Monday, July 27, 2009

Comic-Con 2009

In recent years, July has become one of my favorite months. Sure, it’s the midway point of summer. But even more importantly, July is when the annual Comic-Con is held in San Diego.

During the 1980s, I attended a couple of Comic-Cons when I lived in San Diego. In those days, the Con was mostly just collectors buying and selling comics and science fiction/fantasy books to each other. Well-known authors would show-up to discuss how to incorporate, say, Arthurian elements into a short story, but the celebrity factor was kept to a minimum.

Not so much today, of course. Over the past several years, Comic-Con has become the most massive pop-culture event in the world, welcoming all sorts of media celebrities to hawk their current and upcoming projects. This year featured the likes of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (Alice in Wonderland), the cast of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, James Cameron (director of the original Terminator, Titanic and the long-awaited Avatar), and the stars of Iron Man, to name just a few. All this in addition to a gynormous exhibits area where everyone from Disney to Southern California Comics displays his/her wares.

So why even mention this on a library blog? Well, for one thing, librarians are a presence at Comic-Con, with at least one annual panel discussion dedicated to library collection development issues. This year’s topic was “Graphic Novels in Libraries,” moderated by Snow Wildsmith, reviewer for SLJ and Booklist. Other panels of potential interest to librarians included “Evolution of Fantasy,” where authors tried to predict the next big fantasy series, “A Darker Shade of Ink: Crime and Noir in Comics,” “Underground Comix,” and “What’s Up with Penguin and DK.”

Youth services librarians—and actually anyone interested in media and/or pop culture—would enjoy the vendor area, which is always larger and certainly ten-times louder than ALA’s exhibits. The big themes this year were: TV remakes (new versions of The Prisoner and the cheesy 1980s series V), sequels (Iron Man, Twilight), 3-D (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Tron), and anything having to do with vampires.

Gaming seemed to be less of a presence than previous years, while publishers (e.g., Abrams, Chronicle Books, DK, McFarland, and Random House/Del Rey) were in more abundance—but maybe I’m just reflecting my own media preference. I did see lots of people lined up to get autographed books and graphic novels, almost to the point of looking like a BookExpo convention. I’m starting to think librarians should be given special badges (like at BookExpo) so Comic-Con vendors can promote their products directly to us (e.g., my snappy new Rex Libris poster above).

What about the rest of you? Did any other librarians attend Comic-Con?

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