By now, everyone in Vermont must know that caped-crusader fan Sen. Patrick Leahy pops up in the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight. On June 25, the Associated Press reported that Leahy orchestrated a Montpelier premiere of the movie six days before its official opening as a benefit for the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Two Saturday, July 12, screenings at the Capitol Theater will be preceded by a 5:30 p.m. reception at the Capitol Plaza Hotel featuring the senator and Barry Meyer, CEO of Warner Brothers, which is distributing the $180 million film.
But before he faces an audience of $50 ticket holders, Leahy will have a word with some fellow hardcore comics fans kids. At 2 p.m., he'll show up at the Dark Knight Comics Club, a weekly Kellogg-Hubbard program where kids 8 and up sharpen their inking and storytelling skills.
Ben T. Matchstick, the library's Children's Programming Coordinator, started the club last September. "We'll chat about the movie and kids will ask him questions," says the local theater artist and founder of Montpelier's Cardboard Teck Instantute, who's also a self-professed "huge comic book fan. I'm trying to get the kids to really want to show off their work," Matchstick adds. "It's a really great chance for us to see a side of Leahy no one gets to see, where he just geeks out on Batman comics."
Though the club meeting is a closed event, Matchstick says the public is invited to a subsequent performance of Burlington band Space Tiger featuring 9-year-old rocker Aidan Patterson Deutsch on the library lawn.
When he founded the club, Matchstick was "specifically trying to target older boys to come back to the library," he says. Senator Leahy clearly has fond memories of his own childhood library the Kellogg-Hubbard to which he's donated the royalties from another cinematic Batman appearance and voiceover work on the animated series.
Leahy won't be the last star guest to grace the comics club Matchstick says upcoming meetings will host Burlington's James Kochalka and New Hampshire picture-book artist D.B. Johnson. Do comic books belong in the library? Absolutely, says Matchstick: "It's a different kind of reading, but a very sophisticated kind of reading. Having a comics club should be a prerequisite of a children's library."