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Salt Lake Comic-Con FanXperience (FanX) Shatters Records and Expectations

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In September 2013, Salt Lake City had its first ever Comic-Con to record breaking numbers. With more than 30,000 attendees, it was the biggest inaugural Comic-Con in history. The only way to follow it up? Kick things up a notch. Taking place once again in Salt Lake City’s downtown Salt Palace Convention Center, April 17–19, Dan Farr Productions brought the officially titled “Salt Lake Comic-Con FanXperience (FaxX).” Doubling the convention’s size to take over the entire Salt Palace, records shattered again with more than 100,000 attendees. A rumor of 120,000 has been floating around, but either way, Salt Lake Comic-Con is officially the third biggest Con after San Diego and New York.

FanXLogo

Panels ran all day, featuring better participants, including some bonafide authorities instead of simply fanboys having 45-minute discussions. So many panels happening at once limits how many you can attend, so I had to choose wisely. My first was a Back to the Future panel, moderated by my friend Jimmy Martin, who runs a number of media outlets including “Geek Show Podcast” and his own “Big Movie Mouth-Off.” The main discussion involved what makes the franchise still so beloved, and we all agreed that it essentially boiled down to Michael J. Fox. One issue discussed concerned the reason Marty and Doc are such good friends–and what might those in the Middle East conflict learn from them. But when we took a moment to ponder what the world would be had Universal Pictures stuck with the originally-cast Eric Stoltz, it was as if we were attempting to make a rift in the space-time continuum.

The second panel included the visual effects teams that brought March’s 300 sequel to life. The Third Floor and Scanline VFX brought along their pre-visualization footage to show the before and after. Basically, it was like watching a Blu-ray extra live. Interesting, for sure, but the movie didn’t work in its finished form, so it was even more tedious to see in a raw format. Another pseudo-panel covered the antics of the Geek Show Podcast–definitely an 18-and-older affair. We listened to the shenanigans of ringleader Kerry Jackson and his cohorts Jeff Vice, Leigh George Kade, Jay Whittaker, Shannon Barnson, Too Tall Tony (who was substituted by X96 Radio From Hell’s “Punk”), and of course, Jimmy Martin. The first recording they did on Thursday turned away around 50 people so seating was limited at the second recording on Friday. Needless to say, I did not arrive in time for Saturday’s recording, but hilarity always ensues. Please to enjoy at geekshowpodcast.com.

Geek Show Podcast, Salt Lake Comic-Con, FanX

The two biggest events I managed to get into on Saturday involved the likes of a couple of names you may have heard of: Nathan Fillion and Sir Patrick Stewart! Although they may have been in the biggest ballroom, seating was still first come first serve. Both were very gracious to see their fans, and coincidentally, both passed by me while riding on golf carts to their photo op and autograph sessions. Fillion came across as very humble, self-deprecating, and hilarious, discussing his first big movie (Saving Private Ryan), his feelings toward Dungeons & Dragons (it’s too drawn out), accidentally swearing at Chinese ambassadors, eating with the entire Bridge of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and his TV-character bucket list.

PatrickStewartStewart made a far-too-brief appearance amounting to a mere 30 minutes, but he made every single one count. With a little movie coming out next month (cough X-Men: Days of Future Past cough, cough), he informed us of another film he’d just premiered the night before.

He confessed to eyeing a few items in an upcoming auction (which includes one of very few things to have his complete initials on it: PHS), and to never having seen an episode of The Big Bang Theory when asked if he was ever going to make a cameo. He noted that Sir Ian McKellen was the first to congratulate him on being mistakenly outed as gay, and made him an honorary gay. Dead pan and hilarious and far too short.

The only other panel I attended was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Stephen King’s The Stand miniseries, which  included director Mick Garris. Even the original 460-page shooting script made an appearance, and someone did get vindication after asking if anyone else felt Molly Ringwald was the wrong choice for the character of Fran. Let’s just say nearly everyone was in agreement.

GremlinsBesides attending the panels, most of my time was spent wandering the booths of vendors peddling their amazing assortment of things for sale. Helping out my friend Kat Martin at her Altered Landscapes booth offered her a much needed break, but I also made sure to stop by and visit my other friends at Black Cat Comics and Scorched by Britt. I was unable to find HIGH SCORE Mobile Game Unit, but figured a shoutout was worthy. And the only autograph I sought out was from Zach Galligan, who starred in Gremlins as the mogwai-owning Billy Peltzer. I asked him if he would make an appearance in the announced reboot (a horrible idea to begin with) and he played as coy as you’d expect, but seemed very enthused for fans to start a petition to feature him if a new movie happens.

Alas, after all the star gazing and people watching had ended, it was finally time to wrap things up after a very long two days come Saturday night. Relaxation was found at SLC’s Poplar Street Pub, where the Geek Show Podcast held their closing party. With the books closed on an outrageously successful event, how much bigger can Salt Lake Comic-Con become by September? I, for one, can’t wait to find out!

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival.
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