Alaska Robotics' 5th annual mini-con is one for the books

    Saturday's mini con took place in the APK Lecture Hall at the Alaska State Museum. A variety of booths filled the 3 stories. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Alaska Robotics mini-comic convention came back to Juneau after a break during the pandemic.

    Pat Race is one of the organizers of the Alaska Robotics mini-con. He talked to News of the North about the outcome.

    "It's really satisfying. We've just seen a lot of happy people, and I'm really glad the community came out," he shared. "It's fun to see all these artists here in Juneau. It's just been a great day. It's been an incredible venue, it's been great to do it here at the Alaska State museum."

    He added that like many other local events this year, they shuffled the location due to Centennial Hall being under construction.

    Race explained how this was made possible.

    "Thanks to our sponsors at the Juneau Public Libraries, the Friends of the Juneau Public Libraries, it's free admission for everyone. A bunch of workshops. There's writing workshops, and making comic workshops, and all sorts of fun activities," he said. "It's like a Juneau-sized comic book convention, with 50 plus artists."

    There was an event at the City Museum on Thursday night, an event at the Mendenhall Library Friday night. Their main convention was Saturday, from 10 am to 5 p.m.

    There were also free screenings of films at Gold Town Nickelodeon Saturday evening.

    Race explained his goal in hosting the Juneau mini-con.

    "I think my goal is to bring interesting people to Juneau and pair up local artists with artists who are out there in the world making amazing things, and give kids in Juneau a glimpse of this connection. I remember when I was a kid here growing up in Juneau, Shel Silverstein came through town, and 'Weird Al' Yankovic came to town. Meeting people that made things inspired me to make things and helped me to realize that book that I liked, was written by someone," he said. "That movie that I liked was made by someone. That those are real people out in the world living real lives. Growing up as a kid, I didn't get to travel out of the state a lot. I think there's probably a lot of kids in Juneau that are like that. We're in an isolated place. So for me, a lot of it is about bringing good things to Juneau."

    There was a mix of local artists and artists from around the country and internationally.

    Ryan North is a cartoonist and writer who participated in the mini-con.

    He was visiting from Toronto, Canada. He shared a little about his most recent book.

    "The most recent one is done with Erica Henderson. It's a book called Danger and Other Unknown Risks. We worked together on a comic called The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl from Marvel. And we liked working together so much, we thought, let's do it again," he said. "So this is a book we came out with about a young woman in a post-apocalyptic world who's trying to find hope, where there might not be any. It's also an examination of Chosen One narrative and adventures. It's got a talking dog named Daisy. It's a great sort of all-ages YA story of just exploration; figuring out who you are."

    North has been to every Juneau mini-con so far. He said the scenery keeps him coming back. Throughout Saturday, different comic book workshops with the public took place.

    "We did a public panel about fight scenes in comics. My friend Carla, who's a writer, brought her partner who was a stuntman," he said. "So when I write a fight scene, I'm just thinking of what the conversation will be. When she writes a fight scene, she's blocking it out with punches and kicks and how they respond. It was really cool to see him do stunt falls in the middle of this auditorium."

    He also talked more about the experience of interacting with the community and signing his books.

    "It's great! You're sitting in a chair and then people come up and just tell you, they like your books. They'd like you to sign it. You get to personalize it and form that connection with readers. I think, especially during the pandemic, writing can be a lonely job," he said. "You're alone with your thoughts. You're writing something on a computer, you're not seeing anyone. This is a chance to actually meet readers and connect with them and see how they've responded to the work you've done. So it's fun and it's flattering, but it's also very recharging and affirming in a way that I wasn't expecting."

    Other comic workshops that took place included visual effects and stop-motion animation.

    The authors of Chickaloonies based in Chickaloon, Alaska also attended and gave a talk.

    Raina Telgemeier, a best-selling comics author, also attended the comic convention and signed books.

    Above: Ryan North signs books at the Alaska Robotics booth Saturday. (Photo credit Jasz Garrett/KINY)

    "One of the greatest feelings is knowing that your work has inspired someone else," North added. "It's a connection that you can't force. It just has to happen."

    He said a reader of his books came up to him and talked about being inspired to write her own "Choose Your Own Adventure" book.

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