FanX 2016 is coming soon. Ok, maybe soon is not the right word. It’s happening Easter weekend, 2016, which is the end of March. It seems like Salt Lake Comic Con just ended, and some of us are still recovering, but that’s the life in a geek community with two major conventions each year. Once one ends, we are all anxious to start hearing about who is coming to the next one and when it will be and all the details, even though, right now, there are relatively few details to have. Planning a huge convention like this takes time, and a lot of the details are not completely hammered down until right before the convention begins. That’s a big reason why we get guest announcements right up until the day of the convention, and sometimes it happens at the convention itself- like when Patrick Stewart was announced at the very first FanX in 2014.
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.
Well, another edition of Salt Lake Comic Con has come to a close, and it’s six months until the next major event, FanX, so all we have now is discussing this major event and reliving it again and again until Easter weekend. One of the hashtags that the folks at Comic Con were encouraging people to use was #EPIC. I can’t think of a better way to describe Salt Lakes third comic convention. It seemed like epic was everywhere, from the guests, to the panels and even the new features. Even our coverage from The Geeky Mormon was epic, as we had all of our major contributors there (Erica is not pictured above, but trust me, she was there). I am sure Kevin and Liz will be offering up some posts about their experiences in the near future, but like all of us, they are probably still recovering. Especially Kevin, who ran his own booth there all weekend. If you didn’t stop by the Ryel Comics booth, then shame on you. It was great. A must do at future events. I had previously only interacted with Kevin and Liz online, so it was great to meet them in person, and see firsthand that we have some very quality people contributing to the site.
Alright, enough of that. Let’s get down to business. The Con. How was it? How did it compare to previous years? What could have been better? Well, I was there all three days, and had the good fortune this time around to be there as a VIP, so I got to see some of those VIP perks firsthand. Was it worth it? I’ll let you know. The way I see it, the convention is broken down into 5 categories, which I have named: Registration and entry, Vendor floor, Celebrity line up and panels, non-celebrity panels, and organization. I will go through each category and rate each, providing us with an overall rating. Sound good? Alright, let’s go.
Registration and Entry
Last year was a debacle when it came to registration and entry on the first day. I mean, it was bad. One of the best things about Salt Lake Comic Con is that they are always listening to fan feedback and trying to improve. During this years FanX, they introduced us to RFID wristbands that we got before the show, and just needed to activate. There were a few snags, including many of the wristbands coming with the little knobby part broken, so they needed to be replaced. This time around, it was similar, in that we received our wristbands before the show and could activate them online. They seemed to pack them with extra care, wrapping the little knobby part in extra bubble wrap to protect it. Some people were concerned as the con drew closer and they still hadn’t received their bands, but overall, I think most people did. These RFID chips make entering the con a breeze. As a VIP, I was looking forward to being on the vendor floor before everyone else. In the description of each level, it said VIPs got early entry, and Gold passes also got early entry, immediately after the VIPs. This isn’t exactly how it worked once I go to the show on Thursday. They had two lines. One was just multiples and the other was gold and VIP combined. This meant Gold and VIP got in at the same time. Not a big deal, since we were all in 3 minutes early, but it just wasn’t as advertised. That’s just nitpicking, and it really doesn’t bother me that Gold and VIP got in at the same time, they just need to add that to the description, so it says Gold gets in at the same time as VIP.
My only other, small, beef would be that they made mention of ordering your free kids’ wristbands by a certain date, to ensure they were mailed to you. I did that, and when my last package came, there were no kids’ wristbands. To make up for this, the mentioned that they would have these wristbands at every entrance. This wasn’t the case. When we came back on Thursday afternoon with our kids, we asked about the wristbands and the volunteer said they didn’t have any, and just that they changed that at the last-minute, and then sent us to the wrong place to get them. It all worked out in the end and we got the wristbands, so it was fine. It would be nice to have these in advance so we could write our phone number on them before hand and have them on the kids when we got there, instead of spending time at the convention looking for them and then getting them on the kids. Small beef, I know, but still important.
Overall, for registration on entry, I give SLCC15 4 out of 5 stars.
One of the big attractions for any convention is the vendor floor. This time, it seemed like there was a pretty good line up of vendors and a pretty good layout on the floor. On Saturday, there were definitely a few bottleneck spots, but there were over 100,000 people, so it’s understandable. What I really liked, though, was that they had some pretty great vendors there for the first time. The Funko Pop Life tour was there, which only had 2 other stops in the US: SDCC and NYCC. I was really excited about this, since I love Funko Pop. They had a great selection of Funko Pops, some that were hard to find in the “wild,” and they were reasonably priced. I personally bought 2: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Harry Potter in his Quidditch robes. They were $10 each, which is a fine price. The exclusive Funko figures they had for SLCC were $80, so I passed on those this time around.
One thing I really liked about the floor this time around was that KidCon was in a completely separate area- room 155- so it did not take up a bunch of space or interfere with the vendor floor. I also want to say kudos to Xfinity. One of the big complaints about previous cons was that Xfinity was there, trying to sell cable subscriptions. It just didn’t fit. This time around, Xfinity was there again, but they brought the Iron Throne and offered a free photo op. There was a line at their booth all day, every day. I personally don’t watch Game of Thrones, so it didn’t interest me, but I may have been the only one at the con that felt that way, so it was a huge success.
The one qualm I had with the vendor floor was the way they had the Artist Alley organized. Maybe they have done it this way each con and I never noticed, but this time I was looking for a specific booth: green 4. With the regular vendors, they have huge banners hanging up above each aisle, saying what number that aisle is. There is nothing like that for the artists. Instead, it goes by the color of their table-cloth. On the green aisle, for example, each of the tables had a green table-cloth. That was harder to see. Once I figured it out, it was alright, but couldn’t we have giant banners above each aisle that said “Green” or “White” or whatever?
The vendor floor, as a whole, gets a 4.5 out of 5 stars
Celebrity Lineup and Panels
Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell: those four alone made this lineup epic. In addition they had the Phelps twins from Harry Potter, Jenna Coleman from Doctor Who, the talent from MST3K, plenty of voice actors and my personal favorite, Sean Astin. It was really great, and really had someone for everyone. With my VIP pass, I tried to experience as many of the celebrity panels in the Grand Ballroom as I could. I definitely got my fill. The best panel of the weekend was Sean Astin. I was star struck just sitting in the audience. I would have embarrassed myself if I had actually met him. I could have sat in his panel for hours. I was disappointed when it was over.
The Chris Evans panel was, obviously, incredible. it would have been nice if it had started on time, instead of 30 minutes late, especially since he was scheduled for a photo op, so he had to leave at 11, leaving just Anthony Mackie. That being said, Anthony Mackie was hilarious. He was really a highlight of the whole weekend. The really amazing thing was the amount of Photo ops they got Chris Evans involved in. He doesn’t usually do that at conventions, and from what I have read online, he was really great with everybody, plus he tweeted out how much he loved our con and getting more up close with the fans, more personal.
Just because we got the Captain America Panel that SDCC did not get, I am giving this area a 5 out of 5.
A lot of people spend most or all of their days in the grand ballroom. They miss out on a bunch of really fun and interesting panels going on throughout the con. This year was pretty special for me, as I got to participate in my first panel for Salt Lake Comic Con. I am grateful to Blake Casselman and Ryan Call for making that happen. It was pretty cool to sit on the other side of the podium, and I was pretty nervous. Once I was up there, though, it wasn’t so bad. I had a lot of fun.
The panels in general are always great. The two gentlemen I mentioned above work tirelessly to put together a stellar list of topics for their panels. Almost any fandom is represented in some form or another, and the major ones get multiple panels talking about multiple facets of a particular fandom. There were multiple Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, DC and Disney panels. Each one is a lot of fun. If you like podcasts, you would love panels. They are like live podcasts. Just look in the list, find a topic that interests you, and then go to it.
One thing that was not as much fun, or one thing I have learned, is that a moderator can make or break a panel. A good moderator is there, prepared with questions, but they ask the questions and then get out of the way and let the panelists answer. A bad moderator makes the panel all about them and they don’t let the panelists talk that much. I saw both at Comic Con. I am not going to hold that against the overall score for the panels. As always this was a highlight for me, so I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
This is an area of the con that gets better each time. I have to always remind myself that this is only the third Salt Lake Comic Con, and only their 5th show overall. Plus, it got huge very quickly, so there have been some growing pains. Some highlights for organization this year include the RFID wristbands, the multiple entrances, the ZipQ (the greatest VIP perk ever) and moving the Autographs and photo ops to the back of the vendor hall, where the lines there don’t interfere with the vendors.
The major thing that needs improvement is that there sometimes seems to be major communication block between upper management and the volunteers. The important thing to remember is that they are volunteers. Most of the representatives you will meet from Salt Lake Comic Con are not getting paid for this and they have other day jobs. They really do a great job, and I met some of the nicest volunteers. The issue is that sometimes things are advertised and communicated out to the con goers, and then the volunteers don’t know anything about it, or have been told something different. The kids’ wristbands are a good example of that. One thing was communicated to the con goers, but the experience was completely different. This is something that has improved with each con, but it is still a small issue. Each event, they spend more time and make more effort to improve their volunteers, and they have quite a few that have come back for each convention, so they are getting more experienced. This will continue to get better.
Overall rating for organization is 4 stars out of 5.
Bonus: The VIP
I have always just gone with a multiples, but this year we decided I could try VIP. We saved for it, and made it happen. Overall, I liked the VIP experience. If you are into the celebrities then this pass is worth it. Especially with ZipQ which works like a Fast Pass for the big panels. This is brand new, so there are still a few kinks that need to be worked out, but this perk alone makes the VIP worth it. I didn’t have to line up early for any panel in the ballroom. I just showed up 5 till and knew I had a seat. It was awesome. In addition, it is nice for photo ops to have a separate line and autographs, too, I suppose. In any case, if meeting the celebrities is something you are into, then the VIP is for you and is worth it. I don’t know if I will do it again, but I don’t regret doing it this time.
There you have it. A little wordy, but hopefully worth it and thanks for sticking with me as I wrote it. Overall, SLCC15 gets a 4.5 from me. I am still really feeling great about it. It was a lot of fun and well worth it. I can’t wait to see how FanX 16 turns out, but like everyone else, I will have to.
What did you think of Salt Lake Comic Con? Did it live up to your expectations? Let us know in the comments below, or by commenting on our Facebook page or send me feedback directly at email@example.com.
Salt Lake Comic Con is coming up in a week’s time, and I am getting excited. One of the things that I am really looking forward to is participating in a panel. I really enjoy attending the different panels and feel like they are always interesting and informative, and I am hoping that I’ll have something interesting to add when I am one of the panelists, instead of just sitting in the audience. My panel is next Friday night at 6 pm in room 255E, and the topic is Disabilities in Pop Culture. I wanted to take an opportunity to explain why I wanted to be on this panel.
7 years ago, almost to the day, we found out that our newest addition, Eliza, had a hearing loss. We didn’t really know what that would mean for us. The audiologist let us know that it was a permanent loss, and that it was a mild to moderate loss, nothing that hearing aids wouldn’t be able to help. Further tests revealed that it was a particular type of hearing loss that was progressive, meaning it could, probably would, get worse with time. Eventually, she may even lose all of her hearing. This changed our whole world. We had never even considered that our kids would be born with a hearing loss. It didn’t run in either of our families, so it was completely unexpected. It also led to more questions. Our oldest child, Johnny, was almost 2 at the time, and wasn’t talking at all. He had previously mimicked sounds, but lately, that had stopped. It seemed like he was going backward. We took him in to get him tested, and sure enough, he also had a hearing loss, only his had progressed past the mild to moderate phase. His was a severe hearing loss, which is a fancy way of saying he was deaf. In a matter of months, in my mind, I had gone from having 2 normal kids to having kids who were “hearing impaired.” It was an adjustment, to say the least, but eventually we fooled ourselves into believing that we had it figured out.
When our fourth child came along, Lucy would join her older brother and sister as our third deaf child. With her, we decided to have some genetic testing done. That’s when we found out that my wife and I each carried a recessive gene and passed it down to our kids. They said it was a mutated gene. Wait…did you say mutated? Like, our kids were mutants? Like the X-Men? I guess as a geek, I relate to the world in geeky terms. All of a sudden, my kids’ hearing loss wasn’t a disability. It was a super power, a gift.
In a lot of ways, having a deaf child is a lot like having a mutant child in the Marvel Universe. The deaf culture is not well understood by the hearing world. Hearing doctors and audiologists and scientists are always looking for ways to cure the deaf population, while the Deaf (notice the capital “D”) Community doesn’t see a need to be “cured.” Many are proud to be deaf and to be part of that community and part of that history and part of that culture. A lot of hearing people don’t know how to react around deaf people. Do they pity them? Avoid them? How do they interact with them? Usually, discomfort leads to avoidance. My kids even go to a special school for deaf kids with other deaf kids speaking their own language and learning how to be proud of who they are. My kids are real, live X-Men. Fortunately, right now, they are not hunted down and put into concentration camps, but many are still forced to conform to the hearing world, and if you study Deaf History at all, it’s not hard to find examples of hearing oppression that is not dissimilar to concentration camps.
The world is changing, though. We are viewing disabilities in a whole new way, and a lot of that comes from geek culture that has now become mainstream. Maybe it’s because geeks understand what it feels like to be different, to be an outsider, so it leads us to be more tolerant. We understand to value what people can bring to the table, instead of only seeing what they can’t. In any case, I feel like we geeks are paving the way for more acceptance of people of all abilities. Which is awesome. My kids can look at a lot of pop culture and see people who succeeding who are different. Then they see they can do anything as well. That’s why this topic is important to me. I want my kids to look at a world full of heroes who are doing amazing things, whether they can see, or hear, or walk or whatever. Seeing those kinds of characters, like a Matt Murdock, like a Geordi LaForge, like a Barbara Gordon, it inspires my kids to reach for anything and know that really can do and be what they want. It makes me proud and happy to be raising my own “gifted youngsters” and to see the amazing things they’ll do.
What do you think? Who are some of the characters in geek culture who have had to overcome extra obstacles? Let us know in the comments either here, or in our Facebook page.
Can you bring your kids to the convention? It seems to be a question that comes up every time that Salt Lake Comic Con has an event, whether it be Fan X or the actual Comic Con. People who haven’t been before, or people who have never brought their kids before, they all wonder if this event is appropriate for them to bring their little ones. The short and easy answer is yes. The folks at Comic Con seem to realize that we are a pretty family friendly market, and so they try to make their convention as family friendly as possible. It’s really a tough task, when you think about it. On one hand they have to provide enough entertainment and things for adults, while at the same time providing some great things for the kiddos. They seem to improve their balance here with each convention.
If you have never been to the convention with your kids, have no fear, your friendly neighborhood Geeky Mormon is here to help. I have five little ones of my own, which means we are a traveling circus wherever we go. I have also brought them to every convention for at least one day since the first Fan X. That means I know of which I speak, when I speak about bringing kids. We have made our fair share of mistakes along the way, but hopefully you can learn from those mistakes and end up having a smooth and wonderful time at the upcoming Salt Lake Comic Con. Here are 10 tips my wife and I have learned along the way. Hopefully you will find some of them helpful.
1. Bring Snacks and Water
I cannot emphasize enough how important this tip is. Kids get hungry a lot quicker than adults. They are constantly going and using energy and constantly need that energy refilled. At Salt Lake Comic Con, the food is typical of most conventions or major events. It is expensive and typically not healthy. You’re not going to find an organic fruit stand in the middle of the vendor floor. It is up to you to bring the snacks you want your kids to eat and provide them. You will save a ton of money this way, and ensure your kids are eating what you want them to eat, whether that’s organic fruit, or granola bars, or crackers or whatever. At this point, I should point out that the official rule at the Salt Palace is no outside food or drinks. I personally have had no issue with bringing in our own snacks for the kids. I think for the most part, anyone checking bags takes a look at my wife and I loaded down with our 5 little monsters, and they take pity on us. Truth is, I have heard the same from quite a few people with kids- no issues with bringing in food. Water bottles are a must, as well. It is easy to get dehydrated, so bring plenty of fluids, or at least bottles to hold water. They have drinking fountains throughout the convention center to refill the bottles. Much less expensive than buying a water bottle.
2. Plan for Crowds
Each year, Salt Lake Comic Con gets bigger than the year before. The stars and names seem to get bigger, drawing a larger crowd. This year should no different with the likes of Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan and Jenna Coleman appearing at the con. The crowds are going to be huge. Saturday will probably be a record-setting day. There may even be times where they have to stop letting people in. It has happened before. You need to be aware of this and plan for it. Thursdays are typically the day we bring our kids, because they are the least crowded. The important thing to note in that sentence is I said “least crowded.” This is important because “least crowded” is not the same as not crowded. Each day is crowded, so you need to be prepared. For example, we don’t bring our giant double stroller. We bring our umbrella stroller and kid leashes (They’re Mickey Mouse, so we call them “Mickey Hugs.” The kids love them). This makes it easier for us to navigate the vendor floor and there hallways. Whatever considerations you might need to make, make them. It will be crowded. You have been warned.
3. Plan a Budget
There will be plenty for you to spend your money on in the vendor area. Plenty to attract your children too. Be prepared for it. We normally set a budget for the 3 days and bring it in cash so we can monitor how much we have and how much we have spent. If your budget is high, and you don’t feel comfortable carrying cash around, then don’t, but it works for us. The budget is the important part. Your kids will see plenty that they want to buy, whether it’s a cool toy or a picture or food or even face painting. Having a set budget makes it easier to limit what you buy and prevents you from breaking the bank on this one event. My kids expect some kind of print from every show. I shop Artist Alley to find some great prints, and typically the prices are pretty reasonable. Whatever it is you want to get the kids, having a budget will only benefit you.
4. Plan Breaks
Kids cannot go at the same pace for the same amount of time as adults can. They will get worn out. Plan in some times in your schedule to sit down and have a break with the kids. There are typically places you can find to sit down and maybe break out the snacks and water and just sit and eat and enjoy the people watching. Or we have gone into the board game area and picked a family friendly game to try out and sat and played for a few minutes. Just find some quiet place to sit and take a breather. You will thank yourself later.
5. Line Management
Did you know that most kids don’t like waiting in lines? It’s true. You want to know how I know that? It’s because most adults hate waiting in lines. We do it and suffer through because we know that the payoff at the end is worth it. Kids don’t always make that connection, depending on their ages. We try to avoid waiting in a lot of lines with kids. If you are waiting for an autograph, and you have traveled to the con with at least one other adult, maybe have one adult wait and get the autograph, while the other finds another, more kid friendly activity. Find ways to have one person wait, while the other entertains the kids.
6. Meeting Cosplayers
Comic Con can be a magical place for kids, as they walk down the corridors and pass their favorite heroes. That has to be pretty amazing for them. Take advantage of the opportunity. Most Cosplayers are very friendly and don’t mind stopping for a photo. Make sure to always ask politely first, and try to find a good place to take the picture that is out-of-the-way. I always try to pay them a sincere compliment on their costume and thank them for the picture. The kids will think it’s cool to have their picture with Thor or Spider-Man or whatever. This is a great opportunity.
7. Plan Kid Friendly Activities
As you plan out your time at the con with kids, make sure you plan in some activities that the kids will really enjoy, and avoid taking them to some that are not geared toward kids. Salt Lake Comic Con makes this easy with their KidCon. This is a section of the con that is geared to the little ones at the show. There is always something going on in the KidCon for the kids, so check this area out, and you may come back a few times to keep the kids entertained. This year, it looks like they are putting it in its own room, apart from the actual vendor floor. I am interested to see if this is an improvement, or not. I have a feeling that this makes sense and will be a good move.
8. Manage Expectations
There are so many great things going on at this year’s Comic Con, that there is now way that you will see it all, anyway. With kids, you will see even less. You need to know that before hand and have those expectations. When I bring my kids on Thursday, I don’t know how much of what I want to see, like a lot of the panels, I will get to see with my kids, so I expect that for Thursday, and plan to see and do more on Friday and Saturday. Don’t go in and expect to see everything you want. Kids will slow you down, it’s just how it works. If you go into it and expect to see everything you would normally see, you will end up frustrated and disappointed. If you manage that expectation, then the kids will have fun, and you will too, and make some great memories.
9. Know your Kids and their Limits
Every kid is different, so you need to know your kids and what they can and can’t do. You need to know whether they can sit through a lot of long panels or if they can’t. You need to know if they can wait in a long line, or if they can’t. You need to know if they can go to the con all 3 days from open to close, or if they can’t. No one on any of the Facebook pages or threads or Twitter or whatever will be able to tell you what your kids limits are. That being said, you need to know those limits and plan accordingly. I know my kids won’t sit through most of the panels I want to go to, so I don’t bring them to panels. I also know that going for part of one day is about all my kids can handle, so that’s our limit.
10. Have Fun!
This is the most important thing you can do. Chances are, you are going to Salt Lake Comic Con because it represents something that is important to you. Chances are, you want your kids to feel the same way. You want them to be the next generation of geeks. Who doesn’t want that? The best way to accomplish that is to get them involved in things like comic con, and to make sure they have a great time doing it. Those are memories that will last a lifetime. That really is the most important thing for your kids. So, just have fun!
So, what are your plans for Salt Lake Comic Con? Are you going? Are you bringing kids? Are there any tips you would share that i left off the list? Let me know in the comments or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to hear from you.
To be fair, the title of this post is a bit misleading. Salt Lake Comic Con (no dash) has always been legit. From their very first show, up through their most recent FanX, SLCC has done an incredible job listening to fans and bringing them the experiences they want. As of yesterday, though, Salt Lake Comic Con is more legit, maybe even 2 Legit, 2 Legit 2 Quit (I’m sorry, I know that was lame). I’ll be honest, the guest lineup this year was pretty good for some folks, but I wasn’t really feeling it as much as previous years. There were a few guests I was excited about, but it just didn’t seem like there were as many as for me as previous cons. Of course, part of that may be that anything short of a David Tennant or Peter Capaldi feels like a let down after Matt Smith came in January.
Then this happened:
Yesterday, Salt Lake Comic Con announced that Chris Evans would be attending the convention on the Saturday of the event. This is huge. You know where Chris Evans wasn’t? San Diego Comic-Con (with a dash). You know what he has never done at other conventions, that he’s doing at SLCC? Photo ops and autographs. Do you know how awesome that is? Epic. Oh, and to add to the awesomeness, there was this little bit of information, leaked from Hayley Atwell’s twitter account:
— Hayley Atwell (@HayleyAtwell) July 17, 2015
Hayley was asked if she might be joining Chris for the con in Salt Lake, and she said yes. Which would be pretty cool. These are two huge names who are currently in the MCU. I think the fans in Salt Lake would love to see these two together. I know I would.
What is even cooler about Chris Evans coming is the story about how the booking went down. According to an article written by a local reporter for USA Today, Dan Farr made contact with Chris Evans agent in Houston at Comicpalooza (apparently the agent was there with Hayley Atwell, so that might explain why she is also coming to SLCC). He was talking to them about coming to Salt Lake, when Marina Sirtis (aka Deanna Troi), a SLCC alum, came up and told the age that they had to come to Salt Lake Comic Con. She said it was the best event around, and that the fans were the best. That’s pretty high praise. Now, the result is that we are getting these two mega stars here in Salt Lake.
I am so excited about this and how it all went down. We are building a reputation for being a premier spot for celebrities to come and meet their fans. We are building a reputation for being an awesome geeky fan base, and that is pretty cool. The fact that our fans played a role in why this happened seems to just fit. SLCC has always been about the fans and what we want.
I think the other thing that makes me so excited about Chris Evans coming here is that this will open the door for other huge, epic names to come here. Assuming Chris will have a great experience here (how could he not?), he’ll go back and tell his friends that this is the place to come, and then when they get contacted, they’ll want to come because they will have heard how awesome we all are. This is huge, Chris Evans coming, but I have a feeling that this is only the beginning. I can’t wait to see where we go from here. Salt Lake Comic Con is legit.
What did you think of the big announcement yesterday? Was it as epic as advertised, or are you still holding your breath, maybe a little, for someone else? (David Tennant) Let me know in the comments below. Or on my Facebook page or Google +, or send it to my email directly at email@example.com.
So here we are at the last day of FanX 2015. I can’t believe it. It seems like only two months ago that this event was announced, and now is almost finished. Ok, it was only 2 months ago, which makes it pretty impressive that they were able to get it all put together as quickly as they did and that things have gone as smoothly as they have so far. Mt experience this time around was not as much FanX as I would have liked, maybe, but it was definitely quality over quantity for me. There is a lot going on in the geeky mormon household this weekend, and FanX has had to take a back seat to some of it, namely my oldest son’s baptism. That’s ok. While I welcome events like this as a great escape from reality with a bunch of like-minded people, reality does not stop and sometimes has to take priority. What I did appreciate this time around was how much time I got to spend at the con with my wife, just the two of us. That kind of time is always welcome. I don’t want you to think, though, that just because my time was limited, that I didn’t get to do a lot of great stuff. Here are the highlights:
I Thanked A FanX Volunteer or Two
If you saw my post from the other day, then you’ll know that I encouraged attendees of FanX to stop and tell a volunteer thank you. I did that while I was there. I thanked a few, but here is a pic of one of my stops. These two are two very hard-working fellas. The gentleman in the lighter shirt is Tony, and he was the head volunteer over all the other volunteers, which means for the past couple of months he has basically had two full time jobs, his day job and then the volunteer job. Of course, since one was volunteer, that means he was working two jobs, but only getting paid for one. Spencer, the gentleman behind unworked as his assistant during the con, so I am sure the two of them have been going nonstop the last couple of days. Tony does a lot to say thanks to his volunteers, so I thought it would be good to thank him as well. I didn’t do any other pics with volunteers because they were all working so hard to make the day great for everyone there, that I didn’t want to interrupt that. For the most part, I saw some really great work from all the volunteers we encountered. Well done.
I Met Some Members of Rogue Squadron
I saw these folks set up for some photo ops, and thought it would be cool to get a picture with them. I love Star Wars, and I thought these guys looked pretty good and the backdrop was great, plus the droid int the foreground, the whole thing looked pretty good. One thing I will say about FanX this year is that there seemed to be many more spots where you could stop for photo ops like this, something that FantasyCon did last year which I thought was great. In addition to this spot, there were some other photo ops set up by Salt Lake Comic Con like the Trolls from the Hobbit. There were also some other spots set up by vendors like the TARDIS, which for the first time was set up in a booth area with an established line, instead of just some random spot on the floor. It was more organized than any of the previous cons, which was nice. However, the line was long, so we didn’t get our picture there.
I Bought Some More Pictures for My Geek Wall
I have a real problem. An addiction. When I go to these events, I am drawn to the art prints like a moth to the light. I can’t help it. I know my geek wall is getting full, so I need to limit myself when I go and make purchases. Before hand, I se my limit at one. One print, that’s it, and it needed to be either Marvel or Harry Potter since I have neither of those on my wall yet. Absolutely no Doctor Who, because I already have three Doctor Who pictures on my wall. As you can tell from this picture I failed at that part, miserably. I saw this print, and I had to have it. This is the TARDIS at Bad Wolf Bay, and it is beautiful. My crappy phone pic doesn’t do this print justice. The artist who did this painting did two of my other Doctor Who pictures , so needless to say, I like his stuff. Here is the unfortunate thing, I asked for his card and he was out of them, and he gave me his website, and I didn’t write it down. I have a brother-in-law who is going back today and he is going to find out for me, so I will update this post when he does.
Most of the artists or any of the booths that sell prints (some of the booths just have a bunch of prints from random artists. I prefer the booths with the actual artist there to sign their work) have a deal, where it is so much if you buy one, and then less if you buy two or more or whatever. This particular artist charges $20 for the first print, and then $10 for each additional. So I saw this one of Arrow from the TV series, and it looked amazing, so I got it as well. Please stop by this guys booth when you go today. I believe it is number 1623, and he has a bunch of random prints hanging up behind him (they’re not his), and then his own original stuff is framed on the table. You’ll know you are in the right place if you see the picture of the TARDIS at the Salt Palace and a picture of the Bat Signal over Salt Lake City. His stuff just looks amazing.
Every time we go to one of these cons, we try to find something little for the kids, something that represents what they are into. This year we found the artist booth of Adrian Ropp. You can find him at the website ChimChum.com. His style is Disney inspired, so he draws other characters as they would look in the Disney animated universe. My oldest boy loves How to Train your Dragon. My little girls all like My Little Pony and Jak like Ninja Turtles, so we found these four prints for them and the kids loved them. I thought they would like them because of the bright colors and the style just seems so appealing to kids.
For me, I found this print. It is of the Thundercats, which is one of the first things I remember obsessing about. Even before Ninja Turtles. I loved this show as a kid, and for whatever reason, unlike other popular titles from my youth, this has never really gained a lot of traction today. There was the ill-fated Cartoon Network remake of the show, but other than that, nothing. You hardly see anything Thundercats at these cons, so when I saw this, I had to snatch it up. This is what they would look like if Disney bought them and did an animated Thundercats movie. Who knows, maybe it will happen. They’ve bought everything else from my childhood. Except it wouldn’t be hand drawn animation, it would be computer animated.
We Went to the Ultimate Doctor Who Xperience
This was a great experience, maybe the highlight of the night for me. Matt Smith was really great, as were Karen and Billie, but I think Matt stole the show. He told some great stories that had nothing to do with anything, but they were entertaining, he demonstrated how to do the drunken giraffe dance, and he just acted and sounded like the Doctor. It was almost like having 11 back. For some folks, that may be what they really want. I am happy with 12, but it was cool to see “11” again. There will probably be highlights or the whole panel that will show up on YouTube, so you can check that out there. I didn’t take any pictures or video because we were so far back that it didn’t seem worth it, so I’m sorry about that. I will try to do better next time. The biggest thing, for me, that came out of the experience, was when a fan asked all three of them if they would ever be back on Doctor Who. Matt Smith did not even hesitate when he answered “Yes.” I don’t know if it is just that he wants to come back some time, or if Moffat already has some kind of crossover planned with 11 and 12. I am wondering if it might be the latter. Karen said maybe, but only because she said no at first and has already come back since then, so who knows. Billie said if she came back anymore it might start looking a little sad. But Matt Smith is definitely planning on coming back some time. The big highlight for any of the people there was when a woman broke down crying because of how much these people meant to her when her mother was very ill and passed away. She couldn’t even get to her question, and was kind of shuffled off by one of the volunteers manning the mic. The three stars came over to her to give her a hug from the stage, and then asked her to come up on stage with them, and she was able to stay there the rest of the show. It was classy by all three involved. That highlight, I am sure is already up on YouTube.
The Real Highlight for Me
I mentioned this last night when I posted on Facebook, but one of the real highlights was meeting a reader of the blog at the convention. It is always nice to know that your stuff is being read and followed, even by just a few. So it was great meeting Braden at the show. Plus I ran into a few other folks I had met previously who let me know that they were keeping up with the blog as well. Thank you everyone for reading it. That makes my day to find that out and to meet you folks.
That was the end of my FanX adventure. It was a short one, but as you can see it was high in quality. I can’t wait for Comic Con in September. I am already planning for it. I may need to find a way to condense what I have on my geek wall, or it may just have to expand somehow. The other option would be to stop buying, but that doesn’t seem like the right one for me.
So I got to spend some time with some of my favorite people, outside of family, yesterday and Tuesday. These are part of a special breed of person. They are Salt Lake Comic Con FanX volunteers. I volunteered with them at the first FanX, and then decided not to volunteer for Salt Lake Comic Con in September, but missed it, so I decided to volunteer again this year, and it has been a good experience. The team I volunteered with this year were all behind the scenes, so we didn’t get to help any of the attendees or guests directly, but trust me, you will all feel the effects of what we did. We moved in all the FanX supplies for Salt Lake Comic Con, and then snuck out before anyone saw us. Like little magical elves making shoes for the shoe maker when he is sleeping. Wait, that sounds lame. It was more like Ninjas (wish I could take credit for that name, but I can’t). So, you will probably not come in contact with anyone that was on my team during your visit to the event, but you will come in contact with any number of an army of volunteers.
These folks are just absolutely amazing, and don’t get half the credit they deserve. None of them are volunteering for FanX as a living, which is good, because in the way of money, it does not pay well at all. And by not well, I mean it pays nothing in dollars and cents. These people don’t do it for that. They all have day jobs, and they all take time away from those day jobs to come to FanX, not to just attend and enjoy the event, but to make sure that you get to come and enjoy the event. Some of these volunteers end up working the whole event, so they don’t get to see anything. Those same people are probably not even doing this for the first time. This is probably how they spent the last three cons, and probably how they will spend the next three as well (or beyond).
None of these individuals are professional registration workers, or access control workers, or vendor floor workers, or panel room workers. That doesn’t mean that they don’t know what they are doing. Quite the contrary, actually. As I mentioned before, for many of the volunteers this is the third or fourth con they have worked, so they have experience. They want nothing more than to help you and all the other attendees to have a great time. In addition to their experience, they have sacrificed even more time leading up to the con to be trained in their individual areas. They have also been given a lengthy handbook to help them to know how to provide the best service available. I think as a result of all of this, we may see a staff so friendly and helpful, it may be like visiting Disneyland, only without the measles outbreak, hopefully.
So, why write all of this? Because, from time to time, they are not treated great. Sometimes, attendees get a little frustrated because a panel was full, or they missed an autograph, or a photo op sold out, and they were really looking forward to it. Sometimes, those attendees are going to let someone know about it, and that someone is typically the one wearing a bright colored volunteer shirt. I will say, when that happens, I am confident that these volunteers will do everything to make it up to that attendee. I will also say, that sometimes that same volunteer will have a lot of attendees let them know about issues like that, and that can be tough for anyone. It can wear them down, and they begin to forget about the vast majority of people who are having the time of their lives. In any customer service position, you always hear from the minority of people who are upset, and hardly ever hear from the people who are having a great time.
I guess what I am saying is, we should do something about that. I know I don’t have the largest readership, so I am asking you pass this on to your friends who are going. Let’s make tomorrow (Friday, January 30) and the next day (Saturday, January 31) National Thank a FanX Volunteer Day. It’s simple. If you see a volunteer, just tell them thanks. Let them know we appreciate everything they are doing. It’s a call to action. Spread this on to the Facebook pages of Salt Lake Comic Con, and through twitter and to all of our friends- let them know that tomorrow is National Thank a FanX Volunteer Day. They will all be working to make your day, so maybe we can return the favor and make theirs too.
So, who’s with me? Upload pics with them to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #ThankaFanXVolunteer. Maybe we can make it a trending hashtag by the end of the day Saturday.
I feel kind of weird writing this post. I mean, I feel like the guest lineup for FanX is pretty solid, so I don’t want it to seem like I am complaining or nitpicking or anything. I fully recognize that the team that is bringing you FanX has done a stellar job to get some fantastic guests, and we really shouldn’t complain about the lineup. That being said, there are always folks that I would love to see come and make an appearance. Besides, I ran a similar post just before last fall’s Salt Lake Comic Con, and one of the guests I wished for is coming (Matt Smith), and although we didn’t get Mark Hammil, we are getting Carrie Fischer. I just hope they read this list and maybe a star or two from the list will come next time.
1. David Tennant
This is a carry over from my previous list, and it might also seem a little picky. I am very excited that Matt Smith is coming. It’s just that Tennant was my favorite Doctor. There was just something really cool about him as the Doctor, and goofy at the same time. It would just be awesome if we could get him to come here. Plus, now he will be appearing in a new Marvel series as a villain, so he has that going for him as well, in the geek cred category. This would just be great.
2. Mark Hammil
I love Star Wars, so naturally, I am very excited about Carrie Fischer being at the event. She is big time, as far as Star Wars gets, and it is amazing that she will be here at our little show, in the same year that the latest Star Wars movie will be released. All of that is just really amazing, and I was floored when I saw that she was coming. All of that being said, Hammil would be just as incredible. He is my only other carry over from my old list, I promise. He has done so mush in the geek community, that whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, he has probably done something that you do follow. For example, he has had a great voice acting career, including his stint as the Joker on the Batman Animated Series. His is probably the first voice you hear in your head when you think of the Joker. It would just be incredible if he came and was able to do a panel and tell all of his stories on the different shows he has been a part of, or if he participated in a script reading. It would just be incredible.
3. Zachary Levi
I love Chuck. It was one of my all time favorite shows, and one of my wife’s all time favorites. We have had Agent Casey at last year’s FanX, and this year we have Shaw, so let’s get Chuck for next time. In addition to being in Chuck as the main character, Zachary Levi also appeared in Thor: The Dark World and has recently been tied to the new Heroes re-boot. All of that spells geek in my book, and it would be great to have him here. It would have been awesome to have him here with Brandon Routh or Adam Baldwin to make for a great Chuck centered panel.
4. Grant Gustin
I don’t know anything about Gustin from his Glee days, and frankly, I don’t care to. I do know that he has made a fine Barry Allen and Flash on the new CW series. I am glued to the TV once a week following the exploits of the Scarlet Speedster, and I think Gustin is a big reason why. Last year, at Salt Lake Comic Con, we had Stephen Amell from Arrow, and it was awesome. Now we need the CW’s newest star, The Flash. As a bonus, his team would be awesome too, like Cisco. That would make for a great panel. Or even better would be to get Grant Gustin to come, and get Stephen Amell to come back and have a crossover panel where both of them could be on stage together. I mean, their crossover event earlier this season was one of the biggest TV events of the year, the fans loved it, and the fans here in Salt Lake City, the Geek Capital of the World, would love a crossover panel. That would be a great foundation for a killer con.
5. One of the Other Star Trek Captains
I’ll be honest, Picard is my favorite captain. He always has been, and I think a big reason why is because TNG has always been my Star Trek. He is my favorite, but he is not the only one I would like to see in person at a panel. Sisko was a great captain, and I have heard that Avery Brooks is fantastic in person. I have seen video of interviews with him, and he seems very interesting. As does Kate Mulgrew who played Janeway in Voyager. This would be a killer year to get her to one of our events, since Voyager just hit their 20th anniversary on January 16. Then there is Scott Bakula who not only played Captain Archer in Enterprise, but he is also known for Quantum Leap and as Chuck’s dad in Chuck (another great multi-person panel if he and Levi came).
There you have it. I don’t expect any of these guests to be announced this week just before FanX, but it would be really cool if any or all of them showed up at Comic Con in September, or the next FanX. To be honest, it seems like it has grown very quiet on the guest announcements from FanX, and I have heard that there will most likely be no more guest announcements for this round. I could be wrong. Maybe another killer guest committed at the last-minute. Either way, this year’s line up is very good, the best they have had so far, so i am looking forward to it getting even better in the future.
Who would be on your guest wish list? I am sure it is not the same as mine. Maybe we have a couple in common? Let me know in the comments.
So, you’re planning on going to FanX 2015, which starts one week from today, and you don’t have a lot of cash? I fell you, brother. You’re not alone, but sometimes it feels that way. Sometimes it seems like all the con has to offer is Photo Ops and Autographs, and you just can’t afford it. Have no fear, you’re friendly, neighborhood geeky mormon is here to help. I know there are other lists out there, highlighting all the great guests coming and what not, but this list is my list, and hopefully you might find it useful. I have tried to include only free things, so other than your entrance into the con, this list won’t cost you an arm and a leg. There are a couple of exceptions, but trust me when I tell you they are minimal. I also only included one activity for Saturday, because I won’t be at the con on Saturday, so believe it or not, there isn’t much that excites me that day. Everything on this list is legitimately something I want to go to while I am at FanX, so if you go to these panels you may run into me. Fell free to stop me and say hi. I would love to meet you. Anyway, to the list!
10. KidCon Crafts
At least one of the days, we will be braving FanX with the children (probably Thursday), which means that this caught my eye. KidCon is not new, it has been around since last year’s FanX and made an appearance at last September’s Comic Con. FanX was pretty good, but Comic Con was less than impressive. I am hoping that it will be great again this time around, because it is a great place to come and enjoy with the kids. What gives me hope this year is that they will be doing crafts at the KidCon, and they’re free, according to the website. Two reasons why this is awesome: 1. Kids love doing crafts and 2. It gives them a cool souvenir from the con that costs you nothing extra and is totally unique to them. Yay crafts! They even have a schedule on their website of which crafts they will be doing when. You can check it out here.
9. The Vendor Area
This can get very expensive, so control yourself. That being said, you can’t avoid the vendor area. It is a big part of what is at the con. It is not just people selling stuff, though, so it is really worth checking out. There are some unique things, but beware, a lot of the things can be found cheaper on the internet. Another thing to watch out for is comic book vendors. There are a lot of them there, and some are less reputable than others and may or may not charge more than they should for what you are getting. My suggestion, stop by Black Cat Comics. Greg and the gang will take care of you. If you insist on spending your money in the vendor area, wait until the last day, you’ll get better deals.
8. Artist Alley
This is one of my favorite parts of the vendor area. I love looking at the different artwork here in Artist Alley, and you can usually snag a signed print for not too much, which goes great on your geeky art wall, which I assume everyone has, just like me. Usually these booths are manned by the artist themselves, so that is even cooler. These aren’t usually the really famous artists, although some of them are here as well. Check it out, and if you do spend money, it will be helping to feed a starving artist for like one night.
7. “She Turned Me into a Newt!”: Monty Python’s Holy Grail Turns 40
One of the best things to do at these conventions if you don’t want to spend a ton of extra money is to go to the panels. I’m not talking about only the celebrity panels, but the con offers panels on a variety of interesting topics, and there is something for everyone. This one looked particularly interesting to me. If you didn’t know that Monty Python and the Holy Grail were turning 40, don’t feel too bad, neither did I. When I saw this, though, I thought, “Sign me up.” I love this old, quirky comedy, and I think there are a lot of fans of the show out there. What could be more fun than running through all the memorable scenes and quotable quotes? Nothing. It would be an hour well spent. This panel is at 12:30 PM on Friday in Ballroom B.
6. Voice Actor Script Reading
FanX 2015 has some great voice talent coming to the show. These are some amazing performers who do something that everyone thinks is easy, but it’s actually really hard. A year ago, I would not have been that interested in this, but I saw a documentary on Netflix called I Know that Voice, and I realized just how amazing these actors are. It would be a ton of fun to sit in a room and listen to and watch these performers read through a script together. The details don’t tell us which script they will be reading, but I am sure they will read something off the wall and unexpected, which will only add to the entertainment factor. This panel takes place on Friday at 4 PM in room 250 A.
5. Official Cosplay Contest
This is an event not just for Cosplayers, but for members of any fandom. If you, like me, lack the skill, talent, or ability to build costumes like you see others wearing at the con, then hopefully you, like me, can appreciate how amazing said costumes are. This is a great opportunity to see the best of the best. The actual show starts at 6 PM on Saturday (this is the one Saturday event I mentioned), but it is after hours of judging and competition that runs through the whole day. The participants, most of them have worked long and hard on their costumes, and now you get to sit back and appreciate the fruits of their labors. The admission is free, and it’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss any of the best cosplay at the con. Of course, this event is in the South Ballroom.
4. I’m Hooked on a Feeling: How Marvel Turned Guardians into the Biggest Blockbuster in 2014.
Unfortunately, we just found out that Guardians was not the biggest blockbuster in 2014. That being said, it was my favorite blockbuster from 2014. And it’s not even close. That surprised me, since I was originally thinking that Marvel was making a bad decision with this property. Then they announced some of the cast, like Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista, and I thought, “See? They’re not even trying.” I have seen the error of my ways, and now realize that Marvel is simply the most amazing studio out there, and from now on, when their films come out, I will just be prepared to give them my money. But how did they take a property no one had heard of and turn it into such huge success? This panel will discuss that, and I want to hear about it. It is on Friday at 8 PM in room 250 A, so a great way to end your night on Friday.
3. Karen Gillan Panel
Amy Pond was one of my favorite companions on Doctor Who, and she was one of my wife’s favorite companions, so this is a must see panel for us. Here is the one problem with these big celebrity panels: They fill up quickly. I have this one on the list , but honestly, I don’t know if I will make it in because I don’t know if I will be willing to wait in line for it. However, I think it will be entertaining if we do make it in and worth the time to sit and watch, not just to hear about Doctor Who but Guardians as well. The panel is on Thursday at 5 pm in the South Ballroom.
2. Christopher Lloyd
Great Scott! Who, in my generation, did not grow up watching Back to the Future? In my opinion, it was one of the greatest SciFi trilogies of all time, and one of the main reasons was Doc. Christopher Lloyd has always been one of my favorite actors as a result of my love for those movies. What a cool opportunity to go and listen to him talk about all of his adventures in Back to the Future and beyond. I can’t imagine that he will disappoint as a speaker and presenter. This is another one that I want to go to badly, but I don’t know how quickly it will fill up. Hopefully I can find a seat somewhere, maybe in the very back. I just want to get inside and be there, that’s all. The panel is on Friday at 11 AM in the South Ballroom.
1. Doctor Who Ultimate Xperience
This is the one thing that will for sure cost you money, and if you don’t have tickets, I’m sorry it is sold out. Before you get all upset because this is a list of ways to have fun at the con without spending a ton of extra money, just know I bought the tickets when they went on sale and I bought the general admission tickets that were $15 each, so it wasn’t that expensive. I couldn’t pass this up. Matt Smith was one of my favorite Doctors and he was my wife’s favorite Doctor, so we both really wanted to go. I am not getting a photo-op or an autograph, because that is way too much, but really, the more interesting thing for me is listening to these actors and performers and participating that way. This event is on Friday at 5:30 in the South Ballroom.
There you have it, my list of 10 things to do and see at the FanX that won’t cost you an atom or a leg, except the Monty Python panel which may literally coat you an arm and a leg (‘Tis but a flesh wound!) If you would like to check out the full panel schedule because, well, you’re into different stuff than I am, then look here. Just know that the schedule is always subject to change, so be ready and willing to be a little flexible.
Did I miss anything that you are dying to see? Let me know in the comments.