Now in its 13th year, Staple! Independent Media Expo is set to deliver a high-wattage lineup of panelists and guest artists as it makes its debut at the Millennium Youth Complex in East Austin this weekend. The comics convention, which features more than 200 exhibitors, also includes a full slate of panels and an arcade, according to event organizers.

A two-day conference that runs Saturday and Sunday and features seven hours of panels, the expo’s new location will allow for more space than in previous years, founder Chris Nicholas said.

“We were able to add about 28 tables to the floor plan and it’s going to work out really well,” Nicholas said. “The complex itself has a huge parking lot. … The roller skating rink is where all over our exhibitors are going to be setting up, and then we’ll be using the theater for all of the panels and presentations.”

Notable guest artists and panelists set to appear at this year’s event include Austin notables Kevin Garcia—contributing writer to “Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z,” Vol. 14, artist and business owner Meghann Rosales as well as Kengo Hioki, a prolific muralist and celebrated musician (Peelander-Z) who is also based in Austin.

Nicholas said he is excited about the Staple! debut of guest artist Hope Larson, a New York Times best-selling author and the current writer of “Batgirl.”

“We’ve been wanting to get her out for years and this is the first year she was able to make it,” he said. “She’s been making comics for years and years; she has a lot of credits to her name.”

A full list of guest artists and panelists can be found here.

Fabian Rangel Jr. is an emerging comic book writer from Corpus Christi, Texas, whose credits include "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Jim Henson's Storyteller: Dragons."[/caption]

While all of the programming is impressive, Nicholas said he said he is most looking forward to “Comics in the Classroom: An Educator’s Roundtable,” which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

“They’re going to talk about how they use comics in the classroom—either as a teaching tool or teaching kids how to make comics, teaching them art or literature, and so I’m really excited to have that going. We’re trying to reach out to local teachers to let them know about that.”

The complete schedule can be found here.

Also appearing at the expo is Corpus Christi comic book writer Fabian Rangel Jr. His credits include original works “Space Riders,” “Doc Unknown” and “Tarantula.” In addition, Rangel has also written for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Dragons.”

“I've been doing comic cons for almost seven years, and this will be my sixth Staple. So, I've been doing it about as long as I've been tabling. It's one of two shows I do every year no matter what (the other being HeroesCon),” Rangel said. “One of my favorite things to happen at Staple was getting to meet Kevin Eastman (co-creator of “TMNT”) for the first time, giving him a copy of one of my comics, and him asking me to sign it for him. That was rad.”

Rangel said Staple! has a unique perspective not often found at other conventions.

“I love Staple because the focus is on creators (artists and writers) rather than on media guests like at most comic cons these days,” he said, adding: “This is a convention for fans of comics and art.”