Comic book, anime and cosplay fans take over Hemet Public Library for the second year
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Exactly one year ago in the City of Hemet, an intrepid duo set out on a quest: To call upon the city’s undercover heroes, crusaders and dreamers to assemble themselves and give hope to a population held captive by the one thing that many an underdog dreads: a lack of means to express themselves. Their call was answered. Over 400 comic book fans, cartoonists, cosplayers and pop culture geeks met at the Hemet Public Library for the ‘Get Your Comics On’ convention, Volume 1. So good was the feeling they felt together that they begged for more. Their begging would not go unheeded.
On Saturday, Jan. 12, they would once again descend on the library for ‘Get Your Comics On,’ Volume 2! As was the case last year, these fans were greeted with the opportunity to express their fandom of comic books, anime and a whole lot more.
This year, many more vendors would set up shop at the convention: Fans of just about any cartoon could get their hands on march featuring their favorite characters.
Anime fans could not only pick up copies of the hottest manga series, but also learn how to put their own spin on the Japanese art of cartooning thanks to two Anime drawing classes and several lectures prepared for the midday get-together.
Jason Inman and Ashley Victoria even dropped in for a Q-and-A session about their Jupiter Jet series.
Cosplay was once again a major draw for the convention, as many came dressed as their favorite characters and had the opportunity to win a prize for their work. Even a local troupe of cosplayers known as the Southland Ghostbusters dropped in to delight fans of the Dan Aykroid/Bill Murray classic.
Cartoonists on hand included The Yuan Twins, creators of the Inspector Oh series, among others. Fans could even commission artwork to suit their tastes. These were catered to by such folks as Karla Aguirre (etsy.com/shop/prismcrow), the folks from DestinyComix.com, and Brian Lopez (b2rianLS@gmail.com) who came all the way from Los Angeles for this event.
Vendors on hand also included The Dancing Belly, an Inland Empire studio of professional belly dancers and teachers of the art. For those with family at home, the convention included family fun as well! For example, the littlest superheroes among us got to take part in a special training camp designed for ages three to seven.
To sweeten the draw, the first 150 fans through the door took home a free comic book.
Convention ringleader and Head Librarian Kathye Caines says even though she wanted to do this for a long time, she really needed help getting started. “It’s been on my vision board for the last five years,” says Caines. “Things kind of fell into place beautifully last year. Brandon Noel, who’s one of our artists… came in kind of out of the blue and said, ‘I’m curious, I’d kind of like to do something. Are you interested?’ And we said, ‘Yeah. You betcha.’ He’s been great with getting the vendors, and helping get us organized.”
Caines says this is just one of many things she and her staff are doing to drive foot traffic at the library, as well as revenue. “There’s always something happening here at the library, much more than people realize.”
Fans hoping for a third volume of the convention are in luck, as attendance for the convention has remained buoyant according to Caines; upwards of 350 attendees had already come in by noon!
Caines thanked this year’s sponsors, without whom local fans would struggle for safety in their endeavors: Gopher-It Comics, DestinyComix.com, Enter Your Mind Universe, Southland Ghostbusters, SoCal Games and Comics, AnimeYour Way, the Hemet Police Department volunteers and the City Of Hemet.
With two volumes of fandom under their belts, Caines and Noel can now lay the groundwork for Volume 3. Thanks to their vision and determination, Hemet’s comic book fans, cosplayers and pop culture fans now have more incentive to help make the world a better place.
You can learn more about what the library has going on by visiting cityofhemet.org/library, and prepare for future volumes of the convention happening the second Saturday of January.