Last year my boys and I participated in Free Comic Book Day. This year we attended our first comic book convention. We had no idea what to expect, other than my wallet would be lighter by then end of the day.
Before going I texted a friend who is a veteran convention attender and learned:
- Having the kids bring a backpack was a good idea
- Conventions offer good deals so I should be prepared (ie bring enough money) to stock up. (See our haul below)
My boys are early risers so, we left for the convention about the same time it opened. I figured it would be pretty empty at 10:15 am. I was wrong. Very wrong.
I had also assumed that the ticket I had purchased would allow us to enter the building. No, the ticket allowed me the privilege of waiting in one of about 6 lines of people that were 80 people deep for a wrist band. I’m sure this was to prevent a dangerously large of crowd entering the main building at once. But still, it was unexpected and hard to explain to a 7 and 4 year old. They reminded me on more than once that it was their least favorite part of the experience. In return I reminded them that if they hadn’t waited in line they would not have seen or done all the other awesome things they did.
Shortly after getting into the convention floor, my 4 year old started saying he was hungry. It was 11:30 by that point and the refreshments line was 3 people deep. Having worked in a theme park, I knew that line would steadily grow until about 3. So pretty much the first thing we did was eat. There weren’t enough tables and chairs so we ate on the floor (not off the floor). Next the boys spotted ice cream, so the three of us split a cup of mint chocolate chip. Sharing food is basic theme park practice for me, as it saves a little bit of money (and these were theme park food prices).
I definitely recommend parents spending money on food before other things, because those other things are awesome and expensive so it is easy to blow through cash leaving nothing for food.
So here are a couple of other things I witnessed:
- Almost no one wore jackets in below freezing weather. I can only assume that this was to avoid the hefty coat check fee of $1.
- There was beer at the convention and I’m pretty sure it cost more than a dollar.
- People literally jumped out of moving cars in the parking lot. Not something I endorse.
- Everything costs money. It adds up. While there may be deals on comic books, I wouldn’t recommend going only for the deals. Go for the atmosphere.
- I had a hard time finding titles I was looking for and the prices were nice, but not fire sale prices. I was focusing on the trade paperbacks and hardcovers. No clue on single issue deals.
- My kids had an awesome time, but at one point I wondered if there was enough for them to see at their eye level.
- The organizers could have also called it “Sword Con”. Sooo many vendors selling swords.
- Tip: Don’t try to meet someone there. Meet them before and drive over together.
I missed out on a couple of talks, and Q&A’s that I was interested in attending. Honestly, I don’t know how long my boys would have sit still in them. But next year I’m tempted to get the full weekend pass so I can have a little more freedom.
This was the first time this convention was held in my city. From what I gathered from others the first year always has problems, but the next year and the year are almost always better. With as crowded as it was I hope it returns next year.
One last thing: Special thanks to the car dealership that brought in a mini cooper and let my kids climb play in it. I think it may have been the only free activity for them. At least the only one we found.