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Westport Library's Comic-Con draws on teens' super enthusiasm

Updated 1:54 pm, Monday, May 6, 2013

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  • These "Star Wars" characters appeared at the recent Westport Mini Maker Faire to promote the Comic-Con planned May 18 at the Westport Public Library. Photo: Jarret Liotta / Westport News contributed

    These "Star Wars" characters appeared at the recent Westport Mini Maker Faire to promote the Comic-Con planned May 18 at the Westport Public Library.

    Photo: Jarret Liotta

 

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SHAZAM! WESTPORT COMIC-CON
Features of the first Comic-Con at the Westport Public LIbrary on May 18 will include:
• Magic the Gathering, a card game
• Super Smash Brothers, video game
• Talk by Paul Kupperberg, comic author since the 1970s and former editor at DC Comics
• Cartoon drawing workshop with Christopher Hart, author of more than 50 how-to-draw books
• Trivia contest run by a former "Jeopardy" contestant
• Artwork by local high school talent
• Costume contest
• Assortment of comic books for sale
The event is set from 1 to 4 p.m. May 18 in the Westport Public Library, 20 Jesup Road.
For more details, contact Jaina Lewis at 203-291-4809, or check here: http://bit.ly/15rvwME
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Look! Up there in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

No, it's Westport's first Comic-Con! The Westport Public Library and its teen volunteers are organizing a May 18 all-day Saturday comics' fan event they hope will rival the fun and fantasy of similar gatherings that routinely draw costumed throngs around the nation.

"The idea was tossed around a little last year," said Jaina Lewis, the teen services librarian, "but was really pioneered this year by some of my graduating seniors who wanted to see this implemented before they moved on."

"These are students who live for Comic-Con and ConnectiCon every year, and they wanted to bring that experience to Westport," she said.

The San Diego Comic-Con International was established in that California city in 1970. The convention is a mix everything comic with a range of popular art, film and more.

Many attendees dress up as a favorite superhero or fantasy character. While the first San Diego event drew 145 visitors, the most recent had more than 130,000.

"So far, we have planned food, a costume contest, a talk from comic artist Paul Kupperberg, a comic drawing workshop with Christopher Hart, and a couple of small gaming tournaments," Lewis said. "We're still working out more details, so nothing is really set in stone right now."

Hart, who lives in Westport, has written a variety of how-to-draw books on everything animals to "manga," comics created in Japan. His books have sold more than 3 million copies domestically, and have been translated into 20 languages.

"Having our own mini Comic-Con is a great development for Westport," Hart said.

"Comics are the nexus of art and commerce today," he said. "A huge amount of business is conducted with comics, cartoons, and manga characters."

"Many young artists dream of doing this for a career," Hart said. "I thought I could offer a little encouragement and guidance at the event by doing a how-to-draw-comics demonstration, and a portfolio review for anyone who brings examples of their work."

"At this point, we have several local artists scheduled to come do panels and sell artwork," said Zoe Ginberg, 17, one of the library's teen volunteers. "We really want to make this about showcasing everything going on around Westport."

"I think in the past couple of years, superheroes and hero movies have become a much bigger part of the mainstream community," she said. "There have always been the core group of really involved fans, but we wanted to expand that out."

"I think there are really so many people that like comics, either reading or watching, and we wanted to create a place for everyone to come and hang out," Ginberg said.

Teen volunteers have been meeting on a regular basis with Lewis to plan the event.

"After we got past the original plans, which involved tweeting at Robert Downey Jr. ... and we thought about how to really make this a community-wide event," Zoe said.

"I feel so lucky that in the last year, the Westport Library has opened itself up to hosting large teen events," Lewis said. "Our `Hunger Games' and Haunted Library programs were so successful and we are so excited to see what else we can do."

"Some of the students on the committee have been volunteering with me for nearly their entire high school careers," she said. "Over that time, these students have shaped the teen department and the way I do my job entirely."

"I think I've found a truly special group of students who are enthusiastic about both the library and about life in general," she said.

SHAZAM! WESTPORT COMIC-CON

Features of the first Comic-Con at the Westport Public LIbrary on May 18 will include:

- Magic the Gathering, a card game

- Super Smash Brothers, video game

- Talk by Paul Kupperberg, comic author since the 1970s and former editor at DC Comics

- Cartoon drawing workshop with Christopher Hart, author of more than 50 how-to-draw books

- Trivia contest run by a former "Jeopardy" contestant

- Artwork by local high school talent

- Costume contest

- Assortment of comic books for sale

The event is set from 1 to 4 p.m. May 18 in the Westport Public Library, 20 Jesup Road.

For more details, contact Jaina Lewis at 203-291-4809, or check here: http://bit.ly/15rvwME