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Galaxy Comic Book and Fantasy Art Expo to takeover Joliet museum

It will be no ordinary day on Saturday at the Joliet Area Historical Museum as it is transformed into the Galaxy Comic Book and Fantasy Art Expo—a family-friendly event of galactic proportions complete with more than 40 artists, panel discussions, trivia contests, comics, games and raffle drawings.

“There’s something pretty much for everybody,” said Jody McQuarters, who founded and runs the expo.

The event will kick off at 9 a.m. with a block session of Coffee with the Collectors. There, fans will enjoy talking about comic books both old and new.

Other highlights will include an artist demonstration, a podcast taping and an all-star celebrity art jam.

“I [organized the expo] the way it was when I was a kid,” McQuarters said. “Nowadays, they’re all about the new movies, the new TV shows, the new show that’s on Netflix, [and] the costumes. This is basically focused on the artists, the illustrators, the story writers, [and] the comic book store.”

Special appearances at the Galaxy Comic Book and Fantasy Art Expo include Rafael Nieves, of Marvel; Mikey Babinski, of DC Comics, Marvel Comics and Boom! Studios; Wesley Wong, of Marvel; Jeffrey Moy, of Marvel; Doug Klaub, of International School of Comics; Topper Helmers, formerly of Walt Disney Imagineering; and Steve Palenica, of Atlas Games.

“A smaller show like this gives people a lot of chances to get up close to these guys, ask them questions, see their sketchbooks, get their viewpoints on things, and get to talk to them,” McQuarters said. “With the bigger shows, it gets crowded. It’s hard to get in the room. This one, here, [the artists] enjoy it, too, because they do get a chance to talk to people.”

While there are similar events surfacing in and around the Chicagoland area, the Galaxy Comic Book and Fantasy Art Expo aims to carve its own niche among creators.

“You have all three colleges—Joliet Junior College, Lewis [University] and [University of] St. Francis—[where] a lot of those arts departments like to come here, and they get a chance to get up and meet the guys,” McQuarters said. “You have [college students], they’re just starting out. These [professionals] have put their time in. They got 20 years working for industrial leaders like Marvel. So, [students] can ask them, ‘What was it like to get involved? Is it worth your time now?’ And, at the same time, too, these [professionals] get to sit back and [say,] ‘I remember when I was sitting on that side of the table. I remember being where you were at now.’ It’s nice to see those kind of [interactions] go on now.”

In years past, the expo has brought in between 200 and 500 fans.

McQuarters said the expo provides the perfect space for avid and casual comic book fans alike.

Over the years, the creation of film and TV adaptations involving comic books has risen. That has spawned public debate questioning the draw of the print medium moving forward.

“[The film and TV adaptations] all started with comic books,” McQuarters said. “That’s where it all truly started from, and to see those [storylines] go from the comic books to the big screen is something a lot of comic book fans have been waiting years to see, but what you have now is an entire generation that doesn’t read the comic books.”

Consequently, younger generations often do not know the backstory of the comic book characters they enjoy. That is where events, like the Galaxy Comic Book and Fantasy Art Expo, aim to fill the gap.

“The kids that don’t know that of this generation really get a kick out of [the expo,]” McQuarters said. “It gives them a chance if they like something like Batman or Dr. Strange or even Wonder Woman [to see] there’s a lot more to it than what you see on the big screen. Those stories date back 30, 40, 50, 60 years, and it’s something that if they really enjoy the movie, [you get to] look where it started from. Look at how far back these characters go. It’s really something that opens a lot of their eyes.”


If you go

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23

Where: Joliet Area Historical Museum, 204 N. Ottawa St., Joliet

Tickets: $10 ages 13 or older


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