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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Educators at NY Comic Con

At the Comic Con convention recently held in New York City, I noticed a surprising change. During the preview hours, before the general public is allowed in and when people with professional tickets wander the floor, the folks crowding the aisles weren’t only collectors and artists trying to hunt down some exclusive, Comic Con-only action figure or hoping to corner one of their idols for an autograph (the likes of Stan Lee, Joe Kubert, and Neil Gaiman were in attendance). Rather, their numbers had been infiltrated by librarians and teachers. They were hoping to either build or add to a graphic novel collection. They were also searching for the latest trends in comics.

Along with the big names like Dark Horse, Marvel, and DC Comics, many independent publishers were represented at the convention. And it was at the booths of these smaller publishers, such as Stone Arch Books with our ever-popular “safe graphic novels” message, that the true treasures were found. People were especially thrilled about our Graphic Flash books, which are a hybrid of sequential art and traditional paragraphing, and also have curriculum appeal with their historical fiction stories.

Of course, once the preview hours were over, the aisles of the convention floor filled with Manga characters, Strom Troopers, and an assortment of superheroes, along with aspiring artists willing to show their portfolios to just about anyone involved in the publishing business. That’s typical fare for a large convention. But I was pleasantly surprised to see the professional crowd include those who matter most to us, the people who help kids reads: teachers and librarians. It’s a sure sign that the literary merits of graphic novels are being embraced as their popularity grows.

If you feel like you missed out by not making it to the New York Comic Con, don’t worry; there are several other large comic conventions yet to be held this year. The largest international convention is the San Diego Comic Con, July 24th – 27th. Stone Arch Books will be there—we’ll give you more details as we get closer, but we hope we’ll see you—and other teachers and librarians—there!

--Blake Hoena
Production Manager, Stone Arch Books

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