Utah was recently named the nerdiest state in the Union by Estately. I’ve never been prouder of my magical homeland. This epic announcement, fittingly, came only days after a record-breaking geeky gathering ended in Salt Lake City. Although Utah’s capitol hosted its first comic con just six months ago, the biggest inaugural con ever, a couple of weeks ago it shattered its own heroic numbers with Fan Xperience, a spring rendition of that costume-loaded convention. FanX’s over 100,000 attendees assured it a position as the third-largest comic con in the United States. Way to go my fellow Whovians, Trekkies, Dungeon Masters, Tolkienites, Pottergirls and LARPers!
Jason and I, of course, bought tickets to this fanatic affair months ago and have been debating our many apparel options for a while. We attended all three days in costume and I even went into work at 5:30 AM that Friday so I wouldn’t feel guilty about leaving early to touch Karl Urban.
The delights of this convention, for an all-purpose nerd such as myself, are too numerous to be itemized but allow me to relay a few. First and foremost, we met the entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, minus LeVar Burton. Besides talking with them all over autographs and camera flashes, we saw them onstage at the Star Trek Ultimate Xperience, an evening entirely devoted to my favorite TV show of all space and time. The genesis of the Galaxy-class perma-grin I’m currently wearing can be traced to that very night. On a side note, the Enterprise’s stellar crew does not disappoint in person. Our interactions with them were entertaining and moving; their wit and warmth made it so.
Along with those star stars, we also encountered, i.e. got photos with and gawked at, Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, of Firefly fame, Karen Gillan, of Dr. Who notoriety, and Karl Urban, who needs no filmography index.
Our celebrity pursuits made FanX a strange mix of euphoria and listlessness. The lines for any sort of iconic contact seemed endless and self-replicating. On Saturday, between autographs with Patrick Stewart, pictures with the hunky boys of Firefly, and then pictures with Patrick Stewart, we were in line for most of the afternoon. But, given the choice, I, like Rory, would wait all over again.
I bought many geeky treasures in my wanderings on the convention floor. My acquiring tactics may have been a little too exuberant for rationality, I’d make a pathetic Ferengi, but my resulting stash is glorious indeed! I purchased an oil portrait of the Tenth Doctor painted by a local artist, piles of nerdy t-shirts, unique prints, Starfleet jewelry and steampunk accessories.
I have humbly offered much advice over the years regarding comic cons, from one geek to another, but allow me to give another insight: expect uninformed volunteers and disorganized lines to be as prolific at these conventions as Gangers in an acid factory. Be skeptical when a staff member tells you that “these aren’t the lines you’re looking for.” And definitely get confirmation before you jump out of a place you’ve been lingering in for a while, based on someone’s instructions, in favor of a new spot someone else randomly directs you to or you may find yourself in a temporal line-loop without a dekyon emission to save you.
Salt Lake FanX confirmed that a comic con of a slightly different name does smell as sweet. For FanX certainly smelled ever so sweetly of musty costumes, fangirl sweat, foam armor, waxed concrete and star-induced drool, all the odors of nerd paradise. Yes, as Utah has proven by outranking all those other so-called cosplayers and level-20 wannabees, nerdery’s roots go deep in Salt Lake City. With that in mind, I propose we stop calling Utah the Beehive State and start calling it the Borg Hive State. I’m just saying.