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  • DCC’15 Regarding the “Women in Comics” panel

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    Dear DCC’15 Attendee,

    Saturday afternoon’s “Women in Comics” panel was presented by respected comics historian and college instructor, Kevin Robinette.  It was a last-minute addition (not even in our printed schedule) because Kevin offered to present an abridged version of his college course on the History of female comics characters and creators, and we wanted to add another panel with an educational focus on the history of comics.  The college course, which he asserted he has taught hundreds of times and presented in its summary form at dozens of comic conventions, is called “Women in Comics – Creators and Characters” and therefore so was the panel.

    The session was never intended to be a staging of current female comics creators, and the panel description clearly indicated that it was a scholarly presentation, in the same vein as our “Page 23” Literary Conference, or our “Education” tracks being held in neighboring rooms:  “With the female interest in comics increasing lately, this panel discusses many of the popular female characters from the beginning of the superhero mid 1930s comics. Also a focus on some of the women that were able to break in the mostly all male club of creating comics during that time. Includes an introduction to many of the female illustrators/creators attending the convention.”  We at DCC realize that a quick read of the title could be misinterpreted to indicate that it might have women creators on the panel, but the description or sitting in the panel room for five minutes would clearly indicate that Mr. Robinette’s intention was not to presume to speak for the perspective of current women creators, but to present an historical retrospective.  It is also not the policy of DCC to either re-write the content of the scholars’ content, nor refuse a male presenter’s presentation on female comic characters and creators; any more than we would presume to stifle a woman historian’s perspectives on male creators, censor a white creator’s opinions on African-American’s characters, or a LGBT creator’s thoughts on particular straight creator.

    It is important to stress that Denver Comic Con is the only comic convention with a Diversity Mission for Programming, which we implemented now three convention cycles previously.  (http://denverconvention.com/about-us/media-center/press-releases/denver-comic-con-announces-diversity-intention-guests) Since it’s inception, DCC has pro-actively striven to bring out to Denver and feature prominently guests of color, women and those from the LGBT Community.  This is not lip-service, but a concerted effort to create a community that is inclusive of all comic fans regardless of gender, race or orientation.  To assert that we are not sensitive to the views and contributions of women in pop culture does a disservice not only to DCC’s programming efforts, but minimizes the contribution of the dozens of women, LGBT and minority creators whom we have hosted and hundreds of hours of diversity-focused programming we have created.

    To specifically address the female creators we did host at DCC 2015 and the dozens of hours of programming aimed specifically at current women creators and characters, here is a small sample of some of the content we specifically created to this end.  (This does not include the highest-quality programming submitted and presented by our active fan community.)  We brought out respected comics creator Trina Robbins and comics industry editor and historian Jackie Estrada, specifically to speak to the perspective of women historically and currently; they both appeared in the documentary film She Makes Comics, which DCC obtained the rights to screen this weekend, followed by Q&A with the two women.  We highly recommend that fans of all genders watch this film and we hope to soon post the commentary from the two comics’ professionals on the website of our non-profit literacy foundation Pop Culture Classroom (www.popcultureclassroom.org).

    Among many other female pop culture professionals, DCC also hosted playwright Crystal Skillman (King Kirby)Crystal appeared on Monday afternoon’s panel, “Is There Discrimination in Pop Culture?” with an African-American rapper and teacher, a Latino TV Director, the aforementioned veteran comics’ creator Trina Robbins, and moderated by a transgender animator and teacher.  Upon hearing of the controversy generated by one woman’s complaint that no women were on a comics’ panel about women, Ms. Skillman herself pulled together a flash-mob-style panel of just some of the many female comics creators that Denver Comic Con brought out for the 2015 event.  The panel – entitled “Women in Comics – NOW!” did discuss some of the issues facing female creators today, but was more a lively celebration of the creators on the panel as well as an analysis of the progress that has been made due to activists like Trina Robbins and enjoyed by fellow comics professionals on the panel.  The extra-long panel was well attended by men and women alike, and featured Robbins, Amanda Connor, Marguerite Bennett, Joelle Jones, Meghan Hetrick and Hannah Means-Shannon.

    Denver Comic Con invites and hosts dozens of female comics’ creators and pop culture professionals every year, and we strive to place them on as many panels as they will consent to attend.  We hope that the support that we received from Crystal Skillman and the panelists she brought together on the last day of DCC 2015, will serve as inspiration for more women creative professionals to come to Denver in 2016 and beyond, and speak on panels about the issues that interest them and their fans.

    Many thanks for your continued support.

    Denver Comic Con 2015

  • DCC’15 Thank you, Umbrella Corp Denver!

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    Denver Comic Con and Pop Culture Classroom are very pleased and excited to announce and acknowledge that Umbrella Corp Denver (https://www.facebook.com/umbrellacorp.denver) donated proceeds of their booth at the convention this weekend to Pop Culture Classroom. They, through convention attendees, raised $1185.

    It was very humbling to count out the huge bag of money they brought to us to be counted at the end of the convention. As I sorted through the dollar bills, quarters, nickels, dimes and even pennies, I could just imagine the thoughtfulness and pride that each bill or coin represented. I had visions of the people standing in line, waiting to be photographed in Umbrella Corp’s zombie containment cage and handing over their crumpled dollars and all of the change in their pockets, knowing it was going to support PCC’s literacy programming.

    Umbrella Corp members work tirelessly throughout the con, manning their booth, showing their amazing costuming and attention to detail – all for the benefit of Pop Culture Classroom. I salute their many hours of dedication and am proud and honored to know that this organization is out there, raising money through the pop culture media they love. Thank you!

    Sincerely,
    Linda Weygant
    Treasurer
    Pop Culture Classroom

  • Live from DCC’15: Artist Extraordinaire Ben Templesmith

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    Ben Templesmith 2“Welcome to Denver Comic Con? Is that where I’m at?”

    Ben Templesmith is kidding. This is his fourth year at Denver Comic Con and he’s been an extraordinary supporter of this organization from the very beginning. This writer still has one of the artist’s prints on his walls after Ben gifted him with a portrait of Doctor Who after discovering that I went so far as to contact Warren Ellis in his fortress in England for a comment on Ben’s work.

    “They are really nice to me here and they’ve always been incredibly supportive of me and my work,” said Templesmith of his experience with Denver Comic Con.

    FellGiven his relatively young age, the Australian native is a legendary figure in the comics world with multiple Eisner awards and collaborations with some of the most fascinating creators in the business, as well as his own independent streak. Templesmith broke out with Hellspawn from Image Comics in 2002 and went on to create the groundbreaking vampire saga 30 Days of Night with writer Steve Niles and the horror gothic Fell with Warren Ellis. In recent years, the artist has broken into crowdfunding with his ambitious horror graphic novel The Squidder and has launched another Kickstarter to adapt a story, “Dagon,” by cult favorite H.P. Lovecraft

    “San Diego is no longer a convention for comic people,” Templesmith explained of his relationship with local cons like Denver. “It’s too expensive for any grassroots people to set up anymore. It’s just not friendly to artists. I don’t even talk about cons like this one as ‘regional cons’ anymore. San Diego is just not relevant anymore. Denver is a show where I got in on the ground floor. They got double the numbers of people they were expecting the first year and they got double the numbers the next year, and they’ve been doing great ever since. It’s a show that does care about the artists. It’s just great. I’m not really here to sell people on my stuff. I’m here to meet people who are into my work.”

    Templesmith has done a deep-dive into crowdfunding with his Squidder project and his lucrative and creative graphic novel project had enabled him to establish a more meaningful relationship with fans as well.

    “With crowdfunding, you’re basically selling direct to the consumer,” he explained. “It removes the whole Previews, pre-ordering system for you because usually you have to wait for those orders to come in to create something. It also removes the need for the publisher to pay you, and I don’t give up my rights. I’m my own boss. As long as you can deal with the printer and you know how to ship books, you can conquer the world.”

    The artist also indulges his own interest in geek culture with his regular outings into pop culture, creating fan art in his own wildly unique style celebrating Batman, Aliens, Breaking Bad and other cult classics.

    Breaking Bad“I’m a fan of things, yeah,” Templesmith said. “Thanks for point that out. I once had a girlfriend who said I wasn’t geeky enough and I wasn’t really part of the comic con crowd. If I’m a fan of something, of course I’ll do some fan art for it. Mad Max was the most recent thing I did because I was waiting for that film for 30 years. That franchise is my religion. It’s my Star Wars, really. Because I’m Australian, I’m excited that it brings Australian culture into the world. I only really do things to which I feel a connection.”

    Asked if his subjects seem to fall in line with his bold artistic style, Templesmith is prototypically honest in his assessment.

    “If anything, my art style could be considered [expletive deleted]. Please don’t edit that out.”

     

  • DCC’15 Ticket Update

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    DCC’15 TICKETING UPDATE:

    Sunday tickets are no longer available! We still have Monday but it’s going fast. Online availability for Monday will end tonight at 11:59PM. Then you will have to visit our DCC’15 Registration to purchase tickets for that day, if available. Remember, we do not hold tickets for onsite, day of event sales. There will be a $4.00 Will Call fee added to each online transaction. When you complete your purchase, please print out your eTicket and bring it to DCC’15 Registration to exchange it for a convention badge. Please see our website for Registration hours and times. Remember, we do not hold tickets for onsite, day of event sales.

    http://denvercomiccon.com/tickets/

  • Live from DCC’15: Stars & More in the PCC Kids’ Lab Sunday

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    Alan Tudyk Kids LabThere’s more fun to be had today in the Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Laboratory at Denver Comic Con this weekend. It’s another awesome day and we just had a visit from another fantastic celebrity guest, Alan Tudyk! Alan graciously stopped by at mid-day to read The Book with No Pictures by film and television star B.J. Novak. The actor used his fantastic acting, comic timing and talent for voice-over and cartoon work to bring the funny to hordes of kids and parents.

    Alan of course is famous for his role as Hoban “Wash” Washburne in the cult television series Firefly as well as star turns in A Knight’s Tale with Heath Ledger, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and more recently 42. Kids and adults alike recognized his voice talents today from his recent voice performance as King Candy in the Disney hit Wreck-It-Ralph and the Marvel/Disney collaboration Big Hero 6, where Tudyk played the villain Alistair Krei. ,

    This year, fun and learning are on full display in the Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Lab, where heroes of all ages are learning about art, reading, game development and design, and more.

    This year, the Kids’ Laboratory features lots of special areas including:

    An all ages craft area, where students learn about subjects like chemistry, math and aerodynamics with Galaxy Goo, DIY crafts and more.

    The teen craft area, where older kids can explore advanced model building, stop-motion animation, and explore their enthusiasm for engineering, art and media.

    Barry Allen’s Forensics Lab, where kids are donning their detective hats to figure out which supervillain stole the cakes from the Blue Bear Café!

    The 8-Bit Lounge, where kids can learn about making their own video games, talk with real writers and artists from the comic book world, and learn how real-world creators are making some of the most popular shows on television.

    You never know who’s going to show up in the Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Lab. Later today, voice actor Brian Cummings will bring his comedic voice-over talents to the 8-Bit Lounge, sharing with kids the secret to voicing roles in cartoons, video games and more.

    Be sure and make time to visit the Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Lab this weekend for more great surprises!

  • Live from DCC’15: The Once in a Lifetime Weird Science Reunion!

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    Weird Science 2Children of the eighties got a great big dose of nostalgia Saturday night at Denver Comic Con when the stars of the classic movie Weird Science came together for a very rare reunion. Actors Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Mitchell-Smith and actress Kelly LeBrock came together for the 30th anniversary of the cult film about two social outcasts in the fictional Shermer, Illinois who use their computer, some inspiration from Frankenstein and some paranormal energies to create Lisa (LeBrock), the perfect dream girl who also happens to wreak havoc on their lives. With supporting turns from actors Bill Paxton and Robert Downney, Jr., the film quickly became a cable staple and a goofy favorite of fans around the globe.

    Taffeta DarlingAfter a dynamic introductory film that cherry-picked the film’s funniest moments, MC Angie Wood, in full cosplay mode as her alter ego Taffeta Darling, introduced the cast to thunderous applause.

    One consistent theme of the evening was the cast’s obvious and earnest affection for the film’s late writer and director, John Hughes, who died of an unexpected heart attack in 2009.

    “He was a great collaborator,” said actor Anthony Michael Hall of the Hughes, who directed Hall in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Weird Science. “He was such a cool guy and he was very down-to-earth. He would sit right there with us behind the camera and it was like he was our first audience. “

    “He was like one of the kids,” said actress Kelly LeBrock. “He wasn’t just the director. He was a friend and a mentor and he had this tremendous talent that he wanted to share.”

    Hall, who became one of the director’s favorite actors, remembered the film shoot in Chicago as being fun and filled with laughter, as opposed to the intensity of The Breakfast Club, which he likened to shooting a play.

    “He came to me and said you’re going to be in this movie and he already had like the first thirty pages of script,” Hall said. “We were right in the middle of shooting The Breakfast Club and I was like, ‘What the hell is this now?’ and then I was in Chicago shooting the film. John had clout so he was able to shoot in Chicago, which was his hometown, which was always cool.”

    But it wasn’t always serious. LeBrock recalled getting the part very suddenly when she was still living in France, only to be transplanted to suburban Illinois and be expected to shoot that famous shower scene with two teenaged boys.

    “I could have killed you guys a couple of times,” said Kelly Lebrock.

    Asked by a fan what the difference was between teen films of the 1980s and now, LeBrock immediately responded, “John Hughes. You know, people had more time back then to spend with each other and go to the movies. The eighties were great. It was really a magical time. I don’t think the Hollywood of today is the Hollywood of yesterday. I think there are some Hollywood stars who are still around but the old Hollywood film studios are really gone.”

    Hall also recalled a few other films roles including a supporting part in The Dark Knight Returns, during which he worked with the late Heath Ledger. Asked if there were any memories that stick with him about the range of films he called, “the puberty years,” Hall said that working with Hughes was always about laughter.

    “There’s a consistent theme to John’s films where the people in them end up just a little bit better than they were before,” Hall said. “Without getting too heady, I think redemption is a very key theme in films. One of the brilliant things about John’s writing and one of the reasons he was such a genius was that he was never precious about his writing. He was always encouraging us and kind of egging us on. It’s taken me years to reflect on it, but there is this incredible quality to his writing and direction that really made him unique. “

  • Live From DCC’15: King of the Nerds Reunion Stars Get a Big Surprise!

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    DCC-2015-FB-Guest-King-of-NerdsYou just never know what’s going to happen at Denver Comic Con. Not since Burn Notice star Jeffrey Donovan crashed Bruce Campbell’s panel last year has a guest been as surprised as the King of the Nerds stars were this afternoon when a very special guest dropped in.

    Former King of the Nerds cast members Amanda Liston, Ben Tully, Colby Burnett, Heather Wensler, Jacob Rudin, Jonathan Adler, Kaitlin Spak, Lily Rutledge Ellison, Ori Pearl, Thomas Vollum, and Todd “The Bod” Landree were all on fine form and in great humor as they took the stage to discuss the hugely popular reality show that aired for the past three seasons on TBS. The competition show is based on the cult comedy Revenge of the Nerds.

    Curtis ArmstrongSo the cast got a big surprise at the end of the panel when Revenge of the Nerds star and King of the Nerds co-host Curtis Armstrong came on stage.  Armstrong is well known to lovers of geek culture for his portrayals of “Booger” in the Revenge of the Nerds film franchise as well as great comic turns in Risky Business, Better Off Dead, Dodgeball and more recently in the television show Supernatural. Armstrong said that when he heard the reality show starts were reuniting, he immediately made plans to fly in and surprise them.

    “The show hasn’t been officially renewed yet but there are some unbelievable conversations going on about this next season,” Hanson said. “I just got wind of this event two days ago from our executives. They were telling me some of the ideas that were being kicked around. I’m just letting you know at this stage, there’s nothing really to do until we’re picked up. Keep an eye on the twitter verse and we’ll let you know as soon as we know more.”

  • Live from DCC’15: Stars and More in the Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Lab

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    PCC Kids Lab 2As you probably know, Denver Comic Con is unique in supporting the education and literacy efforts of our partner nonprofit, Pop Culture Classroom. This year, fun and learning are on full display in the Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Lab, where heroes of all ages are learning about art, reading, game development and design, and more.

    This year, the Kids’ Laboratory features lots of special areas including:

    An all ages craft area, where students learn about subjects like chemistry, math and aerodynamics with Galaxy Goo, DIY crafts and more.

    The teen craft area, where older kids can explore advanced model building, stop-motion animation, and explore their enthusiasm for engineering, art and media.

    Barry Allen’s Forensics Lab, where kids are donning their detective hats to figure out which supervillain stole the cakes from the Blue Bear Café!

    The 8-Bit Lounge, where kids can learn about making their own video games, talk with real writers and artists from the comic book world, and learn how real-world creators are making some of the most popular shows on television.

    Patrick Warburton

    You never know who’s going to show up in the Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Lab. Just today, one of our superstar guests, Patrick Warburton, showed up to engage with kids! Patrick is well known to fans for his starring roles in Seinfeld and The Tick, and lots of kids and their parents recognized Patrick’s voice talents from his cartoon work on The Venture Bros., Bee Movie, Kim Possible, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and many more.

    It was a pleasure to hear Patrick put his voice and acting talents to good use in the Kids’ Lab as he partnered with one of our volunteer hosts to read the classic “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss.

    Be sure and make time to visit the Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Lab this weekend for more great surprises!

  • Live from DCC’15: Virtual Ability Helps People in the Real World

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    Live from Denver Comic Con: Virtual Ability Helps People in the Real World using Gaming Technology

    It’s not just about comics at Denver Comic Con. Denver’s fandom is unique in supporting the efforts of education, through our associated nonprofit, Pop Culture Classroom, as well our new and unique gaming and development area, the E.D.G.E.

    So, what is the E.D.G.E.? It’s our gaming and development experience expanded and redefined to include a wider variety of entertainment, gaming, creation and educational offerings in an experiential setting. It goes like this:

    E: Entertainment, including videos, podcasts, streaming entertainment and more.

    D: Development and Design, for all makers, DIY-ers, crafters, coders, engineers and developers.

    G: Gamers, from the casual to the hardcore and from PC enthusiasts to console junkies.

    E: Education, for like-minded people who think pop culture, gaming and other media are great platforms for teaching young people about the world.

    Today, I visited the E.D.G.E. and the pleasure of meeting Alice Krueger, the President and founder of Virtual Ability, a nonprofit organization that builds communities of support for people with disabilities within virtual worlds. Within virtual worlds like Second Life, Virtual Ability enables professionals, researchers, caregivers and wounded warriors to explore the world once more. These fascinating virtual environments allow community members to go dancing, take walks in the virtual woods, climb mountains and go skydiving. It’s a pretty amazing application of technology.

    Virtual Ability 2“Virtual Ability is a cross-disability peer support community in Second Life,” explained Kroeger, who roams Second Life as her virtual avatar, GentleHeron. “We provide education and entertainment to our community members and do outreach to the general population in Second Life.“ Most people don’t realize that in virtual environments, one out of every five persons has some kind of disability and that’s a higher percentage than in the general population outside the virtual world.”

    The nonprofit organization partners with institutions around the country including schools of medicine, major universities, the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Army and Department of Defense and the Amputee Coalition of America to conduct leading-edge research in and about virtual world environments like Second Life, InWorldz and OpenSim.

    “We have eight islands in Second Life,” explained Alex Alger, a former intern and new addition to Virtual Ability, Inc. “Our original island is Virtual Ability Island, which has an orientation path that has been used by 40,000 people just in the past few years. We also have Employee Able, which we built in partnership with the University of Hawaii for the purpose of pre-employment training for independent living centers. We have actually provided a variety of employment opportunities for people who are otherwise not allowed to work.”

    Virtual Abilty 4The technology has dramatic real-world applications. Virtual Ability Inc. recently held a focus group for a large group of nursing students who were partnered in a virtual world with parents of autistic children. By using the virtual world to simulate a medical setting, these parents were better able to explain the unique challenges of treating autistic children in a clinic setting and make the nurses better prepared to offer treatment and compassion to autistic children when they have to have complicated procedures like an MRI or a blood test.

    “There were technologies we could access that were originally developed for very different purposes that we were able to adapt to provide accessibility for our community members,” explained Alger. “It allows us to control the environment. In one case, we recreated the block where one of our community members has to look both ways before they cross the road to catch the bus. Before we used this simulation, they  weren’t allowed to leave the house on their own. After crossing the street a couple of hundred times in a virtual reality and everyone feels comfortable, now that person is allowed to travel on their own, which opens up the real world as well.”

    If this all sounds wildly ambitious, it is, but the founder of Virtual Ability doesn’t see it that way.

    “Actually, it wasn’t ambition; it was self-interest,” says Kroeger of her inspiration for creating Virtual Ability, Inc. “I am disabled and as I became more and more disabled, I became more and more isolated. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t be around friends or family, and I was stuck in one room. I had no other outlet so I thought perhaps that a virtual world could help me. It became a window and then a door and then it opened that door for a lot of other people.”

    Visit www.virtualability.org for more great information and resources from Virtual Ability, Inc. and we encourage everyone to come to the 700 halls this weekend to visit more great gaming companies, educational organizations, developers, creators, makers, hackers and more at the DCC E.D.G.E.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Live from Denver Comic Con 2015: Opening Events

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    Over 2,000 fans packed the Mile High Ballroom at Denver Comic Con on Friday night for a special event, the DCC Opening Ceremonies. This special event was free to anyone with a 2015 Denver Comic Con badge and allowed fans to appreciate both Denver Comic Con and its associated nonprofit, Pop Culture Classroom, and celebrate the numerous fandoms that are part of the Denver Comic Con experience.

    Fans were treated to an opening montage of dynamic moments from a wide variety of films and television programs that help fuel Denver Comic Con fandom, including ng crowd-pleasing moments from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Firefly, Animaniacs, the Terminator Franchise, and more.

    The event was kicked off by a very special guest, Stephen “Brer Rabbit” Brackett, the lead singer of Denver-based and internationally acclaimed rock band The Flobots.

    “When you’re buying things out there tonight and this weekend, you’re making it possible for young people to learn In schools, in after-school programs, and giving them the chance to learn how to read,” said the MC. “So, thank you. Give yourself a round of applause. So when you see these guys walking around Denver Comic Con, thank them for what they’re doing. And then thank each other for what you all do for each other.”

    “Brer Rabbit” next brought out Sam Fuqua, the Executive Director of Pop Culture Classroom, to explain what the nonprofit organization does all year in the Denver community.

    “We develop literacy in young people,” Fuqua said. “We ignite imaginations. We engage reluctant readers. We celebrate diversity. We accomplish all of this through the tickets that you bought to be here tonight. We work in classrooms, after-school programs, correctional facilities, community centers, anywhere that people want our help, because we know it works, and you know it works. Not only is there a strong body of evidence that using comic books works in a literacy curriculum but we also know this approach works because it’s our personal experience of reading comics.”

    “So when you’re out there this weekend at Denver Comic Con, I encourage you to take advantage of the more than 400 hours of programming that we have on offer this weekend,” Fuqua continued. “I strongly encourage you to visit the PCC Kids’ Lab right in the middle of the main convention floor. Also, check out the E.D.G.E. Gaming and Development Area, which is new this year.”

    “Everything that we do in the community and here at Denver Comic Con is only possible because of your support. We are one of only two comic cons in the country that is run by a nonprofit organization. We are very proud of that fact. We are homegrown, we are independent, we are volunteer-driven, we are committed to education and that’s how we are going to stay.”

    After a short speech from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock praising Pop Culture Classroom’s work in educating young people in the Denver community, MC Mars launched into a raucous rap-rock set that was heavily geek-themed including his new songs “Dragon Blood,” featuring Daenerys Targaryen from HBO’s Game of Thrones and a tribute to Herman Melville in the track “Ahab.”

    The evening was closed out with a full concert by The Protomen, the mysterious American rock band whose fist-pumping brand of geek rock is heavily inspired by the Mega Man video games.

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