“Moms and libraries are very popular,” was the word on the floor at the first annual Vermont Comic Con. It didn’t take long for the Vermont Library Association (VLA) and Vermont Department of Libraries (VTLib) booth to become one of the highlights of the con. And why not? We had such cool stuff!
First, we had David Newell, Mr. McFeeley from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood…”Speedy Delivery!” He did two readings a day at our booth with a generously discounted signing afterward. Most importantly, he brought the puppets! Adults and children alike were delighted by appearances from King Friday, Prince Tuesday, Lady Elaine, and the Donkey! Not to mention he donated a signed copy of his new book and DVD for our raffle.
VLA also had an amazing interactive photo booth! I designed, and Sam Maskell of Rockingham Free Public Library crafted, a life-size Vermont Comic Reader’s License based on the Vermont driver’s license. I was on a mission to get all the cosplayers (folks dressed up as their favorite comic book, video game, movie, or animated hero) in the booth! Participants wrote their name, or their character’s name, on the license and sat in the cutout. We uploaded the shots live to the VLA Instagram and compiled edited versions in an album on the VLA Facebook page (you do not have to be a member of facebook to view the album). Well over a hundred eager participants sat for a photo, with often hilarious results, especially from the kids!
Our educational component was a display of some of the most commonly challenged and banned comics, taken from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s website. The display generated a lot of great discussion about why things are challenged, where libraries stand on challenges, and what the difference between a challenge and a ban is. We had folks stopping by to read the books, and the most commonly heard phrase was, “Bone!? Seriously?”
Finally, we had free stuff! Reading lists, stickers, mini-comics provided by Harrison’s Comics & Collectibles, and a raffle of six graphic novels from VTLib. We made it into the Burlington Free Press coverage of the event and were interviewed by a pair of students from Champlain College for a student film. Jessamyn West wowed the crowd with her Library Card/Reference Desk Reversible Costume. Event organizers let us know that next year’s convention theme will be literacy and that they would love to work with us.
The following authors/artists asked us to let the library community know they would be delighted to work with you. If you contact them, tell them VLA sent you!
1) Ben Cohen, cartoonist and comics professor out of Jericho, was our neighbor at the event. He said he would be happy to teach both technical drawing and history of comics classes at libraries. He can be reached via his website at http://www.bencohen.co, on Twitter at @bencomics, or by phone at (hidden).
2) Matt Herring, author and co-host of the Secret Identity podcast out of Massachusetts, is currently promoting his new book, The “Unofficial” Dr. Who Companion. He is excited to do Dr. Who 101 at libraries, from first Doctor to the present, and/or talk about the process of writing books. He can be reached via his website at http://www.mattcantspell.com and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is willing to travel, so don’t hesitate to inquire.
3) Jenny Boquet, Ms. Royal America 2014/15 out of Hinesburg, would love to do readings with kids in her official capacity. She can be reached at email@example.com, on Facebook at MsRoyalAmerica, and on twitter at @royalamerica14.
Hannah Tracy of the Fairlee Public Library, Jessamyn, Sam, and myself were your ambassadors for this event. We had a blast and were swamped most of the time. So, if you are interested in planning for next year, especially working the booth, please let me know. We could use more hands on deck!
VLA Membership and Outreach Chair
Eliot D. Pratt Library, Goddard College