Two hours before family day programming kicked off on Sunday at San Diego Comic-Con International, Lily Castro was already in line.
The 13-year-old aspiring Imagineer from Northern California wanted to be first in line for the “The Great Draw Off,” an hourlong, interactive panel by top comics artists. Flipping through photos of her felt-tip comic art on her iPhone, the eighth-grader said she’d love to work for Disney someday as a design engineer.
“I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil,” she said.
Lily, who came to Comic-Con with her mom, Nancie Castro, was one of thousands of children who took advantage of special kids-themed programming on the convention’s final day at the San Diego Convention Center.
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A not-so-surprising fact about Comic-Con family day is that the vast majority of attendees in costume and in line to buy toys, games and comic books weren’t kids at all. Kids at heart (i.e. grownups) outnumbered children by about 10 to 1 on Sunday, even though children 11 or younger got in free with paid adults.
Of the actual kids in costume Sunday, the clear favorite for girls was “Rey,” the young female fighter in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” For boys, old-school ninja and Batman costumes ruled the roost.
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At the Lego booth in the exhibition hall, master builder Erik Varszegi was using child labor, literally, to assemble a purple Joker from about 50,000 Lego bricks. Children were invited to create rectangular walls of bricks that were then snapped together to create the six-foot Joker. Earlier in the weekend, kids helped to build similarly sized Batman and Batgirl sculptures. All three will be dismantled so they can be rebuilt again somewhere else, said Varszegi, who lives in Connecticut.
Therese Lopez watched patiently as her 4-year-old daughter, Lydia, snapped some of the purple bricks together Sunday morning. The San Diego mom hoped to attend some Comic-Con panels, but Lydia wouldn’t budge. “She plays with her brother’s Legos all day at home, so we come here and what does she want to do?”
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A long line of boys and men queued up nearby to play “Pit People,” an unreleased Medieval war game for Xbox One. Characters known as Gorgons and serpentine soldiers battle in a world of forests and castles. With all the sword-swinging, flying arrows and gigantic men in suits of armor, it looks a lot like the recent “Battle of the Bastards” in the TV series “Game of Thrones” - but without the blood and dismemberment.
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Farts, vomit and stinky superpowers were the surprise topics at a panel of best-selling children’s book authors, including Nathan Hale (“Hazardous Tales”), Ed Masessa (“Wandmaker”), Brandon T. Snider (“Peter Powers and His Not-So-Super Powers”), Dan Santat (“Are We There Yet?”) and Greg Grunberg and Lucas Turnbloom (“Dream Jumper”).
The high-spirited authors said humor can be a doorway into literature for book-averse kids, so they infuse their books (even those by Hale about Harriet Tubman and the ill-fated Donner Party) with situational comedy. They advised parents, kids and at least one middle school librarian in the audience to steer children away from “yuk-yuk” obvious comedy to stories with more subtle humor that makes them think and better relate to the characters.
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Families arrived in groups for the San Diego International Children’s Film Festival, with continuous screenings of more than 50 animated, live-action and documentary short films all day long. Creator and curator Dan Bennett launched the event 13 years ago and folded it into Comic-Con in 2008.
“Kids really love the animation, science fiction and anime, which is really visual,” Bennett said. “We always enjoy being at Comic-Con, it’s a nice fit for us.”