Hey, kids and comics!
It was a lovely day in the Bronx yesterday, perfect for the 5-minute jaunt southward to attend the first ever Kids’ Comic Con at the Bronx Community College.
I thought this was a terrific venture for the first time around. Lots of tables geared, as it should be, specifically for kids, who responded with wonder and enthusiasm.
The convention was the brainchild of Alex Simmons, seen here giving the welcoming address. Alex, who has over 30 years of experiencing working with children and the creative arts, is also terrific at introducing like-minded adults to one another; I was mostly there to take in the event for ComicMix rather than participate, but I still found myself acquainted with at least a half dozen "new" folks thanks to Alex!
Alex also serves as Educational Outreach Director for MoCCA, and it’s always great to see this organization at any local convention. They’re one of the most visible faces of NY comics, and hold lots of must-attend events!
Also good to see Archie Comics at their second NY comics event of the year, particularly considering their unique appeal to kids.
Independent comics were well represented also, including this First Second Books table. Not pictured here are the tables from Komikwerks (although I interviewed my old friend Dan Mishkin, who’s penned a story for their terrific Actionopolis line of all-ages illustrated adventure books), Creative One, the Black SciFi forum, Sokoya Comics and ECBACC (the annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention) — although I’m pretty sure Akinseye Brown and Maurice Waters were sort of representing those last three at one table. Can you believe ECBACC is only three weeks away? Convention season is definitely in full swing now!
Although boys did seem to outnumber girls as con attendees, for a change there were plenty of places where girls could find good reading, like the Comics Bakery. Pictured above is Raina Telgemeier and her phenomenally selling Baby-Sitters Club books.
And here’s Jane Fisher with her delightful WJHC books.
Kids are drawn — pun intended — to comic book art, and any artist putting pencil or pen to paper attracted a large crowd. Here’s Joe Staton darwing some Scooby Doo.
And Jim Salicrup knows you can’t go wrong these days drawing Spidey! Not pictured is Jamal Igle, whom I couldn’t catch doing any sketching at his table any time I looked.
I only attended one panel workshop of the many that Alex had organized, which took place in an adjoining building (great planning, all the kids needed to do was go up the stairs and across an enclosed walkway to get to the classroom workshops), which was called "The ABCs of Comics — What they are and their value to children past, present and future." I was in the "children past" department, as were most of the panel attendees and, of course, all of the panelists. Pictured above are Sheila Keenan and David Saylor of Scholastic’s Graphix community, who were hyper-enthusiastic about bringing graphic literature to kids via a publisher large enough to get this accomplished in a massive way in bookstores and classrooms. In addition to the Baby-Sitters Club books mentioned above, Scholastic has also put out a couple volumes of Chynna Clugston’s Queen Bee, which I’ve yet to collect. Sheila (who got into comics via David, her boyfriend at the time — a fairly common story for us women who never read comics as girls) handed out a neat pamphlet about "Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom" featuring Jeff Smith’s Bone characters.
DC editor/cartoonist Joan Hilty and writer (and former Marvel editor) Danny Fingeroth were also on the panel, and discussed how the Big Two are coming around to embracing the younger set once more, with the pendulum swinging back from "Comics aren’t just for kids" to "comics can be for anyone" in recent years with, for instance, Marvel’s Adventures line and books like Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (a big hit with the manga-loving crowd, according to librarians in the audience) and DC’s Minx imprint and books like Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil.
Of course, one of the best ways to pass comics along to the next generation is to create them for and with kids. The Kyle Baker empire is one such example, as Lil Baker has already put together a few mini-comics of her own. And pretty soon the empire expands by one more, with a fourth Baker kidlet on the way — congratulations, Kyle and Liz!
Kudos to Alex for a fun and entertaining con. Even though it sometimes seems as though comics has "skipped a generation" of attracting new readers, today’s kids seem wildly interested in the artform, which bodes extremely well for the future.