The huge New York Comic-Con may start today, Oct. 13, but last Saturday, more than 150 comic fans got an early start on the con experience at the first ever Queens Comic-Con. The Steinway Library in Astoria served as the venue where panels, autograph signings, a comic book auction and a costume exhibition, known as cosplay, dominated the festivities.
The con was the idea of Christian Zabriske, assistant coordinator of young adult services at the Central Library in Jamaica. An anonymous patron donated around 800 comic books at the Steinway Library, which included but were not limited to Captain America, the Incredible Hulk and X-Men. Zabriske and other staff members decided to create an event around the generous donation.
The day started off with a panel of local authors who talked about their careers in the comic industry. Dave Roman and his wife, Raina Telgemeier, Jacob Chabot, Ryan Sias and Chris Giarruso spoke for an hour on a number of topics including how they started, their influences and the work they’ve done.
When talking about their time in college, they revealed that not all of them started off with a major related to their current occupation. Giarruso started out as a math major. It was after submitting comic strips to the college paper that he found his calling.
“I realized I should’ve been doing this all along,” he said. “This is really what I like to do.”
After the panel finished, the guests happily drew sketches, signed autographs and critiqued fans on their own work.
Andrew Rodriguez, 31, of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn and a representative of Pronto Comics, a collective of comic creators who are trying to break into the industry, wanted to get feedback on his own work from the guests speaking.
“I came to the event to meet a couple of great artists and pick their brains about how to work stuff out,” he said. “I’m really excited to speak to people in the industry.”
Most of the time the atmosphere was light and fun, but that didn’t stop a serious discussion on diversity in comics. Taking part in the panel was writer Ivan Velez Jr., Telgemeier, and Alex Simmons.
“It’s nice to talk to people from different backgrounds,” Telgemeier said, referring to the panel talk. “We all have something to offer.”
A cosplay exhibition was held in which contestants showed off their colorful costumes of their favorite fictional characters. In the friendly spirit of the convention, everyone was declared a winner and awarded books.
Topping off the con was an auction of the comic books the anonymous patron donated. The auction was done in the style of a gentlemen’s auction where bidders are given paddles with numbers which they raise when they want to bid. The library was able to sell a majority of the comics. All the money will go to fund the Steinway Library.
Alex Teller, 26, of Astoria was the winning bidder of around 30 comic books that were auctioned off.
“I’m a big comic book collector and these are all books that I didn’t have,” he said. “The prices were very good and it’s going to a great cause.”
Not only did the fans have fun but so did the guests. Jacob Chabot was impressed by the amount of people that came out.
“The turnout was way more than I thought it was going to be,” he said.