Thursday, September 3, 2009

Comic Con comes to Brooklyn

By Joe Maniscalco

Don’t be alarmed by the Imperial stormtroopers patrolling Borough Hall Plaza on September 13 - they’ll be packing Star Wars blasters, not Taser guns, and they’re friendly. Sort of. Just throw in a couple of “Hail, Lord Vaders” if you happen to bump into one of them.

Actually, there will be a lot more than costumed stormtroopers roaming around the Joralemon Street Plaza when the New York Comic Con sets up shop at the Fourth Annual Brooklyn Book Festival. This year, the often-maligned “funny books” of yore are finally being recognized as bona fide pieces of literature, and that’s cause for celebration.

“We are proud to bring an intense graphic lit and pop culture presence to such a great festival,” said Lance Fensterman, Vice President and Show Manager for New York Comic Con. “I am sure this will provide our customers with the opportunity to connect directly with lots of new fans. Plus, it’s all for free! This is a win-win in every respect.”

The New York Comic Con pavilion at Borough Hall will boast some 40 tables stacked with all sorts of comic books, collectibles, graphic novels, Manga and more. Special panels held throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. will tackle hot industry topics like the history of comics, the ever-changing genre of graphic novels and the interesting intersection of hip-hop and anime.

All the action is taking place in advance of the full New York Comic Con taking place at the Javits Center October 8 through 10.

“It’s an awesome time [in the comic book world],” Fensterman said.

While comics and graphic novels, like all other forms of print media, are trying to find their way in the new digital age, comics remain largely a tactile source of limitless entertainment.

“We saw things tip a little with the Kindle,” Fensterman said. “But there’s no such device widely expected in comics.”

Comic book and graphic novel figures like Denny O’Neil, Phil Jimenez, Danny Fingeroff, and Alex Simmons are expected to be on hand at the Brooklyn Book Festival to discuss all the fascinating ramifications that the future holds for the medium. Fans will also get an opportunity to talk with science fiction and fantasy authors from Tor and Del Rey Books, among others.

There will also be tons of comic book paraphernalia and a cool costume contest - so those stormtroopers might not look that outlandish after all. Three years ago, Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel “American Born Chinese” became a finalist in the prestigious National Book Awards. A year later, “American Born Chinese” won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature.

“The [negative stigma surrounding comics] is starting to diminish,” Fensterman said.

Go to for more information about the New York Comic Con at the Brooklyn Book Festival.


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