Comics save the day at Lib Con 2

Lib Con 2, or library comic con, will celebrate the seemingly limitless worlds of comics and graphic novels at the Iowa City Public Library on Saturday, Aug. 10.


Joseph Cress

People walk past the Iowa City Public Library on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016.

Lauren Arzbaecher, Arts Reporter

Though superheroes currently command the movie screen, the majority of the stories started on paper. The printed origin of these caped crusaders and many new comics will be showcased at Lib Con 2, the second library comic con, which will be held at the Iowa City Public Library on Aug. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The inaugural Lib Con was held last summer as part of a community grant from the Conventions and Visitors Bureau, said Angela Pilkington, the library’s children’s services coordinator.

“[The convention people] were looking for a community-wide event to hold,” she said. “When we were brainstorming, I had brought up this idea. I had done it at a library I worked at in the past, and I’ve also gone to the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo in 2013, where I spoke about the process of starting lib cons at public libraries, so it seemed like a good fit.”

The all-ages event was immensely successful, drawing more than 700 people in its first year, Pilkington said. The library staff hadn’t anticipated the event’s being so widely attended, she said, so the atmosphere during the initial year was a bit hectic.

“We were just kind of dead after that day,” she said. “It was spread throughout the entire building, so we were running around like crazy. We knew that we were going to need more staff and a bigger space. So this year, we are expanding into MERGE, which is happily hosting us.”

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There are countless things for attendees of all ages to enjoy throughout the event, including superhero story time, face painting, crafts, games, art for sale, and several other activities. From 11 a.m.-noon, the hosts of “Attack of the Killer” podcast will present a live show. The podcast centers on horror movies, but this particular episode will revolve around comics and their darker side, Pilkington said.

Perhaps the most iconic part of any comic con is the costumes. People of all ages came dressed to impress at last year’s Lib Con, and Pilkington said it was extremely hard to choose a winner. This year, cosplay expert Kenzie Cullen will help to judge the costume contests, which will be split into children’s, teen, and adult categories. Cullen is also scheduled to speak about design and crafting techniques for cosplay from 12:30-1:30 p.m.

“Obviously, people really relate and find something very inspiring in the comic and graphic-novel world,” Public Library Director Elsworth Carman said. “It seems like comics have always sort of had this fandom around them that connects people who like them with other people who like them. That used to be happening more in comic-book shops, but now, with lots of online presence, and comic cons, and lib cons, people can come together and proud to show their expertise and depth of knowledge.”

Comics, in comparison to other literary genres, grow extremely large fandoms for fictional worlds or particular characters. The fandoms make Lib Con and other theme conventions so popular. Teen services librarian Brian Visser said fandoms are just as vital to comics as the work itself.

“I think a lot of the work would die if there wasn’t the fandom to support it,” he said. “You see a lot of stuff online about fandoms that can be kind of toxic, but when they’re positive, that’s what gives it life past when the author released it into the world.”