DINK has positioned itself as the cool older brother of comic cons. Look, we all love superheroes, so by this we mean no offense. But if most comic cons are the pop-culture equivalent of an overexcited kid running around the house with a blanket-cape tied around his or her neck, jumping off the couch and yelling BIFF! BAM! KAPLOOIE!...then DINK is the awesome older sib with tattoos who lives in the basement and has mad art skilz.
DINK 2018 will be held on Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15. It’s a convention all about art: comics, tattoo art, urban street art, and artists and their fans, bringing them together in a creative community. It’s a two-day celebration that includes shows, vendors, panels and discussions of comics, small-press zines, alternative art forms, and everything artistically awesome under the Denver springtime sun.
So what is there to know about DINK 2018? More than we can go into here — but these ten DINK facts are a good place to start.
1. Cannabis and comix
It’s Colorado, so it makes sense that there’ll be a pot connection, right? For the second year, Denis Kitchen and Mario Hernandez will present a door-to-door comedy and education experience “loaded to the brim with underground comics and discussion centered around the relationship of art and marijuana.” Somewhere, Cheech and Chong are shedding a grateful tear in a smoke-filled van.
2. DINK is greening the comics scene
Most conventions work to meet environmental standards, but DINK takes it a step further by putting a real emphasis on green living as a major goal. Efforts include buying local, using 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and soy inks, trash recycling and composting, encouraging fans to bring their own bags for their purchases, and providing water so attendees can fill their own reusable water bottles. It’s all about DINK’s wish to “leave no trace”…and yes, there’s an inker pun (Chasing Amy) just sitting there waiting to be made. But, you know…priorities.
3. Jeffrey Brown
Cartoonist and author of the Darth Vader and Son, Vader’s Little Princess and Goodnight, Darth Vader series (and a whole lot more), Jeffrey Brown is a winner of both an Ignatz Award and two Eisner Awards. He might be best known for his Star Wars-related work, but his range is far wider — and very much deserving of a stop at his table for a quick sketch.
4. Diversity and Safer Spaces
I’m just going to let DINK’s extensive anti-harassment policy speak for itself here: “DiNK is committed to the creation of a safe, inclusive environment that covers a wide array of viewpoints. This includes, but is not limited to ethnicity, age, religion, gender expression, sexual orientation, language, disability, or viewpoints. DiNK is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone. We do not tolerate harassment of event participants in any form. Use of sexual or discriminatory language and imagery is never appropriate at DiNK.” For a convention like DiNK, inclusion is foundational and taken seriously.
There aren’t many artists who can pull off the one-name thing. Most of them are musicians (Madonna, Cher, Prince, Eminem), but it happens in visual arts, too: Michelangelo, Kirby…and Gerhard. Gerhard was working in an art-supply store, or so the story goes, selling prints of his work when he fell into contact with indie comic legend Dave Sim and began working on Sim's seminal series Cerebus, starting with issue No. 65 and continuing on through its last issue, No. 300. Gerhard is known for joking that his job was to “draw tables and chairs behind an aardvark,” but his intricate background work has inspired legions of fans for decades, all humility aside.
6. The DiNKy Awards
The annual DiNKys celebrate excellence, promote both quality and diversity in the comic and alt-comic forms, and create a level playing field where work is judged on its merits and not the strength of its marketing campaign. Categories include awards for Best Anthology or Collection, recognition for work from Colorado and showcasing diversity, self-published, small-press, zine, web and more. The DiNKy ceremony will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, and admission is free with convention registration. Come out and congratulate all the nominees and winners.
7. Karl Christian Krumpholz
Full disclosure: Westword is one of Krumpholz’s artistic homes. So, yeah, we’re probably biased. But there’s a reason that we love his stuff so much: because it’s so damn lovable. From his style, his commentary, his eye for detail and his focus on the underbelly of the Denver bar scene in his web comic 30 Miles of Crazy!, Krumpholz has made his artistic mark on the Mile High City — and on this very publication.
8. Jim Mahfood
Jim Mahfood, who goes by the moniker Food One, has done work for Marvel (Spectacular Spider-Man, Ultimate Marvel Team-Up), but is better known for his indie work: the creator-owned Grrl Scouts and the Oni Press Clerks comics. However you might know him, you might not be aware of what’s perhaps his greatest claim to fame: the 2008 ad campaign for Colt 45 malt liquor. Billy Dee Williams approves.
9. The International Championship of [Dog] Cosplay
Most comic-art conventions have cosplay contests, but relatively few of them have rules like “no pooping or peeing on the judges.” (Though, really, you can’t be too careful.) This celebration of nerd and canine culture is just as Colorado-specific as the pot stuff: We here in the Centennial State do love us some dogs. And seriously: It’s a pug in a Darth Vader costume. You can’t argue with that. It’s a thing made of pure joy, and probably some stray hair.
10. John Leguizamo
A surprise last-minute addition to the lineup, actor, writer and longtime comics fan John Leguizamo comes to DINK in support of his Eisner-nominated graphic novel and HBO series Ghetto Klown. Keeping right in line with DINK’s emphasis on diversity in comic art, Leguizamo and his work deal directly with Latino culture and the Latino experience — something clearly vital to the fabric of Denver, and the perfect example of what DINK brings to the city.
DINK, April 14 to 15, McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, $15 to $149.