Biff! Pow!! Thwak!!! Westport Comic-Con is super fun
Shazam! Fans of all sorts of super heroes, caped crusaders, intergalactic warriors and sleuthing iconoclasts blasted into Westport on Saturday.
It was the first Westport Comic-Con, and the Westport Public Library, which organized the comics celebration, drew aficiandos of comic-book characters from far and wide -- a few who even appeared to have popped in from a galaxy far, far away.
The Westport Comic-Con, like the larger events that for years have attracted throngs of similar fans, featured a range of activities in addition to costumer characters, such as talent showcases, merchandise and displays of comic art skills.
Teenage illustrators showed and discussed examples of their work; attendees tried their hand at drawing comic strips and comic books were offered for both sale and given away.
In other areas of the library, attendees in costume could have their photo taken, play video games or be challenged with comic trivia.
Jaina Lewis, the Westport Public Library's teen services librarian, said, "A couple of our teen volunteers here at the library, who are huge comic book fans, initiated the idea.
"Most comic book conventions are expensive, often overwhelming and located far away. We wanted to make this accessible and local. Big shows also feature professionals, so we wanted to showcase local talent instead. There's some really great artwork on display here."
Because of Comic-Con, Lewis said, "We're seeing different people in the library today that we haven't seen before, and the event tracks with our mission to be a community center and resource."
Sheri McMahon of Westport, who was in the library's Great Hall watching her 10-year-old son Quinn draws his own comic strip, said, "The library always puts on great programs. My son loves anything comics-related and it has inspired him, even to read. This event shows you how creative this community is, particularly the young people in this case, and how lucky we are to have such a great library that caters to diverse interests."
L. Solomon Ray, 15, of Stamford, one of the talented teen illustrators showing work, said, "This is my first exhibit of my drawing. This event is great in re-introducing comic books to society. Comic books have fallen under the radar. There's just one comic book store in Stamford, and it's basically a hallway and limited in inventory. I've been drawing since I could hold a pen, and have done a bit of freelancing. It's an important hobby for me and I plan to do it for life."
Ron Goulart, author of the "Comic Book Encyclopedia," was a surprise guest. "My wife told me about the event -- it was an obvious attraction. I was surprised that the library would allow a comic book convention to take place -- it's unusual. I started reading comic books when I was four. It started me in wanting to become a comic book writer. I now have books here at the library."
Kupperberg, a Fairfield resident, was gratified the event showed that the library has embraced comics. "They have become so accepted in the mainstream, which was not always so," he said. "Iron Man, Superman, Batman are now driving mass media."
Kupperberg's inspiration to pursue comic book writing as a career started early on. "In 1960, when I was five, I saw the Superman cartoons from the 1940s," he said. "I loved the character and went to the local candy store to buy the comic books. Comics became part of my life, through fan magazines, my first paid work with Charlton Comics in the mid-70s and then DC Comics in the 1980s and 1990s."