Comics and graphic novel-themed events and programs have proven to be successful for libraries; as the current rise of library-based comic conventions shows, comics not only offer a great deal of program potential, but also a theme that is pretty well guaranteed to draw in patrons.
While comic-cons can be great all-day events, there are a number of other programs libraries can host which will require less of a time and resource commitment, but which will still offer patrons and staff a satisfying, successful experience. Here, Diamond BookShelf offers 10 low-cost event suggestions for libraries using comics.
Comic Book Club
This one is fairly self-explanatory, and can be run similarly (if not the same) as a prose book club. With the wide variety of graphic novels available, and many comic-related films and events taking place, the options for themes are seemingly endless (for example, IDWPublishing/Top Shelf Productions's March series for Black History Month, Marvel's Civil War when the film Captain America: Civil War is released, etc.).
One way to utilize the range of your graphic novel collection would be to hold teen or adult clubs at the same time as kids clubs, giving parents and caregivers a slot of their own, while giving the kids an event they can enjoy.
Comic Discussion Club
Similar to the Book Club, but this can be held in a more "open discussion" setting, allowing patrons to do the majority of the talking. Each meeting could tackle a specific topic ("current events as reflected in superhero comics") or a general area ("Which comic-based movie was the best adaptation?").
Comic Making Class
Many comic readers find themselves inspired to make comics of their own, and the library offers a great place to host a comic-making class. Supplies can be as basic as pencils and paper, and an introductory "how to" class can be taught in in as short a time as an hour (although you can definitely make the event longer). If your library doesn't have a staff member who's a comic-maker themselves, you should be able to find a local artist through an online search (many artists use DeviantArt.com), or through your local comic shop – most artists are still fans themselves. You don't even need to find a big name creator, just as long as they know their way around a comic page.
If you patrons collect comics, chances are they'll have ready everything they own and will be looking to pick up something new. You can help facilitate their new comic acquisitions while offering a chance for socialization by setting up a comic swap. Just set up a time and date for patrons to bring in their old comics to trade them others. And if your library participates in Free Comic Book Day and has any leftover comics (or can get a donation from a local comic shop or other source), you can include these as well.
Comic Movie Screening
Movie screenings are common practice in libraries, and with the rise of superhero movies since the 2000 release of X-Men, there is a plethora of films to choose from to entertain all audiences, from young (Big Hero 6) to adult (Watchmen). These screenings can be tied to other comic-themed events (e.g., Free Comic Book Day, library comic con) or held on their own, and should satisfy patrons either way.
While there are still a large number of comic collectors who would be aghast at the suggestion, sometimes one can find uses for comics besides reading and stashing away. With their eye-catching graphics and structured pages, comics make great material for craft projects. All you need are some scissors, glue and/or decoupage, poster board or other items to put the comics on, and you can have a fun craft event for patrons young and old.
Comics/Prose Adaptations Presentation
Comic adaptations of prose books has long been a tradition, from the mid-century Classics Illustrated to Udon Entertainment's Manga Classics line. With the large number of titles available, you can lead a discussion or presentation that looks into these adaptations, how they differ from the originals, and the benefits and drawbacks of reading classic (and other) tales this way.
Local Creator Presentation
One of the unique features of the comics industry is that creators can live practically anywhere and still ply their trade. This means that there are fairly decent odds that at least one creator lives close enough to the library that they can be brought in for a presentation, class, or other program. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Comics Connector is a resource that lists comic creators who will offer lectures and other programs at schools and libraries; an Internet search or local comic shop can also provide you with contacts.
Comic Shop Presentation
Comic stores can be helpful resources to a library for ordering, information, and cross-promotion, and very often the shops are staffed by people who are avid fans as well. You can invite the owner and/or employee(s) of your local store for a variety of different events, which don't have to simply be a promotion for the store. Jay Bosworth, owner of MaximuM Comics in Las Vegas, NV, who regularly hosts a history of comics presentation at his area library, and offers them comics for Free Comic Book Day, while Kyle Puttkammer, owner of Galactic Quest in Lawrenceville, GA, has a comic-making class that he teaches at libraries across the state.
Comics in Summer Reading
Each summer the Collaborative Summer Library Program offers their Summer Reading Lists to help encourage literacy in kids while they're out of school; as comics and graphic novels offer titles in just about every subject and genre, they make great additions to the lists. When putting together the lists, you can host a presentation letting kids (and adults) know which comics you have that will fit into that year's reading program.