The East Baton Rouge Parish Library on Saturday, April 27, will host its second Mid City Micro-Con at the Main Library on Goodwood Boulevard. With a mission to focus on diversity and inclusion, the organization set this year’s micro-con theme as “Building Worlds, Breaking Molds.”
“The whole idea is: One, there is world-building in comics. Two, it’s building these worlds where you see that mirror of yourself,” said Adam St. Pierre, STEM librarian and a micro-con committee member. “Seeing people represented who are your same race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, body image, all of that — that is the kind of thing we want to highlight.”
The inaugural, in-house micro-con, with the theme “Welcome to Wakanda," took place in February 2018, and about 400 people attended the event, beating organizers’ expectations.
“We saw the reception of last year’s event and we realized that we had to host this again,” said Jessica McDaniel, a librarian and the Main Library’s community programming and outreach representative.
Organizers are expecting about 1,000 people to come through this year's one-day micro-con, which will take place inside and around the Main Library. An arts and comics market will be set up, and the library's meeting and conference rooms will host panels and workshops.
A micro-con provides similar things to what you would expect at a larger comics convention but in a more approachable manner. While the larger, more popular comic-cons will bring hundreds of vendors and big-name representatives for multiday showcases, this micro-con will feature 40 vendors for the single-day event.
“It can be intimidating to attend a large scale comic-con with so many people,” McDaniel said. “A lot of times, you have to travel to it. This con is for people who want a more intimate event. Our event is not very small, but it is more accessible.”
This year’s featured presenter is Chicago-based artist and illustrator Ashley A. Woods, whose work includes the series “Niobe: She is Life” and “Tomb Raider: Survivor’s Crusade.” Woods will be on the panel “The Influence of Ink: How Comics can Change the World” and also will host a workshop in the afternoon.
“Her repertoire is impressive,” St. Pierre said. “She has created this giant world of afrofuturism that is really great.”
“The Influence of Ink” keynote panel also will include Chip Reece, the writer of “Metaphase,” the first graphic novel to spotlight a superhero with Down syndrome; Jason Reeves, owner-operator of studio 113art and the illustrator on “Kid Carvers,” a series about two African American, mystery-solving, child geniuses in New Orleans; and Keith Chow, podcast host and the creator of pop culture website The Nerds of Color.
Along with its focus on diversity and inclusion, the micro-con highlights Louisiana creators. “There are awesome people that are here right now that are creating things that are great — Louisiana artists and writers who have ties to the larger vendors like Marvel, Image, and DC,” St. Pierre said.
Among the day’s 14 workshops and panels are sessions like “Reinventing Sherlock Holmes with Character Design,” hosted by N. Steven Harris (an Eisner-nominated and Glyph Award-winning comics and storyboard artist) and wig-making with Lafayette-based Cajun Moon Creations. Many workshops are on a first-come, first-served basis, so look for sign-up sheets when the micro-con opens.
This year’s daylong arts and comics market, sponsored by the LSU School of Library Sciences, will feature vendors showing and selling their art and speaking with attendees. Unlike other conventions of this sort, Mid City Micro-Con does not charge vendors a fee to set up a table.
That “makes it open to independent artists and performers,” McDaniel said. “It’s a fairly localized convention. It’s to celebrate local artists. We do pull artists in from other states because that’s where they are, but their work and ties to the community here are very important.”
Like most comic conventions, cosplay is encouraged, and the micro-con will host a contest. Kids are invited to enter the competition, too. Ninja Yo Yo Cosplay and Lady Luna, of Cajun Moon Creations, are judging this year’s contest and will announce the winners in the early evening. Rules and more information about the contest can be found in the library's guide to Mid City Micro-Con at ebrpl.com/mcmc.
"The library wants the micro-con to be an event any person can feel comfortable and confident attending,” organizers said. A quiet, safe space will be reserved on the second floor in the special collections room and is available for anyone to use at any time.
The library is wheelchair accessible and there are single person restrooms. American Sign Language interpreters will be present at the main panels, and interpreters are available throughout the day; email firstname.lastname@example.org for advance arrangements. More information can be found under the "accessibility" tab in the the micro-con’s guide.
All are welcome at the micro-con, McDaniel said, "you just need to be a person who knows that people matter. Even if you don't know that, coming to this event might help you realize that — that all people, no matter their shape, size, color, creed, ability, have more value than you think. Being able to recognize that in art, movies and popular culture is very important and necessary for us to be better people."
Mid City Micro-Con
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27
East Baton Rouge Parish Library's Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd.
Schedule of events
Large Meeting Room
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Arts & Comics Market
Conference Room 102
11 a.m. to noon: "The Influence of Ink: How Comics Can Change the World" — Rodneyna Hart will moderate a panel with Ashley A. Woods, Jason Reeves, Keith Chow and Chip Reece.
12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m.: "The Art of Worldbuilding" — Godric Johnson, of Jetstreame Studios, will moderate a panel with Antoine "Ghost" Mitchell, Taylor Wells and Kelly Williams.
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.: "Zorro’s Ghost: How a Mexican Legend Became America’s First Superhero" — Presentation by Dr. Stephen Andes, LSU assistant professor of history.
2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.: "Rayven Choi" film Screening and Q&A — Presented by Shequeta Smith.
4 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Art workshop with Ashley A. Woods — Sign-up at door begins at 10 a.m.
Conference Room A
11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: "Life of a Working Artist" — Presented by Katie Armentrout.
12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.: "Working with Ink on Bristol Board" — Presented by Jo Hines Jr. Sign-up at door begins at 10 a.m.
1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.: "Designing Diverse Characters" — Presented by Daniel Strickland. Sign-up at door begins at 10 a.m.
2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.: "Reinventing Sherlock Holmes with Character Design" — Presented by N. Steven Harris. Sign-up at door begins at 10 a.m.
Conference Room B
10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.: "Wigged Out Workshop" — Presented by Cajun Moon Creations. Sign-up at door begins at 10 a.m.
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: "Modeling 101 for Cosplayers" — Presented by Chenese Lewis. Sign-up at door begins at 10 a.m.
12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m.: Cosplay contest judging — Complete registration in advance or on-site.
2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.: "Cosplay Beyond Sewing" — Presented by Miss Oo La La. Sign-up at door begins at 10 a.m.
3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.: "Cosplay Anyway" — Presented by TaLynn Kel. Sign-up at door begins at 10 a.m.
4:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Cosplay awards and prize announcements — Presented by judges Ninja Yo Yo Cosplay and Lady Luna with emcee Tubbi.
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Magical Girl dance lesson — Presented by Krewe Du Moon
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Oculus Rift demos — Presented by Adam St. Pierre
3 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Drawing lesson and artist Q&A — Presented by Winston Williams