Alex Simmons surrounded by attendees

Hundreds of kids and their parents from all around the New York City metro area converged on the campus of the Bronx Community College this past weekend for the second annual Kids Comic Con held all day Saturday, March 29. Much like last year, this year’s 2008 Kids Comic Con featured workshops on creating comics, portfolio reviews for aspiring artists and panel discussions. And there were lots of professional comics artists and writers—from Kyle Baker and Jamal Igle to Yali Lin and Misako Takashima—on hand to talk to children and their parents about both the business of comics and the pleasures of reading and creating them.

KCC organizer Alex Simmons said attendance was likely about the same as last year, and he estimated the show drew about 600 attendees, most of them children. KCC also featured an exhibition hall with about 50 exhibitors, including such first-time exhibitors as Hyperion Books for Kids and Random House/Del Rey Manga.

Simmons said crowds at KCC peaked about noon on Saturday and said, “I was most impressed by the kids that came from outside Bronx. There were kids from Yonkers, from Stamford, Conn.; from Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. We even had a group of special needs kids.” The KCC is also working with the New York Comic-Con to provide some of the programming for the upcoming kids day at NYCC 2008, slated to run April 18-20 at the Javits Center. NYCC program director Jay Williams was also on hand, answering questions about the upcoming NYCC. “The panels and workshops were full of kids, enjoying themselves and asking questions,” said Williams. (PWCW is a sister company to Reed Exhibitions, organizer of the New York Comic-Con.)

Panels and workshops ranged from “How to Draw Manga,” featuring Misako Takashima (Biker Girl; Rock ’n’ Roll Love) and Yali Lin (Romeo & Juliet), to “Comics in the Classrooms,” featuring comics artist Kevin Pyle (Blindspot). Pyle also showed off Prison Comics, an unusual anthology of comics by kids from Heritage High School in East Harlem, created through New York City’s Center for Urban Pedagogy. Pyle works with these kids—many of whom have firsthand family experience with the criminal justice system—to help them create comics about the prison system.

cartoonist Jerry Craft

There were also panels for parents, like “The Color of Comics,” which covered diversity and ethnic representation in commercial comics. “The ABCs of Comics,” including comics editor and writer Danny Fingeroth and comics artists Kyle Baker and Raina Telgemeier (Baby-Sitters Club), focused on the ways in which the comics industry was encouraging, or not encouraging, a new generation of comics readers. The discussion ranged from the overly mature subject matter of most contemporary superhero comics to the lack of comics material focused on topics like black history.

Comics artist Kyle Baker—creator of The Bakers, a humorous comics series based on his family, and Nat Turner, a graphic biography of the slave rebellion leader coming from Abrams in the spring—joked, “There’s so little material for kids that when I did Nat Turner, I became the black history guy. It’s the same with The Bakers. I’ve cornered the market on kids’ stuff all by myself.”

Archaia Studios Press's Mike Smylie (l.) and Joe Illidge

Bongo Comics' Phyllis Novin supervises a comics workshop

NYCC's Jay Williams (l.) and KCC founder Alex Simmons

Kevin Pyle shows off Prison City Comix, created by high school kids.

Del Rey Manga's Ali Kokmen shows off upcoming Del Rey titles

Raina Telgemier, Danny Fingeroth and Kyle Baker ruminate on comics

Cartoonists John Green and Dave Roman (c.) are joined by Silent Kimbly
cartoonist Rian Sias.