Monday, October 17, 2011

Creative Con is Coming

PANAMA CITY — Saturday promises to be a noisy one at the library, as superheroes descend on the facility for the second annual Creative Con.
Creative Con is the Bay County Public Library’s effort to recognize the growing popularity of the graphic novel format — and the fact that lots of kids started reading because of comics. Event organizer Bettina Mead (who generally signs her emails to me with lots of Xs and Os) said it was important that the library provide relevant information to all the citizens of Bay County, no matter their age.

“Many adults are still under the impression that a comic format automatically means juvenile content, but the average age of the comic reader is 30, therefore this is certainly not true,” Mead said. “Libraries are the first and best place for diversity. We play an important role in introducing the public to new formats.”

Not only are comic books “valid literature, expressing both the written word as well as art,” Mead said, but they are also valuable educational tools for children — especially those who are struggling to read.
“I believe partnering with Creative Con, we are creating a new cadre of library supporters among the young people who read graphic novels, and as you know, libraries are for everyone — young and old alike,” she added.

Superheroine with art card by Cassandra Collins.
Guests of Creative Con will be given two blank sketch cards to get free sketches of their favorite heroes or cartoon characters from the artists at the show. Costumed heroes will be on site, and visitors can register for giveaways including T-shirts, graphic novels, comic books and more. Josh Hughes, a local artist who writes and draws the web comic, will be one of the guests.

Bring your favorite pencils and try your hand at drawing a sketch card in the All Ages Sketch Off. There will be creative activities throughout the day, including a belly dance lesson and demo, with a panel discussion on comics beginning at 5 p.m. Details are still being finalized.

Local graphic artist Jayson Kretzer (who is working on character designs for a graphic novel version of my novel, "The Book of Gabriel") helped Mead organize the event. Kretzer has more than 12 official sketch/trading card sets on his resume, including cards for a recent Marvel Comics set. His work has appeared in the “Art of Voltron” book and online in a weekly web comic, “Wannabe Heroes.” He regularly participates in a drawing “jam” at Arena Comics in Panama City. (Check out his Deviant Art gallery.)

Art card by Jayson Kretzer
“I never quit drawing after kindergarten,” Kretzer said.

Mead said last year’s inaugural gathering was a success in many ways. She received notes from parents thanking the library for “creating something special.” One patron told her it was a great way to show children and teenagers “how cool” the library is.

“Everyone had such a wonderful time last year,” Mead said. “You couldn’t move for all the young people sketching their own cartoons, trading their comics or their sketch cards, and parents with little ones just having fun coming together.”
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