Playing Tourist: San Diego Library, during Comic-Con

 

I’m  a future librarian.

Currently, I am a book nerd. I love to read, and apparently I like to write. I suppose that it is only natural, given my introverted nature and proclivity to hide in the shadows. That last part is a joke.

Seriously. I don’t hide in the shadows.  As a future librarian, I am volunteering once a week for a couple of hours. I have probably racked up forty plus hours, and this is only the beginning for me. Volunteering at the library is the first step in a larger journey. Several of my friends are librarians, and two of them have been pivotal in helping me pursue this journey toward librarianship. I am hoping that in the next three years I can have obtained my certificate and MLIS (that’s Master’s in Library and Information Science). What will I do with this degree? The possibilities are vast. I have some ideas already percolating, and I will save this thought for another time. What I want to share with you is my recent experience and visit to San Diego, California.

 

My friend, Young, asked me to attend a couple of workshops at the San Diego Public Library Central. This was also the week and weekend of San Diego Comic-Con, and thousands of eager people would be at the convention center, buying comics, Ccollectibles, seeing celebrities, attending panels and getting updates and previews of upcoming movies or shows. They would be dressing in Cosplay and waiting in long lines to get an autograph, or see artists in Artist’s Alley. It would be like schools of fish swimming around in scrunched groups, and in some cases, walk away like a happy gold mining prospector. I have been there for events past, but not this year, and I was happy to avoid most of the crowds.

This year I would be attending CCEL,  the Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians,  at the San Diego Public Library Central, a nine story architectural wonder and beautiful house of learning. 

 

My day began on Saturday with me leaving my car in Norco, then my friend picked me up and, like a wise wizard and a Hobbit leaving  home for the first time, we were underway.  As it so happens Hobbits think of food often.  This is a legit fact. Young and I stopped briefly at a Dunkin Donuts and got a quick breakfast, tasty and good. Shortly thereafter, we were driving to San Diego, listening to music, getting good vibes about the day, and planning the day’s trek.

Our first real stop once in San Diego was at the Liberty Public Market, a former military barracks converted to shops and market. When we parked and made our way in, we heard the growling of our stomachs and food was again our momentary goal. The options were many at this market, and choosing something delicious to eat became a little challenging. We decided to try empanadas from Pirana’, an Argentinian food stand inside the market. All I can say is these empanadas were tasty, especially with the chimichuri sauce which is basically garlic, parsley and olive oil. There is a chipotle’ version as well. Young had the Chicken and Mushroom empanadas, and I tried the margherita empanada. Since the day was escalating toward noon, our workshops weren’t until 2 pm, and we still had time to reach our destination.

Parking was a premium of $40 dollars and up in downtown by the convention center. Young and I both said, “Yeah, no.” to the idea of parking downtown, and parked somewhere along Rosecrans at a strip mall not too far from our destination. It was a little hike and a trek, and walking was invigorating since I need to exercise more. We walked to Congress Street where the Green Line from the Old Town station would take us to our desired location at 12th and Imperial. Since it was a convention weekend, the trolley was more crowded than a can of sardines.   After a brief hike around town, riding the trolley was exciting because I could pause and take in some of the sights even though we passed quickly. It was not a long ride, less than a half hour, I think, about eight stops. On the trolley, The MTS offers a free transit map, although I do not think it is user friendly, and is difficult to read.   (I used to read maps as a civil engineering draftsman.) I was however, pleased with a simplified infographic that showed the Green, Orange, and Blue Lines around San Diego.

When we passed the convention center, I looked out the window to see an ocean of people trying to get in to the convention. There were protestors of some sort, some signs I saw were from individuals trying to get convention goers to repent or else. It was a click glance. I was more interested in getting off the trolley at this point and briefly walking up Park Street to some outdoor festivities and making my way to the library.

The San Diego Central Library opened in 2014. It is a place for all to come and learn. The library stands nine stories high and has a recognizable dome. Inside the library it is sensory overload. There is a cafe’ outside before entering the library. There is a library gift shop which helps to support other surrounding libraries. There is a Friends of the Library Bookstore filled with donations and wonderful literary treasures. Each floor is loaded with books, computers, displays, and places to study. There is much to see and soak in with the eyes. When we arrived, our destination was on the ninth floor, and I had miraculously registered only a few days before, and only eight seats were remaining to be filled in the Shiley Special Events Suite.

From the outside area one can see the Coronado Bridge, beautiful high rise apartments and Petco Stadium, where the San Diego Padres hold their home games. Being up so high was truly breathtaking, and visually stunning, and I tried not to stand to close to the edge.

The 2:00 pm panel, Adapting Folklore, History, and Myth in Comics, covered how comics are continuing age-old traditions of mythologizing the human experience. The speakers were comic creators who have adapted myths, legends, fairytales and American folklore for the graphic medium.   They included Johnnie Christmas (Firebug, Angel Catbird), Marco Finnegan (Crossroad Blues), John Jennings (I Am Alfonso Jones, Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation), and Kit Seaton (Afar, Norroway). It was moderated by Dr. Katie Monnin (author at Pop Culture Classroom).*

At 3:00 pm, panelists discussed Teaching Fables and Myths with Graphic Novels and how to bring them to life in the classroom.  It featured creators Jenni Holm (Babymouse) and Alexis Fajardo (Kid Beowulf), educators Erin Hill (language arts teacher, Ramona High School) and Cori McDonald (librarian, Ramona High School), moderator Tracy Edmunds (Graphic Novels Are Elementary), and surprise panelists.*

I enjoyed the first panel more than the second, yet, both were informative. What I wanted to hear was earlier in the week when it was geared more toward librarians. These two panels were designed for educators. I think a librarian could get something from either of these panels and there were librarians present as much as educators.

I think the lessons I garnered from the speakers made me realize the relevance of using graphic novels to aid students with literacy. When I was a teen, I did not like to read. I struggled to read, and it was comic books and early graphic novels that assisted me. As an artist, it is my opinion that visual and sequential storytelling is just as important as the written word. And this was the impression I got from the individuals presenting their stories.

By then I had heard enough; I wanted to explore San Diego a little.  I spent a few minutes taking pictures outside the Shiley Special Events Suite and then Young and I headed down. On the way, we checked out the study hall on the next floor down, and then looked at the exhibits and collections that the library had on display. On one floor there is a nice baseball collection of pictures, books, and a shiny chrome statue that would make you think it was the Silver Surfer. On another floor, we visited a section with a collection of zines, mini publications that are either handmade or digitally made to convey a basic story or idea.

Since it was Comic-con weekend, the library had a nice collection of illustrated comics, graphic novels, books by artists and some illustrations. I signed up for a library card, a new thing I do, and received a coveted special design of Harry Potter on my library card. The last thing before leaving the library and making our return to the trolleys, we visited the gift shop and bookstore.

Even though my visit to San Diego was brief, I saw many wonderful things. It was good to stay hydrated, as it was hot and humid all day. Without my friend, Young, I would have been completely lost. Young is not only my friend, he is by far a great guide. We walked all over Downtown San Diego, it seemed. I think we had to transfer twice before getting back to our starting point, and head for home.

My recommendation is that San Diego is a beautiful place to visit. There is certainly much to do while visiting, and not something you can see all in one day. It will require many return visits. My little excursion taught me to be mindful of my surroundings. There is a lot of homelessness on the streets, and it is best not to interact with them if at all possible. Like most towns, San Diego has a rich culture and history. For me, it was good vibes, and a much needed day away from my hometown to do something different. What ever you decide, if you need an outing or an adventure, you can’t go wrong with a visit to San Diego.

Additional reference links:

drone footage:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSPO-0gcZX8

*Ref: https://sandiego.librarymarket.com/comic-conference- educators-and-librarians-educator-panels]

Conceptual Presentation – (c.2011) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1us-dfklNs Library Tour – (c. 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWDf8YUs_W0 CCEL 2017 Library Panel: Picture Books for Grownups: Why Graphic Novels Matter (Similar to 2018) – https://youtu.be/q-xBQAwowsQ *What about Second Breakfast? (Fellowship of the Ring) – https://youtu.be/XkzvHtjnNOs Liberty Public Market (2018) – https://youtu.be/_7Ev0OL0-Ew Parana’ | Munchin’ Mondays – (2017) – https://youtu.be/bdx80dv3tEk

My Notes (Misc. Interests) Want to visit San Diego? See http://sdmts.com/TripPlanner Regarding Graphic Novels (2017)https://youtu.be/iYA8Yxlar3E

 

 

 

 

 

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