Alpine Garrison Star Wars characters are pictured during a visit with kids at a school to promote a reading program. [Photo courtesy of Alpine Garrison]

Storm troopers and superheroes are convening in the courtyard and mingling among the bookshelves at the Grand County Public Library on May 5, as regular library services are suspended for the fourth annual Moab Comic Con.

The library’s free event invites the public to come dressed as a character in a movie, TV series, book, comic or video game.

The fun isn’t just for kids.

Meghan Flynn, head of adult services for Grand County Public Library, said the library expects to host several hundred fans, including costumed adults, as people participate in a variety of crafts, exhibitions and discussions.

“The costume contest is my favorite part of the Moab Library Comic Con,” Flynn said. She described memorable costumes from previous years — Power Puff Girls and Napoleon Dynamite.

“It’s a ton of fun to see people get creative and show off their cosplay skills,” she said. (“Cosplay” is the term for creating and wearing character costumes.)

Use of the word “nerd,” a term commonly used to describe comic book and Star Wars fans, has certainly evolved since the 1980s.

Back then, nerds were those really intelligent people who were not part of the “in” crowd.

Today, nerds are still really intelligent, but their hobbies and interests have become mainstream.

“Comic Con has been a celebration of nerd culture,” said Jake Lybarger, CEO of Comic Talk616. “Nerd culture itself has gotten so big and grown so much that it has become pop culture, now celebrated by people from all walks of life.”

Four traveling exhibitors will visit the Moab Comic Con, with two making their first-ever appearances: Comic Talk616 and Western Slope Ghostbusters.

Comic Talk616 is a podcast for nerds — nerdy discussions, banter and news — sharing advice on how to start a podcast.

Western Slope Ghostbusters is a group of enthusiasts who create props and costumes based on the “Ghostbusters” movies, offering fans an opportunity to see live Ghostbusters characters that they would otherwise never get to see up close.

“We look forward to making new friends and contacts, and letting people enjoy our fandoms as much as we do,” the Ghostbusters said.

Two other exhibitors have been at previous Moab Comic Cons: Shadowfall Workshop and the Star Wars Alpine Garrison.

Shadowfall Workshop, based in Colorado, makes custom-order props and costumes, specializing in video game characters. During their panel, the group will discuss techniques for making props and costumes.

The Star Wars Alpine Garrison is a Grand Junction-based branch of the worldwide Star Wars fan club known as the 501st Legion. The Alpine Legion covers a geographical area that encompasses Utah, and there will also be representatives from the Mountain Garrison, which covers Colorado and Wyoming.

“I think that Star Wars is seeing some increased popularity right now because of the recent release of ‘The Last Jedi’ and [the] upcoming release of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story,’ but Star Wars has always stood on its own as a super popular fandom,” Flynn said.

The 501st Legion will discuss the history of the group and the charitable organizations it supports. Part of the organization’s charter specifically mentions charity and volunteer work as an aspect of the group’s mission.

“We are looking for individuals who love Star Wars and would like to become members of any of these groups to do other events throughout the year, here in Moab, and beyond,” said Henry Evans, a local member of the 501st Legion.

Matthew S. Bonner-Moss of Comic Talk616 said Comic Con and nerd culture is a way for people to temporarily put aside differences and celebrate a shared passion together.

“Comic Con is a celebration of the stories that we love,” Bonner-Moss said. “You can find that most people have at least some interests that overlap with your own. This could be anything from comics to video games to anime to even old comic strips. One time I saw Spy vs. Spy (a comic strip featured in ‘Mad’ magazine) as somebody’s costume. I told my stepfather about it, and he was instantly intrigued, even though he is not a typical ‘comic book person.’”

Activities like face painting, craft projects, and a “crazy-hair-styling” station will take place throughout the event. Grand County High School’s Native American Club will serve food in a courtyard booth. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes, and a youth art contest will be judged in three age groups.

Rules and parameters for both contests, as well as general information regarding the Comic Con, can be found at Library-Comic-Con.

“We are going to have a ton of fun celebrating fandom and all things comic con!” Flynn said in the event’s press release. “It’s a great opportunity to highlight a number of fictional genres that appeal to all ages, such as comic books, sci-fi, graphic novels, anime, manga, fantasy and more.”

Star Wars and Ghostbusters come alive at Moab Comic Con

“We look forward to making new friends and contacts, and letting people enjoy our fandoms as much as we do.”

When: Saturday, May 5, from 10 to 4 p.m.

Where: Moab City Library, 257 E. Center St.

Cost: Free

For more information visit: Library-Comic-Con