Kids Love Comics! spotlights young creators

Posted at 12:27 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 12:27:01-04

Not too many 13-year-olds can say they’re published graphic novel authors.

Katie Gallagher of Fairfax, Virginia can.

Along with her father, cartoonist John Gallagher, she wrote Zoey and Ketchup, the story of a girl and her dog. The tales, which spawned two graphic novels, began as bedtime stories between father and daughter.

“It’s weird,” Katie said Sunday as she sat behind a table of her books at Baltimore Comic-Con. “Kids come up to me and say, ‘I love your books!’”

Along with her parents, she was joined by her younger brothers, Jack and Will, who have also co-authored children’s graphic novels with their dad, the author of the graphic novels Buzzboy and Roboy Red.

John Gallagher is the founder of created Kids Love Comics!, a kids section and yearly fixture at Baltimore Comic-Con.

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This year, the section featured about 30 kids and young adult comic creators, such as the Gallaghers. The Future of Comics contest highlights the work of young authors, and this year’s winners, Kate Davis, L.J. Fowlkes, Eric Mann and Trinity McKnight, all had spots in the Kids Love Comics! pavilion.

The idea for Kids Love Comics! stemmed from the realization that many comic conventions were very adult-oriented, Gallagher said.

“I said, it would be great if we had all the kids comics creators together,” Gallagher said. “And that started with putting three of us together at three different tables, which then turned into 10 tables.”

And it grew from there, he said.

Young visitors also got drawing lessons from artists throughout the weekend. At one point on Sunday, artist Mike Maihack, the artist behind Cleopatra in Space, taught children how to draw “meowers with powers” and other superhero cats.

Mary Jane DeCarlo, a 17 year old artist, is in her third year exhibiting at Kids Love Comics! The senior at Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia created Just Fly! a graphic novel based on her family, several years ago.

She was inspired by her “musical” family, which has performed in talent shows together.

“It’s about being someone in real life, and someone else when you’re performing,” she said.

DeCarlo, a cartoonist and art director for her school newspaper, said young children and teens at Comic-Con seem to like interacting with the young artists at the show.

“We’re relatable,” she said.

Sunday was also kids’ day at Baltimore Comic-Con. There was no shortage of families, many with their little ones in costume, at the convention, giving vendors plenty of business.  

Matt Mull, a toy and comics retailer from Cincinnati, said he had plenty of kids stopping by the booth to dig through toys in the bins on the floor (the more expensive merchandise, he added, is out of reach.)

“Any Marvel stuff, any Avengers,” he said of what’s popular with kids. “Especially with a lot of the recent movies coming out, kids want any character that’s attached to those movies.”

Reisterstown artist Ben Weary, creator of the Poop Office comic series, also had plenty of visits from kids who were entertained by the bathroom humor-themed stories as well as the accompanying merchandise.

And some adults, too.  

“We’re for kids of all ages,” Weary said.