Fort Collins Comic Con

Last year I completely missed my local Comic Con due to travel, so this year I marked it on the calendar early. (I have been to one Comic Con event; this is the group which organizes the Kessel Run race in order to raise money for the local library!)

The Fort Collins Comic Con takes over the entire Aztlan Community Center and spills out into the adjoining parking lots, with activities scheduled over two full geekery-packed days.

Dan and I try to limit the amount of nerdy toys and pop culture baubles that make their way into our house, as we used to own way too many and purged when we moved to Colorado. However, it is still very important to me to support local artists, so I nearly always purchase art at the trade show. Should you ever visit my house, you’ll find tokens from past Cons festooning our walls.

This year I discovered two wonderful artists to add to our collection. First, Atomic Pixies, a trio of femme artists. I couldn’t pass up the Harry Potter-inspired Art Nouveau cards and wish I’d snagged the beautiful tarot deck as well.

Then I met Matt from Lunch Bag Lab; he spotted my Weird Al shirt and engaged me in a delightful conversation about how Al’s original songs are better than his parodies. Obviously he won my business.

But the Con is not only about shopping; there are the panels to consider! This is where Fort Collins’ Comic Con particularly impressed me. It strikes me that events all across town benefit from their proximity to CSU — there are extra threads of scholarship, and especially science, woven into everything from pub talks to the local book festival to the Fringe and beyond. This town is an amateur science nerd’s dream.

Case in point: one of my favorite panels was “Real World Zombies Caused by Infectious Diseases,” wherein a pair of microbiologists provided examples of how fungi, bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and prions (think “mad cow disease”) can cause zombie-like symptoms in humans and animals.

My other favorite: The Philosophy of Comics with Roy T. Cook. It would take me a full hour to explain the ways this presentation blew my mind, but in short it dealt with different styles of metafiction in comic books.

Here’s an example of the kind of insight Cook shared during his talk: apparently the ability to seamlessly shift between looking at images and reading text (as in speech bubbles) is a skill we pick up at an early age. He shared a story about a friend whose parents banned all comics and pictures books for their children, and later in life she was unable to make sense of graphic novels.

I never made it out of the building during my time at the Con, so I was not able to take advantage of special events and workshops such as Ghostbusters Training Camp. (These events are tailored to children anyway — as they should be.) Fort Collins Comic Con also offers hours of tabletop gaming demonstrations, a “cosplay catwalk,” and an entire lounge dedicated to throwback video gaming.

As I continue to find my place in Northern Colorado’s geek community, I’m happy to have found a Con that feels locally-oriented, inclusive, well-organized, and focused as much on science as on science fiction. My goal for next year: find some new geek friends to attend with!

Thank you to Fort Collins Comic Con for allowing me to attend as a media guest.

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