Highland Public Library hosts Comic Fest July 21

The Highland Public Library will host a comic and food truck festival on July 21 at the library. Hamming it up for the camera are (l-r): Director Julie Kelsall-Dempsey, library assistant Caitlyn Stever and library assistant and treasurer Lisa Gill as Darth Vader. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

Are you a geek, and proud of it? The kind of geek who loves comic books, or science fiction, or fantasy, or anime, or gaming, or all of the above? The Highland Public Library has a huge treat in store for you: the Comic Fest, coming up this Saturday, July 21 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

According to Young Adult librarian Caitlyn Stever, the upcoming extravaganza to be held in the library’s expansive new space is intended as an “all-ages event,” while she admits that “Millennials are the age group that really responds to ComiCons and comic books.” Several locally based authors of Young Adult speculative fiction will be among the presenters, along with some artists specializing in comics and graphic novels. There will also be activities geared toward younger children, such as remote-controlled facsimiles of two famously adorable robots from the Star Wars universe, R2-D2 and BB-8, courtesy of the American Science and Technology Center in Hyde Park.


But what if you’re a “grownup,” at least chronologically speaking? There will be plenty of enticements for you to stop in as well — especially if you’re the type who always feels a little wistful when other people in the fandoms you love are talking about what fun they had at the last ComiCon. When the first Highland Library Comic Fest took place in 2014, says Stever, “The whole idea was to bring cool things into our community for people who might not have an opportunity to attend a ComiCon in San Diego or New York City or wherever.”

That first festival, held at a firehouse because the old Highland Library was much too small, drew “an enormous response from the community,” Stever relates. “It totally exceeded expectations.” The library knew at once that it had a winning concept on its hands. “From there, we paired with iHeartMedia and moved it to the Civic Center over in Poughkeepsie. People came from all over the Hudson Valley.” For 2018, she says, “We just reacquired it and are going to host it in our new library that we just opened in January.” To learn more about the new space, check out the New Paltz Times’ coverage of its opening week at https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2018/02/02/new-highland-library-celebrates-public-opening.

If going to a ComiCon is indeed a fantasy of yours, you may have spent some time dreaming about how you’d like to put together a costume representing your favorite fandom character. One of the guests slated for the Comic Fest at the library can help you with that: Dorian Sinnott, a young man who identifies as a “semi-amateur cosplayer,” travels around the country attending cons and advises others on how to create costumes under the name 50 Shades of Blue Eyes. He’ll be giving a talk on how to get involved in the cosplay community. A cosplay costume contest with prizes will also be held.

While a full schedule had yet to be released as of presstime, plans are coming together for several other talks and panels at the Comic Fest. Representatives of Pow! Card Games and Comics in Port Ewen will give a presentation that Stever is calling “Introduction to Comic-Book Collecting.” There will be hands-on activities, including toys, crafts, demos and that aforementioned robot workshop. “We’ll have lots of local artists and authors” as well, Stever says. Among the comic-book artists participating will be one, Christian N. St. Pierre, who also does designs for tabletop games. If you’re a Dungeons & Dragons player who needs a new model for your avatar, your favorite monster or dungeon boss, it sounds like he’s the guy to see.

If you’re a fan of weird podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale, you might want to check out It Came from the Radio! a syndicated entertainment radio show that promotes independent artists, filmmakers and writers with a sci-fi/horror slant; a new episode each week is available on Terrestrial radio as well as online and on demand. Among the locally based authors who will be giving book talks at the Comic Fest is Jennifer Place, whose latest novel, Area 51, is set amidst the very creepy abandoned buildings and grounds of the Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie. “We’re open to all sorts of popular culture, including horror, science fiction, anime and so on,” says Stever. “All the geeks are welcome here.”

The Comic Fest will have stations set up throughout the library, offering a wide sampling of different kinds of fandom fun. There will be food trucks parked outside the building, and, notes Stever, “We have central air!” Sounds like a whole day’s worth of entertainment, whatever the weather.

Admission to the whole event costs $10 if you pick your tickets up at the library beforehand, $12 if you order them online and $15 at the door. The first 50 tickets sold at the library will receive a 25 percent discount. Planning on taking the family? Four-packs are also available by preorder for $30 at the library and $35 online. Purchase tickets online at www.eventbrite.com/e/highland-library-comic-fest-tickets-47331450643. For more info and updates on the schedule, visit http://highlandlibrary.org/about/news-updates/highland-library-comic-fest.