Last year’s Mini Comic Con turned out to be huge by Juneau’s standards. It packed the Juneau Arts and Culture Center with visiting and local artists, who set up booths in the main hall. The spaces between were filled with people in costume, many holding freshly signed books.
The Mini Con is back this weekend, thanks to Pat Race and Aaron Suring of Alaska Robotics, in partnership with the Friends of the Juneau Public Library and KTOO, and with support from Travel Juneau, The Baranof, Sysco, Discovery Southeast and NorthWind Architects.
Race said this year’s con will have more guest artists with books for sale in the main hall, as well as more performers for the concert happening at @360 North (at KTOO) in the middle of the convention.
“I live in Juneau! I love Juneau. I want to share this place with everyone. Also, I can’t imagine a more supportive community” Race said on hosting the first Mini Comic Con. “I’ve met a lot of great people just by making and sharing art. Aaron and I usually attend Emerald City (Comicon) in Seattle and Comic-Con International in San Diego and people are usually excited to hear about Alaska and even more excited about visiting. We live in a special place.”
Planning for the second convention started about a month after the first wrapped up. Race said he should know by June if there will be a third.
“I started looking forward to this con when it was still just an idea,” said Ben Hatke, a New York Times bestselling writer and illustrator. “My friend Kazu Kibuishi told me about it and he immediately had my complete attention. Add to that the fact that visiting Alaska has been a lifelong dream of mine, and the pictures from last year’s show, this is probably the convention I’ve most been looking forward to this year.”
Some had such a positive experience last year that they’re coming back, like Lucy Bellwood, cartoonist of “Baggywrinkles: a Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea.”
“Coming to Juneau for 2016’s Mini Con was a highlight of my year,” Bellwood said. “I was blown away by the kindness and hospitality of everyone I met, and Alaska’s natural beauty certainly didn’t disappoint. (It’s not everywhere that you can run out for a quick waterfall hike in-between classroom visits with inquisitive students.) As a self-proclaimed ‘adventure cartoonist,’ I’m tasked with traveling the globe to bring back educational stories of exploration, so it was a treat to visit somewhere so remote and full of character. I can’t wait to return with new stories from my past year’s travels.”
A big part of the Mini Comic Con for both local and visiting artists is the Comics Camp that starts right after the main comic con. A series of workshops, presentations and discussions take place at a camp for artists and storytellers and other creative types. While the 2017 camp is full, those who are interested can keep it in mind for next year.
“I’m mostly just thrilled to finally visit Alaska,” illustrator Carson Ellis said. “I’ve always wanted to but this will be the first time. It’s been a long winter for me — juggling my kids and my farm and a big book project that I just finished up (The Whiz Mob and Grenadine Kid) — and I’m also really excited to have some time away from all of that to spend relaxing and sketching and talking about art with people.” Ellis will also be giving a talk about the art she’s done for her husband’s band, The Decemberists.
Lucas Elliott, the Alaska illustrator of the graphic novel and movie “Moose,” said when he comes to Juneau, he finds talking with other creative people of all ages inspiring.
“I get a chance to share my work with everyone, but I truly love getting to see all the creative (people) that come to the event and want to share their work with us. I’ve met so many up and coming artists last year that just wanted to take five minutes and talk about the art, the process, how to go about being an artist, just creating,” he said.
Angela M. Webber, who with her sister Aubrey Webber created the folk duo Doubleclicks, said that this will be their first time bringing their “nerdy-themed, empowerment-aiming, upbeat music” to Alaska. She’s looking forward to the “magical results” that will come from so many creative people rubbing elbows, she said. They’ll be performing with Molly Lewis, Seth Boyer, and Juneau’s own Marian Call and FySH on Saturday.
“This convention is unique to anything we’ve been to—and we’ve been to a lot—because the artists will be able to have time and bandwidth to have close collaborations and connection with audiences and each other,” Webber said. “Last year’s event looked incredible and we did not want to miss this one. The lineup is amazing—I’m geeking out about it just thinking about all the rad people we get to meet. Get ready, Juneau!”
On Friday, April 21 at the Mendenhall Public Library is the Mini-Con Kickoff Event, a variety show; snacks at 5 p.m. and show at 6 p.m. Then on Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., the main convention will happen at the JACC; expect comics, costumes, stickers, illustrations, games, workshops, face painting, books, presentations and food carts. During the main convention, there will be a chance to hang out and draw with other artists at the Zach Gordon Youth Center, hear a story at the Juneau Public Library at 12:30 p.m., and listen to a family-friendly concert at 1 p.m. at KTOO @360 North. There will even be free showings of Ray Harryhausen movies all day at the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater. To learn more, go to minicon.alaskarobotics.com/schedule.