Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday and I’m super excited to bring my son and see which comics we come home with! In my years going to Free Comic Book Day, I’ve come up with a couple of tips – most of these for parents, but great for anyone attending that day.
When you Hulksmash together unique, nerdy and lunch, you get our attention. That’s why we just knew we’d have to eventually feature a buddy of ours – Jimmy Ettele – on 8BitDad. Jimmy is a father to two daughters and during the school year, packs their lunched with classic comic book covers recreated on napkins with a ballpoint pen.
Who doesn’t love a good surprise in their lunch? Over the years, we’ve talked to two dads who have put Post-its into their kids’ lunches as well as one who just used the bag as his canvas. But this is the first time we’ve seen a napkin. We even snuck back to breakfast and talked to a dad making nerdy pancakes. Now, all we need is a dude that carves baby carrots into superheroes and we’re set.
(Spoiler alert, we know a dude that does that sort of thing, so stay tuned.)
I am a comic book geek and so is my seven-year-old daughter. Before we start pointing fingers, let me just say that I blame myself for her condition. When you raise a child in a house filled with comic books, where the living room bookcase has Two-Face book-ends and your art supplies are kept in Hellboy lunchboxes, a certain level of interest in the medium is bound to develop. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when the concept of the “comic convention” stumbled onto my child’s cultural radar.
She’d seen pictures of Comic Cons online. She’d even seen conventions parodied in her favorite Simpsons comics. She knew what the word “cosplay” meant and she wanted to experience it for herself. Through the eyes of a child, pictures from a comic convention look vaguely like snapshots from a trip to Disney World, except EVERYONE is in costume. It looks like non-stop fun…to a kid who’s never been there before. However, I’ve been going to comic-cons for over twenty years and I knew that, while they can be fun, they can also be poorly organized, crowded, smelly, dull, and vaguely soul-crushing.
Every con is different. So, since my daughter had set her mind to experiencing her first convention, I began my due diligence to try to make sure that her first trip to a comic-con would be a positive experience.
Don’t tell my wife, but I developed a lot of secret personal agendas once I became a parent. For example, I was determined to convince my child that Jim Henson’s Labyrinth was an epic movie (Accomplished!), I wanted my kid to love Donald Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown mysteries (Achievement unlocked!), and I was dead-set that my daughter would have perfect movie theatre manners (Hat trick! She sometimes even shushes me!). But, if I’m being honest, more than anything else, I really wanted my daughter to love comic books. I am a big comics nerd and it was just a major part of my life that I wanted to share with her.
And, thankfully, she does. She really, really does love reading comics. She’s got her own ever-growing collection of comics and graphic novels and, every time we get in the car, she has to bring along a few comics to read in the back seat. I’m a lucky dad.
However, I realize that there are dads out there who might have to contend with children who might not be interested in comic books and would rather spend their time participating in sports (What?) or academics (No!). But, believe me, there’s still hope.