Be Gentle: A Comic Con virgin loses her innocence

Despite my love of the fantasy/comic book genre, I’ve never been to Comic Con — not even during the seven years I lived in San Diego, a 10-minute drive from the world’s largest Comic Con. My reasons for avoiding this ridiculously popular event are that I don’t like crowds and I don’t like hemorrhaging money on things I don’t need, so naturally, I’ve avoided Comic Con like Donald Trump avoids the truth.

This year my son Cole turned 12, and all he wanted for his birthday was to go to Comic Con. Compared to having a horde of 12-year-old boys sleep over my house, Comic Con began to sound appealing, so I bought our tickets and braced myself for a moderately fun but highly stressful/expensive day.

We arrived on Sunday morning as the doors opened at 10am and waited with hundreds of others as we slowly snaked through security into the Convention Center (Lesson #1 – Arrive an hour after the doors open to avoid lines. By 10:45, all lines were gone). This did not bode well for our day, though the line proved amusing since most people arrived in costume, or, as all the cool kids are calling it, “cosplay.”

Our first stop was the celebrity signing. “Celebrities,” I scoffed. “Who would come to Rhode Island in November to be ogled by a bunch of nerds in costume?” Flash forward two seconds when I came across Laurie Holden signing autographs. Having been a fan of “The Walking Dead” since its inception, and having just finished the final season of “The Americans,” I was instantly star struck. I cautiously approached her table where she was just hanging out, chatting with her security escort, and saw that to get a photo and autograph, you needed cash, and a lot of it (Lesson #2 – Bring cash … and lots of it). My cheapness won and I slunk away without saying hello.

As we moved down celebrity row, I started to squeal with delight at each familiar face. When I reached the kids from It, I could no longer contain my excitement. My son and I approached Jeremy Ray Taylor, whom we’d also just seen in Goosebumps 2. I openly admitted that we didn’t pay for a photo but my son wanted to meet him, and he’s 12, and it’s his birthday, and we just saw him in Goosebumps 2, and we loved It, and aren’t I a terrible mom for letting my young boys see It … on and on I rambled out of nerves. Jeremy couldn’t have been sweeter, ditto for all the kids from It, especially Jack Grazer, who played Eddy, my younger son, Gage’s, favorite character. He was so kind to Gage and heartily agreed that I’m a shitty mom for letting my 8-year-old see It. Then we met Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers in “Stranger Things,” who insisted on a photo even though we didn’t pay. It’s been a week and I’m still smiling as I picture my sons meeting their teen idols. (Lesson #3 — You don’t have to pay to just meet the celebrities.)

Ok, enough of the teens — it was time for this middle-aged mom to get some eye-candy. I worked up the nerve to approach Tom Payne from “The Walking Dead,” using my slick line: “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet Jesus!” He responded with, “Especially on a Sunday,” which tells me he’s heard my line more than a few times that day, but he was nonetheless friendly and down-to-earth. Then I approached Jason Patric. During the era of The Lost Boys, he was on my laminated list. Not many could resist that tousled hair, those blue eyes and those full lips. Feeling emboldened by my interaction with Tom Payne, I easily approached Jason (who, by the way, had no one waiting in line). His looks have held up, but his personality needed some work, as he was by the far the biggest disappointment of the day.  I tried joking with him and engaging him in conversation, but he dismissed me outright. I chatted with his security escort, while he looked around like he wanted to be anywhere but there. Dude, it’s not my fault you haven’t done any significant work in years, and they put you next to Keifer who had a line out the door, and that Julia picked neither of you. Get over it and chat with this 50-year-old suburban-mom-fan, ‘cause I’m all you’ve got!

Exhausted and with aching feet, we left the convention in the late afternoon, our wallets much lighter, but our smiles permanent. There’s so much we didn’t see, like the incredible marketplace where you can buy everything from Pokemon plush to bustiers, or the IPA Proclamation Ale created especially for this event, or the Star Wars characters from the 501st Legion who took photos for free. The list goes on and on. Comic Con, you had me at “Live Long and Prosper,” as I can’t wait to go back next year. The only decision to make – what costume will I wear?

Our crack team of reporters landed a ton of celeb interviews at Comic Con this year. Check out the video versions at