is the character designer for the Disney TV show “Phineas and Ferb”, and Gail Simone, the current writer of “Batgirl” for DC. Web comic artists also made an appearance, such as Katie Cook, writer and illustrator of Gronk: A Monster’s Story and Kevin Gentilcore, writer and illustrator of Teenage Love Zombies.
Across the way from the Colorado Convention Center was Hyatt hotel. On the fourth floor of the hotel, several panels and screening were held. Some panels were “I am Geek, Hear Me Roar”, “How to Draw Manga”, and “Local Authors Spotlight”. Many artists had a panel where they could talk about their work, future work, and answer questions, or show viewers how to draw in the artist’s style. ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” screened several times over all three days, as well as seven different Filmapalooza screenings.
The first Denver Comic Con was successful for everyone. From the artists, to Comic Book Classroom, to the attendees, everyone had a great time. Next year is sure to be even more successful than this year.
For more information on Comic Book Classroom and Denver Comic Con, go to www.comicbookclassroom.org and www.denvercomiccon.org
Katie Cook’s Gronk can be found at www.gronkcomics.com
Kevin Gentilcore’s Teenage Love Zombies can be found at www.teenagelovezombies.com