Kids Con New England: Family fun with comic books

Courtesy photo Shown are Emily and Jeremy Drouin of Kids Con New England.

NASHUA – Idea for a comic book: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant by day, superhero by night. Well … maybe not. But Emily Drouin is living the dream anyway.

Drouin, 35, is a published children’s comic book artist and author who lives in Raymond. She’s the owner and creator a kid-focused, family-friendly comic book convention, Kids Con New England, the first of its kind in the area, she said.

“Kids Con’s mission is to promote art education and literacy through comics, inspiring creativity and the future generation of comic book creators,” Drouin said.

From 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, the second annual Kids Con New England will be held at the Radisson Nashua, 1 Tara Blvd. The event premiered last year in Concord, with about 1,000 attendees. She expects to triple that this year, and is therefore at the larger venue in Nashua – three ballrooms and five rooms for workshops.

Courtesy image Shown is the cover page for EPLIS, a children's sci fi comic book series by Emily and Jeremy Drouin.

Drouin, originally from Manchester, has been drawing since she was a kid. Now an illustrator of children’s books and comic books, she self-published in 2013. “I’ve been going to comic book conventions since 2010, like the Granite State Comic Con,” she said. “It really inspired me to create my own. My husband Jeremy and I created the EPLIS sci-fi comic series. I felt there was a need for more kids’ comics.”

She also recognized the need for more kid-friendly content at existing conventions. “It has been getting better in the last few years, but I felt (conventions) needed more kids’ activities at them,” she said. “I created a Kidzone section at the 2014 con in Hartford, and then at the Granite State one. It got very popular and I was requested to do it in Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts.

“So I realized, why don’t I take it to the next level and have a con that’s all kid-friendly, for that future generation of illustrators?” Drouin said. “It would be a great way to educate kids about art and to foster literacy. Get them excited about reading again. I’m all about promoting that.”

This second Kids Con New England will feature more activities and workshops than the inaugural one, Drouin said. “We’ll have 65 comic book creators and artists, from around the country,” she said. There will be panel discussions with industry professionals, syndicated cartoonists and publishing folks – some working in Stan Lee’s Kid’s Universe or illustrating Spongebob comics – for those interested in pursuing a career in the field. Some pro names include Dan Thompson, Norm Feuti, Dani Jones and Charles Brubaker.

There are lots of opportunities to dress up and have fun, too. Cosplay and costume contests will reward individuals and families. There’s also Princess Academy, Jedi Training, Pirate Camp, face painting and balloon artistry.

Courtesy photo Shown are some of the children who enjoyed dressing up at the inaugural Kids Con New England last year.

“There will be lots of costumed characters performing, a magical singalong and ‘Beauty and the Beast,'” Drouin said. “Pikachu will be there, as well as R2-D2, who stole the show last year. There will be Pokemon and Mario Kart competitions.” There will also be a food court from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., as well as the Radisson’s own onsite dining options.

Tickets for Kids Con New England are $12 adults, $10 seniors, military and students, and free for kids younger than 5. Price includes all activities and workshops. There will be vendor items for sale.

Tickets available online at squareup.com/store/kidsconne and at the door. For more information, email info@kidsconne.com or visit www.kidsconne.com.

Kathleen Palmer can be reached at 594-1255, kpalmer@nashuatelegraph.com or @NHFoodandFun and @Telegraph_KathP.

Courtesy photo Kids Con New England aims to increase child literacy and a love of reading.

Courtesy photo Kids Con New England will be held this Sunday at the Radisson Nashua.

Courtesy photo R2-D2 will be in attendance again at the second annual Kids Con New England, this Sunday at the Radisson Nashua.