I always thought that Comic Cons are for weird people. Like, really weird. Before we had kids, my husband mentioned that he was always curious about Star Trek conventions, but was too embarrassed to actually attend. The only thing even remotely close to a comic con in Belarus was some sort of “Lord of the rings” costume party I was invited to by a guy in college. We were discussing Tolkien in class and I chimed in, so he assumed I would be into this sort of thing. Umm, nope.
But last month there was a Comic Con taking place in Tampa (1.5 hours from our home) and many of my kids’ friends and relatives were going. So, naturally, my spawn started begging us to take them as well. We weren’t planning on this extra expense, but the cost was relatively cheap at $35 per person if we attended on Friday. So we agreed. My kids also wanted us to buy them expensive costumes, but that was a hard No. We told them to raid their closets and come up with something, so they did.
My son got out his Darth Vader costume that we bought him in Disney World last February. That’s when we discovered that the pants were too short. Oh well, they are capri pants now. We put on long black socks on him and called it a day. I mostly went to be with my family and expected to hate the whole thing. Surprisingly, I ended up having a lot of fun. I honestly look forward to going again. So, the expression “don’t knock it until you try it” couldn’t apply more in this particular case.
So, here are my overall impressions of the day.
1) The best part of Comic Con is people watching, hands down
It’s crazy how elaborate some costumes are. I’m sure many people spend hundreds of dollars on them, if not more. But what I really enjoyed was the sense of camaraderie among the attendees. Folks truly feel honored when you ask them to pose for a photo.
Note my son’s Darth Vader capri pants
Check out Doc Ock of “Spider Man” fame:
The guy was into it, big time, and eating up all the attention. He actually made the costume himself.
And check out my son’s cousin in his fancy Mandalorian get-up:
It really is tremendous fun looking at all the costumes, though there were some bizarre ones. One guy came to the convention looking like a giant baby, diaper and all. And some young girls were scantily clad. But for the most part, I would rate the convention as PG.
You don’t have to do cosplay if you don’t want to. My husband and I just wore our Godzilla t-shirts we bought in Japan.
2) Other than cosplay, the convention is basically one giant flea market
Most of the stuff you can buy online for less, but there are some rare finds as well. Of course, my kids went nuts and wanted to buy everything. Don’t be dumb like us and set a $ limit ahead of time, so there is no disappointment. We didn’t and my kids were complaining that we “only” let them spend $30 each. Pfft.
Some shops do a makeover on the spot, and various artists also offer sketches.
3) You can pay extra for an autograph of various sci-fi artists and actors
But it will cost you. There was a dude who plays Flash in the TV series, and he was charging $100 for an autograph. Or you can pay $50 for an autograph from Corey Feldman, but …why? It’s a really weird setup where the celebrities sit behind a curtain, and the mere mortals go there one at a time to get their moment in the sun.
I’m sure that there is literally anything these celebrities would rather be doing, but hey, money is money. I’ve heard of a comedy show created by Alan Tudyk (of “Firefly” fame), called “Conman”. It’s apparently loosely based on his comic convention experiences over the years. I probably should watch it at some point, since I find the guy hilarious.
4) There are limited food options, and they aren’t great
They don’t allow you to bring food, so you are stuck with what’s inside. We went to a taco restaurant, and the food was awful and expensive. It will depend on the venue, of course, but my advice is to eat before you attend the convention.
As you’ve probably guessed, we are planning to go again. There are all kinds of options in Florida, including Megacon in Orlando, that will take place February 1st-4th in 2024. But they have them all over the US, and there is likely one coming to a city near you. Here is the website keeping track of all the comic conventions around the world.
I’m not sure that it’s worth flying to another city, to be honest. That said, it is a super fun experience, and our kids can’t wait to go back. They are already planning their costumes, and my son wants to go as a dalek from “Doctor Who” show. Only if he pays for it himself.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.