On Saturday, Sept. 24, an estimated 8,000 people stopped by Central Park Library for the Santa Clara City Library Comic Con, sponsored by the Santa Clara City Library Foundation & Friends. Attendees immersed themselves in various activities, including posing for pictures with the fairy godmothers from Sleeping Beauty, watching artists draw live cartoons, crafting comic art sunglasses and learning how to make costumes.
“The purpose of our Comic Con is to inspire literacy and creativity in our community by showing people of all ages they can be creative through making comic books and art and they can be inspired by pop culture,” says librarian Angela Ocana, who co-organized the event with library technology coordinator John Hong Schlosser.
Breaking down the lingo, Ocana defines anime, manga, comic books and graphic novels.
“Anime, which are animated movies, and manga, which are animated books, are based on Japanese comic books. All manga books are read starting from the back to the front, which is the traditional way Japanese books are read,” Ocana says. “Comic books are single issues that lead to a bigger story. Graphic novels used to be a compilation of that story but now graphic novels are the format used to tell longer stand-alone stories.”
Speaking of graphic novels, Ocana and fellow librarians Kelly Quinn Chiu and Morgan Pershing hosted a panel where they dished about many of their favorite graphic novels. Pershing enjoyed Brian K. Vaughan’s “Y: The Last Man,” a series depicting what can happen if all the men die in the world. Ocana recommended G. Willow Wilson’s “Ms. Marvel,” featuring the first mainstream Muslim character in Marvel Comics. Chiu liked Faith Erin Hicks’s “Friends with Boys,” a story about a formerly homeschooled girl who goes to high school, encounters adolescent drama and deals with a ghost.
During another panel talk, audiences were enthusiastic to learn about Le Tang, a Pixar story artist who had worked on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” for Lucasfilm and “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Home” for Dreamworks. Tang entertained his audience by swiftly sketching out different scenes of a story dictated to him on the spot by others.
“What I do is story art so that’s pre-production, really one of the earliest stages,” Tang says. “A storyboard looks like a comic strip. It is the blueprint for the movie. So it’s illustrating and visualizing scripts, the ideas, what’s going to happen, what the characters are doing, what information is being told. It’s the plan for the movie.”
The library Comic Con wouldn’t be complete without attendees in disguise, such as the costumed Star Wars characters from the Rebel Legion. Carlyn Pitterle came as Ahsoka Tano from the Clone Wars.
“We’re volunteering at this event to take pictures with kids,” Pitterle says. “There are a lot of Star Wars books here at the library. This event is a great way to get people involved in the community.”