Pocket Con

76 3Arts supporters
$5,469 raised of $5,000 goal
0 Days 0:00:00 LEFT
Funded on May 20, 2019
    • 109% contributed

Pocket Con is a free single day convention for Chicago youth that focuses on highlighting comics and illustration work by artists of color, particularly African American authors and artists, as well as comics with a primary character who is Black. Pocket Con also features work in the comic genre by other underrepresented groups, such as women, Latinx, LGBTQ artists, and artists with disabilities. Due to the success of past versions, we’re reaching out to our friends and supporters for the first time this year to ask for your help producing the 8th annual Pocket Con, which will take place in fall 2019. As one of the co-founders, along with Kendra Mealy Wilk, this is a labor of love for me and our entire team of producers. We bring kids and teens out of their neighborhoods from all over Chicago and let them see work created by people who mirror themselves, rather than representations created by the primarily white, primarily straight voices most common in major publishers. Young people are empowered to add their own voices to the mix through workshops, roundtables, and art and costume competitions, and each goes home with a goody bag of comics, books, and art, regardless of their personal economic situation. As Pocket Con has gained a following, we need to grow with its success. Your contributions will help us fund the increasing venue and production costs for the convention. Thank you for helping us inspire and highlight young comics of color in Chicago!

About This Project

Pocket Con is the brainchild of myself and youth librarian Kendra Mealy Wilk and was established with the goal of promoting literacy and creativity in young people, increasing visibility for artists and writers of color, and facilitating networking and mentorship opportunities. It is intended to be a celebration of diversity in creativity that presents no economic barriers to anyone. Unlike commercial conventions such as Wizard World and C2E2, we are committed to keeping Pocket Con free to attend, while also not charging exorbitant tabling fees to artists. (We solicit donations of art and comics from attending creators to put in the 600+ goody bags distributed annually at the event but charge no table fees.) 

Since the inaugural Pocket Con in 2012, which attracted around 150 attendees, subsequent versions have grown to more than 2,000 attendees in 2018.  Each year we have outgrown venue after venue, with the convention now having to support more than 70 tables for creators, as well as live music, workshops, and a gaming room, all of which are made completely free and available to everyone. Most of the teens and families who come to Pocket Con have never been to a comic book convention. Some have never had the opportunity to visit downtown Chicago, or to socialize with other teens with different ethnicities and life experiences.

Every person who helps make Pocket Con a reality donates their time, their art, and their music. But we are coming up against harsh realities regarding administrative costs such as venue fees for an event this scale, printing costs, insurance, advertising, and website maintenance needs. We would also like to have funds to provide a modest speaker's fee, transportation, and lodging for one special guest artist, writer, or musician, as well as supplies for art and writing workshops and small awards for contest winners. Finally, we would like to have a small budget to pay for filming at the convention.

 Your help is needed for Pocket Con to continue to thrive and grow. Please help us reach our funding goal and help us assure equal access to art, literacy, and geek culture for young people across Chicago.

Thank yous

Contribute any amount or choose from the levels below.

  • $5
    Pocket Pal: shout-out online ($5.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $10
    Hench Men: “Pocket Con” Thank You Postcard ($9.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $30
    Side Kick: “Pocket Con” Mug + Postcard ($24.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $50
    Vigilante: “Pocket Con” T-Shirt + Mug ($30.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $100
    Super Hero: Framed “Pocket Con” Artwork printed & signed by the artist on an 11 X 17 poster + T-Shirt + Mug + Postcard ($71.00 is tax deductible.)
  • $500
    Omega: We will show up to your space to do a comic-related workshop for your youth! ($250.00 is tax deductible.)

Elgin Bokari T. Smith

Denise & Gary Gardner Awardee

Elgin Bokari T. Smith (aka Kari the Illustrator) is an artist, social activist, and educator who grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Discovering a passion for art in elementary school while drawing his favorite cartoon characters on his homework, Elgin …

View Elgin Bokari T. Smith's profile
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3AP Presenting Partner:

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 Additional support provided by: 

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