A Parent's First Comic-Con
I threw on a cape, gathered my family, and took the pop culture plunge!
A few years ago (okay, more than just a few, but honestly, I can't remember how long ago it was, it was that long ago), my brother-in-law and nephew stopped at our house on their way to the San Diego Comic-Con. "How nice for them," I thought, "to be able to enjoy such an odd, little convention together." Little did I know that in just a few short years I would be attending the Phoenix ComicCon with my own family.
The first Comic-Con was held in March 1970, in San Diego, where 100 people attended, in an effort to gain interest in a larger convention. Later that year, a 3-day convention was held, with 300 attendees. Most recently, over 130,000 people attend that convention, with additional conventions in nearly every state of the Union, as well as a few in Canada, and even one I found in Ireland. Apparently people like their comic books and heroes, including my children and husband (the biggest kid of all).
So, this year, we decided to attend the Phoenix ComicCon. We purchased our tickets, did our research, and prepared to attend one day of a four day event. Our first surprise was the traffic getting off the freeway (a good five miles from the event itself). Was all this for the convention? Surely not. Was there some other event taking place on a Friday morning in downtown Phoenix? Nope. It was all for ComicCon. Which meant finding parking wasn't as easy as we had imagined. But we prevailed, and found a space a couple blocks away and walked to the convention center. Which actually added to the fun of attending, because it meant we got a glimpse of what the day would hold, as we watched hundreds of people walking through the streets of downtown Phoenix dressed as Darth Vader, Captain America, Spider-man, characters from Pokemon, and innumerable other personalities.
Our second surprise was the number of people who attended. To say it was crowded would be an understatement, especially as the day went on. The Phoenix ComicCon reported that more than 106,000 people attended this year, which is a whole lot of people. Often, in crowded places, people can get rude and pushy, but I was impressed by how friendly everyone was to each other. Most everyone was willing to stop and have their picture taken, or answer questions about their costume, or give information about how to find a certain event.
Additionally, we were surprised at how many people dressed up in costumes. I had heard that cosplay (“costume play”) was a big deal, but had no idea how many adults dressed up like their favorite character. It was like Halloween for adults…during the day…in a convention center. Everyone stopped to admire the really great costumes, or simply comment on something they found interesting. And there were plenty of interesting costumes, believe me!
If you haven't been to a regional Comic-Con, my advice is:
1. Be prepared. Look up the workshops you might want to attend or the celebrities/comic book writers and illustrators you might want to meet, and create a schedule before-hand so you don't miss out. If there's something or someone you really want to see, get there early and stand in line.
2. Be flexible. It is crowded and there's a ton to see.
3. Be prepared to pay for autographs and/or celebrity photos. Comic book creators will usually sign for free, but most of the film and TV celebrities will charge anywhere from $25 to $75 for their signatures or photographs.
4. Have fun!
Overall, a Comic-Con is a great family event. It's creative, the perfect place to people-watch, and an outing that can't be re-created by Disney, Universal Studios, or any other amusement park. Give it a try...your kids will enjoy it a whole lot more than a day at the museum.
with additional reporting by Mike Nappa
All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.