Library ‘marvels’ at comic culture with event


With anime, superhero and video game cultures on the rise, events across the country have given way for fans to express themselves, including the world-renowned Comic Con held in San Diego.

There, characters like Sasuke Uchiha from the show “Naruto,” Goku from “Dragon Ball Z,” and Marvel’s Iron Man from the Avengers are brought to life by the intuitive costumes worn by the fans, creating a culture unlike any other.

But for Arizona residents, San Diego is over 350 miles away, making the trip more inaccessible due to the distance.

With all that in mind, the Peoria Main Library is bringing its own version of Comic Con, aptly named Library Con, back to the community.

“It’s just a chance for those who really are into cosplay, Comic Con, comics and manga — that whole genre of books and or raw material — to come in and take part in a few hours of fun,” Peoria library manager Nathaniel Washburn said. “So really, it’s just a chance for those who maybe can’t get to a Comic Con to kind of do a mini one here at the library.”

With the whole genre gaining a large following over the years, the library tried its hand at Library Con back in 2019, to which it was greeted to a good reception of fans who gave the library “really good feedback” on what to improve upon.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and caused a freeze on all events, limiting people from coming out to the event for the next three years.

Fast forward to 2023 and the idea has made its resurrection and come back with a fury. Washburn and his team are looking to rally back into the spotlight.

“The idea was to bring it back, and I think for us, we know that there’s a population in Peoria who really enjoy the Comic Con events,” Washburn said. “We know there’s a lot of folks, adults, teens and even kids who really enjoyed that. So, we just wanted to give people a chance to come and enjoy that at the library.”

Library Con 2023 is revamped to have all of the bells and whistles that will get fans excited, starting with a plethora of table games, crafts, prizes, and the coveted cosplay contest where people can show off their creativity in front of a judging panel and impress everyone with their flashy costumes.

Library Con does serve a dual purpose for the Peoria Public Library, though, as it initially created the idea to help generate foot traffic and get people into the library more often.

“For us, it’s all about being very intentional in what we do as the community hub for people to come and enjoy free and fun and safe programming,” Washburn said. “While they’re here, and they want to check out a book or a DVD or an audio book, that’s fantastic.

“We’re going to see a pretty big run on our sci-fi and our Comic Con-style materials, whether that’s movies and/or books or graphic novels. We should run on those because again, people are interested in what they’re coming for.”

Getting people out to the library gives them exposure to all of the other events that they offer throughout the year, targeting different audiences, but still offering the same family-friendly, free programming like when Library Con comes around.

“Our biggest hope is that people come, have a really good time, have fun and learn something new,” Washburn said. “And that the overall feeling is, ‘Hey, let’s do this again.’ And my vision for this is hopefully to grow it over the next few years, we have two library systems.

“Here in Peoria, we’re only doing this at our main library for this year. We really believe in building organically and starting small and working our way, in building something from the ground up.”

If You Go…

Library Con 2023

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 22

WHERE: Peoria Main Library

8463 W. Monroe Street, Peoria


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