At least one tradition is coming back intact to this year’s New York Comic Con: NYCC Professional Day will be held on Thursday, October 7. John Shableski, president of Reading with Pictures, a nonprofit devoted to educational efforts supported by comics, has been put together 18 hours of programming for professional development, including a full slate of sessions for K–12 language, visual arts, and STEAM educators, school and public librarians, and academics. The N.Y.C. Department of Education, New York Public library, the American Library Association’s Graphic Novel and Comics Round Table committee, and the N.Y.C. School Librarians’ Association are collaborating on programming with RWP.
Fewer people are traveling to this year’s show, so Shableski has focused on finding local educators, librarians, and academics. “It really is wonderful now that these people who were the local experts can talk about this,” he says. “We see this as a great opportunity to bring all these disciplines together in a way that allows them to see how what they do in their environment can inform development across the disciplines.”
All of the professional day programming will be held at Javits, and the tracks will cover many topics. “We have a great slate of programming that covers visual arts, language arts, learning to cosplay, and even how to submit panels to comic cons,” Shableski says. There’s also a session specifically for the publishers and authors called “How to Sell Your Books into Schools and Libraries.” He adds, “The panelists represent over a billion dollars in book budgets.”
RWP will also have a booth on the show floor that will function as a meeting spot for all these groups. “This is going to be like the kitchen at mom’s house,” Shableski says. “Hopefully, everybody’s going to stop by to check in and say hi.”
Shableski is also working to make sure the panel track will count as professional development for those who attend. “That’s part of making sure we have academics, librarians, and school teachers all talking together,” he says. “Because now cons have become the place for professional development that they can’t get at their national shows.”
Over the years, RWP has evolved from an organization focused on using comics in classrooms to become what Shableski calls “a global network of comics-minded people.” And its efforts are ongoing—he’s been approached by other convention organizers to put together similar tracks. “We now have professional con producers who know the educational space,” he says, “and it’s evolving into a much better experience across the board.”