The July 7 & 8 weekend brings the fourth annual Kids Read Comics Celebration — the largest one yet — to Ann Arbor, Michigan. With interactive events featuring comics, animation and videogame professionals, over 60 artists and writers in Artist Alley, and free comics giveaways, KRCC will be headquartered at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library and run from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and noon until 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. At a Friday evening kickoff event, Transformers, Digimon and Power Rangers voice actor Neil Kaplan will lead an interactive discussion and demonstration of his craft.
The nonprofit Kids Read Comics was organized to highlight comics’ unique blend of words and pictures, and to foster fun, imagination, creativity, and a lifelong love of reading. Admission to all Kids Read Comics events is totally free, and guests are charged no fees for table space. KRC is run by volunteers and the 2012 Celebration benefits from the generous in-kind contributions of the Ann Arbor District Library, 826Michigan, Sakura of America, Smith Micro and Green Brain Comics, along with comics publishers DC Comics, Archie Comics, Top Shelf Productions and Oni Press, plus the efforts of a diverse roster of guests.
Stressing active engagement over passive consumption, the weekend will include hands-on workshops covering such topics as making webcomics, writing and drawing minicomics, creating videogames, and much more. Guests include Raina Telgemeier, creator of the award-winning Smile and a new memoir-in-comics, Drama; Reed Gunther and Adventure Time artist Chris Houghton; Dave Roman of Jax Epoch And The Quicken Forbidden and Astronaut Academy; Ruth McNally Barshaw, artist and writer of the Ellie McDoodle book series; Alison Dare and Teen Titans Go writer J. Torres; and Rob Worley, co-creator of the Eisner-nominated Scratch 9. Appearing by Skype for special sessions will be Audra Furuichi and Scott Yoshinaga, creators of nemu*nemu, and Delilah Dirk writer-artist Tony Cliff.
Over the course of the weekend, kids and teens (and adults too) will have plenty of opportunity to meet and talk with comics creators whose goal at the show is not only to sell their books and artwork but to convey their passion for comics to a rising young audience. Additionally, budding artists will be able to have their portfolios reviewed.
There will also be programs geared to educators and librarians to help them learn how to use comics most effectively in their settings. Said youth librarian and Kids Read Comics co-founder Edith Burney, who recently presented to the American Library Association on how to organize a library-based comics convention, “Most of my peers get that there’s a place for comics in the library, and one of the things we do is expand the notion of what that place can be.” Another KRC organizer, teaching cartoonist Jerzy Drozd, added that comics can play a valuable role in the classroom, and not only for developing readers. “They learn about telling stories too,” he said. “And there are some outstanding nonfiction comics that do a great job of bringing history and science to life.”
Comic shop owner Dan Merritt and comic book writer Dan Mishkin round out the Kids Read Comics organizing team. “Comics and graphic novels do all sorts of wonderful things,” Mishkin said, “and our goal is to make them part of the lives of as many young people as we can.”
Additional information and a full schedule of events are available at www.kidsreadcomics.org