While it’s been four years since the last time Juneau welcomed Alaska Robotics Mini-Con to town due to the pandemic, event organizer Pat Race said he couldn’t be more excited for its return.
“I just think it’s great that we have all of these visiting artists from all over the place and that we have local artists and Alaskan artists paired with them and it’s a great exchange of information,” Race said. “It’s a great chance for people to meet each other and to bring talents and skills to our community.”
More than 50 visiting artists are scheduled to be at the fifth annual Alaska Robotics Mini-Con on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Alaska State Libraries, Archives and Museum.
Originally started in 2016 by Race and business partner Aaron Suring, Race described the annual comic convention as being “Juneau-sized” in the sense that it’s meant to be a smaller replica of more traditional comic conventions hosted within larger cities.
“If you haven’t been to a comic convention before, it’s a celebration of art and illustration and writing and pop culture all in one place,” Race said. “We try to take a slice of that and bring it to Juneau. Both Aaron (Suring) and I grew up here in Juneau and we know that for a lot of Juneau kids, getting outside isn’t something that happens everyday and to meet authors or to get out to see some of these events is not a realistic thing, so it’s nice to be able to bring those things to Juneau.”
Race said one of the nicer aspects for kids attending the convention is the opportunity to meet working artists which only helps kids to see the reality of their own artistic dreams and ambitions.
“I remember when I was a kid how special it was when things like that happened here, for instance when Weird Al came to visit how amazing that was or when Shel Silverstein came through Juneau how special that was,” Race said. “I try to bring people through Juneau that are going to contribute to the community and inspire local kids to make art and connect people to the artists who are behind the books because I think there are a lot of times you pick up a book and I think if you’re a kid maybe it’s a little hard to connect that to a real person on the other side out there in the world somewhere.”
One of the returning artists making an appearance at this year’s convention is Ryan North, who will be signing copies of his books at the Alaska Robotics Gallery on Saturday. Among North’s long list of credits are his webcomic “Dinosaur Comics,” as well as repopularizing the Marvel character “Squirrel Girl” and most recently has started writing for Marvel’s “Fantastic Four.” North said one of the aspects he appreciates most about Juneau’s convention is the accessibility to people who might not otherwise ever have the chance to interact with artists and their work on such an in-depth level.
“Comics aren’t the most popular medium in the world, but it is one of the most incredible, engrossing, and fun,” North said. “I love that the Alaska Robotics Mini-Con lets people who have never thought much of the form, who maybe have never read one before, have a chance to browse, meet cartoonists, ask questions, and maybe even find a story that connects with them. I think it’s the purest expression of liking comics, actually.”
North will also be partnering with writer Karla Pacheco for a writing workshop at the convention called, “Punching Dinosaurs & Blowing Up Helicopters.” Pacheco writes for “Spider Woman,” “Edge of Spider-Verse” and has done issues of “Punisher,” “Deadpool” and other popular Marvel titles. Pacheco has been attending the Alaska Robotics Mini-Con since the beginning and said the convention and the town of Juneau both hold special places in her heart.
“The first year I took the ferry from Washington, and camped out on the top deck for three days; I absolutely love Juneau and getting to see everyone here,” Pacheco said. “I’ve described writing my first comic as ‘feeling like coming home.’ I love the challenge of making all the puzzle pieces fit (especially when we’re doing crossover events and coordinating with other creators. Saturday Ryan North and I will be talking about our very different approaches to writing action-packed comics. My approach involves a stuntman, (Brian Connelly who will be showing a few tricks of his own.)”
Thursday, May 11
Drawing Food Workshop w/ Lee Post
4:30 p.m. at Juneau-Douglas City Museum, 114 W 4th St.
Friday, May 12
Mendenhall Library Variety Show Kickoff
6 p.m. at Mendenhall Valley Library, 3025 Diamond Pk Loop
Saturday, May 13
Block Printing with Juneau artist Jim Heumann
10 a.m.-12 p.m. at APK Classroom
New Books Spotlight featuring new work by Benjamin A. Wilgus, Cat Farris, Gillian Goerz and Alex Graudins
11 a.m.-12 p.m. at APK Lecture Hall
Realism is a Lie: Visual Perception and Drawing with art teacher and comic book artist Dawson Walker
12 p.m.-1 p.m. at APK Classroom
Comics with Raina Telgemeier
12 p.m.-1 p.m. at APK Lecture Hall
Unconventional Materials Comics Workshop with Filipa Estrela
1 p.m.-2 p.m. at APK Classroom
Punching Dinosaurs & Blowing Up Helicopters with Karla Pacheco and Ryan North
1 p.m.-2 p.m. at APK Lecture Hall
Shape Language with Alaskan Illustrator Lucas Elliott
2 p.m.-3 p.m. at APK Classroom
We Are All Storytellers: An 80% Studios Live Storytelling Experience with Dimi Macheras and Casey Silver
2 p.m.-3 p.m. at APK Lecture Hall
Designing Ted Lasso’s Stop Motion Christmas Special with artist Nikki Rice Malki
3 p.m.-4 p.m. at APK Lecture Hall
Potential Futures with Anchorage illustrator Lee Post
3 p.m.-4 p.m. at APK Classroom
Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Visual Effects with Tony Etienne
4 p.m.-5 p.m. at APK Lecture Hall
Websites for Artists with Shannon Kao
4 p.m.-5 p.m. at APK Classroom
Book signings are scheduled all day Saturday on the main convention floor, with the following schedule:
11 a.m. – noon: Dimi Macheras, Casey Silver & Nathan Shafer
Noon – 1 p.m.: Matthew Bogart
1 p.m. – 2 p.m.: Raina Telgemeier
2 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Ryan North
3 p.m. – 4 p.m.: Dimi Macheras, Casey Silver & Nathan Shafer
4 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Ryan North
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at email@example.com.