On April 25 my daughters and I attended Kids’ Comic Con 2009
at Bronx Community College. We were invited by Mike Weiss, whose daughter Jessica is co-producer of PB&J Comics and a fixture at East Coast zine fests.
This was a really interesting event. For one thing, I haunt some key NYC comic stores regularly, and never heard a thing about this (it was the third annual con). I’m not sure how it was built, but the turnout was very strong. It’s very well organized and shockingly inexpensive for a New York event — kids 17 and under free, adults just 5 bucks. There was even a magician/clown to entertain the younger kids.
The con is organized by Alex Simmons, an African American author and cartoonist who does work for Archie Comics. Archie had the only presence of any major, mainstream publisher, but this is clearly Alex’s brainchild and passion: to give young people who love comics a chance to meet artists, writers and independent publishers, get feedback on their work and take classes with pros.
This was without question the most diverse comics event I’ve ever been to. Not only was the crowd mostly people of color — kids and adults — but so were the artists and small publishers who had tables, drew free sketches for the kids, led workshops, looked at portfolios, etc. It was wonderful to see.
The unpleasant side was the glaring disinterest of the major publishers. Ripley has gotten into comics over the past year thanks to DC’s “all ages” books, particularly Tiny Titans and Superfriends. So I was really disappointed that they didn’t even bother to have a table. At least DC contributed several items for the excellent giveaway bags. Marvel didn’t do a thing. I say shame on them both.
However, the absence of Marvel, DC, Image, et al really gave the independents a chance to shine. There were many Black, Latino and Asian American-produced comics, both glossy full-color and zine-style, that I’d never seen, even at comic shops that carry lots of indie stuff like Forbidden Planet. There is a whole world of comics being produced at the margins that many of us never see.
So here’s my plea: if you make a kid’s zine or kid-friendly zine, consider having a table at next year’s KCC (they’re cheap). If you make comics, consider getting involved with next year’s event. If you love comics and zines, support this great effort by checking out the website
, spreading the word, and attending next year if you can. If you have kids in your life, bring ‘em.