Whidbey Comicon at Oak Harbor Library

The Whidbey Island Comicon is expected to be twice as large this year, with more panels, workshops and other activities. The free event is happening 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 7 at Oak Harbor Library and Oak Hall. News-Times file photo

(This article was published Tuesday, April 3, 2018 in the Whidbey News-Times)

By Laura Guido
Whidbey News-Times

This one’s for the cosplayers, gamers, comic book readers and sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts. Casual and hardcore fans of “geek culture” alike will have the opportunity to enjoy the now expanded Whidbey Island Comicon, happening 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 7 at Oak Harbor Library and Oak Hall.

The free event will feature nine panels, covering topics such as “Why Representation and Inclusivity in Media Matters” and “The Making of Iron Man 3,” and three workshops which will include portfolio reviews from professional artist Chuck Wojkiewicz.

“We have some pretty big names that are coming this year,” said Jessica Aws, a librarian at Oak Harbor Library.

Notable panelists include Gus Aguilera, who helped create the special effects for Iron Man 3, and Steve Bennett, who co-founded the manga-publication company Studio Ironcat. To accommodate the expansion, Sno-Isle Libraries partnered with Skagit Valley College to use space in Oak Hall for the panels, workshops and vendors.

In the library, young fans can try their hand at the “geek training room,” which will have obstacle courses, scavenger hunts and crafts.

A gaming room, hosted by The Book Rack, will also include board games for beginner to advanced gamers.

“This is a free, family-friendly event,” said Aws. “Our goal is to make this celebration of fandom available to everyone.”

This is the second event of its kind on the island, and Aws said the library is expecting twice as many participants this year.

For those who might be overwhelmed by all the people, there will be an “introvert’s alley” to take a break from the action.

Cosplayers can enter the costume contest for the chance to win prizes from local businesses, and food will be available from a Random Acts of Food truck and coffee from Hot Shot Espresso.

Aws said the library used last year’s event as a “beta run” and this year organizers had a better idea of what the public wants. She admits it isn’t quite as extensive as Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con, but it fulfills that role while being a free, family-friendly event.

“I think it’s really kind of a neat grassroots event that celebrates geek culture in Oak Harbor,” she said.