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Why I took my kids to AsiaPOP Comicon 2015

With Colton Haynes

WOULDN’T we love to see Superman and Batman appear on “Arrow”? Probably not going to happen but Colton Haynes did confirm he was going back to the show. Here’s the author and his son flanking Haynes.

I remember my heartbreak years ago when my dad told me to stop collecting comic books. He asked how I thought it added value to me and all I could muster was a feeble, “It’s good for my vocabulary. I’m learning a lot of new words.” I was 10, and I had no idea I had to be deliberate about my pastimes. All I knew was, from the moment I held my first comic book at a Book Sale, I was hooked.

Like any kid, I didn’t listen to my dad. I kept buying these fantastic weekly adventures with savings from my baon, and I’ve never stopped to this day. It is now a passion I share with my two sons, and fuel for my work as an executive for a top marketing communications agency where creativity is demanded. I am happy and a little vindicated that my hobby has now dominated practically all forms of pop culture. My love for comics has also exploded into movies, toys, games and costumes—much like the rest of the world today.

As a father now, I encourage my sons to soak up the ideals of heroism represented by idols in pop culture—Superman, Iron Man, Batman, Yoda and many more—though I tell them no gaudy costumes and elaborate fight scenes are necessary
to do what’s right.

Ground Zero for geekdom

A family of comic book geeks, we jumped at the opportunity to see the AsiaPOP Comicon at the World Trade Center this past weekend. Buzz online was good, and everyone on my Facebook wall was thrilled about Manila’s very first international convention themed around comics, film, toys and collectibles, animation, games, cosplay and superheroes. For a weekend, international celebrities, comic book artists, brands and studios would be here, making Manila Ground Zero for geekdom.

The international celebrity guest list was formidable: Paul Bettany who played J.A.R.V.I.S. and Vision in the “Avengers” film franchise; Nathalie Emmanuel or Missandei, as she is known in the hugely popular HBO series “Game of Thrones”; and Colton Haynes, who played Roy Harper aka Arsenal on the hit show “Arrow.” Too bad Jason Momoa, who will be playing Aquaman in the DC cinematic universe, canceled. Trouble in Atlantis, I hear.

Whilce Portacio, one of the most established Filipino comic book artists in the US would be there, too, along with young turks Leinil Yu (Wolverine, New Avengers) and Carlo Pagulayan (Iron Man, Convergence) and others.

Mark Christian Parladé and son

IT was a 30-minute wait to get inside AsiaPOP Comicon, but the experience was worth it. MARK CHRISTIAN PARLADÉ

We were delighted to find out that tickets for children 12 years old and below were free, so I only had to pay for a one-day pass of P500 for myself. I think it’s great that AsiaPOP Comicon was child-friendly that way. The souvenir program also effectively told us what was in store for us that day, and allowed me and my sons to plan our activities: e.g. leaving them at the Lego play area while I hunted down old comics at Filbar’s and Comic Odyssey, or toys at Tokidoki and Hot Toys. My wallet was ready.

Everything was Instagrammable at the ‘con. From Comicave’s Hulkbuster armor to other giant or life-size statues, to the toys and artwork on display at the various booths, to an amazing and accommodating group of cosplayers just wandering around the floor, the sights had attendees snapping away, uploading and hashtagging #asiapopcomicon.

#ohwellcapitalism

The line to the Hulkbuster was long despite the hefty P500 price tag for two shirts and the free photo op. I heard it was only P250 the previous day. The lines to the meet-and-greet sessions with Paul Bettany and Colton Haynes were also long and the price, steep. The celebs made up for it: Bettany was charming and funny, and Haynes was very accom

modating. But in the queue, other attendees couldn’t understand why tickets were different for photo ops AND autographs. #ohwellcapitalism.

My job was to trail my kids around the con floor, directing and taking their pictures with all the merry, scary, colorful characters they ran into, paying for lines and toys they wanted to buy, saying no to most of them. In my mind, I was thumbing my nose at that conversation with my dad years ago.

I loved introducing them to comic book characters they’ve never read about, and especially watching old Pinoy comic book greats work their magic as they sketched ‘con goers.

We were only there for a day. I’m sorry we missed that moment the day before, when they showed a full trailer of “Captain America: Civil War” and announced that it would be shown here next April, instead of May. This only shows that the Philippines is now on the international Comicon community’s radar.

I hope they do this again here and that more parents bring their kids. Comicon’s a great way to bond with children while fanning the flames of their imaginations. At least when my kids are a little older, I’ll have help raiding the back-issue bins. And we can cosplay as a group. Scratch that, a (Justice) League.

I didn’t get to buy the toys that I wanted. But I realize, with my kids dragging me around, running me ragged around the Comicon floor, I have all the toys I need.

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