BookFest PA to highlight graphic novels

Last year’s BookFest PA had a comic book theme.
Last year’s BookFest PA had a comic book theme. Photo provided

BookFest PA, a celebration of the written and graphical arts, will follow up last year’s comic book theme with a focus on graphic novels, which are novels in comic-strip format. Hosted by Schlow Centre Region Library, the event is once again part of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate the book as an art form, the written word as an art form and the people who draw pictures to make stories as an art form,” said Schlow Library head of adult services and BookFest organizer Maria Burchill.

This year’s BookFest will also be focused on gender diversity in comics and graphic novels.

For co-planning chairwoman and adult services librarian Amy Madison, the role of women and gender is an important topic in pop culture right now. Madison hopes this year’s theme will give BookFest attendees an opportunity to gain a better understanding of gender issues as a whole.

BookFest will include the attendance of several authors and illustrators as well. Tim Hanley, a comic book historian from Nova Scotia, will address the role of women in comics, followed by an open discussion with authors Dave Ebersole, Alitha Martinez, Regine Sawyer and A.Y. Areyoshi.

“We hope that visitors walk away with a sense of wonder and appreciation for people who are able to tell a story through that medium,” Burchill said. She and Madison have been running BookFest for two years and have been graphic novel readers themselves since adolescence.

A total of 12 artists and authors will be attending the event, and will also be available for autographs at the BookFest tent after their talks. Guests can expect to see authors Shawn Alleyne, Indi Martin, Dave Ebersole and True Indigo, to name a few.

“It is a super fun celebration of comics and books in general with a festival atmosphere ... we really think there will be something for everyone,” Madison said.

BookFest will also feature a costume contest for both adults and children, a tabletop gaming station in collaboration with the State College Boardgaming Meetup, caricatures by local artists Seth Young and vendors including Barnes & Noble and Penn State Press.

The event is sponsored by America’s Most Wanted Comics & Collectibles, The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, Comic Swap, Nittany Con, The Pennsylvania Centre for the Book and Udon Publishing.

BookFest began in 2009, however, this will only be the second consecutive themed festival. Before 2015, the event aimed to engage the community through memoirs, local history and fiction books, but both Madison and Burchill said they understand it is time to expand into new and more contemporary genres.


  • What: BookFest PA
  • When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 16
  • Where: Schlow Centre Region Library, 211 S. Allen St., State College
  • Info: www.arts-festival.com/bookfest