DENHAM SPRINGS — Billed as a “celebration of all fandom,” the fourth annual Comic Con attracted about 500 fans to the Walker-Denham Springs Branch of the Livingston Parish Library System on Saturday.
The afternoon’s activity saw patrons of all ages crowding inside the library while activities were also conducted in the sun-splashed patio courtyards of the facility. Attendees engaged in fantasy activities that involved characters and plot lines from popular movies, television shows, video games, comics and books. Little Harry Potters scurried about and engaged with Superman, Spiderman, princes and princesses, and a variety of other characters and comic figures.
“People come from all over to join together for games and activities that involve their favorite characters in the land of make-believe,” said Lesley Campbell, director of youth services for the library system. “Comic Con has become hugely popular throughout the nation, and the big, professional events attract thousands and thousands of fans who pay for the privilege of meeting actors and actresses.”
Campbell said the original Comic Con was held in San Diego a number of years ago and the movement has grown since.
“We wanted to make sure we could use the name Comic Con for our special day, so we got permission from the national group that sponsors these things,” she said. "Our Comic Con has grown over the past several years the way the national movement has grown.”
Campbell explained that the original Comic Con was held at the Main Branch of the library four years ago and attracted several hundred visitors. The event has grown since and was moved last year to the Walker-Denham Springs Branch. “We will have record numbers this year ... more than 500 are expected,” she predicted.
Her estimate proved to be valid. Shortly after the free Comic Con opened at 1 p.m., the newly expanded library branch was overrun with visitors.
Campbell explained that “fandom” means anyone who is actively interested in participating in activities related to popular modes of entertainment. To meet the demand, the library staff prepared areas for activities for all ages. In the East Meeting Room visitors could engage in magic wand making, a Twiwizard Tournament and play a game of “Quidditch,” the fanciful game made famous through the "Harry Potter" series of books and movies.
Meanwhile, in the West Meeting Room, Comic Con fans could participate in Camp Half Blood and a fanciful game, Super Librarians vs. the Story Eraser, an interactive play that pitted the Super Librarians against a foe who tries to erase words from a book the librarian is trying to compose.
“This is a play for all ages that is both humorous, entertaining and enlightening,” Campbell said.
Also available were crafts for children and teens in the Youth Area and tabletop gaming in the Adult Area.
Vendors and artists manned tables in the building’s hallways, and visitors could have their pictures made in their favorite costumes at the Photo Booth.
Local artist Ciera Bobo, a painter and illustrator, demonstrated her crafts amid all the activity.
“Ultimately, this is a celebration of the library itself and the books we hold," Campbell said. The fantasy tales that so many enjoy today grew out of books … out of the creative minds of authors. From there, they branched out into comics, movies and television. When a huge crowd comes to our library, they all get excited and they eventually want to check out books. What’s great about something like our Comic Con is that it brings out whole families and they can all find something of interest in the library.”
Campbell said that Comic Con is especially rewarding because it so much appeals to the young from elementary through high school grades.
“Events like Comic Con draw young people to the library, and once they come here, they will keep coming back,” she said. “Also, when the very young attend events such as this, their parents come with them and they rediscover what our library has to offer. Today is one of those ‘win-win’ days for our library. We have a full house, and everyone seems to be having a good time.”
A popular stop along the main hallway was a table manned by volunteers with Starfleet, a group that attends events such as Comic Con to help fans enjoy such fantasy experiences as “Star Trek” and other similar shows.
Trisha Tunis, among those at the Starfleet table, celebrating “Star Trek,” said, “Joining groups such as Starfleet is extremely popular, and we get new fans all the time. Participating in groups such as ours gives fans a chance to express their creativity and to join with others who enjoy the same things. We provide arts and crafts appropriate to the groups that we are fans of for various ages."
In the computer room, three young women wearing conspicuous headgear identified themselves as “Sims” and said they were playing a computer game they enjoyed that involved “Sims.” One of the trio, Delanie Turner, said she likes to "dress up and have fun being together with others who are also having fun. We enjoy books, comics, television, movies and video games … all forms of pop culture. It’s fun to be involved in all of this together.”
Adrian Baudley, decked out in an elaborate costume, said she was “Poppy,” from the “Coco” comic books. Baudley said she designed and made her costume herself and that it took her about two hours to get into her outfit and do the appropriate makeup.
“It’s worth all the time to do this,” she said. “I love Comic Con because I can meet people who are like me and like to enjoy dressing up for this special day. I enjoy reading fantasy stories, and I find some of the comic books I like online.”
Campbell said activities such as Comic Con are all part of an evolving role of the library in service to the community. She said the library now has Learning Kits which can be checked out. The kits contain such things as microscopes, telescopes, keyboards, star maps and other tools and books of instruction that enhance learning experiences. New to the library will be bakeware that can be checked out.
“About the bake ware … we have a tie-in to Comic Con. You can check out pans to bake superhero goodies in!” she concluded.