If you've got a pop-culture nerd in your household (in my apartment, there are three of us), then you probably already know about this weekend's four-day New York Comic Con (NYCC) at the Javits Center. Comics are just a part of this massive geek gathering. Movie studios and TV networks promote (and sometimes screen) their upcoming projects; celebrities meet and greet their fans (this year, Luke Skywalker himself will be in attendance); vendors sell all kinds of collectibles, and attendees hit seminars on everything from self-publishing to wizard wand dueling.
Sound overwhelming? Well, it can be—but it's also great fun for families, especially if you go on Sunday, October 16, which is Kids' Day. In addition to a bunch of activities aimed specifically at children, everyone under age 13 gets in free. Granted, adults still have to pay, and it's not cheap: $45 per person for the day. But if your kids (or you) are really into something, be it Harry Potter or Star Wars or Star Trek or Spider-Man or Archie (my daughter is nuts for that last one—it's how she learned to read), then NYCC is worth every penny.
We've got the scoop on all of the special Kids' Day programming as well as tips on how to survive the day. My husband, daughter and I have attended every single NYCC, and we've learned quite a few things.
New York Comic Con Kids' Day Highlights
Wand Dueling for Kids
10:30am-11am on the Hasbro Stage
Wannabe wizards can learn how to wield their wands courtesy of Harry Potter NYC. B.Y.O.W. or grab a training wand.
Wahoo! The Magic School Bus
11-11:30am on the Hasbro Stage
Celebrate 25 years of The Magic School Bus with Ms. Frizzle, as she reads The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge and poses for photos.
Geek Parenting: Raising Kids in Our Own Geeky Image
11-noon in room 1B03
Writers for GeekDad.com and GeekMom.com will chat about what it's like raising nerdy broods.
Tiny Titans with Art and Franco
11:30am-noon on the Hasbro Stage
Two artists for the popular kids' comic Tiny Titans hold a draw-off.
Disney/Marvel Kids Panel
Noon-1pm in room 1A23
Writers, editors and artists who work on titles like ,em>Spider-Man, X-Men and Captain America will give families a peek at their new Origin Storybooks and picture books. Great for tweens.
Meet the Emotes
Noon-12:30pm on the Hasbro Stage
Come party with the Emotes—basically Ugly Dolls' cuter, cuddlier cousins. There will be dancing, singing, giveaways and lots of shilling. Can't avoid that at Comic Con. Very preschooler-friendly.
Nursery Rhyme Comics
12:15-1:15pm in room 1B03
A comic book workshop for the wee: Young kids create their own titles based on their favorite nursery rhymes, with the help of professional artists.
Kids Costume Contest
1-1:30pm on the Hasbro Stage
Need we say more? Dress 'em up and let 'em show off. Only the first 30 costumed kids will be accepted.
Animate it! with Veronica Taylor and Misako Rocks!
1:30-2:30pm on the Variant Stage
Manga artist Misako Rocks! and voice actress Veronica Taylor host this workshop on anime and acting. Great for tweens.
Drawing Star Wars with Bonnie Burton and Katie Cook
1:30-2:30pm in room 1B03
Two Star Wars comic artists use the Force (or perhaps just their talent) to show young fans how to draw their favorite characters.
Draw a WOO and reading with Author Andi Green
2:30-3pm on the Hasbro Stage
Andi Green reads from her latest kids' book Wince:The Monster of Worry.
3-4:15pm on the (wait for it...) Hasbro Stage
The popular toy maker markets its playthings to young fans. Frankly I would avoid this, unless you enjoy hearing your kids beg for things they don't need.
Although the following activities aren't officially part of Kids' Day, they may be of interest to families.
Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark
10:15-11am in room 1A24
The co-writer and set designers behind the comic-inspired musical chat about its creation—and, we suspect, its myriad scandals.
Hasbro: Transformers Prime
11-noon in room 1A24
The folks behind the popular CGI series on The Hub talk with fans.
MAD Special Video Presentation and Q&A
12:15-1:15pm in room 1A24
Writers for the venerable humor magazine will discuss their work on Cartoon Network's series based on the title, and show some funny clips, too.
Ben 10 / Generator Rex: Heroes United Screening and Q&A
12:30-1:45pm in room 1A22
Catch a screening of Cartoon Network's upcoming Ben 10 / Generator Rex: Heroes United crossover special. Series stars will also be on hand to meet fans and answer questions.
Classic Warner Bros./Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Going Blu-Ray
2-3pm in the MTV Theater, 1A10
School your kids in the classics. Animation historians will screen selected vintage Tom and Jerry, and Looney Tunes cartoons.
Visit the website for a complete schedule of Sunday panels and activities.
There are also a ton of vendors, celebrities signing autographs and myriad artists who will sign their work or perhaps even draw you a special request sketch. Some charge, others don't (especially if they see it's for a kid!) The relatively modest New York Anime Festival is also part of NYCC but be warned: You'll see some pretty racy costumes in that section.
Things to Know Before Your Go
Even though Sunday is dubbed Kids' Day, in many ways, it's just a regular day at NYCC, which means you'll undoubtedly spy some adolescents and adults dressed in very scary or sexy outfits. Prepare for a little flesh (no one's naked, but some are close) and fear, think zombies, vampires, etc. One really amazing looking Hellboy gave my then preschooler nightmares for a week.
Bring your own food and drinks. Trust me, the lines, prices and poor quality of the eats at the Javits are way scarier than any of the outfits. And there are very few restaurants nearby.
Come in costume! Yes mom and dad, you too. That's me as Miss Piggy above.
Bring cash. Many vendors don't accept credit cards, and as I recall, the ATM fee is exorbitant. Hopefully this will also help you stick to your budget. Bonus: Since Sunday's the last day, many vendors discount their wares!
Bring a camera. You're going to see lots of people and things you want to take pictures of.
Arrive early. The line to pick up badges is always long and torturous. You really can't avoid it. But the earlier you get there, the less it will cut into your day.
Go early to panels and events, too. They're all first-come, first-serve and fill up quickly.
Get plenty of rest the night before. NYCC is a long day for adults, so you can just imagine how kids feel. You'll want to be well rested when you arrive in order to avoid meltdowns. (I've done my share of crying myself. It's tiring.)
Wear comfortable shoes. You're going to be on your feet all day.
If your kid's still young enough for a stroller, bring it! Not only will it stave off exhaustion, but your child will be protected from the crowds. Unfortunately, you may have trouble pushing it through the jam-packed aisles.
Pick a meeting place in case you get separated.
Plan out your day before you arrive, particularly if there are certain panels, events or vendors you want to hit. The NYCC site even has a handy online planner. Or you can just browse. Sometimes with kids in tow that's the best plan.
New York Comic Con Kids' Day takes place on Sunday, October 16 10am-5pm at the Jacob K. Javits Center. $45 for adults, free for children under 13.