Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kids & ComicCon: A Parents Point of View

Today we welcome back Erik, who is going to to help us take a look at our trip to Chicago Comic Con 2011.  Like the anime conventions that we've talked about attending, ComicCon can be an exciting place for kids, but parents need to stay vigilant.   As a parent you can create lasting memories by attending these events with your children if you do a little pre-planning and know what to expect. Thanks for sharign your thoughts Erik!  ~Kristen

Erik and his Magical StarKids love super-heroes; whether it’s Marvel’s Ironman or Avenger’s or DC’s Superman or Wonder Woman, this particular culture has challenged children’s imaginations for decades. And what was once the food for little boy’s minds now draws in little girls with characters like Harley Quinn (DC), Batgirl (DC), Invisible Girl (Marvel), and BlackWidow (Marvel). This creates the perfect opportunity for family togetherness at a comic book convention like Comic-Con. Any Parent, however, needs to be vigilant because this is not like any comic book convention that they may have grown up with. Today, comic books and comic book companies are trying to appease two distinct audiences; adults and children. This is very obvious when going into a convention like Comic-Con, so the problem is; how do you separate the adults from the kids? This can be a lot harder then it sounds depending on how you view appropriateness and your location within the convention center.

Dealers Floor – This is probably one of the easiest places to control within the convention center. Most conventions, Comic-Con included, usually have guide lines explaining what is and isn’t appropriate to display on walls and shelves within a booth. Also, some of the more mature-oriented booth even go as far as posting signage state that they are for more adult tastes. For instance, the booth for Suicidegirls.com did a great job at Comic-Con this year with age appropriate signage and keeping their product shrink-wrapped for the benefit of young, prying eyes. Sadly, sometimes vendors don’t care at all so it is very important that you pay close attention as you wander the hall.

Program Floor – This is the other easy area to handle what you feel is and isn’t appropriate content. All programs tend to come with fairly obvious titles and sometimes short descriptions of their content. This means if you walk into a program discussing the evolution of villains during the early years of the X-men…then you are pretty sure that this is what you are going to get. On the plus side, many conventions do tend to have age-appropriate panels and discussions geared towards the younger crowds. Comic-Con is no exception, and Sunday (which was kids day) held a very interesting group for kids on: "How to be a Superhero within Your Own Community".

Artists Floor – This area tends to be a little trickier then the last two. While most artists tend to hang or showcase art that is fairly ‘all-ages’, this can not be counted on. This becomes a problem where those artists only produce mature content and themes, and just because you are able to get your kids past most of the mature art doesn’t mean they didn’t see it. If you are worried about the kind of exposure that your children come in contact with, I might skip the artist’s floor while they are with you. There is plenty of art in the dealer’s area and even some artist’s willing and happy to discuss the industry and their craft with the next Jack Kirby or Jim Lee.

Special Events – Zombies are everywhere and Comic-Con is no exception. Saturday heralded in the Zombie Apocalypse and Ball. This is no surprise since one of the most popular comics is also a hit TV series: The Walking Dead. This means that zombies and zombie art was everywhere this year. I even saw some of the cutest zombie children costumes that I have ever seen. My point here is that you need to pay attention to your program guide and event calendar for the convention. This could save you a lot of hassle if you walk into a convention and realize too late that the day you planned to go turned into something that was inappropriate for you and your family.

Costumes – Like many conventions, Comic-Con is brimming with people dressed as their favorite hero, villain, or monster. The thing that the first time convention attendee and parent needs to remember is that comic book costumes tend to be fairly… skimpy. Sure you and your kids will see a lot of Storm-troopers, Supermen, and Spidermen walking around but you’ll also see several Slave Princess Leah’s and PowerGirls. Go ahead and Google them, I’ll wait……..

………Now imagine walking into your local convention for the first time with your son or daughter and having to explain the 15 or 20 girls dressed as Slave Leia who seem to be getting A LOT of attention. Personally, I love costuming at a convention. There is nothing quite as enjoyable as running into other pirates or members of your characters super group and being all pirate-ie or superhero-ie. And what kid doesn’t love to dress up as their favorite hero and nothing is cuter then seeing a little Batman or Terra walking around a convention floor as they get compliments for a great costume, they will eat the attention up.

All in all, Comic-Con is something every fan should experience (whether you’re lucky enough to go to San Diego or any of the other Comic-Cons). And going with your kids could create those wonderful bonding moments all parents hope for. But not only these memories, you may also be laying the ground work for a family tradition that you share with your kids and they share with theirs, etc, etc. And if comic books and super heroes aren’t your thing, well that’s okay too because there are tons of conventions for every type of hobby imaginable: sports to electronics, toys to animals. Whatever you do, don’t miss this opportunity. You won’t regret it.

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