By Anne Eickstadt

Players enjoy a game of Dice Throne from CT’s Hobbies.

“I am the advisor for the Teen Library Council at both Belvidere High School and Belvidere North,” said Dawn Brunschon, library media director of District 100. “The Teen Library Councils are hosting today’s programs. We held our first LibraryCon in 2020 just before the pandemic shutdown. We were unable to hold it last year so this is our second Librarycon.

“My goal was to reach out to community members to include more people. I reached out to the Ida Public Library and CT’s Hobbies to create connections. Stories can come in a variety of formats and there are so many different ways to enjoy them. Reading, gaming, and cosplay are just some of the ways to tell stories. You can create friendships and connections with people who enjoy the same things you do. Our Librarycon is open to all Boone County middle and high schools.

“Our LibrarCon is a conference-style event based on different literary genres, art, game, and cosplay. The attendees and choose the sessions that are interesting to them. Each of these activities tell a story in some way, which is what we want to celebrate.”

The LibraryCon this year was presented at Belvidere High School. Presenters at the Librarycon were Sabi Berkley, artist; Sammi Rose, makeup artist, Catrina Brighton, author/illustrator; Matthew Zabel (Belvidere High School teacher), comic presenter; Rebecca Zabel, cosplay presenter and judge; Leah Hotchkiss, cosplay presenter; Stephanie Bremmer, book talking sage; and Joe Penta (North Boone High School drama teacher) drama and storytelling.

Phoenix Brosman, BHS student, created a storyline for The Fae, in which participants are shipwrecked on a small island. They must attempt to escape the island and the resident Fae who are trying to convince them to stay.

“It’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure type story in which each of your decisions will determine the continuing storyline,” Phoenix said. “Evil fairies are trying to convince you to stay. They will deceive you so you think you are about to escape. You can die if you make the wrong decision. You can also, potentially, get free.”

Sabi Berkley presented a beginner workshop for painting miniatures which are often used in a number of storytelling games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

“I have been painting for seven years,” she said. “I have purchased figurines to paint and I have had figurines 3-D printed for me. I am self-taught and have learned by trial-and-error. This is primarily a hobby for me although I have had commissions for some of my figurines. I can sell for Whiz Kids and Reaper Bones figures.

“I use brushes from WalMart, Army Painter and Citadel. You do not need to have expensive brushes to paint these figures. I can paint figures that glow in blacklight.”

“The stories that are out there are endless,” said Mr. Pienta. ”You can write epics or monologs. Stories can be written for different time periods, cultures, genders – the more controversial, the better.”

Some people prefer to draw and make comic books to tell their stories. Catrina Brighton introduced Librarycon attendees to this form of storytelling. She discussed where ideas come from and how to draw and make a comic. “I love comics,” she said. “Mostly I read indie comics (non-superhero). This course is just a quick rundown introduction to the concept – just basic and simple.

“Nothing is original,” Brighton said. Read as much as you can to learn the medium. Find ideas you like and change them to fit your own ideas, and make them original to your work.”

Some of the things she discussed were the formats available, such as black and white or color, and whether you preferred to create it by hand, digitally, or a hybrid of both forms. How long a story the artist preferred to tell – short or long.

She discussed seven steps in creating a comic book: come up with the first ideas, create an outline for the story, write the script, draw basic designs, then draw thumbnail of to direct the drawn action. Create the comic book in pencil to make quick corrections then draw it in final form using inks, Finally, use color and shading to complete your original comic.

Then you decide how to share your work: online on social media or physical copies. Get feedback and accept constructive criticism. Keep copies of every one of your comics.

“Your first one will suck and that’s okay,” she said. “Your skills will grow as you practice. Confidence comes with quantity, not just quality. You will continue to improve as you keep writing and drawing. If you keep a copy of all of your comics, you will be able to track your progress and watch how you improve with each one.”

Cory Thornton brought games, figurines, and paints from CT’s Hobbies. Tables were set up in the PAC Lobby for players to enjoy some of their games. “Dungeons & Dragons provides a way to tell a story and be part of a story,” he said. “This is another form of storytelling.”

“Stories come in all types of formats,” said Leah Hotchkiss of the Ida Public Library.

Stories can be found in the form of printed books, manga, graphic novels, comics, scripts, and more. Tales can be presented orally by storytellers or presented as skits and plays by people or puppets. Stories can be told by mimes and living statues. They can be presented in the form of paintings, drawings, photographs, murals, and statues.

There are stories and tales all around you.

What is your story?

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