The Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians is held at the downtown library during San Diego Comic-Con. / Photo courtesy of San Diego Public Library

If you’re looking to honor the pop art and culture of the city that has housed San Diego Comic-Con for 50 years, here’s a (very incomplete) guide for finding the stuff we locals are proud of making in and around the Convention Center.

Offsite Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians at SDPL

A four-day SDCC-affiliated convention, the Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians at the San Diego Public Library’s downtown branch is now in its fourth year. Free panels and activities (all open to the public) revolve around the importance of the graphic novel in literacy and education. Advance registration is required, though official Comic-Con badge-holders do not need to register in advance.

Bonnie Domingos, the library’s Arts and Culture Exhibitions Manager, said that while each day of the conference is geared toward a specific literacy industry (libraries, publishing K-12 education and higher education, in order), anyone interested in graphic novels in literacy is welcome at any panel.

Some highlights: Check out Thursday’s 2 p.m. “Book Fights!” panel featuring local librarians duking it out (you know, for literacy). On Friday try “Feminist Comics that Rock,” at noon, featuring graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier and more, and “LGBTQ+ YA Graphic Novels” at 1 p.m.

On Saturday, local educators discuss using comics in the classroom at 10 a.m., and at 1 p.m., “Conservation + Comics: Enhancing the Understanding of Science Through Art” features local publisher/educator Little Fish Comics Studio and a bunch of scientists.

Sunday highlights are “Caring for the Geek Mind,” at noon, a panel of educators and mental health professionals, and “WorldBuilding the Future at UCSD,” at 2 p.m., with UCSD’s Shelley Streeby and Patrick Coleman and a host of students. Plus, DJ Lance Rock from Yo Gabba Gabba returns for a free concert and dance party in the library’s downstairs courtyard at 2 p.m.

A Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians panel affiliated with San Diego Comic-Con / Photo courtesy of San Diego Public Library

This year’s robust and extended programming indicates a greater relevance of graphic novels. “This year we did have such an overwhelming response to the calls to present at the panels,” said Domingos.

She added that the library’s Innovation Lab will be open, as an exhibit of 3D printed cosplay but also for repair use during the convention. “Oh, did your cosplay costume break?” Domingos mused. “Come into the library, we can fix it!”

Breaking Borders: Official Panel and Offsite, Badgeless Event

Featuring an official San Diego Comic-Con panel and an offsite exhibition and afterparty, Breaking Borders celebrates Chicanx and Latinx artists working on both sides of the border. On Friday at 6:30 at Room 8, Athanaeum Arts Logan curator Daniela Kelly moderates a panel including graphic novelist Claudia Dominguez, Joaquin Junco (a San Diego political cartoonist) and Lalo Alcaraz (creator of the “La Cucaracha” syndicated newspaper comic strip.

Jose Hugo Sanchez
Breaking Borders work by artist Jose Hugo Sanchez / Image courtesy of Tularosa House of Art

Following the panel, at the Tularosa House of Art in Logan Heights, panelists will exhibit their protest art for a celebration and live auction to benefit Border Angels. Local activist Ari Honarvar will perform a spoken-word piece, accompanied by musician Carlos Velasco. “I’m a former refugee who volunteers with current refugees,” said Honarvar, who works with current Central American asylum-seekers. “While people might feel overwhelmed by the news, they’re often open to experience empathy through the arts. And empathy often leads to action.”

‘Kathy’ in the CCI-International Film Festival

The short film “Kathy,” which screens in the CCI-IFF’s horror shorts program on Friday at 8:15 p.m. in the Manchester Grand Ballroom 6, was originally a nonfiction story about San Diego writer Frank DiPalermo’s upbringing as a gay youth in a stringently religious family (featuring exorcism!). “It technically ends on a very high note. It’s empowering,” said San Diego filmmaker Jonathan Hammond, “but it wasn’t horror.” So they converted the story to a horror short set in the early 1980s, but still honored its truth.

Samantha Ginn in "Kathy"
Samantha Ginn in “Kathy” / Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hammond
Samantha Ginn in “Kathy” / Photo courtesy of Jonathan Hammond

This year, Hammond was nominated for an Emmy for his filmmaking, but is a longtime comic-lover who was never able to officially get inside the convention. Being selected (and finally getting that badge!) was, he said, “honestly as exciting to me as getting the Emmy nomination.” Hammond added that most film festivals involve lengthy applications and press kits, but that CCI-IFF, though highly selective, felt different. “This wasn’t like that; you just email the guy,” he said. “It’s not about schmoozing, it’s not about your letter. It’s just about your movie.”

The League of Extraordinary Scientists and Engineers: More Science in Your Fiction

On Sunday at 3 p.m. in Room 12 at the Marriott Marquis, Jeane Wong, founder of the San Diego-based League of Extraordinary Scientists, will lead a panel of local scientists, engineers and science writers on the use of real science in comics (and the surprising benefit the comics world in turn has on science).

“We bring real scientists to answer questions about what is actually possible or theories of possibilities,” said Wong. “Like, is Thor’s hammer made of a nanomaterial that changes the element to helium with an imprint of his hand and then back to osmium, or dentist stardust?” So, ready your burning questions!


This local design studio’s adorable crocheted mini cacti, buttons, art, comics (including the beloved Peaburt series) and according to their Instagram’s sneak peek, some crocheted taxidermy. Also, they designed one of the coolest of the commemorative San Diego Comic-Con SDPL library cards in 2016, the one with the octopus hugging the downtown library dome whilst reading. Find Toshwerks in the small press area of the exhibition hall, booth Q16.

B.L.A.S.T. Graphic Novel Project

Founded by teachers based in the Chula Vista Elementary School District, this project boasted the “youngest comic book creators” at last year’s Comic-Con, according to the Orange County Register. Donations from sales supports the program and future Comic-Con booths. Find them in the small press area, booth Q9.

Spotlight on Mary Fleener

The Encinitas-based comic book writer with a 35-year career and credits like the new graphic novel “Billie the Bee” and the semi-autobiographical “Slutberger Stories” has her own “Spotlight on Mary Fleener” panel Thursday at 12:30 in Room 4.

Puna Press

Poet and host of Palabra, the poetry night held at La Bodega gallery, Ted Washington, teacher and host of Drunk Poets Society of Ocean Beach Ola Hadi and Anna Zapolli (to name a few) have books under this imprint. Find them in the small press area, booth K10.

Kohse Art

Lifelong Chula Vistan Lee Kohse, who has drawn for LucasFilm, Marvel, Disney, Dreamworks and more will hawk his art at booth 4820. He’s also a prolific Twitch artist.

IDW Publishing

Did you know that one of the biggest comic and graphic novel publishing houses is based in San Diego? Look for its giant hanging “IDW” sign in the middle of the exhibit hall above its giant booth.

‘The Making of a Graphic Novel’ Offsite Exhibition at Athenaeum Arts Center

Newly opened at the Athenaeum Arts Center (in the Bread and Salt complex in Logan Heights, about a mile and a half from the Convention Center) is “The Making of a Graphic Novel — More Than Money,” a watercolor exhibition that explores graphic novelist Claudia Dominguez’s graphic memoir, “More Than Money,” which is about her father’s kidnapping in Mexico City.

Know of more local connections? Tell us in the comments!

Things That Aren’t Comic-Con and More News for the Culture Crowd

Closing Soon

  • Paper artist Bhavna Mehta’s collaboration with Monarch School students, “The Body is a Home” ends its run at Art Produce on Saturday.

Food, Etc.

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now

  • Researching this here Comic-Con guide got me hunting through prior SDCC stashes, and I found a handmade, woodburn cover edition of the late January Derilo’s beautiful, San Diego-based anthology, “Project Cat Space,” published in 2015. “During chemo, my dreams — like histories — were an inheritance … the dead communicating with the living.” My point: Don’t miss the exhibit hall’s small press section and pick up something beautiful.

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