Hosting Your Own Comic Con: The Ultimate All-Ages Program (November 2017)
& EMILY VINCI
November 9, 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
Favorite Superhero: Jillian Holtzmann
Patronus: Samantha Bee
HAS YOUR LIBRARY EVER HOSTED
A COMIC CON?
Let us know in the chat!
• periodical sequential-art
stories that provide
installments of a larger
story, typically released in
• ex: Batman #1, Batman
#2, Batman #3, etc.
WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE
- 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
• ex. Batman Vol. 1 collects
- COMIC CON
• a convention celebrating not
only comic books and
graphic novels, but many
different facets of pop
culture and the fandoms
A (VERY) BRIEF HISTORY OF CON
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
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
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
- 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
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
- 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
• 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’
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
SCOPE AND SIZE OF YOUR CON
- Will your Con take place throughout the library or will it be
contained in one spot/room?
- 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 loop.
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 for first-timers.
- 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
- What are popular programs you already
have, and how can you put a pop culture
spin on them for Comic Con?
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
- 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
- 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
- small prizes available at the public service
desks to be handed out during the costume
parade (prizes we had on hand in our youth
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
• You and/or your children learned something new about pop culture –
disagree, agree, etc.
- 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 Interest Group
ALA Games and Gaming Roundtable
Graphic Novel Roundtable
Amy J. Alessio, Katie
LaMantia, and Emily Vinci
50+ Fandom Programs:
Planning Festivals and
Events for Tweens,
Teens, and Adults
Click here to buy from ALA Editions
A Year of Programs for
Millennials and More
Amy J. Alessio, Katie LaMantia,
and Emily Vinci
Click here to buy from ALA Editions