My thoughts on Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2014

Well, it’s over, fellow nerds, geeks, and comic aficionados. The Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience, or FanX, ran this past weekend from 17-19 April. Filled with celebs from a wide swath of pop-culture, and bursting at the seams with artists and authors plying their wares [Curiosity Quills—shameless plug!], there was something for everyone. And, as a writer with a daughter who is an artist, I am always walking and re-walking those aisles, amazed at the talent that is showcased there, and wishing that I had both more wall space and more shelf space.

[And, as much I would love to be hawking my own books at an event like this, I’d be much prouder to walk down the row and see a crowd around my daughter’s table, taking in her art.]

Regular visitors to the Shadow know that I was concerned going in to this event, but I am very excited to report that I saw none of the problems from the Inaugural event last September. The number of volunteers seemed much larger, and they seemed very proactive, especially in the area of crowd control around the autograph and photo areas. The additional space afforded by opening up the rest of the Salt Palace was crucial to ensuring that the over-crowding from last time was basically non-existent.

[I mean, it was crowded: it’s a convention, for Christ’s sake, but it wasn’t CROWDED.]

I enjoyed the opportunity on Thursday to attend the press event featuring some of the Special Guests that were there for Thursday. They were all gracious and generous with their time, and while I could not bring myself to ask for pictures with them [although some of my fellow press folks were braver than I], they were, mostly very accommodating to those requests.

[I am trying to process some audio from the press event, and will post it if it comes out ok. It’s a new thing for me, so… fingers-crossed.]

The Special Guest lineup was impressive, with most of the Bridge Crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation being present [and once Patrick Stewart announced that he would be there on Saturday, I wonder if LeVar Burton was regretting his unfortunate cancellation?], along with Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin from Firefly. [My personal favorites this time around.]

Oh, and let me add that Adam Baldwin was incredible to talk to while he was signing autographs. Very personable and accessible. Not really surprised by that, but it was refreshing after past encounters with celebs that are just boom-boom-boom, get-it-and-go. So, Adam: thanks for that!

Don’t be jealous Nathan. I simply couldn’t get to your table for what would have been a very enjoyable moment, as well, I’m sure.

Also represented was The Walking Dead [young Chandler Riggs’ table was very popular],

Chandler Riggs

 

[Chandler Riggs]

Power Rangers of various iterations were in attendance, along with the very nice convergence of young and old Boba Fett, with Daniel Logan [now a Utah local] and Jeremy Bulloch seated side-by-side.

Daniel Logan and Jeremy Bulloch[Daniel Logan and Jeremy Bulloch]

 One of the oddest things that happened to me at the press event was that Daniel Logan was convinced that he knew me from somewhere. He was sure of it. Oh, how I wish that were true. Daniel, if you read this, contact me; we’ll do lunch. Seriously. Have your people get with my people. Let’s make this happen.

[We even tried, very briefly, to figure out if we had somehow encountered each other, but to no avail. Actually, this happens to me a lot. I get approached by people who say, “I know you, right?” But they don’t. I later described the phenomenon to a friend with the analogy that if you don’t know what something tastes like, it tastes like chicken. I must have a face that fills that role, visually. I apparently look like someone that everybody knows.]

Karl Urban Shannon and Me - SLCC FanX 18 Apr 2014

[I would be the guy on the right that has to compete with Karl Urban. Yeah, good luck with that, me.]

There was something for everyone at FanX, and I don’t think that I heard too many gripes this time, except for the very odd comment someone made on the train coming to the event on Friday morning. When I asked him how he thought FanX compared to last September’s event, he replied that he thought that FanX wasn’t as diverse, that it was mostly Star Trek. I found this a bit ironic, given that he was wearing a YELLOW STARFLEET GOLF SHIRT.

But, to each his own, I suppose.

Personally, I very much enjoyed the panels I attended by Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Edward James Olmos, all of whom are great talkers, very entertaining and sincere.

Nathan Fillion (courtesy of BigShinyRobot.com)

[Captain Tightpants, Photo courtesy of BigShinyRobot]

I also attended a couple of writing panels, one of which really pissed me off. Why, you ask? Well, allow me to tell you. When one of the writers [I won’t tell you the name, but you could figure it out] opens up the panel with “I am a single mother of 7, and I published 13 novels last year: you have no excuse,” it tends to annoy you. Do I judge the woman that has to publish crappy teen romance novels to support her 7 fatherless children? No. So please, for the love of God, don’t judge my life or my dedication to my writing. Spend some of those royalties on birth control.

But I digress.

In the other writing panel, in which editors and agents spoke, one lovely young lady opened with “But don’t let anything anyone up here says discourage you.”

THAT’S how you inspire artists. An excellent and informative panel for me.

Also entertaining this time was supporting my college classmate, Russ Adams, now appearing on SyFy’s Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge reality show. He, along with Lex Rudd and Ivonne Escoto did two panels, the second with 3 former contestants of SyFy’s Face Off, called “Surviving Reality.”

Jim Henson Creature Creators

[Russ, Lex, and Ivonne]

That panel was a bit muddy, however, for which I blame mostly the moderator. Whoever thought that bringing in a Las Vegas Magician to moderate a panel about reality television kind of dropped the ball here. Exactly ZERO discussion about life on a reality competition show, and there was almost no time for questions by the end of it.

Pretty disappointing, that one.

I do have a couple of minor points for possible improvement next go-round, though.

First, if the volunteers monitoring the autograph lines could be more aware of the handicapped [the actual handicapped] in wheelchairs or with walkers, or on crutches with big leg-braces, and the like, and move them to the front of their respective lines (either GA or VIP) so that they can get in and out a little easier, that would be great. My wife and I saw that happen once or twice, but it wasn’t the rule, and perhaps it should be.

Second, it was nice to see that there will be even more room to grow, if necessary, because the south end registration area was largely empty, which means that floor space can be reclaimed for vendors/artists if necessary and the registration moved back to the lobby. The early registration arrangement with PC Laptops worked out very well, I think, in helping keep that traffic down.

Oh, and while the “Kid’s Con” area seemed very popular, is there any way we can do away with strollers? Seriously. Get a babysitter. Your 1-3 year old has no idea what’s going on and strollers [sometimes even double-wides!] make it very difficult to navigate. Limit their hours or the days they can be there [but not Saturday, the BUSIEST day of all]. Man, they make it crazy difficult to move around. One stroller is like having 3 extra people on the floor.

However, despite my previously reported misgivings, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly say that—in my opinion—FanX was a rousing success. A hearty “well-done!” to Dan Farr and his team. I look forward to covering future iterations of the Con for as long as they’ll let me.

 Dan Farr, Gov Gary Herbert, Bryan Brandenburg

[Dan Farr, Governor Gary Herbert, and Bryan Brandenberg]

And, if this event keeps growing and developing in this direction, there will be many more conventions, and San Diego may have to start looking over their shoulder.

If they aren’t already.

 

2 thoughts on “My thoughts on Salt Lake Comic Con FanX 2014

  1. Excellent report on the Salt Lake Fan-X and one which I wholly agree with. I was also apprehensive about the Fan-X initially, but my concerns were due more to the apparent money-grab nature of it. It was soon after that my apprehension was lessened when I considered the big picture in that Fan-X was most likely a “dress rehearsal” for the marquee event in September. This realization actually buoyed my hopes because it seemed to show a very real intent to address the problems apparent last September. I must say, I didn’t see a single realistic suggestion made in response to the 2013 Con that wasn’t addressed (successfully) at Fan-X. To paraphrase the author; it’s a Con, there will be lines and it will be crowded but it didn’t feel like anywhere close to 100,000 people. Overall, I’d say it was a very successful and very well-run event that has me looking forward to September!

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    1. Thanks! If you read my posts leading up to the event, then you know how apprehensive I really was. Very glad it went so well. Glad you liked the writeup enough to comment. Share it with your fellow geeks/nerds/fans, and watch for September’s writeup!

      Like

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