DINK co-founder Charlie La Greca poses next to a statue of a character he created called "Rawr!" that stands inside the McNichols Building in Denver on Friday, April 7, 2017.

 (Corey H. Jones/CPR News)

Don’t expect appearances from classic characters like Wonder Woman or the Avengers at this weekend’s Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo. Instead, you’ll find the likes of Thunder Monkey and boy scientist Henry Peter.

The second annual convention, known as DINK, runs April 8-9 at the McNichols Civic Center Building in Denver.

“It’s trying to stay true to the heart of art and the artist’s individual voice,” co-founder Charlie La Greca says.

La Greca is the kind of guy who lives and breathes comics. He remembers hiding them in his backpack as a kid, fearing torment from others because of his “nerdy” interest. At 16, he got a job at the Mile High Comics warehouse. He later attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art before landing a job with DC Comics in New York City.

La Greca even co-founded Denver Comic Con -- a spinoff of the blockbuster convention in San Diego that attracts 130,000 people every year. But La Greca left not long after Denver Comic Con launched in 2012, a “painful” departure that he isn’t permitted to talk about publicly, he says.

“I think it’s a natural circumstance of life to go through evolution,” La Greca says. “DINK was a natural reaction to me wanting to continue to create -- not in antagonization, I just need to keep creating.”

And for La Greca, that meant starting small again and creating a local alternative to the “big box” conventions.

“It’s an easy sell to put a celebrity or a movie up there, like someone from the Avengers or Game of Thrones,” he says. “Doing a tiny show like this is scary.”

Last year, DINK drew 2,000 people. So this year organizers expanded the event, which will feature more than 200 guest artists and exhibitors. That includes the Hernandez brothers, who created “Love And Rockets,” a seminal series that sprouted from the alternative comics movement in the 1980s.

“At that time, it was mostly mainstream superheroes,” La Greca says. “The genre is much larger than that, and the Hernandez brothers brought us real life stories with humor and contemporary characters and beautiful, voluptuous women who were smart, intelligent, and vibrant, and they gave them texture and gravitas.” (Story continues below image.)

An excerpt from Colorado illustrator Morgan Beem's "It Starts With A Seed" that appears in "Sweaty Palms," an anthology with autobiographical comics about anxiety.

(Courtesy Morgan Beem)

DINK will also highlight works by Colorado illustrators, like Lonnie Allen’s “Delineate” and Morgan Beem, co-creator of “The Family Trade.” Then there’s cartoonist Sarah Glidden, whose work “Rolling Blackouts” captures her time with reporters and a former Marine in the Middle East.

“I’m just in service to the wonders of graphic storytelling and all of its dimensions,” La Greca says.

If You Go

  • Denver Independent Comic and Art Expo
  • When: April 8, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., April 9, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Where: The McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Ave.
  • Panels and Workshops: Arts & Activism, Comics For All Ages, Making Diversity Happen, Zine Making 101
  • Tickets: From $15 per day to $55 VIP passes. Kids 15 and under get in free.  (VIPs can enter at 10 a.m. both days) Ticket details here.