It goes without saying, but Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 was amazing and I had a great time. There was a lot that I did and didn’t get to do, but probably one of the most memorable parts of my experience was helping break the World Record for the most people dressed as Comic Book characters in one place.
I was planning on wearing my Age of Ultron Scarlet Witch costume at least one day of Comic Con. I didn’t think that it would qualify for the World Record attempt, but a fellow cosplayer on the Cosplay Utah facebook site clarified that a movie version of the character was allowed. The rule was that the character had to have originated in a comic book (Harley Quinn made her debut in a television show) and there could be no alternate versions of the character (such as a steampunk Batman).
After Anthony Daniels’ amazing one-man show on Friday afternoon, I made my way towards the south entrance of the Salt Palace where I assumed everyone would be gathering. I had hoped to be in and out of there quickly, but after I arrived at the south entrance I realized I was in for a long wait. No one was being let into the south wing of the Salt Palace where we would be staging for the world record. It was around a quarter after five. A few people were starting to crowd around the exit. I mingled with the crowd for a few minutes. If my phone had been working I would have taken pictures of the other cosplayers but as it was I was just there to soak in the atmosphere.
As people gathered at the south end of the Salt Palace I pulled out my camp stool and talked to the other cosplayers standing around me. There were several false starts when we hoped the people guarding the exit would let us into the assembly area. At five twenty-five, they started letting us through. The Comic Con volunteers and officials had to count every single person and make sure their costumes met the requirements. Everyone was given a card with a QR code to be scanned, and as they walked past the “comic book experts” standing guard said yes or no to the people who walked by. My costume was approved without much hesitation from the judges.
After passing through the barrier, the participants were organized into lines. I ended up between a female Thor and a genderbent Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes straight out of the rescue scene in Captain America: The First Avenger. I had met the last two, Rae and her friend Ashley, a few minutes previously, so we spent the time sharing stories about our experiences at the con. Rae showed me her photo op with Sebastian Stan where she had “rescued” him. And Ashley wanted to hear about Sebastian’s Q&A panel earlier in the day, so I got to give her a few of the details.
A stage had been set up at the far side of the room, and the emcee told us to get comfortable while they waited for more people to come in. People were brought in one line at a time and we sat down in rows. I pulled out my camp stool when we got to our waiting spot. I had that stool with me all three days of the con and everyone who saw it was jealous, but it was while we were waiting to break the world record that people told me that I had conjured it with my Scarlet Witch powers—a plausible explanation if I ever heard one.
I hadn’t been talking to my new friends for very long when the music came on. They played popular songs from the radio, but the first and last song we heard that day was “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, which in my mind kind of became an anthem for the convention. Everyone started dancing and singing in place, and then they invited people to come up to the stage to show off their dance moves. At first it was just one person at a time. Then groups of people in similar costumes—notably Spider-Man and Deadpool—came up to the stage. It was rather like a party or a pep rally, and what made it awesome was the fact that we were IN COSTUME.
I am sure if they hadn’t been trying so hard to entertain us I would have been more anxious about the time. Every now and then the emcees would make announcements over the loudspeakers. They started saying that we needed more people to come in and join us, and they encouraged us to call and text our family and friends or use social media to get more people to join us.
And then a golf cart came into the room and there were people riding it. I didn’t know until much later that we were being treated to the presence of film and TV star Manu Bennett, dressed as his Arrow character Slade Wilson/Deathstoke in a suit and eyepatch. Bennett got onto the stage and took the microphone. He called up a little boy dressed in a Deadpool costume and poked up at him for being “Wade Wilson”. He then called up the Deadpool cosplayers again to the stage to take a photo with him.
Not long after Bennett had come in, Salt Lake Comic Con’s founders Bryan Brandenberg and Dan Farr appeared with Michael Empric, the adjucator from the Guinness Book of World Records. They announced that enough people had been gathered and counted. Emrpic set a timer for five minutes, and all we had to do to qualify was to stay together during that time period. Everyone was so excited and happy that it was finally time. The music was turned on again and we celebrated our impending victory by dancing in place. Then Empric us the official numbers. A few people had left or been turned away, and of course the crowd booed. Then he gave us the final number: 1,784. Of course, since we had claimed the world record from an event in China everyone immediately started chanting “USA! USA!” Well, Salt Lake Comic Con had wanted to “bring it back home”: they got their wish with an added side of patriotism.
The next step, of course, was to take a photo of the assembled group of cosplayers. The officials went around to the back of the room to take it, so it was kind of hard from our end to know what was going on and we had to stand around for several minutes with our arms up holding up our swords/shields/weapons/whatever. But finally they took it. We were released through the back doors, and every participant was handed a commemorative pin. There was a drone flying outside that recorded us as we walked by, some of us going home and some of us headed back into the Salt Palace through the south entrance. Helping break the world record was a really great experience and I’m glad I got to be a part of the convention’s history.