Last year, around this time, I was down in the Big Easy, hanging out with my librarian pals, enjoying the celebration of all things bibliocal.  There was a graphic novel stage, an actual Artists Alley, and the first meeting of the Graphic Novels & Comic in Libraries Member Interest Group.  MIGs (as they are known) are the first steps to creating a “round table”… a subject specific group of librarians.  So what did we decide to do?  Host an actual mini-con within the larger conference!

So building on all the stuff that was going on in 2011, and reaching for the stars, Tina Coleman, ALA Marketing Specialist, and her merry cohorts created an even more amazing program!  There was the graphic novel stage, where panels and interviews were held every minute the exhibition floor was open!  There were comics publishers, both near the stage as well as among the mainstream publishers!  Gaming companies and organizations (Scrabble!  Go!) helped add to the geekery, as did a stellar assortment of artists and writers hanging out in the Artists Alley!

  • Chris Giarrusso
  • Matt Dembicki
  • Faith Erin Hicks
  • Raina Telgemeier & Dave Roman
  • Chris Schweizer
  • Gene Luen Yang, Derek Kirk Kim, & Thien Pham
  • Jerzy Drozd
  • Mark Siegel
  • Alexis E. Fajardo
  • Darren J. Gendron
  • Lark Pien & Jen Wang
  • Anthony Del Col / Kill Shakespeare
  • Dan Santat
  • Tom Kaczynski & Gabrielle Bell
  • Jacob Chabot
  • Keith Knight
  • Shane and Chris Houghton
  • Nathan Hale
  • Cecil Castellucci

Plus even more spectacular talent up on stage, like:

  • Larry Marder
  • Scott McCloud
  • Kazu Kibuishi
  • Doug TenNapel

There was even a special program book just for the GraphiCon!  And a ‘con t-shirt!

Now I won’t bore you with what I did, like attending the final performance of the Rock Bottom Remainders where I danced with two former ALA presidents, or show you the awesome convention sketches, or gush about the cool new Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, or tempt you with the amazing Korean Bulgogi burger I had for lunch one day!

Nope.  Not even gonna post pictures.

Instead, here are the highlights of the show.  There wasn’t much in the way of new publications, but there were some interesting things on the floor:

  1. Didja know that the Smithsonian has libraries?  Didja know they have two loose-leaf volumes of William Moulton Marston’s letters and papers, and 13 bound volumes of comic books featuring “Wonder Woman,” dated 1941-1948? Your tax dollars at work!
  2. I’ve talked about the Swann collection over at the Library of Congress before, and of course they keep all sorts of comics and graphic novels deposited via copyright.  But they also host the National Book Festival on the National Mall every Fall.  This year, there’s a special SciFi Fantasy & Graphic Novels pavilion featuring:

    They did this last year as well!

  3. Comics wasn’t the only geekery at the show; there was a ‘zine pavilion as well!
  4. What was the coolest piece of tech on the floor?  How about a 3-D printer?  Demco had a BFB 3DTouch 3D Printer (Double Head) printer on display, making little plastic ducks.  Only $4000!
  5. Among the poster sessions (where librarians present programs for an hour) was one library using Lego blocks for library programming!  (The library director’s adult son donated his Legos to the library!)
  6. Capstone Press, publisher of the awesome Super Pets beginning reader series, will be starting an original beginning reader series of graphic novels under their Pebbles imprint.
  7. W.W. Norton will be publishing another graphic novel memoir from David Small.
  8. During an interview at the GraphiCon stage, Doug TenNapel announced that Scholastic will reissue Tommysaurus Rex in color, with extra pages, meaning some art will be expanded into double-page spreads.
  9. While wandering around the graphic novel pavilion, I met a curator/librarian from the The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, one of the world’s oldest SF/F clubs when IDW asked me if I was a Whovian, and which novels would be the best for a library.  I wasn’t very knowledgeable (I’ve read a few paperbacks, but have no clue about the canon).  I did suggest the Key of Time arc written by Douglas Adams.  They have over 22,000 volumes in their collection, many of them signed by the authors.  She was searching for graphic novels to add to the collection, and purchased Boom Studio’s adaptation of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” at the show.  (Yes, it’s a trade show where they sell books to attendees, usually at wholesale prices.)
  10. That Artists Alley I mentioned earlier?  It wasn’t really an alley, more like a shopping arcade!  Each artist had a spacious booth with table and chairs, and some artists would have brought larger backdrops had they known.  Although the graphic novel pavilion was somewhat hidden (something to be corrected next summer in Chicago), artists enjoyed the interaction with librarians and other attendees.
  11. There was a lot of dramatic tension during the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Prize for Libraries raffle.  The first two winners were in attendance, but the third drawing took six turns before a winner was finally found in the audience!

The next conference, the smaller Mid-Winter meeting will take place in Seatle.  While there won’t be a GraphiCon at that conference, it is hoped that Fantagraphics and Dark Horse will host some local creators for booth signings.

What’s planned for Chicago?  It’s a bit early for that, since the conference just ended last Tuesday!  But ALA is based in Chicago, and they’ve been a regular attendee at every C2E2 and NYCC show (with the booth ‘brarians cosplaying), so they’ll probably be approaching local creators to attend!


  1. Thanks for reporting on what I missed, Torsten! I was all over the Exhibits floor and interviewing Artist Alley folks. Missed Doug Ten Napel, but so glad to hear about Tommysaurus Rex! I love that book … Hubby and younger son want to go back to Chicago next summer, so here’s hoping we’ll make it.

    Did you think that Artist Alley was busier this year? I was very near Artist Alley most of last ALA, I thought that this year there were more people talking with more artists.

  2. Hey Torsten,
    It was great to see you at the ALA show. I’d like to add that Tina Coleman and co had additional challenges of scheduling up against Book Expo and Comic Con which were both closer on the calendar to ALA than in previous years. Even with that she was able to pull in some really great talent for the artist alley. Kudos also to the librarians who made the past ten years of gn programming possible.
    See you in San Diego!

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