It’s been a decade since Lake Erie Ink first launched its Kids Comic Con—an annual event that creates a safe space for kids to express themselves creatively, let imaginations run free through writing and drawing, and have a chance to work with veteran comics authors and illustrators.
Lake Erie Ink’s signature event has grown over the past 10 years, and so has attendance, says Lake Erie Ink co-founder and executive director Amy Rosenbluth. And despite the COVID-19 pandemic putting a cramp in the usual format the past two years—working with Cleveland Public Library to stream Kids Comic Con last year, and this year offering a hybrid model with both in-person and virtual workshops—the popularity of the event has grown in popularity with kids from all over the region.
This year’s Kids Comic Con kicks off on Thursday, March 3 and runs through Saturday, March 6. Rosenbluth says she expects attendance to be strong this year. “We went from 150 kids the last couple of years, and last year had 120 kids while streaming the entire event,” she says, adding that they already have 25 kids signed up for next week’s Comic Con.
At this year’s event, participants will have the chance to attend more than 20 workshops and conversations with experienced comic creators and guest artists from across the country.
From hearing Justin Reynolds, a nationally syndicated author and writer for Myles Morales: Shock Waves (the original Spider-Man graphic novel), to working with Cleveland-based illustrator, designer, and maker Sequoia Bostick, comic lovers of all ages will have the opportunity to learn from working artists and writers that represent a wide range of styles, experience, and backgrounds
Events include a virtual comic workshop with Nickelodeon Studios on Friday, March 4 at 4 p.m. and a kickoff conversation later that evening with best-selling children’s book author and award winning “Pajama Diaries” cartoonist Terri Libenson and comics and composition teacher Juan Fernandez, hosted by local playwright Amy Schwabauer.
Vagabond at Lake Erie Ink Comic ConOther featured artists, writers, and panelists include: graphic novelist Justin Reynolds, Dylan Speeg of MesSed Comics, new-to-Kids Comic Con 50Fifty Comix, and many others.
“The coolest thing is everyone has their own pretty unique style,” says Rosenbluth.
While last year’s all-virtual event allowed Lake Erie Ink to reach a broader audience—even attracting participants from outside of Ohio—Rosenbluth says they felt it was important to have some events in-person this year.
“We wanted to try it because we do know kids and parents who are going out,” she explains. “Kids Comic Con is the only one of its kind in the area.” The virtual events and workshops are free, while the in-person workshops and Teen After Party on Saturday, March 5 are $10 each, or $15 for both a workshop and the party. Click here for a complete schedule of events. Pre-registration is required for all events. Groups are welcome to register the virtual events.
While normally Lake Erie Ink would host about 150 people in person for Comic Con, Rosenbluth says they are limiting the number to 90 attendees this year. And medical masks (not superhero masks) will be required at all times. Both individuals and groups are welcome.
Additionally, in attending in person, lunch will not be provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own water bottles. There will be no Artist Alley this year, but books by guest artists will be available at Mac’s Backs Bookstore for purchase. Participants will be asked to stay with the workshops they pre-registered for to prevent larger groups gathering than necessary.
Marking the decade point of Kids Comic Con, Rosenbluth says this event is more needed than ever after the past two years.
“We feel even more passionately that this type of expression is needed, and we’re determined to continue to offer this for kids—letting them have space to imagine that things can be different,” she says. “It’s still about good fighting evil but on whole other level. With all the challenges everyone is facing, imagining a world where things are growing and positive is even more crucial.”