Kyle J. Steenblik
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Kyle’s Fan Xperience wrapup

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SLCC-CAM00030-1000My experience in the Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience is a simple one, simple, yet great.  I had the opportunity to experience some new things, see new and unique artwork, and artisanship.  I met many new people, made some new friends, and discovered I need to invest in a pair of very comfortable shoes.  I introduced my children to some new and amazing experiences, and watched them become comic con super heroes.

WatchPlayRead marched into the Salt Palace Convention Center early in the day.  The convention center was all but empty.  Volunteers flocked in hallways, vendors hauling carts of their merchandise and carefully setting up and arranging their booths.  There is a palpable excitement floating through the convention center.  So far, this is my favorite moment of the convention.  All potential, all excitement, no disappointment, no tired feet, sore knees strained backs, and no dehydration, just a strong caffeine buzz and an almost child-like lack of patience for the show to begin.

SLCC-CAM00028-1000There were four of us sitting in the main ballroom staring at a restoration of the Enterprise Bridge, which would serve as the backdrop for the speakers, wondering what the captain’s chair really smelled like.  Ten O’clock arrived and the press conference began.  A Power Ranger, Jason David Frank provided a few opening remarks, but he soon relinquished the floor to Dan Farr, co-founder of Salt Lake Comic Con.  Dan, who I have grown to like, welcomed everyone to the convention, and shared his amazement at the enormous overnight success of this convention before the floor was handed over to Utah Governor Gary Herbert.  Whom read a prepared statement and proclaimed April 17th Salt Lake Comic Con Hero’s Day before the press conference ended, and the convention officially began.

Now the four WatchPlayReaders, Xopher, Jasen, Adrienne, and myself were joined by a fifth, Carleigh, and we entered the mostly empty convention floor with gusto, and a guy dressed like a super janitor, or it could have just been a guy with a mop.  Our aim was to explore the space before it filled with humans.  It was slow going, as our easily distracted selves had to visit various booths to examine things that were shiny.  Eventually this distractible nature and the desire to attempt upcoming panels drove us all apart.  Carleigh set off to find books.  Jasen and Adrienne made a b-line for the panel room, and Xopher and I went to visit Evermore.

SLCC-CAM00042-1000Evermore Park booth, was an impressive two story structure, but not nearly as impressive as what they were presenting.  This kept us captivated for at least 45 minutes, and I promise I will dedicate much more print space to this.  Here I will only tell you it is just about the coolest thing I have seen, and it is the first thing everyone I know talks about when asked about the convention.  By the time we pulled ourselves away from the booth it was time to regroup and get some lunch at Squatters, which is too damn delicious not to be highly regulated by the state.  Then all too soon, lunch was over, our beverages were gone, and it was time to walk back to the convention center.

Xopher had to depart to be a parent, and the rest of us split up to explore more undiscovered booths.  I made my way to the gaming room to see how video games had advanced since Duck Hunt, and was quickly reminded that I had not kept up with this particular technology, as I had to ask several people what games they were playing.  In light of my newfound age, I walked over to the KidCon area to see what was in store for my children the next day.  I made a mental note of several things my kids would definitely love, and made note of the big sign that reminded parents to not leave their children unattended.  In retrospect, it probably should have been bigger, with big flashing lights, because far too many parents did in fact leave their children unattended.  Fortunately, for the children, many of the vendors felt inclined to keep the kids from occupied until the parents could return to buy all the stuff the kids played with.  I’ll also talk a lot more about the KidCon area in another article, there is too much to talk about here.  The remainder of my first day was spent SLCC-CAM00059-1000watching Sketch Cabaret, visiting my friend Kat at Altered Landscapes, and checking out some awesome Dinosaur Tails from Kelliebelle Design.  Before I knew it, the convention center closed and we were all told to go home.

The next morning I returned, with my children.  Now as I said before I have a great deal to say about the Kid Con area and the time I spent with my children.  In this general overview, I will say my kids had more fun than they were able to admit.  Don’t let my rosy description there fool you, it was not all superheroes and games, there were snakes and owls too.

After Friday, which was devoted entirely to my kids, I needed a good week away from them.  However, that wasn’t possible so I took the better part of Saturday.  Saturday was a busy day for me.  Being the last day of the convention I spent the first half of my day running around, making sure I had made contact with everyone I had met and worked with.  I tried to make sure I had everyone’s business cards or email addresses, and that they all had mine.  I took a few last laps of the convention floor, and I headed into the main ballroom to shoot the cosplay contest.  The contest is always fun, the costumes are fantastic; I love the creativity, in this contest the costumes all had to be handmade.  (Cosplay contest photos at the bottom of the page)

SLCC-IMGR1341-1000After the cosplay contest, I headed into a panel, “The Power of a Story to Impact Social Change” featuring Gerald R. Molen, Timothy Ballard, Daniela Larsen and Chet Thomas.  This panel spoke specifically about The Abolitionists http://theabolitionistsmovie.com/ and O.U.R Rescue.  After the panel, I had a chance to speak briefly with Gerald and Chet about this project.  This was an incredible subject, and it was an emotionally intense panel and conversation.  I will have a more detailed article on this soon, I am still transcribing my audio recordings, as well as trying to wrap my head around how to handle this subject.  After that panel, and interview I found my wife and children and hugged them.  We gathered our things from the pressroom, and made our way across the convention center floor, visiting booths, saying goodbyes to new friends, and taking the kids through KidCon one last time before we made our way home.

It was a good 12 hours later that we realized what we just experienced.  It was another hour until the Ibuprofen started to kick in and we could start looking through all the things we brought home, and the pictures we took.  It was this point when our children announced to us, that they were done with Comic Con for now, they were just too tired to go again.  I didn’t really have the heart to tell them it was over until September.  As it turns out, Salt Lake Comic Con’s Fan Xperience was a massive success.  With over 100.000 attendees this secondary event  is, in and of itself, the third largest comic con in North America, but the official press release says it better than I can:

SALT LAKE CITY, April 21, 2014 – This just happened!

Salt Lake Comic Con (http://saltlakecomiccon.com/FanXperience (FanX) had more than 100,000 attendees to become the third largest Comic Con in the United States, the largest convention in the state of Utah and the largest Comic Con in North America per capita, proving yet again that Utah and attendees from all over the world love what’s going on in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake Comic Con’s Facebook page is now the most popular page in Utah reaching 2.5 million people in one week.

“I’ve said all along that we have the best fans in the world right here in the Western United States and they proved it again with their support and attendance at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX,” said Dan Farr, Show Producer and Founder of Salt Lake Comic Con.  “We set our sights high with a goal of 100,000 attendees and because of the tremendous backing and encouragement from the fans we knew that we could achieve this lofty achievement. We’re excited for the Comic Con this September and have some very exciting announcements coming soon. We plan on taking our next event to a whole new level.”

Salt Lake Comic Con FanX was created to satisfy the intense demand of fans and to provide a wider range of entertainment options for attendees.  The convention included double the floor space, stellar guests such as Sir Patrick Stewart, Karl Urban, Chandler Riggs and Nathan Fillion, expanded hours, a new world record for the largest balloon sculpture by one man and Kid Con that focused on entertainment and activities specifically designed for families and children.

“The fact that we exceeded attendance expectations proves that Salt Lake City is a focal point for Comic Con and pop culture and is further proof to the Comic Con world that Salt Lake is a major player in the industry,” said Bryan Brandenburg, Salt Lake Comic Con Co-founder and VP of Marketing.  “The increased success will serve as evidence moving forward that will attract celebrities, vendors and production companies, which in turn will help increase the overall fan experience as well as the visibility of Salt Lake Comic Con and Utah in general. Our aim is to offer a complementary convention to the annual San Diego Comic-Con International.”

FanX included a last minute coup in securing Sir Patrick Stewart to the convention’s already star studded lineup that also included cast members from Star Trek™Star Wars™The Walking Dead™Firefly™X-Men™Doctor Who™Battlestar Galactica™ and Power Rangers™ as well, as comic book artists and authors from both Marvel™ and DC Comics™. Check here for the full list of guests. Here’s a video of the Salt Lake Comic Con FanX show floor on Saturday.

The second annual Salt Lake Comic Con will be held September 4-6, 2014 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.  Similar to FanX, the September Comic Con will encompass the entire Salt Palace show floor but will expand to neighboring convention space. Tickets for the September Comic Con go on sale May 2014. For more information about Salt Lake Comic Con, visit the Salt Lake Comic Con website

 

 

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