Tag Archives: Salt Lake Comic Con

To Infinity and Beyond! The Legacy of ‘Buzz Lightyear of Star Command’

The good news is, I will be attending Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX event next week. I am planning perhaps my most intense cosplay ever for the occasion: I am going as Mira Nova from the TV show Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.  This will involve painting my face blue and wearing a wig, and I am currently working on sewing the dress (and like all of my sewing projects it’s consuming my life).  So far, it’s been a lot of hard work and a lot of time and money.  There are pieces of the project I bought as far back as October. Why am I doing this? Why am I cosplaying an obscure character from an obscure TV show in hopes that a few people at FanX will recognize me?

Because it’s worth it.  If you ever saw BLoSC back in the early 2000s and knew what a brilliant show it was, you would see.

Buzz facing off with his nemisis in “The Adventure Begins.” Via dvdizzy.com

The irony of all this is that I was never a huge fan of Toy Story, where Buzz Lightyear, the Little Green Men, and Emperor Zurg originated. But right after Toy Story 2 came out, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command premiered with a feature-length event, The Adventure Begins, starring Tim Allen.  Then the show came on ABC and Disney’s One Saturday Morning. I couldn’t tell you at what point I fell in love with the show or specifically why.  But the show’s female lead, Mira Nova, grabbed my attention quickly and kept it.  The humor was a big draw, too. Booster was okay but I really loved the zany robot XR. As for Buzz Lightyear himself, well, for me it was never about him.  At least at that age.

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command took place in a very engaging original world even while making riffs on Star Trek and other popular science fiction, but it was also never afraid to poke fun at itself.  Some of the episodes veer off towards the cheesy side, some are brilliant, some are better animation quality than others.  The show very rarely referred to its Toy Story origins, except for in the “Strange Invasion” and “Stranger Invasion” arc where it becomes the butt of a brilliant joke that I know better than to spoil here.

 

via dvdizzy.com

I’ll give you the scoop on the main cast, since you may not have seen the show. Buzz Lightyear himself in the show is a little less nuanced than the Toy Story version, a straight-up, stereotypical hero who is sometimes so caught up with himself that he isn’t aware that the ladies find him desirable. But he’s occasionally interesting to watch, as in when he saves the day in “Speed Trap.” 

Booster is a large alien who likes to eat food, and he also has a thirst to prove himself as a hero. There aren’t any moments that stick out for me except for “Plasma Boy,” where he falls in love with a girl but has to compete her boyfriend.

Via blosc wikia

XR the robot is the main comic relief, with his killer one-liners, smart attitude, and tendency to blow up in nearly every episode.  However, he gets to be a hero on multiple occasions, including in “Enemy Without a Face” when all of his flesh-and-blood friends start fighting each other.

via Disney wikia

Now, the meat: Mira Nova is a princess of an alien race known as the Tangeans that can “ghost” through solid objects.  In addition to her powers and beauty, however, she is a level-headed counterbalance to Buzz’s high-and-mighty act and the voice of reason for Booster and XR. Her best episode?  In “The Shape Stealer,” Star Command goes on a lockdown and Buzz is trapped outside with the nemesis.  No one else can get to him.  She puts her helmet on and ghosts through the armored security of the space station. Flawless.

via blosc.wikia

Mira isn’t overly sexualized on the show, but she’s comfortable with her femininity while kicking butt for a living. Maybe there’s some flirtation with Buzz at the beginning of the series but she saves the show by being the one woman who doesn’t want him. I think she’s mostly attached to Buzz because he’s her hero and her team leader. Mira does get a bounty hunter love interest in the episode “Star Crossed,” and he was okay, I wasn’t terribly attached to her relationship with him, but the episode itself was one of the best in the series. She is definitely a heroine for any young girl to look up to, and I can say that even though she would never make the official lineup she is my favorite Disney princess.

(Also, Mira was voiced by actress Nicole Sullivan, who also played Shego in Kim Possible.  I have asked repeatedly for Sullivan to come to Salt Lake and it hasn’t happened.  So if they won’t bring me Mira Nova, I’ll bring Mira Nova to them–aka that’s part of the reason I’m doing the cosplay.)

Buzz with his fellow ranger Ty Parsec. via Tumblr

While the central cast is the glue that holds the series together, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command offers a host of supporting and minor characters that are to die for.  Other heroes of the series include Commander Nebula, the head of Star Command; Buzz’s love interest biologist Osma Ferbana; the President of the Galactic Alliance, the adorable LGMs; and Cosmo the diner operator. The villains are delicious: there’s Zurg with his grubs and brainbots but also the malicious Gravitina, the sinister energy vampire NOS4A2 who delivered some of the most thrilling episodes of the series, the egotistical Torque, and Buzz’s traitorous old friend Warp Darkmatter, now in the employ of Zurg.  We even get a few characters in between, like the Star Command Psychiatrist, Mira’s father priggish father King Nova, and the scumbags on Tradeworld.  If you like the worlds of Star Wars or Guardians of the Galaxy you will love this show. 

My mother is a huge fan of BLoSC, and she says it’s not just a show for kids but there’s humor for the adults as well. Watch The Adventure Begins if you get the chance, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.  If someone knows of a way to watch the show online (preferably for free) let me be the first to know, I may start looking myself, but Disney seriously needs to release the show in DVD/Blu-Ray so the fans aren’t as tempted to pirate it.  In the meantime, I am getting very, very close to finishing my Mira Nova cosplay, and I will have pictures for you.  Hope to see you at FanX!

The Other Kid from Brooklyn

Let me preface this by saying that I have been waiting a long time to write this.

I haven’t read the comics, but those who have know that the plot of Captain America: Civil War will be making major deviations from the Civil War storyline in the comics.  In particular, this version will depict Captain America’s pressing personal crisis of the terrible, tragic fate of his best friend, Bucky Barnes. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have teased that Civil War will be a psychological thriller.  Having been through so much with Bucky and because of Bucky, Steve Rogers is tied heart and soul to his friend, perhaps so much that Steve could be blind to his dark side. Until the movie comes out, we will have to wait for the details of how Bucky’s situation will divide the Avengers  Analyzing the last two films that Bucky has appeared in, we must ask ourselves the question, what is the appeal of the Winter Soldier to the legions of fans who, like myself, have fallen in love with him, and why is his story making such an impact on the Avengers?

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Breaking the World Record

It goes without saying, but Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 was amazing and I had a great time.  There was a lot that I did and didn’t get to do, but probably one of the most memorable parts of my experience was helping break the World Record for the most people dressed as Comic Book characters in one place.

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My Review of Salt Lake Comic Con

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(L-R) Liz Cole, Jake Dietz, and Kevin Grew of The Geeky Mormon

Well, another edition of Salt Lake Comic Con has come to a close, and it’s six months until the next major event, FanX, so all we have now is discussing this major event and reliving it again and again until Easter weekend. One of the hashtags that the folks at Comic Con were encouraging people to use was #EPIC. I can’t think of a better way to describe Salt Lakes third comic convention. It seemed like epic was everywhere, from the guests, to the panels and even the new features. Even our coverage from The Geeky Mormon was epic, as we had all of our major contributors there (Erica is not pictured above, but trust me, she was there). I am sure Kevin and Liz will be offering up some posts about their experiences in the near future, but like all of us, they are probably still recovering. Especially Kevin, who ran his own booth there all weekend. If you didn’t stop by the Ryel Comics booth, then shame on you. It was great. A must do at future events. I had previously only interacted with Kevin and Liz online, so it was great to meet them in person, and see firsthand that we have some very quality people contributing to the site.

Alright, enough of that. Let’s get down to business. The Con. How was it? How did it compare to previous years? What could have been better? Well, I was there all three days, and had the good fortune this time around to be there as a VIP, so I got to see some of those VIP perks firsthand. Was it worth it? I’ll let you know. The way I see it, the convention is broken down into 5 categories, which I have named: Registration and entry, Vendor floor, Celebrity line up and panels, non-celebrity panels, and organization. I will go through each category and rate each, providing us with an overall rating. Sound good? Alright, let’s go.

Registration and Entry

Last year was a debacle when it came to registration and entry on the first day. I mean, it was bad. One of the best things about Salt Lake Comic Con is that they are always listening to fan feedback and trying to improve. During this years FanX, they introduced us to RFID wristbands that we got before the show, and just needed to activate. There were a few snags, including many of the wristbands coming with the little knobby part broken, so they needed to be replaced. This time around, it was similar, in that we received our wristbands before the show and could activate them online. They seemed to pack them with extra care, wrapping the little knobby part in extra bubble wrap to protect it. Some people were concerned as the con drew closer and they still hadn’t received their bands, but overall, I think most people did. These RFID chips make entering the con a breeze. As a VIP, I was looking forward to being on the vendor floor before everyone else. In the description of each level, it said VIPs got early entry, and Gold passes also got early entry, immediately after the VIPs. This isn’t exactly how it worked once I go to the show on Thursday. They had two lines. One was just multiples and the other was gold and VIP combined. This meant Gold and VIP got in at the same time. Not a big deal, since we were all in 3 minutes early, but it just wasn’t as advertised. That’s just nitpicking, and it really doesn’t bother me that Gold and VIP got in at the same time, they just need to add that to the description, so it says Gold gets in at the same time as VIP.

My only other, small, beef would be that they made mention of ordering your free kids’ wristbands by a certain date, to ensure they were mailed to you. I did that, and when my last package came, there were no kids’ wristbands. To make up for this, the mentioned that they would have these wristbands at every entrance. This wasn’t the case. When we came back on Thursday afternoon with our kids, we asked about the wristbands and the volunteer said they didn’t have any, and just that they changed that at the last-minute, and then sent us to the wrong place to get them. It all worked out in the end and we got the wristbands, so it was fine. It would be nice to have these in advance so we could write our phone number on them before hand and have them on the kids when we got there, instead of spending time at the convention looking for them and then getting them on the kids. Small beef, I know, but still important.

Overall, for registration on entry, I give SLCC15 4 out of 5 stars.

Vendor Floor

One of the big attractions for any convention is the vendor floor. This time, it seemed like there was a pretty good line up of vendors and a pretty good layout on the floor. On Saturday, there were definitely a few bottleneck spots, but there were over 100,000 people, so it’s understandable. What I really liked, though, was that they had some pretty great vendors there for the first time. The Funko Pop Life tour was there, which only had 2 other stops in the US: SDCC and NYCC. I was really excited about this, since I love Funko Pop. They had a great selection of Funko Pops, some that were hard to find in the “wild,” and they were reasonably priced. I personally bought 2: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Harry Potter in his Quidditch robes. They were $10 each, which is a fine price. The exclusive Funko figures they had for SLCC were $80, so I passed on those this time around.

One thing I really liked about the floor this time around was that KidCon was in a completely separate area- room 155- so it did not take up a bunch of space or interfere with the vendor floor. I also want to say kudos to Xfinity. One of the big complaints about previous cons was that Xfinity was there, trying to sell cable subscriptions. It just didn’t fit. This time around, Xfinity was there again, but they brought the Iron Throne and offered a free photo op. There was a line at their booth all day, every day. I personally don’t watch Game of Thrones, so it didn’t interest me, but I may have been the only one at the con that felt that way, so it was a huge success.

The one qualm I had with the vendor floor was the way they had the Artist Alley organized. Maybe they have done it this way each con and I never noticed, but this time I was looking for a specific booth: green 4. With the regular vendors, they have huge banners hanging up above each aisle, saying what number that aisle is. There is nothing like that for the artists. Instead, it goes by the color of their table-cloth. On the green aisle, for example, each of the tables had a green table-cloth. That was harder to see. Once I figured it out, it was alright, but couldn’t we have giant banners above each aisle that said “Green” or “White” or whatever?

The vendor floor, as a whole, gets a 4.5 out of 5 stars

Celebrity Lineup and Panels

Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell: those four alone made this lineup epic. In addition they had the Phelps twins from Harry Potter, Jenna Coleman from Doctor Who, the talent from MST3K, plenty of voice actors and my personal favorite, Sean Astin. It was really great, and really had someone for everyone. With my VIP pass, I tried to experience as many of the celebrity panels in the Grand Ballroom as I could. I definitely got my fill. The best panel of the weekend was Sean Astin. I was star struck just sitting in the audience. I would have embarrassed myself if I had actually met him. I could have sat in his panel for hours. I was disappointed when it was over.

The Chris Evans panel was, obviously, incredible. it would have been nice if it had started on time, instead of 30 minutes late, especially since he was scheduled for a photo op, so he had to leave at 11, leaving just Anthony Mackie. That being said, Anthony Mackie was hilarious. He was really a highlight of the whole weekend. The really amazing thing was the amount of Photo ops they got Chris Evans involved in. He doesn’t usually do that at conventions, and from what I have read online, he was really great with everybody, plus he tweeted out how much he loved our con and getting more up close with the fans, more personal.

Just because we got the Captain America Panel that SDCC did not get, I am giving this area a 5 out of 5.

Non-Celebrity Panels

A lot of people spend most or all of their days in the grand ballroom. They miss out on a bunch of really fun and interesting panels going on throughout the con. This year was pretty special for me, as I got to participate in my first panel for Salt Lake Comic Con. I am grateful to Blake Casselman and Ryan Call for making that happen. It was pretty cool to sit on the other side of the podium, and I was pretty nervous. Once I was up there, though, it wasn’t so bad. I had a lot of fun.

The panels in general are always great. The two gentlemen I mentioned above work tirelessly to put together a stellar list of topics for their panels. Almost any fandom is represented in some form or another, and the major ones get multiple panels talking about multiple facets of a particular fandom. There were multiple Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, DC and Disney panels. Each one is a lot of fun. If you like podcasts, you would love panels. They are like live podcasts. Just look in the list, find a topic that interests you, and then go to it.

One thing that was not as much fun, or one thing I have learned, is that a moderator can make or break a panel. A good moderator is there, prepared with questions, but they ask the questions and then get out of the way and let the panelists answer. A bad moderator makes the panel all about them and they don’t let the panelists talk that much. I saw both at Comic Con. I am not going to hold that against the overall score for the panels. As always this was a highlight for me, so I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Organization

This is an area of the con that gets better each time. I have to always remind myself that this is only the third Salt Lake Comic Con, and only their 5th show overall. Plus, it got huge very quickly, so there have been some growing pains. Some highlights for organization this year include the RFID wristbands, the multiple entrances, the ZipQ (the greatest VIP perk ever) and moving the Autographs and photo ops to the back of the vendor hall, where the lines there don’t interfere with the vendors.

The major thing that needs improvement is that there sometimes seems to be major communication block between upper management and the volunteers. The important thing to remember is that they are volunteers. Most of the representatives you will meet from Salt Lake Comic Con are not getting paid for this and they have other day jobs. They really do a great job, and I met some of the nicest volunteers. The issue is that sometimes things are advertised and communicated out to the con goers, and then the volunteers don’t know anything about it, or have been told something different. The kids’ wristbands are a good example of that. One thing was communicated to the con goers, but the experience was completely different. This is something that has improved with each con, but it is still a small issue. Each event, they spend more time and make more effort to improve their volunteers, and they have quite a few that have come back for each convention, so they are getting more experienced. This will continue to get better.

Overall rating for organization is 4 stars out of 5.

Bonus: The VIP

I have always just gone with a multiples, but this year we decided I could try VIP. We saved for it, and made it happen. Overall, I liked the VIP experience. If you are into the celebrities then this pass is worth it. Especially with ZipQ which works like a Fast Pass for the big panels. This is brand new, so there are still a few kinks that need to be worked out, but this perk alone makes the VIP worth it. I didn’t have to line up early for any panel in the ballroom. I just showed up 5 till and knew I had a seat. It was awesome. In addition, it is nice for photo ops to have a separate line and autographs, too, I suppose. In any case, if meeting the celebrities is something you are into, then the VIP is for you and is worth it. I don’t know if I will do it again, but I don’t regret doing it this time.

There you have it. A little wordy, but hopefully worth it and thanks for sticking with me as I wrote it. Overall, SLCC15 gets a 4.5 from me. I am still really feeling great about it. It was a lot of fun and well worth it. I can’t wait to see how FanX 16 turns out, but like everyone else, I will have to.

What did you think of Salt Lake Comic Con? Did it live up to your expectations? Let us know in the comments below, or by commenting on our Facebook page or send me feedback directly at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com.

Raising Gifted Youngsters

GiftedYoungsters

Salt Lake Comic Con is coming up in a week’s time, and I am getting excited. One of the things that I am really looking forward to is participating in a panel. I really enjoy attending the different panels and feel like they are always interesting and informative, and I am hoping that I’ll have something interesting to add when I am one of the panelists, instead of just sitting in the audience. My panel is next Friday night at 6 pm in room 255E, and the topic is Disabilities in Pop Culture. I wanted to take an opportunity to explain why I wanted to be on this panel.

7 years ago, almost to the day, we found out that our newest addition, Eliza, had a hearing loss. We didn’t really know what that would mean for us. The audiologist let us know that it was a permanent loss, and that it was a mild to moderate loss, nothing that hearing aids wouldn’t be able to help. Further tests revealed that it was a particular type of hearing loss that was progressive, meaning it could, probably would, get worse with time. Eventually, she may even lose all of her hearing. This changed our whole world. We had never even considered that our kids would be born with a hearing loss. It didn’t run in either of our families, so it was completely unexpected. It also led to more questions. Our oldest child, Johnny, was almost 2 at the time, and wasn’t talking at all. He had previously mimicked sounds, but lately, that had stopped. It seemed like he was going backward. We took him in to get him tested, and sure enough, he also had a hearing loss, only his had progressed past the mild to moderate phase. His was a severe hearing loss, which is a fancy way of saying he was deaf. In a matter of months, in my mind, I had gone from having 2 normal kids to having kids who were “hearing impaired.” It was an adjustment, to say the least, but eventually we fooled ourselves into believing that we had it figured out.

When our fourth child came along, Lucy would join her older brother and sister as our third deaf child. With her, we decided to have some genetic testing done. That’s when we found out that my wife and I each carried a recessive gene and passed it down to our kids. They said it was a mutated gene. Wait…did you say mutated? Like, our kids were mutants? Like the X-Men? I guess as a geek, I relate to the world in geeky terms. All of a sudden, my kids’ hearing loss wasn’t a disability. It was a super power, a gift.

In a lot of ways, having a deaf child is a lot like having a mutant child in the Marvel Universe. The deaf culture is not well understood by the hearing world. Hearing doctors and audiologists and scientists are always looking for ways to cure the deaf population, while the Deaf (notice the capital “D”) Community doesn’t see a need to be “cured.” Many are proud to be deaf and to be part of that community and part of that history and part of that culture. A lot of hearing people don’t know how to react around deaf people. Do they pity them? Avoid them? How do they interact with them? Usually, discomfort leads to avoidance. My kids even go to a special school for deaf kids with other deaf kids speaking their own language and learning how to be proud of who they are. My kids are real, live X-Men. Fortunately, right now, they are not hunted down and put into concentration camps, but many are still forced to conform to the hearing world, and if you study Deaf History at all, it’s not hard to find examples of hearing oppression that is not dissimilar to concentration camps.

The world is changing, though. We are viewing disabilities in a whole new way, and a lot of that comes from geek culture that has now become mainstream. Maybe it’s because geeks understand what it feels like to be different, to be an outsider, so it leads us to be more tolerant. We understand to value what people can bring to the table, instead of only seeing what they can’t. In any case, I feel like we geeks are paving the way for more acceptance of people of all abilities. Which is awesome. My kids can look at a lot of pop culture and see people who succeeding who are different. Then they see they can do anything as well. That’s why this topic is important to me. I want my kids to look at a world full of heroes who are doing amazing things, whether they can see, or hear, or walk or whatever. Seeing those kinds of characters, like a Matt Murdock, like a Geordi LaForge, like a Barbara Gordon, it inspires my kids to reach for anything and know that really can do and be what they want. It makes me proud and happy to be raising my own “gifted youngsters” and to see the amazing things they’ll do.

What do you think? Who are some of the characters in geek culture who have had to overcome extra obstacles? Let us know in the comments either here, or in our Facebook page.

Salt Lake Comic Con- 10 Tips for Bringing Kids

Can you bring your kids to the convention? It seems to be a question that comes up every time that Salt Lake Comic Con has an event, whether it be Fan X or the actual Comic Con. People who haven’t been before, or people who have never brought their kids before, they all wonder if this event is appropriate for them to bring their little ones. The short and easy answer is yes. The folks at Comic Con seem to realize that we are a pretty family friendly market, and so they try to make their convention as family friendly as possible. It’s really a tough task, when you think about it. On one hand they have to provide enough entertainment and things for adults, while at the same time providing some great things for the kiddos. They seem to improve their balance here with each convention.

If you have never been to the convention with your kids, have no fear, your friendly IMG_0916neighborhood Geeky Mormon is here to help. I have five little ones of my own, which means we are a traveling circus wherever we go. I have also brought them to every convention for at least one day since the first Fan X. That means I know of which I speak, when I speak about bringing kids. We have made our fair share of mistakes along the way, but hopefully you can learn from those mistakes and end up having a smooth and wonderful time at the upcoming Salt Lake Comic Con. Here are 10 tips my wife and I have learned along the way. Hopefully you will find some of them helpful.

1. Bring Snacks and Water

I cannot emphasize enough how important this tip is. Kids get hungry a lot quicker than adults. They are constantly going and using energy and constantly need that energy refilled. At Salt Lake Comic Con, the food is typical of most conventions or major events. It is expensive and typically not healthy. You’re not going to find an organic fruit stand in the middle of the vendor floor. It is up to you to bring the snacks you want your kids to eat and provide them. You will save a ton of money this way, and ensure your kids are eating what you want them to eat, whether that’s organic fruit, or granola bars, or crackers or whatever. At this point, I should point out that the official rule at the Salt Palace is no outside food or drinks. I personally have had no issue with bringing in our own snacks for the kids. I think for the most part, anyone checking bags takes a look at my wife and I loaded down with our 5 little monsters, and they take pity on us. Truth is, I have heard the same from quite a few people with kids- no issues with bringing in food. Water bottles are a must, as well. It is easy to get dehydrated, so bring plenty of fluids, or at least bottles to hold water. They have drinking fountains throughout the convention center to refill the bottles. Much less expensive than buying a water bottle.

2. Plan for Crowds

Each year, Salt Lake Comic Con gets bigger than the year before. The stars and names seem to get bigger, drawing a larger crowd. This year should no different with the likes of Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan and Jenna Coleman appearing at the con. The crowds are going to be huge. Saturday will probably be a record-setting day. There may even be times where they have to stop letting people in. It has happened before. You need to be aware of this and plan for it. Thursdays are typically the day we bring our kids, because they are the least crowded. The important thing to note in that sentence is I said “least crowded.” This is important because “least crowded” is not the same as not crowded. Each day is crowded, so you need to be prepared. For example, we don’t bring our giant double stroller. We bring our umbrella stroller and kid leashes (They’re Mickey Mouse, so we call them “Mickey Hugs.” The kids love them). This makes it easier for us to navigate the vendor floor and there hallways. Whatever considerations you might need to make, make them. It will be crowded. You have been warned.

3. Plan a Budget

There will be plenty for you to spend your money on in the vendor area. Plenty to attract your IMG_2373children too. Be prepared for it. We normally set a budget for the 3 days and bring it in cash so we can monitor how much we have and how much we have spent. If your budget is high, and you don’t feel comfortable carrying cash around, then don’t, but it works for us. The budget is the important part. Your kids will see plenty that they want to buy, whether it’s a cool toy or a picture or food or even face painting. Having a set budget makes it easier to limit what you buy and prevents you from breaking the bank on this one event. My kids expect some kind of print from every show. I shop Artist Alley to find some great prints, and typically the prices are pretty reasonable. Whatever it is you want to get the kids, having a budget will only benefit you.

4. Plan Breaks

Kids cannot go at the same pace for the same amount of time as adults can. They will get worn out. Plan in some times in your schedule to sit down and have a break with the kids. There are typically places you can find to sit down and maybe break out the snacks and water and just sit and eat and enjoy the people watching. Or we have gone into the board game area and picked a family friendly game to try out and sat and played for a few minutes. Just find some quiet place to sit and take a breather. You will thank yourself later.

5. Line Management

Did you know that most kids don’t like waiting in lines? It’s true. You want to know how I know that? It’s because most adults hate waiting in lines. We do it and suffer through because we know that the payoff at the end is worth it. Kids don’t always make that connection, depending on their ages. We try to avoid waiting in a lot of lines with kids. If you are waiting for an autograph, and you have traveled to the con with at least one other adult, maybe have one adult wait and get the autograph, while the other finds another, more kid friendly activity. Find ways to have one person wait, while the other entertains the kids.IMG_2372

6. Meeting Cosplayers

Comic Con can be a magical place for kids, as they walk down the corridors and pass their favorite heroes. That has to be pretty amazing for them. Take advantage of the opportunity. Most Cosplayers are very friendly and don’t mind stopping for a photo. Make sure to always ask politely first, and try to find a good place to take the picture that is out-of-the-way. I always try to pay them a sincere compliment on their costume and thank them for the picture. The kids will think it’s cool to have their picture with Thor or Spider-Man or whatever. This is a great opportunity.

7. Plan Kid Friendly Activities

As you plan out your time at the con with kids, make sure you plan in some activities that the kids will really enjoy, and avoid taking them to some that are not geared toward kids. Salt Lake Comic Con makes this easy with their KidCon. This is a section of the con that is geared to the little ones at the show. There is always something going on in the KidCon for the kids, so check this area out, and you may come back a few times to keep the kids entertained. This year, it looks like they are putting it in its own room, apart from the actual vendor floor. I am interested to see if this is an improvement, or not. I have a feeling that this makes sense and will be a good IMG_0924move.

8. Manage Expectations

There are so many great things going on at this year’s Comic Con, that there is now way that you will see it all, anyway. With kids, you will see even less. You need to know that before hand and have those expectations. When I bring my kids on Thursday, I don’t know how much of what I want to see, like a lot of the panels, I will get to see with my kids, so I expect that for Thursday, and plan to see and do more on Friday and Saturday. Don’t go in and expect to see everything you want. Kids will slow you down, it’s just how it works. If you go into it and expect to see everything you would normally see, you will end up frustrated and disappointed. If you manage that expectation, then the kids will have fun, and you will too, and make some great memories.

9. Know your Kids and their Limits

Every kid is different, so you need to know your kids and what they can and can’t do. You need to know whether they can sit through a lot of long panels or if they can’t. You need to know if they can wait in a long line, or if they can’t. You need to know if they can go to the con all 3 days from open to close, or if they can’t. No one on any of the Facebook pages or threads or Twitter or whatever will be able to tell you what your kids limits are. That being said, you need to know those limits and plan accordingly. I know my kids won’t sit through most of the panels I want to go to, so I don’t bring them to panels. I also know that going for part of one day is about all my kids can handle, so that’s our limit. IMG_0931

10. Have Fun!

This is the most important thing you can do. Chances are, you are going to Salt Lake Comic Con because it represents something that is important to you. Chances are, you want your kids to feel the same way. You want them to be the next generation of geeks. Who doesn’t want that? The best way to accomplish that is to get them involved in things like comic con, and to make sure they have a great time doing it. Those are memories that will last a lifetime. That really is the most important thing for your kids. So, just have fun!

So, what are your plans for Salt Lake Comic Con? Are you going? Are you bringing kids? Are there any tips you would share that i left off the list? Let me know in the comments or email me directly at thegeekymormon@yahoo.com. We love to hear from you.

Kids’ Perfect Sized Swag Bag

UPDATE: This was a post originally done in September just after the Salt Lake Comic Con. We wanted to update a little bit just in time for Salt Lake Comic Con’s Fan Xperience 2015.  FanX started on January 29, giving folks enough time to put something like this together.  Trust, having a cool bag like this for the kids is awesome. As far as updates to our original post, we basically changed the name to a perfect sized Swag Bag instead of messenger bag, and updated the featured picture.

If you decide to make this bag for your kids for the upcoming FanX, we would love to see your pictures. Just add them to the comments below, or post them to our Facebook page.

So, here is the original post:

Welcome to another edition of Geek-Craft.  Today’s project from 5 Little Monsters is a great idea for little ones.  It is a messenger style bag that is perfectly sized for little kids and can be customized to go along with any theme or costume.  Erica finished ours just in time for the kids to use them with their costumes.  Each one matched a costume theme, and looked great, completing the cosplay look each of the kids were going for. Plus, it was great for the kids to carry their water bottles and any little goodies they got at the con, then mom and dad didn’t need to. These are going to work great as well for trick or treating when we pull out those same costumes for Halloween (Hey, we’re on a budget).  Here is a picture of 3 of our little monsters in costume with their matching bags:

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Don’t they look great?  I think so.  So, with nothing further from me, here is Erica from 5 Little Monsters and her perfect sized messenger bag. Let’s get crafty:

Kid’s Perfect Sized Swag Bags

The basic construction for each of these bags is exactly the same but each one has details that make it different than the others. Most of the differences are in how the flaps are made so I will explain each flap separately. This is just a tutorial, not the actual patterns, just a description of how you can make your own, and the measurements that I used. I will show how I made the Ninja Turtle, Rapunzel, and Black Spiderman bags, but you could use this idea to make any character you would like.

To begin you will need:

For the Rapunzel bag

  • 1/2 yard of lt. purple fabric
  • 1/3 yard of dk. purple fabric
  • 1/2 yard of lining fabric
  • 1/8 yard of 4 different yellows
  • fusible interfacing (I used lightweight because that was all that they had where I bought mine but a little heavier would have been nice) approx. 1 yard
  • 3 1/2″x36″ piece of thin batting
  • yellow embroidery floss
  • matching thread

For Black Spiderman

  • 3/4 yard black fabric
  • 1/2 yard lining fabric
  • 1 yard fusible interfacing
  • 3 1/2″x36″ piece of thin batting
  • white embroidery floss (I used more than one skein)
  • black thread

For the Ninja Turtle

  • 3/4 yard green fabric
  • 1/2 yard lining fabric
  • 1/8 yard mask color fabric
  • 1 yard fusible interfacing
  • 3 1/2″x36″ piece of thin batting
  • scraps of white, black and pink felt
  • matching thread

I used 1/2 inch seam allowances unless otherwise noted

Flaps

Rapunzel:

From the dark purple fabric, cut 2 pieces 12 inches x 12 inches. Fold in half and cut an angle from the center up 3 inches on one side. When you open it back up it should look like this:

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Also cut a piece of fusible web the same size and iron it on to the back of one piece. I drew a sun shape but I am sure you could find one online to print and trace. Mine was approximately 5 inches wide. Trace your sun onto a piece of the fusible web, Iron it onto a scrap of yellow fabric and cut it out, just around the outside of the sun.

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Applique the sun onto the flap using dark purple thread and make the details in the suns rays. I did all of that with a thin, tight zigzag stitch. I started with the circle in the middle and then went around each ray.

After that you will make your tassel. I wrapped yellow embroidery floss several times around my plastic ruler that is 5 inches wide. Then take it off, fold it in half over a piece of embroidery floss and wrap several times a little below the top, then tie of and tuck in the ends. The piece that you folded the tassel over is what will get sewn into the flap.

Now you will sew the 2 flap pieces right sides together along the 2 sides and the pointed end, with the tassel tucked in at the point. Clip the points carefully, making sure you do not cut the tassel thread. Turn right side out, press and topstitch close to the edge.

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Spiderman:

Cut 2 flaps 12 inches x 12 inches. Cut one piece of fusible web the same size and iron on to one of the flap pieces. I traced some scallop shapes using a sheet of paper (11″) and a juice container but anything round will work. You want the point of the scallops on the outside and for the edge to curve up (like the edge of a spiderweb). I then cut that out and using a white colored pencil traced that edge onto my black flap with the interfacing slightly above the edge of the fabric. Turn over and try to line up the design over the design you just traced on the front and trace again on the back side. This will be your sewing line later.

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Now draw a spiderweb design using your white pencil. Stop your web about 1/4-1/2 inch above the line you drew as that will be your sewing line. I picked a spot in the center and for my lines to radiate out from and used my ruler as a straight edge to give me nice straight lines. Draw lines from the center point down to the points of your scallop design and continue going around the flap. Draw swoops between your straight lines to make the web design.

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Now embroider over those lines with 3 strands of white embroidery floss. I’m not going to lie, this was by far the most time-consuming part of any of these bags. I really wanted the embroidered look but you could try stitching the lines on with your machine instead if you wanted it to be quicker but the lines would be a lot thinner.

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Once your embroidery is finished, place the two flap pieces right sides together and sew along the side with a 1/2″ seam allowance until you get to the line you drew, then sew along the line and up the other side with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

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Clip the points and either clip the curves or I used pinking shears along the curves to make a thin, zigzagged seam allowance. Turn and press among sure your points are nice and sharp. Topstitch close to the edge.

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Ninja Turtle

Using your green fabric cut 2 pieces 12 inches x 10 inches. The 12 inch sides will be the top and bottom. Along the bottom, using something round, curve the corners. Cut the same shape from fusible web and iron onto one of the pieces.

Cut a 5 inch x 12 inch strip from the mask color. Fold in half and cut it so that it is four inches wide on the ends and angles almost like a v shape. Cut 4 pieces 4 inches x 7 inches and then curve one end to make the tie ends. (See picture to get a better idea of how they should be cut.)

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Cut two eyes from white felt and two black circles for the pupils. Using a thin, tight zigzag stitch appliqué mask onto the flap. Using a straight stitch appliqué eyes onto mask. Sew the ties ends together 2 at a time, leaving the he straight end open. Clip curves, turn right side out, press and topstitch close to the edge.

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Put the two flap pieces right sides together pin the tie ends in along one side of the mask pleating them when you pin them in so that they overlap but are not right on top of each other. Sew around sides and bottom, clip curves, turn, press and topstitch close to the edge.

Straps

Rapunzel

The Rapunzel strap is the only one that is made differently because it is pieced to look like a braid. First you will want to choose 3 of your yellow to be the braid and one for the underside of the strap. Using your 3 braid colors cut 18 rectangles 1 1/2 inches x 4 inches out of each fabric.  Sew them together as shown using a 1/4″ seam allowance:

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First, sew a short side of 1 to the long side of 2. Then a long side of 3 to he short side of 2 and the long side of 1, and so on until you have used all of your strips. Always use your strips in the same order, if you have colors a,b and c it will always be a,b,c,a,b,c. You will end up with a strip that looks like this:

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Trim the two short ends so that they are straight. My strip was about 36 inches long after trimming. Now trim the long ends so that your strip is 3 1/2 inches wide, being sure to center your braid when you trim it.

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Cut your other yellow strip to 3 1/2 x 36 inches (or the length of your braid. Layer the yellow strip right side up, the braid right side down and the batting and sew the long edges. Turn, press, and topstitch.

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Spiderman and Ninja Turtle

Cut 2 strips 3 1/2 x 36 inches. Layer the strips and the batting and sew the two long sides. Turn, press and topstitch.

Body of the Bag

For each bag cut 2 from your bag fabric and 2 from lining fabric 14 1/2 inches x 11 1/2 inches. the 14 1/2 inch sides will be the top and bottom of your bag. From the bottom two corners cut out a 1 1/2 inch square. (In this picture I cut 2 inches from the bottom but that was too much and I changed it on the other bags.)

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Cut interfacing the same size and iron onto your outside pieces.

On the Ninja Turtle bag you will need to cut out a mouth, I did a smile with a pink tongue, and appliqué it slightly above the corners that you cut out, but close to the bottom of the bag so that it will not be covered by the flap.

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Sew the sides and bottoms, Fold the bottom corners so that the side and bottoms seams match and sew the corner seam. Do this on both the outside and the lining but on the lining leave a hole in the bottom seam for turning.

Assembly

You should now have your flap, strap, bag and bag lining all sewn, now we just need to put them together.

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With the outside of the bag center the straps on the side seams right sides together and pin. Center the flap between the straps on the back of the bag, right sides together and pin. Now insert all of that into the inside out lining of the bag, match side seams and pin.

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Sew all the way around the top of the bag. Turn through the hole in the lining. Press, topstitch, sew the hole in the lining closed and your bag is complete.

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There you have it, a perfect sized swag bag for kids. Thanks so much for reading, and geeky crafting!

SLCC Edition

This is a very special edition of “This Week in Geek,” in which I will be reviewing the Salt Lake Comic Con which concluded on Saturday, September 6, 2014.  I will be giving out a grade in 5 different categories, plus an overall grade.  The 5 categories will be Tickets and Ticket Pricing, Lines/Crowd Management, The Vendor Hall, Panels, and The Celebrity Guests.  I will not be grading the extra events because I did not attend any of them, so unfortunately, I can’t grade them.  The grades will be in the standard letter grade format, where A is excellent and F is horrible failure. There will be no “E,” for those of you who are not familiar with letter grades.  Most of the grading will be based on my experience as well as feedback I have received or seen from others.  Let’s get started:

Tickets and Ticket Pricing

This was very different this time around than what we had seen previously with last years Comic Con and April’s FanX.  With FanX, the tickets were posted with their prices and they didn’t change.  This time around they used a system called GrowTix, and they started with the tickets being very low, and the prices increased over time, thus rewarding folks who bought their tickets early with a much better deal.  This, I think benefits everyone, because with more tickets pre-sold, especially early, they can go to different vendors and different celebrities and show them how many tickets they have already sold, enticing more of them to come.  It benefits us because we can but the tickets early and pay a lot less.  Another bonus was if you follow Salt Lake Comic Con on Facebook or twitter or both, then they always let people know in advance when the ticket prices were going to rise, so you could buy them before they got to expensive.  We bought our tickets in June, just before Father’s Day, and spent $64 on two multi passes, which worked out great for us and our budget.  Also, with GrowTix, you do have the option to go back in and for a fee, upgrade your ticket to a VIP or Gold ticket if they are still available.  I checked on the day before the Con, and if I had wanted to upgrade to Gold, it would have only cost $50 for both tickets.  VIP had already sold out, so I am not sure what the price difference would have been.

My biggest complaint with the tickets was how much the fees were on top of the ticket price.  I understand that this is pretty common practice, but my tickets were $64 total, but then with fees I ended up paying $80 all together.  I understand that $16 in fees is not a big deal for something like this, but I just wish that the fees were already included in the price.  This is not a complaint against SLCC, but the whole system in general.  My complaint for SLCC was that when we came on Friday we brought the kids with us, and we have 5 children, meaning we needed to buy a child’s ticket for $5.  When we spoke with the volunteer, he told us it was 7 almost 8 bucks because of sales tax and some kind of convenience fee.  That was a little weird.  I get convenience fees when purchased online, but not when I am buying them at the door. However, the volunteer ended up not being able to locate the button on his iPad, and just gave us the wristband for free, so I really don’t have anything to complain about here.

As far as the prices go, I thought they were reasonable and they offered multiple levels so you could buy the ticket that worked for you.  I had little to no interest in entering the vendor hall early, or in photo ops or autographs or a T-shirt, so the multi pass worked for me.  The VIP was pricey, but if you can’t afford it, the multi pass still provided you with a lot of fun for 3 days.  I did not feel like my experience was hindered because I did not have a VIP pass.  Remember, going to a convention like this is all for fun, and is a luxury, so do what you can afford and enjoy it.

Grade: B+

Lines/Crowd Management

Thursday was rough for lines.  Really rough.  Read my post about my first 2 days, and it really goes into it, so I am not going to do that here. Obviously they needed to work out a few kinks, and on Friday and Saturday it looked like they did.  Lines moved very smoothly from what I experienced and saw on Friday and Saturday.  Inside, it seemed like the managed the lines well for the most part for the celebrities and the panels.

There were times that the volunteers looked a little overwhelmed by the crowds and some things got a little mis-managed.  Let me make this clear, this is not a disparaging comment on the volunteers.  In my opinion, volunteers are just one step down from super heroes.  They are giving up their own personal time for free to be here and deal with a lot of people, and some of the people are not very nice.  Volunteers do this because they love Salt Lake Comic Con, and for no other reason.  I tell you this because I know for a fact that they work very hard, and the perks they receive do not make up for it.  So, next time you are at a convention like this, just find a volunteer and give them a metaphoric kiss (not a real one because then you will be kicked out).  The problem was not the volunteers, the problem was just the sheer number of people.  I was there all day on Saturday, and it was just unbelievable.  The mismanagement came when they had lines for popular panels set up on the outside of the walkway upstairs, meaning that they had to cross over all the traffic.  This was not fun when I was trying to get through to a panel I wanted to attend and they blocked off all the traffic in the hallway for about 5-7 minutes, making me late for my panel.  Not a major deal, but it could have been avoided by having the line form on the inside, thus not hindering traffic.

Grade: C+ (Can’t overlook Thursday)

The Vendor Hall:

I did not love the set up of the vendor hall this time around.  I think it felt way overcrowded and there were a few things that caused some major traffic issues.  For example, the first section of celebrities happened to be across from a booth where they had people playing video games.  The problem was that it happened to be a point where a lot of people were trying to get through, and there were also a lot of people stopping to watch the screens with the games on them, causing major congestion.  This happened in a few areas.  KidCon was also an issue.  I could not tell where KidCon started and ended.  There was a big banner indicating the general area where it was, but a lot of the booths were intermingled with regular booths, and it all just got mixed and jumbled together.  In April, at FanX, the KidCon had its own separate area with plenty of space and it was nice.  I understand that KidCon is not a major draw for everybody, but it is for us, and this time around it just wasn’t as good.  There were a ton of vendors and they were crammed in there, and it got really tight on some of those aisles, especially when people stopped to get pictures with other people.  Big positive was where they had the celebrities this year.  For the most part, that was a big improvement, except in the first little area mention above.

Grade: C-

The Panels:

I thought the Panels were very well done.  There was a huge diversity of topics to choose from, really something for everybody.  I found it very easy to find panels I wanted to attend every hour, and it wasn’t just the big time celebrity panels.  They had panels on comics creation, on writing, on film making, on podcasts, etc.  It was a huge and great selection.  I loved it.  The panels were my favorite part of the whole convention, and made the whole thing worth it for me.  Whoever is in charge of the panels did an excellent job and deserves a raise.

Grade: A+

The Celebrities

Boy, I have seen a lot of comments about the selection of celebrities that came this time around.  I think there was a pretty good selection, and some pretty relevant big time names that showed up.  How many people came from the cast of Arrow?  Quite a few, and that is the best super hero show on TV right now, and one of the better ones ever made.  That’s a big deal.  Plus, Howard from TBBT and Stan Lee, the creator of Marvel (Not really, but pretty much Marvel as we know it now).  Plus, 2 Doctors.  These are big time guests, and all the ones I just mentioned were mentioned by fans after FanX, people saying they wanted these guests.  They listened to us and worked very hard to get what we wanted.  Being upset about the guests is really subjective.  Usually, when someone is upset it is because a guest they really wanted was not there.  The other thing to remember is that despite all of our success, we will never be SDCC.  Studios and publishers send their people to SDCC, the celebrities don’t really have a choice.  They go because they have to, it’s in their contract, all of that stuff.  The guests that come here come because they want to.  They were invited, and the genuinely want to come out for this.  That’s pretty cool.

Grade: A

Overall, I really enjoyed this year’s Comic Con.  I think overall, it keeps getting better, and more and more people come out to see it.  It set new records for attendance, breaking the records they set back in April for FanX. That is pretty awesome, and it means it will probably be around for a long time to come.  Despite all the success, there will still be kinks.  I saw someone post on Facebook that we need to learn from SDCC, which is true, but keep in mind that they have been doing this for a very long time, and this is SLCC’s 2nd year.  Considering that, SLCC is doing awesome.

Overall Grade: A very solid B+

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This Week in Geek- Week Ending August 30, 2014

August is almost over, which means a couple of things.  The summer blockbuster season is coming to a close.  This year was a slump compared to last year, and what will that mean for all these big budget super hero flicks coming down the pipe? End of August, beginning of September also means that Salt Lake Comic Con is almost here.  We are less than a week away, and your humble blogger can’t wait to be there among his native people: Geeks. Here are a few stories from this last week:

The Tick is Returning with Patrick Warburton

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Technically, this news just broke today, but I would be an irresponsible blogger if I didn’t include it in this post.  People.com is reporting that the live action Tick televisions series is returning to Amazon and their streaming service.  Even better news, Patrick Warburton has reportedly already signed a contract with Amazon to return as the big guy for the series.  Honestly, would it have been the Tick if he wasn’t coming back?  This was a short-lived, quirky series, but a classic.  Plus, I love almost anything Patrick Warburton does.  He could make reading the phone book funny (for our younger readers, the phone book is a now extinct book that would come out each year with a listing of phone numbers in your area.  IT has now been replaced by the internet).  Take the opportunity to congratulate Warburton, as he appears at the Salt Lake Comic Con this upcoming week.  I wonder if this means we will see an upTICK in Tick cosplay…(see what I did there?  UpTICK, like the Tick? Get it?)

GOTG Continues Strong Box Office Showing

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Guardians of the Galaxy was already the biggest hit of the summer, but as of this week, it has surpassed everyone to become the biggest domestic hit of the year, beating out Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  And, with nothing big coming out in the next month or so, it looks like it will continue to have a strong run.  Some experts are predicting that it could break the $300 million mark.  This is a huge hit for Marvel and their parent company, Disney.  This was a property that no one had ever heard of except for hardcore comics fans.  Now it is the biggest domestic movie of the year.  Behold the power of Marvel!

Hawkeye’s New Suit for Avengers: Age of Ultron

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New set pics have revealed how Hawkeye will look in the new Avengers movie.  Personally, not a fan.  I don’t like the long coat.  IT just seems pointless and it would get in the way with all the running and there jumping.  I liked his look in Avengers, and that they carried that look into the comics.  I think Hawkeye is a very interesting character because he has no powers, at all, and he is trying to keep up with all these super powered team mates.  It’s pretty cool, and I felt like he looked pretty cool in the last film.  Despite not liking this look, I am eternally grateful that it isn’t this look:

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Salt Lake Comic Con Rounding Out Their Guests

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I know I give a lot of love to the Salt Lake Comic Con, but they are the biggest convention out my way.  I love that we have something like this here locally that I can now attend without spending a ton of money.  As we get closer to the con, they have been making the guest announcements left and right.  Some of the highlights recently have been Paul McGann and Colin Baker, who both played the Doctor in Doctor Who, as well as Ron Perlman, who played HellBoy in arguably one of the most underrated super hero movies ever, and Eric Roberts who played the Master opposite McGann’s Doctor in the Doctor Who TV Movie.  I expect that we will be hearing about more guests as the Con draws closer.  I have seen lots of people posting that Matt Smith is going to be there.  None of these people are Bryan Brandenburg or Dan Farr, so take it with a grain of salt, but maybe the rumors will pan out.  For a current list of the guests scheduled to be at the Salt Lake Comic Con, please click here.  You can also visit their site’s home page for more info on tickets, autographs and photo ops, and special events.

That’s it for now.  Please check back next week.  We should have plenty of follow-up from the Con and more geek news.

To Con or Not to Con-With Kids Edition

Looking at the Facebook page for Salt Lake Comic Con, one of the most discussed questions has been whether people should bring their little ones to the Con.  This is a tough question and the responses on the page have ranged from yes, absolutely to don’t do it.  They also offer up a lot of advice of what to do if you bring your kids to make the most of it.  As a father of 5 (yes, I know, that’s a lot), I feel like I might be able to share my two cents here.  You can take this as advice for what you should do, or not.  Really, it is just me telling you what I would do.

To answer the question in the simplest way, I say YES, bring your kids.  I think as geeks and nerds we have a responsibility, if we have successfully reproduced, to bring our kids to these things and begin raising the next generation of geeks and nerds.  Plus, honestly, when you were a kid, was there anything you wanted more than knowing that your parents were into the same stuff you were?  Obviously, Salt Lake Comic Con wants you to bring the little ones, because 2 kids under 10 get in free with a paying adult.  This means we will only have to pay for one of our kids if we bring all 5 (more on that later).  They will have plenty for your kids to see and do, so bring them and enjoy it.  They are welcome.  You will hear people say that kids should not come to cons like this, that they only get in the way.  These people have no souls, so ignore them and move on. (If you are one of these people and you are reading this, I’m sorry.  This post really won’t appeal to you.  Please check out my previous post on Death in Comics. Thank you.)

If you are bringing kids, and you have never been to a con, or to a con with kids, I thought it might be helpful to give you some tips on what to do to make the trip successful.  You are welcome to take this advice and have an awesome con experience that the whole family will cherish for the rest of their lives, or you’re welcome to ignore my advice completely and have an awful experience and never want to go back.  The choice is yours.  Here are my top 5 tips in no particular order:

1. Bring a carrier or stroller, or both. If your child is smallish, like really young, bring a carrier.  I would recommend a backpacking carrier that has a frame.  These offer better support for your back, and you will be able to carry your little one for longer.  If you can, and you are dressing up, make the carrier part of your costume.  For example, you could dress up as Luke training to be a Jedi, and your little one can be dressed as Yoda on your back.  That would be a winner in any cosplay contest.  Whatever kind of carrier you bring, I would suggest having a stroller on hand for when that kid becomes too heavy.  If you bring a stroller, it needs to be an umbrella stroller. They are small and compact and easy to maneuver in tight areas, like the whole vendor hall.  If you decide to bring a bigger stroller, again, try to make it part of your child’s cosplay.  I saw a great little baby Doctor in a TARDIS stroller at FanX.  Genius.  Just be prepared in a larger stroller to have more difficulty getting through the crowds, and you may get some dirty looks, but do what you need to do.  Do not come with nothing for your child.  They will get tired and will eventually not want to walk anymore.  Be prepared for that.

2. Bring cash.  Kids love to spend money, mostly because the money they spend is not theirs, and in return the money turns into something cool, like a painted face.  Bring a set amount of cash, whatever you can budget for, and when it is spent, it’s gone.  This will make it easier to not overspend, but enable you to do a few fun things with the kids.  Plus, if you show them your empty wallet, then they know the money is gone and will stop asking.  As long as they don’t know that you can just use your card (my kids know this, so we still have a battle, but at least I know when we are done).

3. Plan accordingly.  Chances are, your 5-year-old will not want to go to a panel discussing who your favorite Star Trek captain is, or which is better Marvel or DC, or really anything they discuss in the panels.  I know the panels are only 50 minutes long, but if you bring a 5-year-old into a dark room where nothing is happening except grown ups talking to each other, they will last maybe 5 minutes.  Don’t do it.  If you are bringing kids plan to spend most of the time on the vendor floor looking at stuff or going to KidsCon, if they are having it again this time, or just walking around looking at all the cool costumes.  That is the stuff your kids will find interesting, and it will be more enjoyable for you if they enjoy themselves.  If there are panels you want to go see, bring a friend or another parent and tag team.  You go to your panel while the other adult goes around with the kids, then you can switch as needed.

4. Don’t bring kids the whole time.  If you can help it, don’t bring kids the whole time.  Make sure you plan a little time sans kids.  This way, you can enjoy the con the way you want to enjoy the con.  Kids are great, but sometimes it is nice to get away from them for a while.  Going with your spouse or your friends is a great way to escape and enjoy some of the things you just couldn’t without kids.  Hire a babysitter, and for at least part of one day, try it without kids.

5.  Bring snacks.  This is an essential thing to do.  Kids will get hungry or thirsty or whatever.  Come prepared with snacks for them to eat when they are hungry.  Granola bars, or fruit snacks or fruit, any of those are great.  If you don’t do this, then you will be shelling our a lot of dough for food, that chances are your kids won’t eat all of anyway.  Bring water as well.  It will be hot and crowded and just miserable if you don’t have water, and that goes for the kids too.  Bring a couple of empty bottles and fill them up at the drinking fountains.  If you don’t, then again, be prepared to spend a lot for sodas, or spend a lot of time going back and forth to the drinking fountains.

The most important thing is to have fun with your kids.  Point out the cosplay of their favorite characters.  They think that stuff is awesome, and to them it is almost real.  When we went to Fantasy Con in July, my daughter was scared because she saw a Dalek, and thought it was real.  Luckily, Sylvester McCoy was there as one of the guests, so I brought over there and showed her and told her it was fine because the Doctor was here too.  When she saw him, from a distance, she was fine.  She recognized him as the 7th Doctor and knew she would be safe from the Daleks.  It wasn’t pretend to her.  it was real, and that makes a Con like this even more fun.

If you are planning on going next week, look for me, and stop and say hi.  My wife an I will be the ones with one umbrella stroller and 5 kids. They’ll all be in cosplay, more to come on that later.