Raroos at Comic-Con Logo[GameSetWatch's coverage of Comic-Con continues with another report from The Raroos. This update features Missus Raroo at the helm, and she discusses how the changes to Comic-Con in recent years run parallel to the changes in the Raroos' lives during the same period of time.]

Just as Mister Raroo and I have watched Comic-Con change over the years, so too have our lives. In our first years of attendance, we were just in our early twenties. We were out of college and working, but we did not yet have children, a mortgage or many other responsibilities. This meant we felt free to spend money to buy stacks of our favorite small press comics and manga. Back then, the general market wasn’t saturated with “graphic novels,” and so it was a real treat to discover new works that we couldn’t find at just any ordinary bookstore.

Each day, we would fill up our backpacks with new reading material, and we would head home with aching backs from hauling our goods around. Fast forward to today and we are still ending up with aching backs, but it’s no longer from backpacks full of purchases. Instead, we have backpacks full of diaper bag supplies, and we’re also frontloaded by taking turns carrying around our toddler son Kaz and infant daughter Yoshie.

As many can attest, Comic-Con has blown up in scale during the past decade. It wasn’t so long ago that people could walk up the same day to purchase available passes, and now the venue becomes sold out nearly a year in advance. With all of this growth, it seems like Comic-Con has perhaps lost some of its innocence and yet for our family, the experience has become fresher than ever because we are able to experience it in a new way with our children.

Sometimes people will hear that we’re taking our kids to Comic-Con and they either feel bad for the kids or else they feel bad for us. If Mister Raroo and I expected to get the same experience out of Comic-Con that we had when we were younger, I would agree that all parties would be pretty miserable and cranky. Luckily, Comic-Con is an opportunity that can be tailored to offer countless different experiences to all of its unique attendees.

Outsiders of Comic-Con usually assume that the experience is something that can be summed up by what they see in news coverage. In turn, we always get asked the same two questions by curious people in our lives: 1) What did you go dressed up as? and 2) Did you see any famous people? While Comic-Con is about dressing up for some and about seeing celebrities for others, this is not what it’s all about for the Raroos.

Family Time

This year, Comic-Con for the Raroos has included some of our favorite old routines, but with a twist. We have checked out video game booths so Mister Raroo can try out game demos, only nowadays he has a sidekick in three-year old Kaz who watches the gameplay in awe. I’m also pretty proud of my nursing-on-the-go and so I’ve been able to tag along while feeding Yoshie at both Nintendo’s and Hudson’s booths. While this doesn’t beat my all-time favorite—nursing a baby Kaz in Elvis’s carport in Graceland—it’ll certainly remain a fun memory of Comic-Con during this era in our lives.

Almost as if on autopilot, our feet still take us to all of the booths we used to buy comics from. It’s fun to look at the latest works by our old-time favorite cartoonists. In many cases, it brings a smile to my face to see how people who were just starting out have managed to find some level of success in the industry. In the past, we wouldn’t have been able to hold ourselves back from snatching up their new releases, but with only a little sadness, I’ve come to accept that we simply can’t keep up anymore. We don’t have the money to spare, we don’t have the space to store more, and we don’t have the time to enjoy it.

While this last statement sounds a little bleak upon rereading it, my experience of Comic-Con this year has been completely joyful. It makes me happy to see how people continue to pursue their creative talents and passions even as my everyday life has become so packed with the ordinary routines of work and caring for our home and kids. Seeing people persevere in the arts from year-to-year inspires me to make time in my life to pursue my own creative outlets.

I also think that I’m able to enjoy Comic-Con more now because I’ve grown more tolerant of its inclusiveness. When Mister Raroo and I used to attend in the past, we were quick to believe that our tastes were superior. We were very proud of our love for the emerging Indie comic scene and were appalled by the throngs of people who clogged up the aisles for the blockbuster movies and mainstream TV franchises. We used to consider these types of attendees to be lesser and we avoided this area of the floor as much as possible.

Having our son Kaz, though, was an eye-opening experience. We started off thinking that we would be able to influence Kaz to appreciate “cool” things, but we soon learned that he liked what he liked and not simply what we did. So, just as we grew to accept and eventually welcome the place that Teletubbies would have in our home, we have also learned to embrace the full spectrum of Comic-Con.

Karaoke Revolution: GleeThis year, for example, Kaz was enthralled by the same kind of “big name” displays that we used to belittle. He stood transfixed at the Hasbro booth, only breaking his trance to ask where the key was for the display cases because he wanted to play with the toys. I would have never taken a second glance at the giant Bumblebee statue in the past, but through Kaz’s eyes, I could see how it is amazing.

Along these lines, I also had to smile to myself when Mister Raroo was checking out the Otomedius demo at Konami’s booth. The colorful and quirky shooter looked like just the type of game that I know my husband would love and appreciate. Meanwhile, on the other side of him, I watched an unfortunately awkward tween girl singing her heart out to the demo of Karaoke Revolution: Glee. This game, on the other had, is just the type that would normally make us wince and ask, “Who buys these games?” And, the answer is apparently that girl.

As Comic-Con winds down, I look forward to our final day of attendance for 2010. We haven’t made it to any panels like we used to enjoy in the past since Kaz cannot sit still for any length of time. We haven’t been able to take advantage of opportunities like attending free movie screenings on a whim as we did one year with Shaolin Soccer, one of our all-time fondest Comic-Con memories. But, Comic-Con this year has fit us just perfectly.

A Trainer Like AshWe used to criticize the parts of Comic-Con that didn’t interest us, but now it’s fun to know that from year to year, no matter what Kaz and Yoshie end up getting into, we will be able to tailor our experience to meet us wherever we are in our lives. Perhaps some year we will end up camping out early to meet a famous movie star that Yoshie is in love with. Another year maybe I’ll be busy sewing Kaz some cosplay outfit for the Masquerade Ball. These are things we’ve never done and in the past would’ve never dreamed of, but I’m so excited thinking about these possibilities now—these are the ridiculous and fun things I can look forward to whenever I start to get sad that our babies are growing up too fast.

As for tomorrow, I have a feeling we’ll be revisiting the Pokémon booth yet again since Kaz is apparently a “trainer like Ash.” And, while I have to admit that Mister Raroo and I had become a little jaded with Comic-Con in the recent past, this year we’ve fallen back in love. Comic-Con, we choose you!

[Missus Raroo doesn't consider herself to be a "real" gamer, but between listening to her husband excitedly talk about games on a regular basis and trying her hand at a select few titles herself, she knows a thing or two about video games. She served as the co-editor-in-chief of the Game Time With Mister Raroo print zine and was called the "heart and soul" of the publication by readers. She lives in El Cajon, CA with her husband, son, daughter, and pets. You may reach Missus Raroo at koopaboo@yahoo.com.]