Books and Comics in Chicago


1/16/24 Update: We are now out of free BEA passes for 2016.

If you love books and/or comics, Chicago is the place to be this Spring!

First there’s C2E2, March 18 - 20. There will be a ton of comics creators including Mike Mignola (Hellboy), the absolutely enthusiastic Todd Nauck (I have some of his original art from Teen Titans Go! on my wall), and Jim Zub (the nicest guy working in comics) along with many others, including many media stars. (More guests will be added as the show date approaches.) There’s not only a huge artist’s alley, there’s great programming, the chance to watch live art, and a lot of tattoo artists if you finally decide to get some ink (or just want to watch others as they do).

Librarians, educators, writers, and others can apply for a professional badge that lets them in free on Friday or for all three days at a discount. They’re first-come, first-served, and the absolute deadline is Feb. 19th, so get on it!

Next up is Book Expo America, May 11 - May 13. I’m more excited than ever for BEA. It’s the show’s first year in the Windy City (at least since I've started attending). It’s already been announced that Gene Yang (Graphic Novelist Supreme, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature), Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants, Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot, much more), and Jamie Lee Curtis (so many movies, quite a few books) will be there.

I’ll be speaking with Josh Hanagarne (The World’s Strongest Librarian) on Friday May 13th as part of the Library Insight track — we plan to offer the civilians a lot of insight into what goes on in the stacks and the back room, and we’re hoping you’ll help by sharing YOUR stories. (More on our program in a later blog post.) Plus there will be autograph sessions, advanced review copies, and other informative programs. And I’m hoping the margaritas near McCormick place are as good as I remember.

There are 50 free VIP passes available for library employees who:

  • have not attended BEA in the last three years
  • have authority or influence over books their library or library system purchases
  • work for a library system with more than three branches, or at a library that's over 20,000 square feet

Just email me from work and let me know, briefly, how you qualify. (You’re welcome to make a case for yourself if you’re a librarian doing something else fabulous that involves library book buying or scads of reviewing, too.) Please include: your name and title along with your library's name, address, phone, and fax (if, for some reason, you haven't decommissioned it).

Finally there’s BookCon, May 14. If you’re feeling bad because BEA is only open to professionals, tell your book clubs, library patrons, and any book nerds you know about BookCon, which takes place the Saturday after BEA. Tickets are available now. It’s like a comic con for readers, and it looks like so much fun that I’m staying after BEA to attend this year. The day will be packed with events, and many guests have already been announced. I’m already hoping to get autographs from Chris O’Dowd (Moone Boy, Bridesmaids), Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy), and Ann M. Martin (The Babysitter’s Club), and my list will continue to grow as more are announced. Unshelved will also have a booth there featuring our books, T-shirts, and other merchandise. Here’s the BookCon FAQ.

Clearly it’s time to consider moving to Chicago.

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