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Attend Kids Con New England

Where: Holiday Inn, 172 N. Main St., Concord
When: Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Contact: kidsconne.com
Admission: $10 for kids ages 5 and older, $12 for adults, free for kids younger than 5




Comics for kids
Inaugural Kids Con New England June 11

06/09/16
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 What local comic book artist Emily Drouin discovered while touring the con circuit the past few years is that most comic conventions could use more kid-centric zones.

“At a lot of these comic book events, kids’ comics are thrown right in with adult comics,” Drouin said. And, she pointed out, many adult comics aren’t exactly kid-friendly, with sexualized, gory or violent elements.
So she started running activities for kids  at the Granite State Comic Con, Hartford ComicCONN, MASSive Comic Con and, later this summer, the Boston Comic Con, where kids can learn to draw comics, play games and get face-painted.
But Drouin wanted to take it one step further, and so she and her husband Jeremy have created their own event devoted to children: Kids Con New England. The inaugural event is happening Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Concord. It’s the first and only comic book convention just for kids in the region. Its mission is to promote art education and literacy through comics. 
“It’s a great way to get kids excited about reading. There are a lot of people who are visual learners,” Drouin said. “I loved reading the Sunday comics in the paper. And as a kid, I loved drawing cartoons and had a silly, colorful style.”
Visitors at Kids Con New England will find face-painters, balloonists, costume contests, coloring and activity tables, Jedi training, plus cartooning, comic book making and Zentangle workshops. Walking around will be cosplayers dressed as Disney princesses, Ghostbusters, pirates, Pikachu, Spider-Man, Ironman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Deadpool, Green Lantern, Thor and other pop culture stars.
The activities are designed to usher in the next generation of comic book creators and enthusiasts. One of the workshops is hosted by father and son team Michael and Diego Mongue, who will talk about how they created their Awesome Robot comic book together. Another is all about character design. Another is a kids and teens vs. adults sketch-off.
Also visiting Kids Con New England are 32 regional comic book artists whose work is family-friendly but still interesting for adult readers, said comic book artist Michael Mitchell.
“I’ve never felt the need to lower down the story for a younger audience. I think kids are just very adaptable and very smart at grasping all kinds of plot lines and character motivations and all that. I don’t think they get enough credit,” Mitchell said via phone.
Many of Mitchell’s comics are historical and New Hampshire-based. With his wife Michelle, he’s documented the local UFO sightings via comics, which sold very well at the Exeter UFO Festival, and detailed Derry-raised Alan Shepard’s flight as the first American in space. Their zombie series was inspired by a tour of the USS Albacore in Portsmouth. The designs, he said, are hand-drawn and colored, reminiscent of the comic books he grew up with from the ’60s and ’70s.
Drouin said she’s one of the few women running a comic con, and along with promoting literacy and art education through comics, she hopes to draw more women to the genre as well, particularly as comics become more attractive for them. She herself is a comic book artist for EPLIS Comics.
“Nowadays, there are a lot more girls and women who are into comics,” she said. “And there are a lot more comics with female characters today.”
People are traveling from New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York to attend Kids Con New England. Drouin is already looking forward to the 2017 con.
“We’re basically looking to grow even bigger. We have a lot of people interested. And there are a lot more indie comic book creators who do kids’ comics. We’d love to have them at a bigger show next year,” she said. 





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