November 17, 2017

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Librarians Organize Sewanhaka School District (NY) Comic-Con

Sewanha-Con logo created by high school student Melanni Mora.

Sewanha-Con logo created by high school student Melanni Mora.

Darth Vader, Wonder Woman, author/illustrator Misako Rocks!, and a group of intrepid librarians stormed Floral Park Memorial High School in Long Island, New York on Saturday, March 8 for the Sewanhaka Central High School District’s first-ever Comic-Convention. With over 100 students from the local high schools in attendance, Sewanha-Con offered teens in grades 7–12 a wide variety of workshops including Anime Screening, video-game free play, trivia competition, and panel discussions.

The event was modeled after Comic-Con International, a nonprofit educational corporation whose mission is to raise awareness of and appreciation for the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and science. It was spearheaded by school librarians Justin Mirsky from Sewanhaka High School and Nili Resnick of New Hyde Park Memorial High School, both longtime Doctor Who and Comic-Con fans. With the support of other district librarians—Donna Rosenblum from Floral Park Memorial High School, Karen Annunziata from H. Frank Carey High School, Joseph Nola, also of Sewanhaka High School, and Nadine Paduano from Elmont Memorial High School—the team hatched a plan last Spring and made it a reality earlier this month.

Graphic novel creator Misako Rocks! signs books following a manga-drawing presentation.

Graphic novel creator Misako Rocks! signs books following a manga-drawing presentation.

Invited speaker Rocks!, who moved from Japan to New York City in 2001, has published several manga-style books, including ​Detective Jermain, Volume 1 (Holt, 2008); Biker Girl (Hyperion, 2006); and her latest, Rock and Roll Love (CreateSpace, 2014). Her illustrations have also been featured in The Onion‘s weekly Savage Love column. The energetic and funny presenter spoke of her experiences as a writer and graphic artist. She also spent time teaching the students drawing techniques. A question and answer period and book signing followed her presentation.

Sewanha-Con crest drawn by student Wendy Kang.

Sewanha-Con crest drawn by student Wendy Kang.

Kids and community members were also an important part of the planning process. Sewankha student Wendy Kang designed a crest representing the five schools and classmate Melanni Mora created the event’s logo. Adult volunteers led some of the panel discussions, including one about book-to-film adaptations, and parents and teachers helped supervise the anime screening and gaming sessions. Mirsky hosted the trivia competition and all students who dressed up in a character costume received a door prize.

Teens dressed up as characters from  their favorite fandoms.

Teens dressed up as characters from their favorite fandoms.

A Comic-Con day would not be complete without a visit from fan-favorite characters. Members of the 501st Legion: Empire City Garrison were also part of the day’s festivities. The world’s definitive Star Wars costuming organization, the group not only promotes all things Star Wars, but also supports charitable causes. Attendees clad as Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, Stormtroopers, Clone Troopers, and Jawas graced the school’s halls for photo ops and presentations. 

Star Wars Group

Members of the 501st Legion: Empire City Garrison at the Sewanhaka Central High School District’s first-ever Comic-Convention.

Because of the program’s turnout and post-event buzz, plans are already being made for next year’s convention.

Donna Rosenblum is a longtime SLJ reviewer and a librarian at Floral Park (NY) Memorial High School.

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