The ever-expanding world of comics - from the Sunday funnies and comic books to graphic novels, manga and animation to video games - will be celebrated during Wildcat Comic Con, set for April 13 to 14 on Pennsylvania College of Technology's main campus.
Held at various campus facilities and centered around the college's Madigan Library, the first-ever Wildcat Comic Con will feature several tracks of programming and entertainment for high school and college students who want to enter the exciting worlds of comics and graphic-novel publishing, animation and gaming development.
"Penn College and the Madigan Library are committed to offering increased opportunities for student success centered on reading, communication and other language-arts skills," said Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour. "Balancing those opportunities with fun activities, we anticipate the Wildcat Comic Con will be a great success."
There also will be professional-development opportunities for educators and librarians to learn more about the use of graphic novels and comics in literacy initiatives, as well as fan-friendly activities such as super-hero panels, anime discussion groups, and "cosplay" (costumed role play) and gaming events.
"This will be the perfect blend of fun fan stuff, career development and professional programming," said John Shableski, a graphic novel expert, consultant and driving force behind the two-day festival. "It brings the comic-con world to Penn College at a moment when the medium is quickly approaching a market explosion."
Specific information about programming tracks and other Wildcat Comic Con happenings, registration, keynote speakers, and accommodations will be available at wildcatcomiccon.pct.edu as details are finalized.
"Comics, graphic novels and other sequential art can build bridges to interdisciplinary learning in ways that many educators and librarians have just begun to explore," noted Lisette N. Ormsbee, Madigan Library director.
Indeed, the far-reaching medium is acknowledged to go well beyond artistic contribution and pop-culture cachet to help heighten literacy, offer curricular benefit and provide meaning to students' very existence.
The festival solidifies some of the college's groundwork in recognizing the flourishing comics culture: The institution has offered a course in "The Graphic Novel" for nearly two decades (taught by Dave Sims, associate professor of English), and Madigan Library has endeavored in recent years to bolster its collection and the educational benefit it represents to high school and college students alike.
"A medium that both proficient and struggling readers find engaging allows connections between high school and college," noted John Weaver, a member of the Wildcat Comic Con planning group who has invaluably woven graphic novels into his English classes at Williamsport Area High School. "It may demonstrate to students that what they do in the classroom can have a direct impact on what they do with their lives - all starting with the humble 'funny book.'"