Arts & Culture » Culture

Boise Library Comic Con: Changing Perceptions, Part Three

Boise Public Library prepares for its third annual comic.con, Saturday, Aug. 29


Wendy Nelson has spent a lot of time at conventions. The Boise State material science major attends Anime Oasis every year and is Fandemonium's video gaming director. Neither of these long-running Boise cons has captured her comic-loving heart in the same way as Library Comic Con.

"Most people that go to conventions have a nerdy side that draws them in," Nelson said, "whether it be anime, gaming, comics or TV. Something about conventions appeals to them, and I think that Library Comic Con is also trying to tap into an area of interest that is not yet fully explored here in Idaho."

Library Comic Con, now in its third year, is set for Saturday, Aug. 29 at the Boise Public Library (715 S. Capitol Blvd.) and will be bigger than in previous years thanks to a budget of $11,000 from the Friends of the Library, a group dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the city's various library branches.

According to Joshua Shapel, library materials specialist and founding member of LCC, funding has steadily increased each of the past three years, and putting on the convention has grown from a five-person effort to a dedicated group of 10 staff members. Plus, this year's LCC will have six more out of state guests and 10 more artists than were part of the first year's program. Shapel believes the increases are because of LCC's wide target audience—the event is local, free and available to all ages, so it garners an impressive range of attendees.

"We just want to provide a place where anyone who is excited about comics or any other part of popular culture associated with [comics] can go and have something exciting and fun to do," Shapel said.

This year, the convention will host an array of events, including a panel with several members of the Periscope Studios art collective, a discussion about Hayao Miyazaki films (Studio Ghibli) and an Attack on Titan cosplay meet-up.

In order to accommodate all of the planned events with ample space, LCC hosts panels in rooms throughout the library, sets up in the Friends of the Library's donation collection warehouse (across River Street from the library) and rents rooms in the Foothills School of Arts and Sciences.

"The big thing is fitting everything that we want to do in the amount of space that we have," Shapel said. "There's always something going on in multiple places in the library—even a zombie walk outside at the end of the day."

Nelson enjoys all of the events at LCC, especially the artist features and panels, in which comic artists are highlighted for their work. This year, the Library is bringing in an artist who worked on Helheim, a comic about supernatural viking comics, and one of Nelson's favorites.

According to Shapel, the hardest task is generating awareness for all of the LCC events.

"I think [a comic con] is something that isn't generally expected of a library," Shapel said. "People think library and think books and only book programming. We really want to change that perception."

The inspiration for LCC—comics and graphic novels—are some of the Library's most circulated content, and Shapel wants to emphasize just how important and enjoyable they can be, as well as how useful comics are in promoting literacy for people who are reluctant to pick up a lengthy novel.

"Comics are a good entry point for people that aren't interested in reading initially," Shapel said, adding many parents have attended Library Comic Con, purchased comics and come back for more because their children "just ate them up."

"Comics are just an amazing art form, and people don't understand the the diversity of talent involved," Shapel said. "I just love comics. They make me happy."

Nelson loves comics, too, a passion passed down from her father.

"I love that they are a great bridge between colorful pictures while also having a compelling story," Nelson said. "It's like animation on paper." She said she hopes people push aside their preconceptions of what a library should be and, instead, get excited about what it is promoting.

"The library is seen as quiet and stuffy and for studying ... the library can be an adventure," Nelson said. "There are endless stories and resources for spreading knowledge right at your finger tips."

Shapel hopes everyone will come out to the library and see what the convention is all about. He believes once people get there, they'll stay and enjoy the festivities.

"We've had some cosplayers say, 'What? The Library? No thanks.' But then they actually come and realize, 'Hey, this is a real thing,'" Shapel said.

Nelson believes anyone can enjoy Nintendo pixel art, Star Trek panels or Star Wars droid building events at the library on Saturday.

"It proves your age does not matter when you are a fan of something," Nelson said. "I get just as excited about Library Comic Con as my little niece does."