Published on February 16th, 2015 | by Marissa Lieberman

Special Guests for Your Library’s Anime and Comic Con, Part I

Tri-State Area (NY/NJ/PA) Edition, Part 1

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? You paid a lot of money for your convention ticket, and then spent an hour or more waiting to get into such-and-such panel to see so-and-so in person only to sadly watch as the panel room doors close with you on the wrong side. Similarly, let’s say you actually get into the coveted panel. Most likely, you’re seated so far in the back of the room that the only way you can really see what’s happening is by looking at those giant screens that record the panel. This is where smaller conventions, like those held in libraries, can really shine.

Library conventions are becoming more mainstream and have the potential to create a unique experience for attendees where they can interact with industry professionals on a more intimate level without the long lines and expensive ticket fees. When planning my library convention, Tosho-con, I always start with securing at least one special guest, someone who will generate early buzz for our event, can be featured on our flyers and social media accounts, and will bring people in. Special guests can include voice actors, musicians, artists, authors, etc. I have found that people are often very willing to negotiate prices, especially for non-profit events. It also helps if your special guests are local, limiting travel expenses to just gas or a train ticket. That being said, most professionals will travel for conventions. Below is a list of five performers, artists and voice actors located in the Tri-State area that I highly recommend for library events. Quoted rates from industry professionals may have changed or be subject to change.


Name: Michele Knotz
Location: New Jersey
Specialty: Voice actress
Notable Roles: Pokemon (voice of Jessie and various Pokemon)
Notes: Known for her “Knotz Your Everyday Panel,” where in addition to talking about herself, she calls up participants to show off their talents. Michele even brings her own prizes! She’s great with all ages. I met her at a library convention, and she will be appearing at Tosho-con 2015. She is very easy to work with and has a huge fan following.


misako_rocks_Name: Misako Rocks! (Misako Takashima)
Location: Brooklyn
Specialty: Manga artist and author. Her manga is published in Japan and the U.S
Notable Works: Rock and Roll Love (2014), Detective Jermain (2008)
Notes: Misako attended Tosho-con in 2010 and 2011. She is very easy to work with. The first year she did a presentation about her life, including what it was like to move from Japan to the U.S, and how she became a manga artist. The second year, she did an art workshop for kids and teens. Misako is a regular guest at libraries in Brooklyn and New York City, as well as an annual guest at New York Comic Con and Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Sakura Matsuri festival.


omnytaikoName: OMNY Taiko
Location: New York City
Specialty: Japanese drum (taiko) performance group and school
Notes: Taiko are large, Japanese drums. OMNY Taiko will typically do a 20 minute performance. Following the performance, the audience is invited up to play the drums. I have worked with OMNY Taiko three times at two different libraries; they are very easy to work with and their program is fun, engaging and great for all ages.



Yoshi-and-Samurai-Sword-SoulName: Yoshi Amao
Location: New York City
Specialty: Actor, game show host, comedian and creator of the Samurai Sword Soul Theater Company
Notes: The Samurai Sword Soul Theater Company will be performing at Tosho-con 2015. I have seen them perform at Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Sakura Matsuri festival and at another library’s convention. The performance combines sword fighting, Japanese culture, humor and drama. Yoshi answers emails quickly, is negotiable on his fee, and is easy to work with. Their enthusiastic and professional performance will be enjoyed by people of all ages.


About the Author

"Marissa Lieberman is a children’s librarian at the East Orange Public Library in New Jersey. She graduated with her MLS from Queens College in 2011, and has worked part-time at various libraries in Nassau County, New York before moving to New Jersey. An anime fangirl for over thirteen years, Marissa is grateful to be able to share her passion with her library patrons by running the tween anime club and organizing Tosho-con, a full day anime and comic convention. Marissa has presented professionally about anime and manga; she is also a reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), School Library Journal, and No Flying, No Tights. She created based on her experiences doing anime programming and manga collection development."

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