It’s taken me about three months to finally write a post on our library’s first Free Comic Book Day (mainly because of it being right before our big Summer Reading Program push). It was a smaller turnout than I had hoped for, but big enough that we’re definitely going to do it next year with some modifications. I can really envision this growing, and I’m optimistic that it will. And someday I hope to even work with other libraries in my county to create a much bigger comics convention.
What went well:
Our guest artists! The wonderful Tracie Mauk and Rick Hiltbrunner joined us and drew free sketches from open until close. They both commented on how nice it was to do a library vs. a comic shop mainly because it’s much quieter.
Here’s just a few examples of their work (all in progress):
Bruce has promised that next year he’ll join in on the fun, so I’m even more excited to have such an amazing group of artists share their talents with my community.
These photo props were one of the biggest hits (pun intended). Naturally I had to try out the first sign that I created to ensure quality:
These two brothers and their dad (holding the sign) had the best time with them – I think that they must have taken at least two dozen pictures:
Click on any of the images below to get your own Bam! Pow! or Zonk! signs. They print a little pixelated on a ledger-sized piece of paper – but that won’t show up in the photos (unless someone does an extreme closeup).
What I plan on adjusting next year:
The number of comics will definitely be increased. The comic shop that I worked with was super-supportive and gave us all of those comics (the stacks are about 3-5 issues deep). I had tried to piggyback onto their massive order (i.e. pay for them), but had missed their order by TWO DAYS. Next year I will be sure to order a heck of a lot more. If there’s any leftover, then they will make the perfect material for crafts and/or giveaways for the upcoming CSLP theme.
With our limited resources this time around, we asked that people select only two. At fifteen ’til close, we “opened up” the table for anyone to take all the comics that s/he would like. This worked well, but I’d really like to give people the option to take one of each if they so choose.
Activities and how we handle the free character sketches. These sort of tie into each other. I was very unsure of how many people would attend, therefore I tried to think of worst case scenarios and planned for huge crowds. I also suspected that children would make up the largest portion of attendees. My suspicion was pretty spot-on.
We arranged a row of tables to help guide families into a line (if needed) towards Rick and Tracie. This was to keep the lines organized as well as give people waiting something to do. There was an “in line scavenger hunt” where comic characters would be visible as you moved down the line (the prize was a sticker). We also put out the photo props, lots of coloring sheets, library superhero bookmarks, and some graphic novels from our collection.
Here’s one set of the bookmarks for you to download/use. I took off the second page (i.e. the back of the bookmark) since I had put our library’s name on it in a comic style font. Click on the image for a pdf:
One big regret I have is that I put the photo props near crayons because the Zonk! sign ended up being scribbled on, and wasn’t salvageable for future use. ::trombone wah wah:: But you can find the other two signs at my desk, ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
Even with our biggest rush in the first hour, almost no one stayed in line – it became very free-form and surprisingly everyone was patient and respected each other’s turn in the non-existent line.
I’m thinking that next year I’ll do away with this line system completely, and have a set number of sketches each artist will do. Then patrons can “take a number” for their sketch, and do the many other activities we’ll have around the library. Basically expand the events, put them in various locations, and not make attendees feel like they need to hover by the artists (unless they want to). Then, as the artists are ready for the next person, we can call out the number and the person can go over and make their request. The only thing would be that once a number is taken, that person MUST stay on library property or they forfeit their turn. Eh, I’m still thinking this aspect through.
Finally, I hope to have super hero movies or cartoons playing in our meeting room throughout the event, and try to encourage more cosplay. Maybe see if I can track down some serious cosplayers who’d like to have fun at the library.
Overall, I’m really delighted with how this inaugural event went, and I’m really excited to give it another go. Feel free to email me or post a comment if you have any questions about any of this!