Our Geek-End

Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, an annual event we were introduced to last year.  Knowing what was in store for them this year, the boys bounded out of bed.  The middle two even dressed themselves appropriately, one in an Avengers t-shirt and one in his homemade Star-Lord t-shirt.  Despite neither parent having an interest in comic books or superheroes, my three younger sons are obsessed with that whole culture.  Our 9 year old in particular is a walking, talking encyclopaedia of Marvel and DC knowledge.  He can talk ad nauseam on any character one dares to mention.  It may not intersect with our interests but Mr Pict and I are always happy to promote geekdom in our children so we support their comic book obsessions.

When we arrived at our local comic book store we found that the car park was jam packed and we grabbed the last vacant spot in the adjacent car park.  Last year, the tables with the free comic books had been set up inside the store but this year they had set them up beneath a marquee outside the store.  Although we arrived just after opening time, a lengthy queue had already formed.  The queue was moving swiftly and the event  was well organised, however, so it did not take long for the kids to reach the head of the queue and start selecting their three free comic books each.  Just as last year, there was a large and diverse collection to choose from so they had no difficulty picking out three each without there being any crossover.

Having done the free bit, the kids then went into the comic book store to peruse their wares.  I thought I had seen the place at its most busy during the same event last year but it was even more jam-packed this time.  It was great to see so many people milling around from the young to the old, many in costume or at least themed t-shirts.  The staff gave my 9 year old props for designing his own Star-Lord t-shirt which had him puffed up like a wee peacock.  The three younger boys all follow a comic book series so they picked out the latest editions of each from the shelves.  My oldest meanwhile is a collector of Funko Pops so he looked at the massive stack of Pops available in the store.  In the end, the only way to compel the kids to leave the shop was to remind them that we had pre-booked cinema tickets and had to go.

DSCN0530

DSCN0527

DSCN0523

DSCN0520

The cinema trip was a continuation of our geeky day as we were off to see ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’.  To say my kids and husband had high expectations of this movie is a terrible understatement.  Sequels can often disappoint. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, ‘Godfather II’ and ‘Toy Story 2’ are rare exceptions.  In my humble opinion, ‘Ultron’ did not surpass the fun and spectacle of ‘Avengers Assemble’ but nor was it a case of “diminishing returns”.  Some characters (Hawkeye in particular) were fleshed out more in this movie, promoted from being elevated sidekicks, while others (such as Thor) were pushed to the peripheries.  The character relationships were developed further and all the individuals were shown to be working effectively as a team.  However, at the same time the movie seemed to be about fractures and splinters appearing in the group which made it a bit less rip-roaring fun.  There were stupendous action set pieces and the baddie – pretty much a personification of the internet gone bad – was effective.  There was a flabby section, however, where my eyes began to droop and I wasn’t that engaged with all the new characters.  But the cinema trip was not about me and the important thing is that my kids were on the edge of their seats throughout, loving every moment of it and lapping up all the comic book geekdom.  My 8 year old was sitting next to me and kept leaning over to whisper to  facts to me or his predictions for the movie.  He was disappointed but forgiving when one of his predictions failed to materialise.

Then we went home to cook and eat a barbecue in the sunshine.  My youngest boys decided that they should make “mocktails” for me.  They pillaged the fridge for fruit juice and fresh berries and the cupboards for candy and lollipops and constructed several drinks for me to sample.  They even made little decorations for each glass.  It was sweet, cute and thoughtful of them – even though they used up gallons of juice and punnets of fruit.  I am going to have to stock my 1970s cocktail cabinet with actual liquor so that they can learn to make me actual cocktails.

2015-05-02 17.39.51

Geeking Out at Comic Con

On Saturday, Mr Pict took the two middle-sized boys to Comic Con in Philadelphia.

One of the things that we considered in our relocation to America was that the particular area of Scotland in which we lived did not especially serve the needs of my geeky children.  With two certified nerds as parents, it was always likely to be the case that we would spawn geeky kids.  For years, the context in which we were rearing them worked perfectly.  Had they been into competitive sports, especially ones like football (soccer) or shinty, or into playing traditional music (brass band or bagpipes) or been passionately outdoorsy, then there would have been no real difficulty in continuing to raise them where we were.  However, they love movies and our closest cinema was an hour away – and it only reopened the year before we departed – and they also love museums and art galleries and comic book stores and shops selling items from cult TV stores and exhibitions of geekdom.  Every time we wanted to take them to something like that, it was at least a 180 mile round trip.  Furthermore, that trip was on roads that wiggled through mountains and glens and around the crinkly coast line of sea lochs.  Given that two of our children (oldest and youngest – boaking bookends) get very travel sick, it could all be a bit tiresome.  Therefore, while it in no way was even among our top priority reasons for relocating and, indeed, emigrating, being a whole lot closer to accessing such things is a very welcome benefit.

I have shared before that my middle two sons are comic book fanatics.  The other two also like comic books but with nothing like the zeal of their brothers.  Those two love anything DC or Marvel in particular and have now read so many books on the subject that they are geeky wee encyclopedias of knowledge of different heroes and villains, even obscure ones.  They were overjoyed to learn that we were going to be living just a very short car journey from a great comic book store.  They, therefore, just about exploded with excitement when Mr Pict told them that Philadelphia was one of the cities that hosts Comic Con.

They wanted to dress up in costume to go but opted not to go over the top.  The 7 year old wore the accessories from his Batman costume and the 8 year old dressed as Finn from ‘Adventure Time’.  One of the things they really enjoyed about their day at Comic Con was seeing all of the cosplayers in their top notch outfits.  Mr Pict told me that they were reacting as if these people were the actual characters or actors from the movies.  Their mouths were apparently agape when they saw one guy dressed as Deathstroke.

Image

The highlights of their days were going to a Q&A with Sean Astin – especially when he stated he thought the “Truffle Shuffle” was mean and did an impression of Gollum – and a Q&A with Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie from ‘Captain America – The Winter Soldier’.  The kids love the way all the movies in the Marvel universe tie together so they were geeking out getting to see two of the main characters from that movie.  They also got to sit in a Batmobile, see displays of art work, buy minifigures from a stall selling custom lego, shoot zombie targets with a BB gun, root around stalls selling all sorts of toys and memorabilia and had their photos taken against a bluescreen which put them in the line up with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Image

Image

Image

Image

(Photos taken by Mr Pict on his phone.)

Suffice to say that they came home exhausted, exhilarated and entirely geeked out.  They want to go next year too. 

 

 

Free Comic Book Day

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day.  This was an exciting day for my boys because they had never been able to participate when we lived in Scotland.  Annually, on the first Saturday in May, comic book stores give away comic books for free as a promotional tool.  It is a way of introducing new people to comic books or to get existing comic book fans to try a new comic for the first time and it also engenders loyalty and support for independent comic book stores.  One cannot, of course, go into a store and demand that your free comic be a first edition Superman #1.  The choice is limited to specially selected editions of comics.  The selection was still large, however, and diverse too.

When we lived in Scotland, our nearest purveyor of proper comic books was in Glasgow, 86 miles away.  It was, therefore, a treat the boys could have every few months but certainly no more frequently than that.  My husband and I are both proud geeks but neither of us has ever been geeky in the direction of comic books or superheroes.  The boys have created and cultivated that interest all on their own (unlike the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings obsessions that Mr Pict encouraged in them from the womb) so it is interesting as their parent to sit back and watch them interact with a whole culture I know nothing about.  The apples have not fallen far from the tree, of course, so we are proud that our kids are developing geeky obsessions and turning out to be little nerds.  It is our hope that this will make them more interesting people.

It was an absolute pleasure, therefore, to see eight eyes light up when they entered our local comic book store yesterday.  They still marvel at living just ten minutes from such a store, which sells other cult items in addition to comic books.  I had never, ever seen the store anywhere as near as busy as it was yesterday.  The place was thronging (hoaching as we say in Scotland) with people.  The staff were dressed in costumes so we were greeted by a man wearing a Green Lantern lycra unitard and directed to the area of the store where the free comic books were arranged on tables.  That area of the store was absolutely teeming.  Each person was allowed to select any three comic books.  The boys were spoiled for choice and took quite some time to make their final selections, editing as they went and checking to make sure they were not duplicating another brother’s choice.

The comic book store has always had a warm and welcoming atmosphere but yesterday it had a wonderful buzz to it.  We enjoyed seeing so many customers also turn up in costume or at least comic book themed apparel.  It was also the first time we had seen customers ranging from tots to geriatrics in age all gathered together.  In addition to the haul of free comic books, my three oldest boys also decided to club together to buy an omnibus book which was reduced by 50% – which still makes it the most expensive book in our household – which led to them getting to select another book for free.  They left the store feeling like pirates who had just opened a treasure chest.

It was a wonderful event and we will be sure to participate again next year.

Image

Image

Image

Image

PS  Having checked the content of each comic once home, please be assured that our children are not being permitted to read anything with mature content.