Graphic Novels in Libraries
Enthusiastic costumed graphic novel fans crowd
the Chesterfield Comic-Con in Virginia, one of a
growing number of library comic cons.
The events range from simple author appearances to huge multiday international affairs, such as the Toronto Comic Art Festival, held at the Toronto Reference Library, which drew 18,000 in 2013. Libraries are hosting scholarly comics symposia
and participating in Free Comic Book Day, a worldwide event
held the first Saturday in May, when free comics aimed at new
readers are handed out. And there are even more singularly
creative events—some involving partnering with local retailers
and Star Wars cosplayers.
Of course, libraries have long been a hub for many kinds of
events, including summer reading programs, film screenings,
Comics-themed events are among the most popular at Ches-
terfield County Public Library in Midlothian, Va., says branch
manager Kareemah Hamdan. She and library specialist Kate
Denwiddie put together the Chesterfield Comic-Con at the
Meadowvale Library (also in Chesterfield County) for the first
time in 2013. It was such a success that they held it again last
March, drawing 2,150 visitors.
David Stoner, library division manager of the Clearwater
(Fla.) Public Library recently organized the first Clearwater
Library Comic Con, a one-day event that drew 611 people. A
lifelong comics enthusiast, Stoner planned the event as a way to
“bring in a whole new audience to the library.” He adds, “It’s
part of a new view of libraries. The old library was a place to be
quiet. Now it’s more of a fun gathering place.” Stoner was inspired to put on the Clearwater Library Comic Con after hearing
about the success of similar events at other libraries.
These newcomers—and many others—join such established
events as TCAF and Kids Read Comics/Teens Read Comics, a
two-day event now in its sixth year, held in Ann Arbor, Mich.
While librarians often spearhead newer events, comics retailers
were instrumental in launching TCAF and Kids Read Comics.
TCAF, which started in a parking lot before moving to the
reference library, is run by Christopher Butcher, who works at
the Beguiling, Toronto’s stellar comics shop. Dan and Katie
Merritt, owners of Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Mich.,
HOW TO THROW A COMIC CON
BY HEIDI MACDONALD
Over the past few years, there’s been an
explosion in attendance and enthusiasm
for comic book conventions around the
world. At the same time, graphic novels
have become one of the hottest catego-
ries at U.S. libraries. It’s no surprise,
then, that comics-themed events at li-
braries are drawing crowds.