Art / Education

Comic convention comes to Hunts Point

Maya Maslova

Artists Alex Simmons and Paul Castiglia speak with students at MS 424 on Sept. 20.

Middle school hosts event for illustrators and fans

MS 424 opened its doors to the community on Sept. 20 to showcase the love of comics – from both students and adults – at the school’s first-ever Comic Con.

The idea was conceived by Assistant Principal Michael Lopez, a comic lover himself, as a way to draw out the interests of students and help them make connections with other fans of the genre. Comic Con is a nationwide convention of comic books and the arts first introduced in San Diego in 1970. It has since become an annual event held in cities all over the country, with the next one coming in New York City on Oct 9.

This mini comic convention included independent artists such as Patrick J. Reilly, who makes his own comic books, such as Bunny Bear, which he made the night before the event. Other artists included Paul Castiglia, who has edited and written for the Archie Series; and Alex Simmons, an artist who has created his own series named Blackjack and also produces the annual Kids Comic Con at Bronx Community College.

In the school on Bryant Avenue, tables were set up throughout the first floor and covered with comics and manned by the artists behind them.

Several tables were selling items such as figurines of Superman and Spiderman. Others were selling pin buttons of cartoon characters, mostly Archie.

Students swarmed the tables to grab a copy to read while sitting nearby. Others sat down at the tables to draw cartoon characters with the help of the artists.

Castiglia said he enjoyed attending these events so he can really know his audience.

“I always want to reach out to the kids in any way possible,” he said, adding he has wanted to be an illustrator since he was 5 years old. “I would draw the characters I saw on the TV cartoons,” he said. “I just always wanted to be involved some way in animation or comic books.”

When Theresa Tamegnon, a former MS 424 student who graduated this past year, ran into Lopez at the store on the morning of the event, she was thrilled to learn about it. She has a big collection of Archie books at home. “They’re my favorite, so I always look for Archie, and I’m here for that.”

Tamegnon’s passion began when she attended after school at MS 424. She would sit down and read comics. She never quit the habit. “I really hope they do another one next year.”

Throughout the event, the hallways were filled with children looking over comics, talking to each other, interacting with the artists by drawing with them, as well as watching a Superman cartoon in one of the classrooms. Parents had their own fun by also exploring and asking questions, buying comics and comic toys for their children.

Comic Con, which was produced in association with the Hunts Point Alliance for Children, is only the first event of many more to come this school year, according to Lopez. He and the principal, Sonya Johnson, want the community to know that this building belongs to Hunts Point and everyone is welcome to come.

“We want people to come to get to know one another, and we do these events so that the community has fun,” Johnson said. “You need to have the academics but you also have to have the extra-curricular, so we work very hard to make these events happen.”


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