Friday, June 19, 2015

Cartooning Club Guest- Beth Smith and Alien Dude!

Thursday, June 18, the Union West Cartooning Club was very fortunate and pleased to have author Beth Smith come talk about her book series, Alien Dude!
Beth told the club her reason for coming up with Alien Dude was to give boys who were just beginning to read on their own a story they would want. The result was Alien Dude, a superhero who can morph into all sorts of things, can sing to birds, and use farts and armpits as weapons. Typically, Alien Dude is saving the day at school from threats like worm infestations, magically altered cafeteria food and unseasonal weather.
 Beth explained to the club that a book requires several people to make it good. Someone must write it, another person has to illustrate it, the book may need an editor and the cover and inside layout is done by a designer.
The kids took turns drawing themselves as food (a plot point from the second Alien Dude book!), and several of them took to drawing Alien Dude. The evening closed with a video lesson from Hamster Sam creator Dave McDonald on how to create a character starting with a 30 second exercise.
 Incidentally, while many of the presenters at the Return of Mini-Con V will be at Heroes Con in Charlotte this weekend, Dave will be in Michigan for the Kids Read Comics! annual event.
Discussing popular themes that kids like.

Presenting Alien Dude!

Talking book #2 and beyond!

Alien Dude in action!

Talking about all the people who helped make the book.

Book Signing!

Jackson shows off a variety of VeggiTales!

Deep into their art....

Dinosaurs, and picture frames around each frame!

A different kind of Alien Dude!

Alien Dude!

Another Alien Dude!

A third Alien Dude!

Guess who?

NOT an alien! It's a turtle, dude!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mini-Con V- You've been framed!

These were pictures taken at the end of the mini-con. Unfortunately, Jeremiah Ray, Corey Davis and Criss Mitchell were already gone when one of our staff members got this idea. Enjoy!
Children's librarian Terri, aka "Bat-Gram!"

Herc Petmezas & Brandon Padgett with Spy Smasher.

Optimus Prime!

Dave McDonald & Al Bigley being heroic!

Alien Dude author Beth Smith!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mini Con V. A Quick Follow-up!

The dust from The Return of Mini-Con V has settled, and pictures are still finding their way to me to be posted, and as I get them in bunches they will be put here on this blog. Things went incredibly smoothly, and the crowd was as big as ever but didn't seem to be as chaotic or stuffy in years past.
 A rough estimation puts the crowd at more than 350, based on the door count, which translates to 100 people per hour! For a library, on a Saturday, with so many other things going on in the community, that really says something!
 The reason for the success is three-fold. First, the staff was ready for the day, and volunteers showed up to help. Things were set up ahead of time. Second- all the guests showed up! Beth Smith, Eraklis Petmezas, Brandon Padgett and Dave McDonald occupied the main children's area of the library while Al Bigley, Corey Davis, Criss Mitchell and Jeremiah Ray took over the meeting room. Everyone had plenty of space and got to make some new connections and i think they had a good time. Third, the sponsors of the event were incredible! First Second Books (:01) came through with great give-away prizes for all age groups while Top Shelf supplied free comics to every child. DC Comics provided bookmarks, posters and recommended reading guides, Capstone gave us amazing posters, Heroes Aren't Hard to Find let us give out their posters and gave us SIX one day passes to the Heroes Con (they said they were going to give three, which we were thrilled with- six was a pleasant surprise!) and Chic-fil-A gave out coupons for free milkshakes and provided food for the staff and presenters!
 Check out some of the mirth merriment in these pics!
The cosplay crew- Sandman, Joker, Spy Smasher

Lil' Hulk!


Brandon and Herc at work!

Library Instagram stuff!

Herc's Art.

Corey and Herc

Corey's Avengers.

Hobbes and Supergirl.

Joker is feeling brave...
Al's Batman

Awesome sketch cover by Al

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Roster for Mini-Con V grows!

Exciting news this morning as the core presenters for The Return of Mini-Con V- Al Bigley, Dave McDonald, Beth Smith, Jeremiah Ray and Corey Rocbottom Davis- are being joined by Columbia's Criss Mitchell, and Big Dogs Studio's Brandon Padgett and Herc Petmezas!
Criss Mitchell's art.
Brandon's Power Man/ Luke Cage card.
 This comes on the news that Ben Murray and Dan Johnson would not be able to attend, so losing two and gaining three is certainly a good thing! Herc and Brandon are veterans of the Mini-Con and have been major players in the Sketch Charlotte scene over the years. Criss is a talented artist who has done work for area comics shops and is a talent waiting to be found!

Herc's art!
Herc, the artist!
In addition, more folks want to get on that mini-con train. Bibliobooks, which provides books, print collections and graphic novels in digital format has opened up their Dark Horse Comics collection and their Comic and Graphic Novels page! The Comics and Graphic Novels page has collections of Holyoke, Key and other Golden Age publishers with a slant to the pre-code horror, crime and war comics. It also includes more contemporary publishers like Alterna Comics and Blue Water Comics (with their biography, politics and adventure titles showcased). The Darkhorse page has Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Conan the Barbarian, various horror titles and superheroes including the recently revived Captain Midnight! These books are free to read through the library's webpage. Just log into the library's NCLive page using your NCLive password and  follow the captain's orders. You'll be enjoying four-color excitement in no time!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Conventions are great for having free swag!

When I was a teen and attended my first conventions, the Sky Cons in Asheville, I was amazed at how much stuff was just given away. There were promotional comics, posters and pin-ups, buttons, bookmarks, and if you were lucky- maybe a t-shirt! The times continue to change and economics does, too. The excess that lead to easy give-aways in the 1980s moved to a comics industry nearly imploding in the 1990s, to companies succeeding as idea fodder for movie studios and video game designers today. You can still get things for free, but it represents a more calculated effort and intent by the companies involved to offer those things.
 Sometimes that reason is to stir up interest in a product. Sometimes it is to draw attention to the company as a whole. The best reason, though, is to be an ambassador for the medium that so many people love and enjoy. When I put together the comic events at my library, it is with an eye on creating lovers of comics. Whether that is purely as readers, or as active participants who draw, write, or perform cosplay, the goal is to get them involved and invested.
 This year, several publishers and companies are stepping up to give our kids a fantastic convention experience. Top Shelf Comics generously donated a box of FCBD comics for us to hand out. IDW and ONI have also donated comics from past FCBD events. DC donated a handful of posters and a bunch of Flash bookmarks. First Second gave us posters and books for kids, teens and adults. Capstone generously sent us posters and some incredible tote bags. Heroes Aren't Hard to Find is giving three one-day passes, so hopefully a father and son who have never been to the Heroes Con will get to go. The UCPL library system is offering up 10 of it's exclusive Superhero Cards. Biblioboards saw we were doing the mini-con and is offering a trial access to their online graphic novel library which features many Dark Horse, Bluewater and golden age titles! You can access the books by going to the library's home page, and clicking "Information Seekers" on the left. Click "Search Our Databases" then select the NC Live banner. On the NC Live page there is an ad box on the right. Click the fourth ad (home grown e-books). Then, select your catagory, explore and read!And finally, the Chic-fil-A in Indian Trail is bringing someone over to handout bookmarks, that come with a little something sweet attached to them, to the kids. Overall, this pretty much insures no child leaves our event empty handed and with no comic to call their own and to read.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Return of Mini-Con V! June 6!

The Return of Mini-Con ends a two-year hiatus on June 6 with the FIFTH mini-con event! It will be a return to the mini-cons of yore- artists, art, costumes and free stuff! The best part is admission is free, and presenters get their space for free as well.
Al Bigley
Dave McDonald
 The past two years, Union West has opted to celebrate the 75th anniversaries of Superman and Batman, and to become a recurring member of the annual Star Wars Reads Day. Despite all this fun, the mini-con remains genuinely different from those other events in that it showcases the rich talent of the local cartooning community in Charlotte and across the Carolinas. So far, this year's slate of talent includes Al Bigley (whose credits are just too long to list without missing something important!), the founding reason behind why there is a Cartooning Club at Union West; Jeremiah Ray, a rising Mint Hill artist and instructor who has also cut is teeth at our Cartooning Club and will make his first mini-con appearance for us; Corey Rocbottom Davis, the Columbia, SC based creator of Jet Boy and other indie comics and a member of Fite Klub Studios and Truthful Comics; Dave McDonald, the creator of Hamster Sam and Vincent Van Doodle; Beth Smith, the author and creator of the Alien Dude book series; Ben Murray, from Fite Klub Studio, and many more!
Corey Rocbottom Davis
It is also different in that publishers are contacted directly and asked if they would be wiling to participate by donating comics, graphic novels, bookmarks, or anything else to the mini-con. As the library's big kick-off event for summer reading, it is our desire to put a comic book in the hand of every child that comes to our event. Past participants have included Dark Horse, IDW, Boom! Studios, :01 books, Top Shelf, RightStuf, Viz Media, Archie, Campfire, and Capstone Press. This year, Chris Staros of Top Shelf, and Gina Galliango of :01 Books came through with some fantastic reads to give away! DC  jumped in this year with posters and bookmarks featuring the Flash and Capstone has offered up a slew of cool posters!
Beth Smith
The library will also be giving away 10 superhero cards, so if you missed out on free superhero cards on May 30, June 6 could save the day for you!
 Roughly over 300 people have attended past mini-cons. Just how many over 300 is hard to guess, but it translates into more than 100 people coming in per hour. Not bad for a small library holding a free event on a Saturday!
 Check back here over the next few days for more info and details as things come together.

Jeremiah Ray