The man behind the Rego Park Comic Con is Harry Bailey, a librarian at the Ozone Park branch and host of the Hairy Lion Comics web show on Youtube.
He was keen on holding a smaller gathering for those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit larger events, such as the New York Comic Con at the Javits Center.
A library employee for 17 years, Bailey previously worked at the Rego Park branch and chose it because of the central location in Queens.
“Children get to see their favorite heroes, like Spider-Man and Batman, and it may inspire them to become future artists,” Bailey said. “I overheard kids asking artists what it takes, and they tell them that all it takes is a dream and motivation.”
Siblings Derek, 10, and Allison, 9, have been interested in comic books for a few years. While browsing for comics, Derek found out about the Rego Park Comic Con through the library.
Both kids were most excited about meeting and receiving art from comic book artist and writer Steiner Palomino. Palomino, from Jamaica, works with both traditional and digital mediums.
Bailey’s focus was to draw attention to up-and-coming artists and web shows rather than bigger companies like DC Comics, Marvel and Vertigo.
Richard Barcia of Bit Happens brought his pixelated art pieces based on retro video games and cartoons, like Dragon Ball Z and Mega Man.
“I’m impressed because throughout the day, [Barcia] had a wide range of customers, from comic book fans to people looking for Cartoon Network and Disney characters,” said vendor Eric Dutch Morris of Pop All Culture.
Morris makes his own hats, which typically features a spin on 80s and 90s pop culture. Some of the hats include designs inspired by “The Simpsons,” “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters” and other classics that 90s kids would find nostalgic.
The two artists actually live on the same street in the Bronx and didn’t realize the other was involved with comics or art until they both showed up at the Rego Park Comic Con on Saturday.
The event was the first time Morris has displayed his work at a comic con, but Barcia has traveled around to different shows in the past.
“I’ve attempted bigger cons, like Wintercon and Big Apple Comic Con, but a lot of those bigger cons are missing what these smaller cons have,” Barcia said. “There’s more heart, more interaction and a better experience for first-timers, whether you’re an artist or a fan.”
“It’s definitely more of an intimate setting,” Morris added. “We had a 20-minute conversation with an eight-year-old kid where we might’ve appreciated the conversation more than he did, and we wouldn’t have been able to spend all that time with him if this was a bigger con.”
With the success of the first Rego Park Comic Con, Bailey has a few ideas going forward. He hopes to host another in the summer and may try to organize a comic con at every library in the borough.
“It would make it easier for people to experience the comic con,” Bailey said. “We’re artists and we want to show that we’ve got talent, too.”