Founded in 2007 by Alex Simmons, a veteran comics writer, young adult novelist, playwright and educator, the annual Kids’ Comic Con continues to attract kids, parents and educators to a day of presentations, comics workshops and lots of free stuff. And the third annual Kids’ Comic Con is just what it sounds like—an annual show focused on comics created specifically for kids. Simmons emphasizes that it is also intended, “to promote reading and creativity in kids lives,” and the comics presented at KCC do not contain nudity, extreme violence or vulgarity. Once again the event will be held all day on April 25 on the campus of the Bronx Community College at 181st Street & University Avenue in the Bronx in New York City.
This year the KCC will also hold a KCC Awards Breakfast on April 24 to recognize a number of individuals (including this reporter) who have shown support for the event over the last three years. Awardees include Jessie Smalls, Pina Martinelli and Mary Jo Ben-Nun from BCC among others. The KCC also sponsors the Kids’ Comic Con Comics Awards and fans of all ages (it’s not just for kids) can place a vote for their favorite comics in a number of categories at the KCC website up until April 23. PWCW talked with Simmons about the growth of the show, new exhibitors and what kids and their parents can expect at this year’s Kids’s Comic Con.
PW Comics Week: What are you most excited about at this year’s KCC?
AS: The most exciting new thing this year will be the appearance of Scott Gimple, the creator and executive producer of Disney’s Emmy nominated kids animation Fillmore [It originally ran from 2002 to 2004]. Fillmore was one of the only animated shows that had a black lead character and lasted more than one season. It was an extremely clever show—NYPD Blue meets Charlie Brown. The show is set in a middle school that is like a kind of city and the safety patrol is like the city’s police force. Fillmore is a bad kid who turns good and joins the patrol and his partner is a girl named Ingrid Third, who has a photographic memory and looks very emo. They’re like a school detective team. It’s like Rocky and Bullwinkle and it’s a great show. Kids can look for clues and look for the similarities between the show and real life events. Young people love it instantly.
PWCW: Are there new exhibitors or artist presentations this year?
AS: A new company, Ethidolls, which makes dolls based on ancient African queens will be exhibiting and the company’s CEO Salome Yilma and v-p, Patti Gindoff will be at the KCC to talk about the dolls. The designs and clothing are based on authentic ancient designs and fabrics and there’s also an illustrated book that comes along with the dolls. We’ll have a lot of new artists who are publishing with mainstream publishers. New Yorker Art director and RAW cofounder Francois Mouly’s kids comics venture, Toon Books, will be exhibiting; artist Fiona Robinson, who’s created a kids graphic novel, the 3-2-3 Detective Agency for Abrams; and Neil Numberman, who’s done Joey Fly, Private Eye for Henry Holt Young Readers, a kind of Philip Marlowe for kiddies—it looks like it’s the year of the detective at KCC. Software developer and kids comics promoter Brian Leung is a first-time exhibitor showing off Kidjutsu, a new website that brings together all kinds of comics for kids; and there’s Dave Macdonald, an artist who’s created the Adventures of Hamster Sam for Random House Books for Kids.
Wizard World Entertainment , the comics magazine and events company, will get very involved in this year’s Kids Comic-con. They’re donating a lot of stuff—cool toys, collectables, magazines, hardcover books. They’re also going to help us with our online promotion. Beyond KCC, they also want us to produce a KCC roadshow for Wizard shows in Philadelphia and Chicago. The art materials supplier Canson Inc. is donating comics boards for drawing and pens for our workshops. And in another development, we’ve been asked to participate in the Miami Book Fair in November. KCC just seems to have blown up. People keep coming back and volunteers are helping make a little idea into something much bigger.
PWCW: What’s the attendance like at KCC and are you happy with the show’s development?
AS: Attendance is around 700-800 people at the day-long event and there are about 55 to 60 professionals and exhibitors on hand. But one of the great things to come out of KCC is that it makes kids want to make comics. The first year of KCC we had a kid named Jessica Weiss, who came to the show from New Jersey along with her Dad and they both had a good time. The next year I hear from her that she wants to rent a table and sell her own comic. And now this year they’re back with another issue of the comic, it’s called Geezerville. I love that, we’re empowering kids.
PWCW: I see that KCC also has a new website.
AS: Our website was designed by a group of students from Multimedia Program at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in lower Manhattan. The class, [the MMP460 Final Project Lab] is taught by Professor Revital Kaisar, who oversaw five groups of students [Atsuko Muramatsu (project manager), Rumi Yamane (lead designer), Luis Ramirez, Yu Kuwahara ] who each designed a version of our website and I got to pick the one that would work the best. Plus one of the students from the class, Soriah Chauvel, I ended up hiring to teach Flash animation to the kids. She’s also the webmaster of the KCC website and she created the Captain KC webcomic that’s on the site. Students created the website, a young person is maintaining the site and teaching the kids. This is great. It’s what KCC is all about.