Superhero, villain, warrior or elf, it’s time to channel your favorite comic-book character as the Ashland library hosts its first Comic Con from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 20.
The event for teens, tweens and adults is a heroic kick-off for the Ashland Library’s summer reading program, “Every Hero Has a Story.” Ashland librarian Esther Mortensen came up with the idea when looking for a way to launch the reading program with a bang.
“I usually do something like karaoke or games, but I thought why not go a little bigger? We’ve never had a Comic Con here, and that would be great,” she said. “I also realized with such a big event, we better get some adults in on it, so I spread the word at SOU and RCC, too,” she added.
The afternoon will feature a costume contest judged by SOU’s Cosplay Club. Cosplay is short for “costume play,” where people dress as their favorite comic book, TV or video game characters.
“The SOU group is terrific. They’ll be in costume and they’ll have a lot of fun with this event,” said Mortensen. “Besides, with this being a theater town, people go crazy for a chance to dress up.”
The Cosplay club will also offer a panel presentation at 12:30 p.m., titled “Cosplay 101” to introduce visitors to the joys of dressing as a favorite character.
Mortensen emphasized that the event does have a strong policy in place regarding weapons. Real weapons are not permitted. Weapon props are permitted, but must be “peace bonded,” meaning sheathed and zip tied or attached to the costume. Also, in keeping with library policy, full-facial masks will not be allowed.
Local artist and teacher Tom Helard will judge a comic-art contest, and at 1:30 p.m. he will give a presentation called “Creating Comics and Sequential Art.” Mortensen says she’s excited about his participation.
“I’ve seen Tom’s illustrations at the Rogue Gallery and his work is really impressive,” said Mortensen. “I think kids and adults will get a lot out of his presentation.”
At 2:30 p.m., Jordan McKay, owner of Oberon’s, will present “Response-ability: Training the Modern Superhero.”
Mortensen says that one of the many aspects of the event she likes is it will give parents deeper insight into the benefits of reading comics and graphic novels.
“Sometimes parents come into the library and they are kind of embarrassed that their kids are only reading graphic novels,” she said. "I always tell them they should feel good about that. I have huge respect for the genre. Graphic novels are great to read, they aren’t dumbed-down books and they engage the whole brain."
The last scheduled event will be at 3:30 p.m., when the judges announce the contest winners for the artwork and costume contests.
In addition to discussion panels and contests, several local vendors, including CD or Not CD, Astral Games and Treehouse Books, will participate in the event. FunAgain Games, Zeplinz, Paddington Station and Renaissance Rose have donated prizes. All of the events will take place in various rooms in the library’s basement.
“We’ve plenty of space for the booths, snacks and presentations, so folks can just mill around enjoy the activities, check out each other’s costumes and just have fun,” Mortensen said.
For more information, visit or call the Teen Library 541-774-6994. The Ashland library is at 410 Siskiyou Blvd.
Angela Decker is a freelance writer in Ashland and can be reached at email@example.com.