Six months ago, Salt Lake Comic Con 2013 drew an estimated 70,000-80,000 people, almost double what the event organizers expected and planned for. The FanXperience event, April 17-19, looks to build on that success.
“They thought maybe they’d have 40-50,000 people (for Salt Lake Comic Con),” said Christopher Ekstrom, a regular at Wyvern, Weber State University’s anime and gaming club. “It blew all their numbers.”
Ekstrom said the 2013 event only rented out half of the Salt Palace, which was a problem due to the number of attendees. On Saturday, Sept. 7, the biggest day of the 2013 convention, the fire marshal had to shut down the building twice due to safety concerns. For long stretches of the day, staff had to turn people away because of overcrowding. This time around, event organizers have reserved the full space.
Salt Lake Comic Con plans to do another official Comic Con this year, Sept. 4-6.
Most consider this weekend’s FanX event to be Salt Lake Comic Con 1.5. According to the official website, FanX will be an expansion of the concept of Comic Con to include sports, wrestling, music and more. The guest list for FanX includes Nathan Fillion, William Shatner and Edward James Olmos from “Battlestar Galactica.”
Many fans create elaborate costumes of their favorite characters to wear for the convention, an activity known as cosplaying. Stanford Stubbs, a WSU student with expertise in web design and photography, plans to attend FanX with this in mind.
“I find it really entertaining that someone spent that much time on their costume,” Stubbs said. “I like to take pictures.”
Over the last decade, conventions such as Salt Lake Comic Con have grown in popularity and garnered increased media attention.
Originally, as the name suggests, this type of convention focused on letting comic book fans meet comic artists and writers, collecting autographs and pictures. These days, according to Ekstrom, conventions offer much more.
“There’s cons every weekend around the country,” Ekstrom said.
Some conventions specialize. Anime Banzai, held every October for the last nine years in Layton, Utah, appeals to fans of anime and Japanese culture. The World Fantasy Convention, to be held this November in Arlington, Va., focuses on literature and art within the fantasy genre.
Others, like the famous San Diego Comic Con, feature events targeted at many audiences, including fans of comic books, anime, science fiction, fantasy, tabletop gaming and video games.
Chase Wayment, an anthropology major at WSU, plans on attending FanX all three days, though he has yet to buy his ticket. He thinks Salt Lake Comic Con is holding this event to iron out all the problems from last time.
“I think they’re just trying to spread it out,” Wayment said. “They’re trying to find the kinks and fix them from what happened that last Comic Con, because it was so over-flooded with people.”
Wayment is mainly going for the art galleries. “That’s what I enjoyed about the last one,” he said.
He offered some counsel for would-be convention-goers.
“It’s a fun experience, and if you can find the right people to go with, definitely do that,” he said. “Try not to go alone.”