Comic books are the bound collections of comic strips, which tell stories using illustrations and sequential panels. Popular since their debut in the 1930’s, comic books have gained fans of all ages around the world. The New York Comicon of 1964 is widely recognized as the first marketed, large scale comic convention. This particular comic con helped to pave the way for other large, recurring cons to form, many of which still occur today. The San Diego Comic Con is one of the largest in the world and even worked to find ways to continue to encourage fan activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These days comic cons do not just focus on comic books but on all types of media and entertainment. In addition to comics, cons have come to highlight movies, TV shows, books, anime, games, and more. Common activities at comic cons include panel discussions with content creators, workshops, games, cosplay contests, and areas that allow artists to sell their works. These conventions and activities allow people with similar interests to gather together and share a sense of community over what they enjoy.
Due to the popularity of comic cons, libraries have started to host their own mini conventions in recent years. Libraries generally set up partnerships with local businesses and utilize their own staff to run these mini cons. After hearing about the success of another university library’s mini con, it was decided to host one here at Bellevue University Library. A committee, led by Jessica Omer and Allison Schafer, formed in 2020 to research, plan, and host the future event to be held here on campus. The committee named the proposed convention Bruin Con and the date set for September of 2021. Initial plans were made for set up and activities, discussions on what kind of vendors could attend occurred, and the committee started to compile a list of businesses in the surrounding area that could potentially be partnered with for the event. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of attendees at events were still in place well into the spring and it was decided that the best plan was to delay hosting the full Bruin Con until fall 2022.
The committee did not wish to completely abandon the project in the meantime. After careful consideration, it was deemed possible to host a smaller con that would be primarily distanced or online so that any lingering restrictions could be fulfilled while still being able to have the event. The newly minted Nano Con was arranged to be a much smaller and limited event than the Bruin Con. Our Nano Con is set to occur September 13-17, 2021, and the main activity will be three panel sessions.
The first panel “Choose Your Character: Cosplay 101” will be on Tuesday, September 14 and will be hosted by three library staff members that will talk about different ways to create your own cosplay prop elements. The second panel “Dead Undead: The Eternal Media Life of Vampires” by Dr. Clif Mason will be on Wednesday, September 15 and he will be discussing the different representations of vampires in books, movies, and TV shows. The final panel will be “Fanfiction through the Ages” on Thursday, September 16 where two library staff members will be discussing the history and impact of fanfiction. All panels will begin at 12:30 p.m. Central Time and be hosted both inside the Library in Room 480 and over Zoom.
Those interested in attending Nano Con programs should pre-register on the event’s webpage. Registration for Nano Con will include a welcome bag for in-person attendees. Inside the welcome bag will be information on all of the Nano Con activities, preliminary details for the 2022 Bruin Con event, and fun extras like activity pages and small pop culture paraphernalia items. Those that register and attend this year’s Nano and then register next year for Bruin Con will be eligible for VIP status during the 2022 event. VIP Bruin Con attendees will receive exclusive items in the welcome bag that year. Be sure to follow us on social media to see the exciting posts planned for Nano Con!
Originally posted in the Freeman/Lozier Library’s quarterly newsletter, More Than Books, V. 24 No. 4, Fall 2021.