The Lodi Library is encouraging lovers of virtually every fandom, from anime to zombies, to revel in their ever-expanding community once again at the second annual Lodi Library Con on Sunday, Sept. 29.
The original idea for the event came from a presentation at the California Library Association conference that showcased the possibility for libraries to host events of this variety, and Lodi’s library associate Ryan Szichak began the planning process.
After originally planning on renting a space at the Grape Festival grounds, the library chose to use its own property as the venue as a way to showcase their daily services.
“We decided to do it (at the library) because it gets people coming in and seeing what the library has to offer beyond the convention,” Szichak said.
The inaugural event in 2018 brought in roughly 30 artists, local writers and vendors, and it featured panels and a cosplay contest in addition to the collection of booths. With it being just the first installment of Library Con, Szichak was optimistically hoping for somewhere close to 600 visitors, but the venue found itself with a surprising crowd of 1,500.
“We had two food trucks that were close to selling out, we had an Image Comics writer whose merchandise was bought out before the end, and it was a rousing success all around,” Szichak said.
Szichak has taken the experience and is trying to expand it further it terms of the fans represented. There will be an 85% return rate for the vendors from last year, and the newcomers will help round out the already diverse guests. A card tournament has also been added at the request of fans online, and it will feature Pokémon and “Magic: The Gathering” matches with prizes for the players.
“Especially now since in the last 15 years it has blown up into this massive market of genres and subgenres, science fiction and fantasy, we wanted to try to make it so everyone can say there was something here for them,” Szichak said.
The Comic-Con in San Diego is known for appearances by the famous faces behind the latest blockbusters, and Szichak, having experienced it firsthand, hopes the Library Con will reach a reasonably comparable point some day. In the meantime, however, he explained that this local event is a terrific introduction to the thrill of fan conventions without the hefty ticket price.
“It’s about $500 dollars if you want to pay full price for a full week at San Diego Comic Con, and not everyone can drop that kind of money, so for something that is free in your town and has things you’ll enjoy, this is fantastic,” Szichak said. “This is sort of like a convention starter pack where you can see if this is what you want to do with your fandom.”
There is a bond that develops between those who love this form of entertainment, even if their beloved franchises are polar opposites, and Szichak hopes this event will bring people together and possibly introduce diehard fans to brand new adventures.
“It’s one of those things where you can enjoy whatever fandom you like and you meet someone else that has a different one that you know nothing about, and you can still admire that person’s joy from it and maybe learn more about that topic,” Szichak said. “There’s always something for everyone to discover and enjoy, if you can’t find it you would have to be trying not to find it.”