Today was Kids Day at NY ComicCon. I thought there were some good moments, but overall it was disappointing. Kids Day didn’t have all that much for kids, and it wasn’t very interactive. I went with my brother and my 8-year-old nephew, Kyle. None of us had ever been before, and I think we all thought there would be big signs leading to the kids’ activities, more characters to take pictures with, more chances for Kyle to make things to bring home with him, and more opportunities for him to see artists at work and talk to them. Maybe even group tours to explain some of the booths on the floor, or previews of some of the numerous superhero movies coming out this summer.

My main issue was disorganization. We weren’t given a schedule of the kid activities, and nothing for kids was well labeled or easy to find. We spent most of the morning wandering around the main convention floor trying to figure out where everything was. Staff pointed us in the wrong direction more than once, and a lot of what was on the convention floor just wasn’t that interesting or appropriate for an 8-year-old.

Other than the fabulous Storm Trooper at the entrance to Javits Center, most of the characters we ran into weren’t that interested in the kids. When we approached Darth Vadar and some other Storm Troopers for a picture, they were too busy goofing off with each other and completely ignored us. Kyle didn’t really want his picture taken with anyone after that.

We did eventually find the kids’ how-to-draw classes, which were in windowless rooms in the very bottom of Javits Center. The audience and the presenters seem to have been told different times for the start of each session because people kept walking in and out in confusion. As a result, the presenters spent so much time trying to find supplies and manage the flow of people that the kids didn’t actually get to draw much. Kyle made this doodle while we waited to figure out who was supposed to present next (we never made it to the actual How to Draw a Superhero session):

It’s great that kids get in free, but I’d be cautious about springing for the $40 per adult in the future without more understanding of how Kids Day works. Maybe we just didn’t figure out the secret.

However, all that being said there were some great highlights. We walked through Artists Alley, and of everyone there Paolo Rivera was by far the most kid-friendly. He had a mirror set up at kid level so they could watch him draw and paint Dr. Strange, and he patiently answered all of our questions about his art. He had lots of books of his work to look through, including Spider-man, Iron Man, and Professor Xavier. He also had his original stuff. That was great, he made a real impression. Thanks, Paolo!

And to my total delight and surprise, Mo Willems was there! He read Knuffle Bunny Too and his newest book The Pigeon Wants a Puppy. He spoke about his work and his characters, and he answered lots of kid questions (“Why does the pigeon want a puppy?”). Kyle was a little old for those books, so they wandered while I stayed to watch. But that was my highlight of the day.

I won’t deny that there were a lot of things the adults would have enjoyed on their own throughout the weekend. I could have watched Mo Willems all day. I peaked in at Stan Lee talking about his upcoming book Election Daze, which was pretty amazing. It may have been a completely different experience outside of Kids Day, but we went today thinking it would be something special for Kyle. In my quest to be The World’s Coolest Aunt this outing came up a little short.

Update 4/21/08: I was just told that this year is the first year they have had a Kids Day at ComicCon. If this is true, it explains a lot. Maybe in future years they’ll pull it together a little more.