Salt Lake Comic Con is here to stay
Salt Lake Comic Con, the first comic con for this state, also turned into a monstrous success. The mistakes, misjudgments, and missteps that the founders made early on were [mostly] vindicated this last weekend. The result was spectacular.
From September 5th to 7th the Salt Palace convention center hosted between 70 and 80,000 people, making this convention by far the most successful first year convention, but now one of the largest in North America. That concept has yet to really sink in, and I was standing in the room when this was discovered. When that really started to sink in was the moment the fire marshal blocked the entrance and refused entry to the patrons still waiting on line to enter, because the building was already over capacity. For all this talk of the building being horribly over crowded, it was still manageable, if only just.
I cannot help but be impressed, and I have said before, everyone deserves congratulations. The volunteers, the PR firm (Snapp Conner PR), the staff, even the concessions vendors did a remarkable job. Nearly every single person working those days wore a smile, not everyone; there are always a few with sand in unmentionable places.
To remove the bad taste from my mouth I’ll start with some of the bad. Organization was, on the first day, a little lacking. Information was hard to come by, and everyone was learning the schedules, where the rooms were, who was supposed to be where. The first day was full of confusion, but enough excitement to compensate. By the end of the day, and day two things were running much more smoothly. The convention floor layout could have used a little more space in the walkways; it’s easy to forgive seeing as how they were not expecting the number of people that arrived. As a whole, crowd control was as good as could be expected, but could definitely be better. Signage was at times hard to read or see, or understand. Everyone freely sharing information overcame this. It was fun to see convention goers directing traffic for crowds of confused peers. I could easily say the panels were a little slapdash, because they were, but I believe we can all agree to chalk that up to a case of the first year cons. Now that is all the criticism directed to the con in general you will hear from me. I have more harsh criticism for the patrons I’ll save from my Top Ten Things Kyle Hated about SL Comic Con.
Over these three days I had the chance to meet Simon Fisher-Beker who is a lovely man, and very proud of doctor who. I met Peter Mayhew, and was, for a moment, a child shaking hands with Chewbacca. Then I spoke with William Kircher, who was Bifur in The Hobbit, I was impressed by his warm and gracious nature, this is a man with whom I would gladly share several pints. I spent quite a while milling about the Weta Workshop booth marveling at the craftsmanship of, and with Peter Lyon. I had a nice conversation with artist Michael Champion about an upcoming project called Zombies of Sherwood. I had the extremely sensual pleasure of sharing several conversations with Derek Hunter, who shared some fantastic secretes. Artist Chad Hardin had a major amusement while visiting Salt Lake City, which I was happy enough to hear from him. I also spoke with artist Greg Horn who is still hard at work with Disney on the War of Heroes game and several covers for Marvel. Then I had the pleasure to visit Valerie Mechling and Samuel Stubbs, local authors of a book series entitled The Tales of the Seventh Empire (which I will be reviewing). Shortly thereafter,
I was impressed by the girls of Midnight Campaign, who created their own RPG over ten years. Then I visited Big Finish games and discovered the Adventures of Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect. I attended the panel where they presented the game, and highlighted what makes this game incredibly unique, and made me very excited to get my hands on a copy. Then I was fortunate enough to talk with Kevin Murphy, whom did voiceover work for the game, as if I needed any more convincing.
I also attended a panel with David Prowse and Peter Mayhew, where they recalled their memories of being the men behind two of the most iconic masks of my childhood. Followed by a Q&A panel with John De Lancie where he recounted stories of his time on Star Trek, My Little Ponies, and secret acting techniques. My favorite panel was presented by TheOneRing.net where they tried to present an unofficial first look at The Desolation of Smaug. I say try because the panel was crashed by Manu Bennett (Azog) who decided to show us how to ride a Warg, then by William Kircher (Bifur) who showed us how to walk like Tom Troll. In the end, we were left with a few minutes to talk about the movie, but all had a grand time. The final panel I was able to attend was the legendary meeting of William Shatner and Adam West. That was a remarkable show, and I feel slightly guilty I can’t do it justice here, and I will have to resort to the age-old adage, you just had to be there.