What Is “Programming” at Denver Pop Culture Con and Why Should I Care?

by | Dec 15, 2017

An Invited Guest Post by Bruce MacIntosh, Director of Programming

In 2017, the 115,000 fans that attended Denver Pop Culture Con (Denver Pop Culture Con) were able to experience about 600 hours of programming, more than almost any other comic convention or pop culture expo in the country.

But What Exactly Do We Mean by “Programming”?

One of our missions at Denver Pop Culture Con is to provide all of our fans with as much value as possible for the price of admission.

It’s not just about the geeky purchases you make from any of our hundreds of vendors and artists, and signatures from our celebrity, author and comics guests: No matter your interests we want you to be able to walk in the door every morning and have something fun and interesting to do until your friends and family have to drag you out, or we have to close the doors on Sunday evening at the end of con.

Something for Everyone, By Design

The key phrase there is, “no matter your interests.” What many people don’t realize is that despite the name, Denver Pop Culture Con is not just about comics. And, although many people come for autographs from actors from their favorite animation, TV shows and films, that’s not the only way you get to see them!

You can see your favorite Star Wars actors in their solo Q&A sessions, and watch the collected casts of popular shows like we had in 2017 — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stranger Things and Justice League Animated — on either the 3,500-seat “Captain Colorado” or 1,700-seat “Night Lynx” Main Stages of the Bellco Theater.

Want to know what goes on with your favorite films and TV shows on the other side of the camera?  Find the three rooms devoted to the Reel Heroes Filmmakers Series, where YouTubers, independent film directors and writers, stunt people and animators, walk you through what happens between script and screen. (This goes on all three days and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.)

We’re Called “Denver Pop Culture Con,” So It’s All About Comic Books, Right?

Sure, if comics are your thing, there are dealers in Merchant Mesa who will help you fill the holes in your collection… and you can’t turn the corner from that t-shirt vendor with the cute Wonder Woman v-neck without bumping into the booth with Spider-Man underwear.

But Denver Pop Culture Con arguably has the largest collection of comic creators of any event in the country — from hundreds of local and independent artists, to the hottest names in comics creators, past and present.

You can meet those celebrity comics guests at their booths in Artist Valley and you can see them brought together in one of our 25 panel rooms, to talk about their craft and their part in the last 75 years of comics history.  We also have three rooms devoted to art demonstrations and workshops, where the pros will discuss their work while helping you hone your own craft.

Our Crown Jewel: The PCC Kids’ Lab

We’ll have two stages in the 9,000-square foot pavilion devoted to fans from the younger set through teenagers.  And this isn’t just a cheesy ball pit like other cons.

The All Age Stage is where celebrities read to and interact with your kids, a quintet from the Colorado Symphony will perform, and voice actors from the hottest anime act out the character your child has drawn with the our guest comics pros.

The 8bit stage is where — for example — we bring comics creators of color to discuss with your teens how they overcame bias to break into the industry, or women scientists from NASA to inspire girls to pursue a career in science or education.

The Literary Stars Shine Just as Bright

In recent years, literary luminaries like Terry Brooks (Shannara) and Diana Gabaldon (Outlander) have teamed up for Q&As on our main stages with actor guests from the TV adaptations of their books, and this year will be no different.

Meanwhile, the most popular authors will sign your books for free on the show floor, and then team up on dozens of panels with their fellow writers to talk about the literary genre and their technique, and provide advice to amateur writers of all ages.

Another “lit” track of programming is our own academic literary conference, Page 23, where scholarly writers present papers about the most topical elements of modern pop culture. This three-day event is always open to anyone who wants a more scholarly take on this year’s pop culture issues.

Education is the Thing

There are also hundreds of panels about sci-fi and fantasy TV and movies, like Doctor Who and Star Wars, science and technology and cosplay. But, since we’re a kids’ literacy non-profit, we are most proud of what we call our “Educational” programming.

These are the sessions aimed at parents, students, educators — kids and adults alike — and deal with topics like the best new books and graphic novels for teens. Many help teachers and librarians know what to use in their classrooms and libraries, how teachers can use game development or technology to inspire their students, and what inspires young adult readers who are dealing with issues about their own families, body-image, and gender and sexual orientations.

As with all Denver Pop Culture Con panels, despite being labeled “educational,” all of these sessions are open to any con attendee — but, get to the rooms early, because they are often full!

Plus, Even More Special Events

Programming is not just about panels, workshops and celeb Q&As in the panel rooms or Main Events theaters. There are always events during the day and at night — all included with your admission.

From our traditional Friday Night events in the Captain Colorado Theater featuring comedy, music, special movie screenings, and often a special guest or two, to our Saturday evening Cosplay “Classic” costume contest — there is always something going on for the con attendee, no matter what their interest.

So, remember:  After you’ve bought your admission, you could be entertained non-stop with panels and events for three solid days without spending another dime.  You’ll have fun, see some celebs and heck, you might even learn something.  Above all, have fun!

For Next Time…

We hope you enjoyed our first invited guest post from the one-and-only Bruce MacIntosh (thank you Bruce)!

As always, if you have questions or would like to suggest a topic for us to cover, feel free to write them in the comments below, post them on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages, or send them to info@popcultureclassroom.org.

I’ll be back in the writer’s seat for our next Dialogue with the Director post, shedding some additional light on our costume and props policy, which always proves to be a popular topic and is sure to gain a few comments 😉




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