Hosting Your Own Comic Con: The Ultimate All-Ages Program
KATIE LAMANTIA & EMILY VINCI
MARCH 23, 2017
THIS IS US!
Favorite Movie: Jurassic Park
Favorite Comic Series: LOL like I could
Favorite Superhero: Wonder Woman!
Patronus: Tina Belcher
Favorite Movie: Perks of Being a Wallflower
Favorite Teen Book Heroine: Aelin Ashryver
Galathynius aka Celaena Sardothien
Favorite Superhero: Jillian Holtzmann
Patronus: Samantha Bee
HAS YOUR LIBRARY EVER HOSTED A
Let us know in the chat!
• periodical sequential-art
stories that provide
installments of a larger story,
typically released in monthly
• ex: Batman #1, Batman #2,
Batman #3, etc.
WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE SAY…
- GRAPHIC NOVELS
• one self-contained sequential-art
story read as a novel
• ex. Ghost World
• OR (esp. in library terms) a collection
of several issues of a story (generally
one arc of the plot) – more
commonly referred to as a “trade”
• ex. Batman Vol. 1 collects issues
- COMIC CON
• a convention celebrating not
only comic books and graphic
novels, but many different
facets of pop culture and the
A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY OF CON CULTURE
Though it may seem as though comic conventions are a new fad, they’ve actually
been around for awhile. What we know now as San Diego Comic Con, for
example, was established in 1970 as the Golden State Comic Book Convention.
Its establishment gave it a place amongst countless fan conventions already in
existence, with science fiction fan conventions dating back to the 1930s and
comic conventions popping up in New York in the 1960s.
Cons started out with the purest of intentions, with passionate fans gathering to
discuss and debate the objects of their fandom. Often dismissed as outsiders,
freaks, and – you guessed it – nerds, conventions gave them a place free from
judgment and criticism and full of acceptance and celebratory glee.
ADDITIONAL TERMS TO KNOW
Fandom: a subculture/community of people who share a common interest in
a particular piece of pop culture (i.e. movie, TV show, comic book, etc.),
often characterized, in part, for the feelings of empathy and camaraderie
felt with one another over their shared interests
Fanboy/Fangirl: passionate, dedicated fan who is overzealous and
passionate towards one or more specific fanbase. It sometimes overrides
social boundaries and is used as a negative term, but many fangirls or
fanboys refer to themselves as such.
Cosplay: Costume Play; creating and designing the costume and the
action of wearing it
RPG: Role-Playing Game in which players assume the roles of
characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for
acting out these roles within a narrative and make decisions as
characters. Ultimate example: Dungeons and Dragons
POSSIBLE PROGRAM GOALS AND OUTCOMES
- promote your graphic novel collection/increase circulation
- provide social opportunities as well as opportunities for your
patrons to experience a Comic Con if they are otherwise unable to
(esp. if your library isn’t in a city or urban area)
- show the library in a new light
REACHING NEW AUDIENCES
- new people, or people using the library in a
- people who come to other pop culture events
• online communities, Comic Con fans
• not necessarily interested in traditional
• engagement and interactive elements are
HOW CAN I DO THIS?
Things to have in mind when you decide to host a Comic Con:
• determining time, location, space
• effect it will have on regular services and daily operations
• staffing needs
• partnerships and natural allies
• off-site possibilities, other options
KEEP CALM AND CON ON!
Anyone can do this, no matter the budget, time, or staff.
You just need to have an open mind and a willingness to learn.
LET’S DO THIS!
Assembling Your Comic Con Team
Organization and Pre-Planning
Comic Con Day!
Putting together your Comic Con staff super team
QUALITIES OF A VALUABLE COMIC CON
- pop culture savvy, or willing to learn
- range of experiences or expertise
• programming and non-programming
OUTSIDE THE REALM
Expand participation to staff outside of the Comic
Con team; they have pop culture interests too!
• include departments not normally involved in
programming, for example circulation,
branches, maintenance, etc.
• discover hidden talents and interests
• make staff happier and gain additional staff
buy-in, thus increasing your ability to promote
programs from within
PLAY TO YOUR PLAYERS’ STRENGTHS
If a staff member has a particular interest in
an area of pop culture or programming, let
them take the lead.
If you're a supervising librarian, perhaps you
can't offer your staff higher pay or many
opportunities to go to professional
development conferences, but you can offer
them the freedom to incorporate their own
interests into programming and outreach.
SCOPE AND SIZE OF YOUR CON
- Will your Con take place throughout the library or will it be contained in
- Aside from your core planning team, who will staff your Con?
- What is your budget?
• All of these questions will help you determine how big your Con
will be before you even pick the date.
- Talk to your management team! Get them on board and keep them in the
SETTING THE DATE
Timing is everything
- conflict with other local Cons
- school year
- community events
- weather conditions (if applicable)
Strategic date tie-ins with other pop culture events … (or not!)
- May the 4th
- Free Comic Book Day
- Harry Potter’s birthday
Hours of operation
- all day event
- few hours
Things to consider
- patron impact
- staff time
The earlier you can start planning (relatively speaking), the
better. We recommend 6-8 months in advance, especially
- keep in mind your target audience
- resources you have on hand
- staff resources and equipment
- performers & artists
• will likely need to be booked far in advance
- What are popular programs you already have, and
how can you put a pop culture spin on them for Comic
COMIC CONS = COMMUNITY
- new audiences
- patrons young and old
- ultimate all ages programs, including adults without children – pop culture
is the great equalizer!
- taking traditional Comic Con features and making them accessible to patrons
- relating it to pop culture and libraries
- utilize resources your library already has and make it Comic Con-esque
- mesh principles behind Comic Con and nerd culture into library life
KID OR FAMILY THEMED EVENTS
Crafts for kids
- superhero capes, armbands, masks, coloring sheets
- attendees can show off what they made/wore
- shows patrons areas of the library they never/seldom see
For Teens and Adults:
*chance to geek out with like-minded
friends and find new fandoms to
- Drawing workshop
• can separate by age
• give it a comic con twist- superheroes, Star Wars theme etc.
- Fandom art
WHY COMIC CON AT YOUR LIBRARY?
- ultimate all ages program
-motivate staff to try new programs and use their
interests in their jobs
- show that the library is interested in current pop
culture, comics and relevant to everyday interests
- introduce non-library users to collections,
programming, and the library
GIVEAWAYS - reusable tote bags
- free comics donated from local a local comic shop,
sent from publishers, and withdrawn from our
- small prizes available at the public service desks to
be handed out during the costume parade (prizes we
had on hand in our youth department)
COMIC CON EVALUATION PROCESS
We opted to have several staff members with clipboards and surveys to ask people
throughout the day how they felt about their Comic Con experience. We kept the
questions short and sweet:
• What did you like most about Comic Con?
• What could the library do to improve your experience at all-ages programs?
• You and/or your children learned something new about pop culture – disagree,
- In terms of attendance numbers, obviously it is quite difficult to keep track. In
order to come up with a count, we took the door count from the day and
compared it to door counts on the same day in past years.
WHAT WE LEARNED
- Additional staff members want to help, so let them!
- delegate responsibilities for before, during, and after the Con
- make sure everyone knows their duties
- keep it all ages and family friendly
- be flexible
- it will be loud!
ALA Graphic Novels & Comics in Libraries Member
ALA Games and Gaming Roundtable
Graphic Novel Roundtable
A Year of Programs for
Millennials and More
Amy J. Alessio, Katie LaMantia,
and Emily Vinci
Click here to buy from ALA
50+ Fandom Programs:
Planning Festivals and
Events for Teens,
Tweens, and Adults
Look for it at ALA Annual 2017!
Amy J. Alessio, Katie LaMantia,
and Emily Vinci