Comic Con with Kids – Convention Survival Guide

Me and My Comic Con Kids

It all started with a small comic con in High Wycombe for me, my first con team. I found via social media that a comic con was happening in my hometown, and being run by a friend – I thought this would be absolutely amazing to go to and instantly began sharing everything to all of my friends. As a result I was asked if I wanted to join the team, not only to join the team, but to sit with and look after their main headliner guest – Mr Chris Barrie – the one and only Rimmer from Red Dwarf (check the MCM London Red Dwarf Panel here).

Who would say no to such an opportunity?

I was blown away! Straight away I thought ‘my kids will absolutely love this’ and indeed that was their very first encounter, as well as mine, of the comic con world.

Seeing how much they loved it also helped ignite my passion for comic cons. I have not only volunteered at them but I have now moved onto organising and assisting with these smaller comic cons around the country.

I have 5 kids (and my 6th on her way!) and every one of them (so far) has enjoyed every comic con I have been a part of, and this has opened many new doors and exciting times for us all. I have seen so many different aspects of the comic con world that have amazed and shocked me. I have psoriasis (which I have loads on my face) so for me I love to cosplay with masks to hide that a feel like a different person. I know this isn’t the right way to go about it and that I should be proud of my face. Which led me to joining Coaching for Geeks, which is an amazing group that people can turn to for advice and give advice to everything in life – it’s a community of positivity and understanding and helped me with my confidence. I am proud to be a part of the group and look forward to help Coaching for Geeks progress and expand.

 

Preparation is EVERYTHING

It’s very true especially when going out for the day to a comic con you will need supplies. Now I am a true believer in taking a packed lunch for two reasons one to save money because of the venues prices and secondly you have the food with you so you don’t need to queue for food with hungry kids reminding you that they are starving! Some people prefer not to carry a bag around with them all day especially with drinks. Most venues offer a cloakroom facility to dump your bag if required. Some venues will not let you take food in so please check before you take anything with you.

Do not be put off with taking a pushchair with you, yes these venues can be packed with people but pushchairs are amazing pieces of equipment they transport your child and are great for carrying everything on, they are also great to incorporate into an awesome cosplay. If your pushchair cannot get around easily this means that it is not wheelchair friendly and the venue has failed in providing access. This is not your fault..

Surviving is making sure you have or have access to the things you need remember that bag searches will be done at most venues so don’t carry silly things, ( you will not need to trim your child’s toe nails at the comic con).

 

The Dreaded Queues

Us British take pride in our queuing, but that soon gets thrown out of the window when your two year old announces that they need the toilet or they get so bored that they decide to make sure everyone in the queue knows. Queuing is a part of every event, when so many people have had the same idea as you and all want to go and enjoy themselves then queuing WILL happen.

Comic cons for me are always a friendly atmosphere and you’re never far from someone in an awesome costume that can take your kids’ imagination to a new level. Also take something with you; a toy, book or even an electronic device to keep them occupied. This will help your transition through the queue so much easier for you and your sanity.

The Beacon

At any big event like MCM I will always ensure that any of my kids (that are old enough to understand) know exactly where to go if they become separated from us. At MCM Birmingham they had a giant inflatable Minion, which was easily the meeting point if this happened. Other ideas are to give them a mobile for this event or identity band or simply a phone number so if they are found it makes it easy for staff to get in touch.

I strongly recommend a walk around the site to get some knowledge of the layout and some venues/events release a map beforehand online, or at the event itself.

Don’t Forget to Have fun!

Remember comic cons are a family event so enjoy it! Crowds and queues are the two top negative things that came up when I interviewed other parents. Just remember to be patient and you’ll do fine. You’re there for a day, or the weekend, so you will have another opportunity to do or see it again. Don’t be afraid to ask a cosplayer for a photo (that’s what they love). Don’t be afraid to cosplay, it’s awesome and you will look awesome. Just relax and enjoy, you’re amongst fellow enthusiasts.

Teachable Moments

This is a great opportunity for any pocket money to be spent. As you might be aware there is absolutely loads of traders at events selling things for all ages. They are hard to miss and tempt everyone. I have used this as a way for my kids to learn how to save and also to get used to doing transactions; it gives a great sense of responsibility for them. If you are aware of an event coming up soon that you will be attending it use this as a bargaining chip. Chores can be done for spending money etc. I personally live on a tight budget so this works well for me.

 

Survival summary

  • Preparation is everything
  • Keep hydrated and antibacterial hand gel is a must (Con flu is real)
  • Learn the layout, get a meeting point set up, learn where the toilets are
  • Keep the kids entertained in queues
  • Enjoy it – even if it’s super busy it’s not as bad as you think it will be!

 

MCM Birmingham Comic Con with Kids (while also being press)

My experience at MCM Birmingham on the press team for CfG with two of my boys (Ollie 9 and Kenzie 12) was great and made our day that extra special. I had to queue with them, which they did get bored with as it does take a while. We did silly games like eye spy, time flew by I saw a dad quickly rush out with his toddler for a wee break and got talking to another dad that was taking his 3 year old to a comic con for the first time. His kid was bored and dressed like Hulk. I pointed out that it won’t be long now and I set him a challenge to try and pull the bars on the barrier apart, as he was the hulk after all. I find it easy to distract kids from being bored – I think it comes with having so many!

We were eventually through and into the event with people spilling into the hall like water flowing through all the aisles.

Robs children, Josh and Kensie posing withe the Fst and Furious Live car at MCM Birmingham Comic COnWe were first faced with two cars from the Fast and Furious live shows which my two boys wanted to get a picture with. I decided against it straight away with the promise of returning later as so many people were spilling in. We quickly did a layout check and found that the giant inflatable minion was the perfect place for a meeting place if we became split up. At this point I made sure they had a phone with them and let them go off without me, so I could go and join a press panel with Michael Rooker. I was there for nearly an hour and it didn’t happen at that time as Michael was too busy signing autographs. My boys met me at the press office to grab the packed lunch as I had requested them to do so via a text.

We then had a session with the amazing Silver Sabres group. They taught a session of seven including my two boys and two of the Coaching for Geeks team how to defend themselves with lightsabres. It was interesting watching their confidence grow as they had so many people watching them. The instructor quickly had their attention and made them feel at ease.

 

 

Sean Gunn from Guardians of the Galaxy at MCM Birmingham Comic ConTime just flew by at the event and we had to go to the rescheduled meeting with the Guardians of the Galaxy stars. My boys sat in the press office, separated from the interview room by a MCM backing board. As soon as Sean Gunn who plays Kraglin and also motion capture for Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy arrived, they were ushered up to the side of the room by one if the MCM press team.

Michael Rooker, Yondu from Guardains of teh Galaxy at MCM Birmingham Comic ConI was busy taking photos along whilst the press conference took place, and the look on their faces was just great. The interview then swapped to Michael Rooker who plays Yondu, my boys managed to come and stand at the back with me which was an amazing experience for me and them in this tiny room. The interview was called time on and Michael stood up and said to my boys “do you guys have any questions” they both got stage fright and he then asked and answered the question “you want to know if I can still whistle?” and then went on to prove he can do the famous Yondu whistle. The boys were blown away that this big star spoke to them.

Robin Bates from Coaching for geeks rides a white tiger at MCM Birmingham Comic Con 2018We went to watch Robin on his Coaching for Geeks cosplay Q&A and the MCM Live Stage, with a huge Tiger.

It was great to see Robin, the Coaching for Geeks CEO on stage teaching the audience all about the CfG mission and cosplaying stories with some of the UK’s top cosplayers.

After this we had a good wander around to check everything out and speak to other parents about their experiences at conventions.

The day was absolutely amazing and made that extra special with Coaching for Geeks. Kenzie was cosplaying as a Call of Duty character and had been asked twice for a photo, which made him feel so good and was his overall highlight. Our feet were worn out and we’d all had a fantastic time!

A chewbacca cosplayer from Star Wars at MCM Birmingham Comic Con 2018

My survival tricks all worked. We all survived. And even met a wookiee.

Roll on the next experience!

 


Rob Turner

Reporting for Coaching for Geeks


Adam trained with the silver sabres and wrote up his Jedi like thoughts

Check out the rest of our con coverage, including the survival guide

Join the Coaching for Geeks group, just like Rob did!