The Pros of the Con
Jason and I have attended San Diego Comic-Con for a few consecutive years now. As the elves migrated west to the Undying Lands, we too have gladly traveled westward to be part of the eternal…the eternally nerdy that is. So, of course, when we heard that Salt Lake City would be hosting a Comic Con event and the gift of geekery would be left like a chest full of Star Coins on our doorstep, we registered quicker than Sonic runs a Shuttle Loop.
Now, let me just say, with a shake of the head and a roll of the eye, that many of our geeky acquaintances lacked the faith or foresight that Jason and I possessed when it came to Salt Lake Comic Con. They predicted that it would be lame or practically unattended. Jason and I didn’t think that that would be the case but, even if it was, we were still game. As we saw it, our support of this local event was the best way to ensure that it continued and improved. Our enthusiasm convinced others to join the ranks of unwashed goers or, perhaps, it was the thousands upon thousands of other attendees that eventually persuaded them. It’s a mystery really.
As Salt Lake Comic Con approached, the numbers registered for this convention skyrocketed. They passed 20,000, 30,000 and then, during its last day, they exceeded 70,000, a record for an inaugural regional Comic Con. That final afternoon the crowds got so massive that the fire marshal closed the doors to the convention center and wouldn’t let anyone else enter until some legions of clone troopers left. So much for those “practically unattended” predictions.
Despite those historic numbers, compared to the relentless crowds at San Diego this baby was as empty as the sandy deserts of Tatooine. You actually had room to expand your lungs on the convention floor, AKA breath. I’m not complaining though, I’m a fan of that whole inhale/exhale thing. Breathing space aside, there was plenty to see in the exhibit hall. Not so much that you felt completely overwhelmed, like at that other con, but definitely plenty to keep you drooling and ogling for hours. We bought author-signed books, artist originals, nerdy t-shirts and prop replicates. All the wishes of my little geeky heart were granted; take that Zahra!
The panels were, in general, not as good as those in San Diego but I went to a few that surprised me with their informative insightfulness, namely those hosted by various sci-fi and fantasy book authors. The Will Shatner and Stan Lee panels weren’t half bad either and by “not half bad” I mean that they were awesome!
Ample stars congregated at Salt Lake Comic Con. Perhaps some of these enduring personalities would have been out-gleamed by new-found heartthrobs in San Diego but in the Beehive State they were bigger than a bowl of green Jell-O: Will Shatner, William Kircher, Henry Winkler, Taimak Guarriello, Ray Park, John de Lancie, Dwight Schultz, Peter Mayhew, Kevin Sorbo, Stan Lee and David Prowse. Most of these fellows were pleasant and friendly but William Kircher, who plays Bifur in Peter Jackson’s hobbit movies, was exceptionally nice and courteous. What a gentleman and a decent human being. He has found a stalwart fan in me. Henry Winkler was also very good-natured and gracious. He wandered through his line of fans shaking hands, giving hugs and doing magic tricks.
The congeniality of most of the famous at the show made the one man that wasn’t agreeable stand out as even more of a jerk: Adam West, AKA 60s TV Batman. We had a chance encounter with Adam that proved him arrogant and condescending. The details of that meeting are too convoluted to relay here but I’d be happy to share them personally with anyone. Let’s just say that for someone nearly 90 years old, Adam behaved ridiculously immature. Shame on you Mr. West! A man of your age should have figured out how to show others civility and respect by now. Do you believe that being in a moderately successful TV show a million and a half years ago somehow justifies you treating people like dirt? I think not. If you can’t behave at an event like Comic Con then might I suggest that you don’t come? Oh, sorry, I forgot that you need the money.
Salt Lake’s Comic Con may have been smaller and less showy than San Diego’s but, as The Blob can attest, being bigger doesn’t always win you the battle. Salt Lake proved itself the quiet superhero of cons in one department: costumes. The get-ups in Salt Lake were more impressive and prevalent than in San Diego. Is it possible that the people of Salt Lake have nothing better to do than sew sequins on their Green Lantern unitards? Perhaps.
Since Jason and I didn’t have to squish our handmade outfits into a suitcase, we were all for dressing up. Although we weren’t planning on donning garments de la geek every day of the con, that’s what we ended up doing. It’s hard to resist transforming into an uber-nerd when you can smell the stench of nerdery all around you. First, Frodo and Aragorn formed a nifty companionship that could rival the Mormon missionaries. Then, Batgirl and Captain America added their muscle to the convention’s superhero white-noise. Finally, Katara and Zuko, our Avatar: The Last Airbender duo, brought elemental, and color schematic, harmony to the con’s last hours.
Frodo was all the rage and asked to pose halflingly for pictures often. “That guy” with him, unfortunately, was not recognized as frequently. I guess there aren’t too many Ranger fans in these parts. Katara and Zuko were nearly as popular as the shaggy-footed and were especially well-received in the teenage-boy demographic. While these outfits were awkward to wear for 6-10 hours at a time, it was gratifying to have my handiwork admired and appreciated.
Salt Lake Comic Con was a nerdy delight. Being its first time, it had some glitches but to a veteran of San Diego, where everything is chaotic lines and stacks of stinky humanity, it seemed comparatively relaxing. I’m sure the enormous number of attendees this year attracted the attention of many self-important celebrities and next year’s con will be wilder and more packed than the Mos Eisley Cantina. And, unlike Chalmun’s, at Comic Con droids are always welcome.