Returning for its third year, LibraryCon opened its virtual doors for one day on November 6, welcoming book nerds, librarians, educators, and fans of comics and speculative fiction. Offering live webcast talks and ample networking opportunities, LibraryCon is a “celebration of fandom-beloved stories and characters, featuring the creators behind mind-bending speculative fiction, innovative comics, and fan-favorite graphic novels.”
Though primarily focused on librarians and educators, the events is a wonderful experience I’d recommend to any fan of comic books and speculative fiction. I attended the event last year and am once again so thrilled to see, not only what the convention had to offer this year, but the eagerness of those participating. Graphic novels still struggle to find the respect they deserve on bookshelves and in libraries, but times, they are a changing. While there may not have been much for me to learn from the event as a lover of comic books who wishes our libraries and schools would do more to integrate them on our shelves, it was still heartening to see all the engagement and interaction from librarians and educators. There were those who were already advocates for the literary medium and were looking for more recommendations with which to stock their shelves, while others were still getting their feet wet and looking for advice on where and how to get started. With the vast array of speakers and topics, I’m confident everyone came away from the experience with something new to take back to their own worlds in order to share the good word about graphic novels and speculative fiction.
The day began at 10 a.m. with the opening of the virtual exhibit hall. Visitors could browse the various booths, some of which were staffed by publisher representatives eager to welcome guests, answer questions, and offer up suggestions for new titles to try out. Sadly, this year I noticed a lot less active participation from many of the publishers. Last year, Marvel Comics was present but offered no opportunity for participants to interact. This year, they didn’t bother to show up at all—a reminder that kids comics, despite the success of and interest in some of their kids titles and books—don’t seem to be a priority for the publisher, making it difficult for librarians to know which of their books should go where in terms of age ranges, etc.
An hour later, writers Sam Maggs and Delilah S. Dawson opened the event with a keynote chat about their experiences from both sides of the industry—as fans and as professionals. They shared anecdotes about when and how they fell in love with comics, their initial ventures into writing for comics, and how much they have learned from their experiences and collaborations.
— WWAC (@wwacomics) November 6, 2019
Running like clockwork, the opening keynote was immediately followed by “Fantastic World-Building” featuring Natasha Alterici, Hannah Templer, Brandon Thomas, and Sherry Thomas on what it means to create believable worlds that show the creators have really done their homework.
The lunchtime keynote speaker was Henry Barajas, whose La Voz de M.A.Y.O Tata Rambo—edited by our own Claire Napier—tells the story of his grandfather, Ramon Jaurigue (a.k.a. Tata Rambo). Jaurigue was a co-founder of the Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (M.A.Y.O.) organization, which successfully lobbied the Tucson City Council to improve living and working conditions for members of the Pascua Yaqui and led to federal recognition of the Yaqui tribe.
The afternoon featured many more interesting panels including “Stories That Engage Young Readers (and Beyond),” where creators Drew Brockington, Jen Wang, Lucy Kinsley, Sarah Kuhn, Will Henry, and Christine Taylor-Butler discussed how they craft stories filled with relatable characters, adventures, and laughs to inspire young readers.
Tamera Miller, Program Specialist at the Arlington Public Library, shared her expertise when it comes to hosting successful comic-con-style events in and around a library. Touching on everything from planning to marketing, to running the event, librarians had lots to learn from Miller’s experience.
As the year comes to an end, we’ll be seeing many of those best of 2019 lists. School Library Journal and Library Journal’s webcast offered a sneak peek of what their list will look like for this year. Meanwhile, “Portrait of the Artists” offered a deep dive into the artistic processes of Erin Nations, Becky Cloonan, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Koren Shadmi.
Finally, rounding out this stellar day of diverse speakers and topics, GLAAD Award GLAAD Award-winning writer James Tynion IV closed up the conference with an introduction to his new horror series, Something Is Killing the Children which is about “staring into the abyss to find your worst fears staring back.”
LibraryCon is a free event that anyone could attend, but the best part is that, even if you missed out on the live event, an archive is available so that you can catch up.