by Merideth Jenson-Benjamin

[Once again librarian Merideth Jenson-Benjamin and her 10-year-old daughter are here to give their con report. Their piece on the Phoenix Comicon can be read here.]

In what has become an annual pilgrimage for the Benjamin family, last week we packed our Febreeze and granola bars, and headed out to San Diego Comic-Con.

Once we got home, I had a post-mortem with my ten year old daughter about the experience. Our conversation follows:

Mom: So, Let’s talk about Comic-Con 2012. I think I should mention that this is my 10th Comic-Con San Diego and your 3rd.

Mari: I didn’t have the best time.

Mom: Really? Why not?

Mari: I got elbowed in the face. A lot.

Mom: I know, that was not good. Any other reasons you didn’t enjoy it?

Mari: It was really, really crowded.

Mom: Did it feel more crowded than last year?

Mari: Yes, it did. And people seemed to be much crankier.

Mom: Many of the people I talked to seemed to be unhappy. I heard people blaming the unusually muggy weather, the Twilight fans, pushy vendors, cosplayers and security. I’m not sure there was any one reason why people were unhappy.

Mari: One thing is, it seemed to me that the prices for things were higher than they had been in the past. I understand that people need to make money, but most of the prices for prints and sketches were more than I could afford.

Mom: What was good about the convention?

Mari: There were some interesting panels. I liked the Old Masters Art Lessons for Comic Artists with Marshall Vandruff.   He had lots of useful advice. I wish I could take a class from him.

I also liked Kate Beaton’s panel. She’s really funny and has interesting ideas. I like that her comics come from literature and history.

We go to Quick Draw every year, and it is always really funny. Sergio Aragones makes me smile.

Mom: We went to a few of the big media panels. What was your impression of those?

Mari: Well, I can kind of understand why people wait in line so long. You do get to see some amazing things. I really liked the Revolution pilot, and the Mythbusters panel. All of the Disney stuff: Frankenweenie, Oz the Great and Powerful and Wreck-It-Ralph, looks really good too. But The Following panel bothered me.

Mom: I can understand that, the pilot they showed was surprisingly violent.

Mari: They killed a dog. I know it wasn’t a real dog, but it still bothered me a lot.


Mom: You and Jill Thompson had a conversation about animals and violence, didn’t you?

Mari: She’s really awesome. Yes, we did, and she thinks I’m old enough to read Beasts of Burden.

Mom: We’ll see. I still think it will upset you. Was there anything else you enjoyed at the con?


Mari: Even thought I couldn’t afford to buy much there were some nice giveaways. I got to meet Marie Lu, and I got a signed copy of Legend, which is an AMAZING book. The people at the Amulet booth were really nice, and I got a galley of Drama by Raina Telgemeier. I love, love, love Drama! It is equally great as Smile, and I think everybody should read them both.

Mom: You also got a galley of Legends of Zita the Spacegirl from First Second.

Mari: Yes, I did! Gina from First Second is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Mom: One of the things that bothered you about Phoenix ComicCon was the “sexy-girl” art. Did you notice the same thing at Comic-Con?

Mari: No, not really. I mean, there were sexy pictures, but it wasn’t everywhere like it was at Phoenix ComicCon. Honestly, it was so crowded, that sometimes, it was hard to see anything at all. Except elbows. I saw a lot of those.

Mom: If you were in charge of Comic-Con, what would you change? Would everybody have to wear padding on their elbows?

Mari: You know, that’s not a bad idea! Hmmmmmmmmm…. I would make sure the security staff knew what was going on.

Mom: Yes, we had some problems with security. Your dad has mobility issues; and even though disabled services was really helpful, we often got conflicting information from the security staff.

Mari: Yeah, we got jerked around.

Mom: That’s one way to say it. What else would you do?

Mari: Even though it would make people unhappy, I would let fewer people come. I think if fewer people had a good experience, it would be better than having lots and lots of cranky people.

Mom: Do you think you will want to go back next year?

Mari: No, not really. While the con is awesome, and I like being around people who like what I like, it’s just too crowded and it makes me really tired.

Mom: I have to agree with you. Sometime between you being elbowed in the face for the fourth time, and being shoved out of the Marvel booth by a guy dressed as a Stormtrooper, I decided that we will probably skip Comic-con next year. A part of me worries that I’ve become some kind of geek hipster – “I was into Comic-Con before it was popular” – but I don’t think the experience is worth the expense and hassle.

[Merideth Jenson-Benjamin is a Teen Services Librarian in Glendale, Arizona. She is the co-author of Collections for Teens: Manga and Graphic Novels from Neal-Schuman Publishers/VOYA Press.She also reviews for Voice of Youth Advocates and natters on her blog, Merideth Says (

Mari Benjamin is the child of geeks. She wants to be a cross between Jill Thompson and Nick Fury. Her goals in life are to win an Eisner Award and boss people around. And wear cool black leather clothes.]

[Photos, such as they are, by Heidi MacDonald]


  1. Really interesting piece! I went last year and decided that was enough… it’s not worth the hassle, and I can see it being even worse for a 10-year-old! (I’m, er, a few years older than that).

  2. I can’t imagine a con being fun for a kid. I’m a big adult and have enough problems with the jerks that frequent these things.

    An elbow to the face is inexcusable, and i hope the perpetrator either apologized or got an eyeful of Febreeze.

  3. Great to hear perspective from another mom raising her kids in the geek faith. :-) I have two boys ages 6 and 9 who would love to make the pilgrimage to San Diego someday. (I went once, when I was pregnant with the 9 year old–he loves telling people he went to the Con, but didn’t have a great view of anything.)

    But because of stuff like this, we definitely won’t consider it until they’re much older.

  4. This was Mari’s third con, and we have never had the same number of problems before that we had this year.

    And, no, nobody apologized for the multiple times she took an elbow….