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SILBERKLEIT COMIC-CON IN WHITE PLAINS

SILBERKLEIT COMIC-CON IN WHITE PLAINS: With Anti-Bullying Message

While all the folks at Archie Comics were drumming up publicity for the “new” Archie (No.1 arrived in July), co-publisher Nancy Silberkleit advanced her anti-bullying campaign into the comic-con realm. Her first overt effort in this campaign was publishing her “heartfelt comic book, Rise Again,” penciled by the late Stan Goldberg and written by John Wilcox. Then she organized the first White Plains (NY) comic-con with an anti-bullying theme, “It’s Time.”

Rise Above full cover“My idea behind this con was to emphasize the anti-bully message,” she wrote me. “Many organizations are working very hard to stop person-to-person as well as group acts of bullying. Any individual or group that acts to target an individual with aggression or creates an environment of humiliation is wrong. For the past decade there has been a very strong vocal movement to put an end to all of that and to understand the behavior so when it starts we know how not to let it escalate. Personally I promote graphic literacy as a way to communicate tough topics such as bullying. The rich graphics are filled with information that can prompt the reader to internalize the visual information and begin to form their owns values in a manner that makes sense to themselves.”

Being, now, in the comics industry for six years, Silberkleit has connections that she reached out to, asking them to attend the White Plains fandango—“and bring along their talents and utilize their graphics to communicate anti- bullying messages.”

Stan Lee helped out by recording a brief but forceful (everything Stan says is forcefully said) message on video, which was played throughout the day. At least 25 comic book artists and creators joined in — including artists from Papercutz, Archie Comics, Beetle Bailey Comics, Valiant and others. Three panel discussions were featured, examining how comic books are made and how they can benefit learning.

The Con convened May 16 on the upper floor of the White Plains Public Library, and it was, according to exhibiting artist J.M. DeSantis, “packed with people for a good portion of the day, and even the mayor of White Plains (Thomas Roach) came down to meet all of the artists and vendors. I have to honestly say, of all the conventions I have been to, this one seemed to have the largest outpouring of support for those who were exhibiting at the show.”

Another of the exhibiting artists, Michelle Witchipoo, reported that “the moment the doors opened, the entire library was packed. The crowds got to see indie artists, panels and a tiny bit of cosplay. The purpose of this comic con was to raise awareness for bullying.”

The Con was “well organized,” DeSantis said, “ — especially considering this was its first year. I attribute that both to Ms. Silberkleit’s desire to make everyone feel comfortable and at home. She even, personally, stopped by everyone’s table to check on how they were doing with an offer of refreshments—unheard of at a convention, though it would be great if more con hosts did this, in some form or another. Also, there was the obviously wonderful advice and support she received from my friend, Ray Felix (yes, the same guy who runs Bronx Heroes), who was honored with an award at the culmination of the show because of his help organizing the convention.”

DeSantis reported that she was pleased at the number of people who attended (an unspecified number but enough, as she says, to keep the venue packed all day long) and is glad to know that the Con will return next year.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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