Due to the popularity of shows like the CBS comedy “Big Bang Theory” — which is in its final season — and big budget superhero movies like “The Avengers: Infinity War” and “Wonder Woman” talk about comic books and comic book conventions is becoming more mainstream.
Large and small, the gatherings of lovers of comics, television shows, books and movies, have also been springing up in cities and towns all around the world. A few weeks ago, a Fannin County library decided that it was time for the event to make its way into North Texas.
“We did this as a test run,” Bonham Public Library Technician Casey Donnelly said of the local convention. “The director said we need to crawl before we can walk, then walk before we can run. So I would say that the process to plan this was just under five months.”
BonCon 2018 featured panels, sessions and a children’s cosplay contest.
“Me and the library director are always in conversation about event ideas for kids and teens,” Donnelly said. “Well, earlier in the year, around the end of April I would say, I approached him about a mini comic convention. We have a lot of teens that are into comic books and graphic novels that come into the library here.”
When people got wind of the event at the Bonham library, Donnelly and Library Director John Hayden saw just how well received the event would be.
“In Fannin County, because of how rural this area is, we did not know how the community would react to it,” Donnelly said. “As we put it out over social media, people began tagging and sharing the event. It just grew in popularity. Local business owners were even excited about it. All of the feedback we got was positive.”
Teens were not the only ones itching for the comic con.
“We also had a lot of adults and regular library patrons that were excited about it,” Donnelly said. “We have a lot of regulars that said that they were into gaming like Dungeons and Dragons, superheroes and trading comics.”
On Aug. 18, the day of the event, Donnelly and Hayden were both surprised by the turnout.
“My goal for the event was to bring in about 250 people to the library,” Donnelly said. “The library director’s goal was for there to be 50-100 people at the mini convention.”
But at the end of the day, Donnelly’s head county had hit 300 people and that included adults, kids and families.
“We had a few vendors come in this year,” he said, recapping the day. “There were also crafts and movies.”
Next year, library staff would like to have more vendors with incentives for those that would like to come.
“We need a new location and there are a few places in Bonham where we can do it,” Donnelly said. “We have not talked to anyone about it yet, but the new high school is an option. There are pros and cons to doing it there. We also have a civic center and a multi-purpose complex here in Bonham where we could hold the convention next year.”
Also, Donnelly said the library would like to get in contact with other convention holders to learn what is successful.
“We have already made some contacts with others who have relationships in the comic book world, but we want to make some more,” he said. “We want to have comic book writers, illustrators and actors come in. We know an illustrator who came this year, Nick. We also have Travis who is publishing a comic, but we want to have more local illustrators.”
Since this year’s event was not just popular with children, the library wants to offer more for adults and anyone else that would like to participate in the convention.
“This year, we limited the cosplay contest to just students,” he said. “So it was just really individuals aged birth through 18 years. But next year, we want to have an adult contest as well.”
As for the judges, Donnelly thinks it would be good to have a few people from the community whose names are well known.
“We would also love to bring in community leaders to be judges of the contest like the mayor or the superintendent,” he said.
To keep people on site for longer, next year Donnelly said that making the event more like a festival would be great.
“We had one food truck here that day,” he said. “We would want to add more so that people had variety and options.”
Overall, the convention this year did what Donnelly said that it set out to do and as a library staffer, he said that it is important for the library to be innovative and be a part of the community.
“As a library, we serve the community,” he said. “We are here to enrich the community. We want the convention to be longer. We know that this year, it was just too short. When it comes to the comic convention and the other programs here at the library, we do not just want to add new programs and new things to the library, we want to add programs that have an impact. We want to make a difference with our new programs and new things. We are here and we are not going anywhere.”