As this is a geeky column, I will, of course, use today to talk about this past weekend’s Salt Lake Comic Con. The overseer of the Power Rangers panel said that SLCC was currently the fourth-largest convention in the United States. Which meant lots of people. Lots of guests. And lots of fun.
Going to a pop-culture convention reminded me of why I love going to conventions of all different geeky sorts. If you’re a geek of any level and have never been to a convention of this size, it’s a difficult experience to describe. While it’s certainly not for everyone, here are three things about conventions like this that I personally can’t get enough of. And maybe you’d like them, too.
1. Costumes. Otherwise called cosplays depending on who you ask, at any given geek convention, there will be someone dressed up as a character from a video game, TV show, book, movie, commercial . . . If it’s got a character design that can be replicated in real life, then it’s fair game.
The best part of seeing these costumes (besides having something awesome to watch when standing in line) is the fact that most costumers are perfectly happy to stop for photo requests. There’s really only one way to get your photo with Iron Man, Darth Vader, Princess Anastasia, and a Ringwraith in one shot (without Photoshop editing), and attending a convention like this is it. Many people go all out, constructing costumes that can often rival official ones.
And if costumes aren’t your thing, many of the non-costumed attendees wear geeky shirts. Some are simple and obvious, and others are so subtle and clever that you have to stop and ask them where they got it. As a result, for the mild to avid people-watcher with a streak of geek, these conventions can be just as entertaining as watching a geeky TV show.
2. Guests. When I was younger, I loved watching the live-action “Hercules” TV series. I haven’t seen that show in years, but when my convention companion brought me along to meet Kevin Sorbo (the actor who played Hercules), the moment I saw him standing there in real life 10 feet away was the moment I remembered that part of my childhood. It was like getting hit in the face with the pillow of pleasant nostalgia, and suddenly I was just as excited as my friend to meet him. This happened numerous times throughout the weekend with different guests, and each time just made me more happy. While all guests charged a varying fee for autographs or personal photos with them, all were just as happy to have you stop by and say hi.
Besides being reminded of good memories, conventions mean that I get to meet some super-chill famous people (Brian Krause had our favorite autograph and John de Lancie likes fist bumps). Many of the guests also participate in panels, typically hour-long onstage Q-and-A sessions held in separate rooms.
3. Exhibit hall. For those who have never been to a convention, they typically have the largest room as their exhibit hall. Most of the room is packed with tables where companies and artists come to sell and advertise geeky wares or clubs and groups come to promote their cause. It is quite easy to spend a lot of money fast in the big conventions, and SLCC didn’t let down. I’m a huge movie poster fan, and one of my favorite booths was one that sold what was likely thousands of movie posters, ranging from the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to the modern adaptation of “The Hobbit.”
Other booths sold merchandise like shirts, action figures, jewelry, belts or art. SLCC also hosted the Weta Workshop from New Zealand, known for its work on “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” They brought a bunch of pretty sword replicas from the movies with price tags from $4,000 to upwards of $18,000. How’s that for extreme geekery?