WL library expands Free Comic Book Day into 'Mini Conference'

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - The library will hand out more than 300 free comic books geared toward readers of all ages, and a raffle will also feature special prizes. Rebecca Mayer and Carson Mischel know that their version of “Comicon” won’t be up to scale with the larger conferences in Portland and Seattle. You won’t see television stars walking down the halls, or cult hero authors facing near endless lines for autographs.

But that doesn’t mean that the two West Linn librarians can’t be excited about Free Comic Book Day at the library this Saturday, which for the first time will also feature a “Mini Con” with presentations from local authors and artists, as well as facepainting, costumes and a raffle.

“We’re not going to try to rival Emerald City (Comicon) or anything,” Mayer said. “But it will be throughout the library and we have activities for all ages.”

The library will hand out more than 300 free comic books this year, compared to 150 last year — when the library actually ran out of books before every customer received one.

“The comic books we’ll be handing out are for kids, teens and adults,” Mayer said. “It’s not just one age group.”

It’s the presentations and workshops, however, that have Mayer and Mischel truly excited.

The featured attendees this year include Barry Deutsch, author and illustrator of the “Hereville” series, as well as “Earthling!” author-illustrator Mark Fearing and “Too Much Coffee Man” creator Shannon Wheeler.

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - Rebecca Mayer and Carson Mischel are gearing up for the library's first comic book mini-conference Saturday.

Portland-based Top Shelf Comics will also present at the conference.

“They’re one of the big publishing houses,” Mischel said. “But fortunately they’re located in Portland, and so we were able to get their director of digital publishing to come out as well as his buddy Shannon Wheeler, and they’re going to be one of our presentations in the community room.”

“Top Shelf will be talking about the publishing industry — how a comic book actually gets made,” Mayer added. “It’s not one guy doing it, it’s usually several. And then they’ll talk about how it actually gets to the publishing stage.”

Top Shelf will also take part in a panel discussion, during which participants will debate some of the most relevant topics in the comic industry today.

“The example I was given was, ‘Are comic book movies good or bad for comic books?’” Mischel said. “And we’ll be having a panel called ‘How to get started making comics,’ and that’s going to be four local creators talking about their work.”

The raffle, meanwhile, will feature more expensive graphic novels, as well as comic book posters.

In the end, both Mayer and Mischel hope that the event will promote comic books as more than just action-packed illustrations.

“Rebecca and I really wanted to promote comic books as a valuable literary form, and especially for kids,” Mischel said. “A lot of people think comic books are not valuable reading material, but we wanted to promote it as a literary tool — something that can get kids excited about reading.”

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