Ricky Luoto may well be on his way to becoming a great comic book author.

The 13-year-old Santa Rosa boy won a Boys and Girls Club comic book writing contest, keeps an art binder with tidbits about his favorite characters, and Saturday at Petaluma’s inaugural LumaCon, slew his fair share of villains in a family-friendly bit of cosplay and Amtgard.

“What are cosplay and Amtgard?” you may be wondering.

For the uninitiated, those are “costume play” and live-action roleplaying in which players use foam-padded swords and shields in make-believe battles.

A couple thousand kids and several adults, many dressed as their favorite superheroes and comic book characters, gleefully geeked out together at LumaCon, the first of what organizers plan as an annual Petaluma comic book convention.

Famous writers and illustrators in comics and related genres signed autographs, drew custom artwork and imparted their professional wisdom to fanboys and -girls for an overflowing crowd in Herzog Hall at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds.

Santa Rosa resident Stephan Pastis, who draws the “Pearls Before Swine” strip, Tom Yeates of “Prince Valiant,” Brent Anderson of “Astro City,” J.W. Rinzler of “The Making of Star Wars,” “Jane’s World” author Paige Braddock and others spoke with fans and signed memorabilia.

Luoto showed off his signed copy of a “Star Wars” book from Rinzler, who also lives locally. In addition to the intergalactic adventure, Luoto is a big fan of the Marvel Comics character Groot.

“Groot is cool because he can be destroyed, but as long as there is a splinter left, he can come back to life,” Luoto explained. His own comic book is called “Death Arrow,” which he described as a spinoff tale similar that of to Hawkeye, the archer in the “The Avengers.”

Rinzler, a writer for Lucasfilm and “Star Wars” stories, said he was pleasantly surprised to see so many fans Saturday.

In addition to signing his “Star Wars” books, Rinzler was promoting his new animated film and digital book “Riddle of the Black Cat,” which is based on Edgar Allen Poe’s stories and is available on iTunes.

“You never know whether you’re going to get 10 people or thousands,” he said of Saturday’s turnout. “It seems like anytime you throw a comic-con, people show up.”

The convention was conceived as a pro-literacy event, bucking the old-school idea that comic books and graphic novels don’t encourage reading. A team of librarians from Casa Grande High School, Petaluma High School and the Sonoma County Petaluma library organized the daylong event.

“It’s amazing,” said Diana Spaulding, the new teen librarian at the Petaluma branch. “We’ve had so much support from the artists and writers, who volunteered their time to come and present and meet with the students.”

More than two dozen high school students volunteered at the event, and student groups sold refreshments and helped direct activities.

Attendance was brisk, with more than 200 people streaming through the doors in the first half-hour.

“I think there was pent-up demand for a comic book convention in town,” Spaulding said.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

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