Free Fantasy

Roseann Lewandowski and Gina Patronaggio learn the ways of the Force. (Photos by Chris Boyle)
Roseann Lewandowski and Gina Patronaggio learn the ways of the Force.
(Photos by Chris Boyle)

Jericho library welcomes comic book day

There’s no doubt about it, geek culture is cool.

The world of comic books, superheroes, science fiction and high fantasy are all the rage and to get in on the action, the Jericho Public Library participated in a recent time-honored tradition of the geek community—Free Comic Book Day.

Held on the first Saturday of every May, Free Comic Book Day is an annual promotional event held by multiple comic book publishers in order to help drum up interest in local comic book stores and comic books in general. Special editions of various titles—both for grown-ups and younger readers—are created and given out for free at participating locations, drawing scores of attendees every year.

Jericho’s young adult services librarian Gina Patronaggio said that this was the first year that the library had gotten involved in Free Comic Book Day and—as the one in charge of handing out copies of Captain America, Batman, Pokemon and The Simpsons comic books—she was almost overwhelmed by the number of kids packed into the library’s meeting room.

An array of free comic books were available at the library.
An array of free comic books were available at the library.

“Free Comic Book Day is a wonderful way to get the community together and really draw in teens and children from Jericho and have a fun day for them,” she said. “Plus, we have two local authors and illustrators who are selling books and telling children and teens about the process behind creating a comic book or novel. We also have snacks, a face painter, raffle drawings, a display of our 3D printer. There’s just so much to do here and I couldn’t have done it without the help of children’s librarian Denise Leggio, who did so much to help with getting our guests today.”

Adding to the day’s thrills was the presence of a group that embodies the very essence of geek culture—the Long Island chapter of the Empire Saber Guild, a Star Wars-themed charitable performance group officially endorsed by Lucasfilm and the Walt Disney Company to represent the franchise at various events by means of live-action performance pieces. Representing characters inspired by the film series’ mystical Jedi Knights and evil Sith Lords, the Empire Saber Guild put on a short instructional play in the library’s theater in the art of combat with lightsabers—the trademark glowing plasma swords wielded by the Jedi and Sith—which eventually led to exciting full-on combat between the two opposing sides.

Michael James of Massapequa, a member of the Empire Saber Guild, noted that his group, founded in 2014, is a civic organization that often gets involved in community events.

Comics_051816C“We are the Endor Outpost of the Saber Guild. We have eight members participating in the show and another four or five who are helping out,” he said. “This is the Endor Outpost’s first show and we’re hoping it’s going well. We’ve done training and photo ops, but this is our first full-blown show. We’ve been working as an outpost for almost a year now and really concentrating on our choreography and it was decided that this would be a great venue to do our first ever show for the public.”

Patronaggio said that the involvement of the Endor Outpost really helped catapult Jericho’s Free Comic Book Day into the stratosphere. One look at the awe-struck faces of the kids meeting the heroic Jedi Knights—and the notorious Sith Lords, who attempted to lure a few attendees to the Dark Side of the Force—after their performance was all one needed to see what a huge success the event turned out to be.

Comics_051816D“We were so lucky to get the Empire Saber Guild to participate in this event,” Patronaggio said. “We found them via the web and we realized that it would be a wonderful opportunity to include them in our event today, and they added such a great, fun vibe to the proceedings.”

Patronaggio said for local kids and teens to be sure to look out for Free Comic Book Day at the Jericho Public Library again next year, where they will be a whole slew of new super-heroic surprises in store for them.

“So far, the event is a great success,” she said. “We’ve had a tremendous response and we’re looking forward to holding it again next year. As for what we’ll have here next May, kids will just have to wait and see.”

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