- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Seth Madsen was ready when his turn came up at a shooting range at Phoenix Comicon.

“I shot spider webs, shot Captain America’s shield and I shot Hawkeye’s bow and arrow,” Seth said. He didn’t make every target, but he was satisfied with his performance. “I got lots of stuff”

Seth was one of the many children who tried their hand Friday at the Avengers Boot Camp, which challenges attendees to aim for targets with toy replicas of weapons used by Marvel Comic heroes.

The boot camp was just one of many events tailored for children at the four-day Phoenix Comicon this year. The popular culture convention, which opened Thursday, increased its programming to accommodate children who attend with their families.

“Although they like the Star Wars and the superheroes, just walking around through the exhibits isn’t doing it for them,” said Stephen “Mac” MacKellar, the convention’s youth programming director. “I look at it as if I’m putting this programming on for my kids.”

Children’s programming targets youths ages 12 and younger. Instead of following the same format as the adult programs, MacKellar tries to find a balance between events that define the Phoenix Comicon experience - such as panels - with hands-on activities that children will enjoy.

“However, it’s a comic book convention and we’re adults talking about comic books all weekend long,” he said. “So we don’t really send anyone away.”

Among the offerings are Lego building activities, cosplay classes that teach children how to dress and act like their favorite characters, and a live-action role-playing demonstration where kids can fight adults with foam-covered swords.

“Families are coming down to Comicon together and trying to experience it together,” said MacKellar.

Marianne Siegler, who attended the conference from Fort Worth, Texas, treats the popular culture convention as a family outing.

“The bigger the (con), the more activities there are for the kids to do,” she said. “I wouldn’t take my kids to another one.”

But the youth activities aren’t there to take the place of childcare.

“I stay with my kid,” said Siegler, who attended the conference with her son and her sister’s family. When Siegler wants to attend an adult-oriented event, she makes sure her son is supervised. “Either me or my sister are taking care of the kids. We tag-team it.”

This is the third year Phoenix Comicon has offered dedicated children’s programming.

Organizers had “no idea” what they were doing for children’s events in the first year but were more prepared for the second, and this year used the previous experience to plan for the convention, MacKellar said.

But he wants children’s programming to have the same standards that organizers use to plan for adult events.

“I told them I want to scrap the stuff from last year,” MacKellar said. “Every year people come to Phoenix Comicon, they do something new. It should be no different for the youth.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide