Beth Kairush of Canonsburg and her 17-year-old daughter, Taylor, attended their first comic convention a few years ago in Philadelphia.
“My kids and I all like the Marvel movies, but Taylor was the genesis of wanting to go,” Kairush said. “We had a lot of fun. She dressed up in cosplay and we got to see all our favorite characters.”
Since then, they’ve attended multiple comic conventions, and now Kairush, an employee at Frank Sarris Public Library, is bringing that experience to Canonsburg. She organized the library’s first “Fan Fest” comic convention, to be held next month.
“It’s a great way to bring together diverse people with a common interest,” she said.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 7, the library will celebrate the classic comics, evil space lords and favorite superheroes. The free event will feature comic drawing workshops, cosplay and fan art contests, several food and crafting vendors, a Super Smash Brothers tournament, and trivia with themes from Harry Potter and Star Wars to Game of Thrones.
Kairush said the “all-ages” event will include children’s activities such as story time, games and lightsaber crafts.
Kairush attended webinars to learn how libraries in other regions have hosted comic cons.
“We see ourselves as a community asset,” she said. “If we can bring something here at a reduced cost compared to what you’d pay at a regular con, that’s what we wanted to do.”
She had support and help from coworkers at the library, including Amy Weir and Adam Russell. She also had the library’s teen advisory board organize a gaming tournament and scavenger hunt.
“It’s a smaller convention, but we’re going to try to build it out,” Russell said. “As far as local conventions, it’s probably the only one around here, unless you go up to Pittsburgh. It’s something different for the town.”
Juan Fernandez, a cartoonist with the Pittsburgh Comic Salon, will host open studio sessions for children and adults, during which they will learn how to draw and create comics. Other artists will also have comic drawing workshops, including Patrick and Shelly Block, Canon-McMillan graduates who have created comics for Disney.
“Depending on how this year goes, we may make it an annual event,” Kairush said.