Last weekend was the fourth annual Salt Lake Comic Con in the heart of Salt Lake City. This was my first time going to a convention of any kind, so I brought along my camera to document all of my experiences. Without further adieu, here are my thoughts on what is toted as “Utah’s Favorite Pop Culture Event”.
I woke up bright and early anticipating a day filled with geeky goodness. First stop was Vivint Arena for the highly anticipated Mark Hamill panel. My brother is the Star Wars expert in our family. I’m only a casual fan. But I still had a great time listening to Mark Hamill. He was very funny and enthusiastic, and had some great stories to share with the crowd. My favorite moment was when he said we were all there because “we need that escape”, which is so true. That’s what Comic Con is all about, escaping reality and believing in the fantastic. I also got a chuckle when he said, “I strive to be less dissatisfied.” A motto that every perfectionist can relate to, I think.
Next up was Katie Cassidy, star of Arrow and Supernatural. She was polite and charming, and had some great anecdotes about working with her mischievous costars. She also had some interesting insight into what happened to her character at the end of the last season of Arrow.
After a quick dinner, we had time to take some cheesy photos with the life-size props outside the convention center.
The day finished off with the Billy Boyd panel. Word cannot describe just how spectacular this panel was. Billy Boyd is just an adorably talented, hilarious ray of Scottish sunshine. I could talk about this panel for hours, but I’ll just mention two of my favorite moments. First, he surprised the audience by calling Dominic Monaghan. What followed was a side-splitting 5 minute conversation that covered everything from hobbit dental hygiene to why Pippin doesn’t walk around with a golf club. Second, when Billy was setting up to sing “The Last Goodbye”, someone in the crowd shouted that they should give Billy more time on stage. Billy thought he said “Hit Me Baby One More Time” and proceeded to sing a spot-on cover of the Britney Spear’s hit. Seriously, it was 50 minutes of non-stop comedy gold. My inner junior high school, Lord of the Rings nerdy self was beaming from ear to ear.
Rise and shine! It’s Arthur Darvill time! What an amazing panel to start off the day with. The Doctor Who, Broadchurch, and Legends of Tomorrow star was witty and charming. I loved his dry, British sense of humor. He told everyone he was impressed by how clean Utah seemed to be. I actually got to meet him at his autograph session, but I’ll talk more about that later.
We managed to pop in on the Evanna Lynch panel. The Harry Potter star was very cheery and friendly. You could tell that she was a real Harry Potter nerd and was passionate about her character, Luna Lovegood.
The rest of the day was spent wandering through the massive vendor floor. You could spend all day wandering through the stalls and still not see everything. After all that shopping, I enjoyed sitting and watching all the cosplayers wander past. I could sit there for hours looking at all the different costumes, wondering how they made them, and guessing what the characters were from. If nothing else, Comic Con is great for people-watchers. 😂
Most of the day was spent taking my niece and nephew around KidCon. Crafts, princess tea parties, wizard training, face painting, and balloon animals were available for the kiddos. Saturday was by far the busiest day of the convention, but the KidCon offered a little relief from the chaos. The volunteers worked well with the kids, and there was something for everyone.
The only panel I saw that day was the Arrow panel with Stephen Amell & David Ramsey. Those two make quite the charismatic pair. One of the most memorable questions was if they preferred ravioli or spahettios. Spaghettios seemed to be the winner. I also particularly enjoyed hearing about the behind-the-scene antics they got into with John Barrowman.
Ok, here’s where I’m going to get all deep and emotional. In the past, when I’d hear about certain celebrities coming to Comic Con, I’d think, “It would be so cool to get a photo with or autograph from so-and-so. But what if I get anxious and have a panic attack and so-and-so thinks I’m an absolute weirdo.” They were thing I thought I’d never be able to do. While wandering around the vendor hall, I saw Arthur Darvill signing autographs and thought, “What the heck! I want to meet Arthur Darvill, and I don’t care what my social anxiety has to say!” A similar thing happened during the Billy Boyd panel. My sister and I both said that he seems like such a nice guy that it would be a shame to let our anxiety stop us from meeting him. If you have anxiety or panic attacks, you know those kinds of spontaneous decisions are rare. Though brief, I had a nice chat with both of them, and I’m happy to say they’re both lovely. I’m so proud that I reminded my anxiety who’s the boss and got to meet two of my favorite actors. End soppy spiel.
- The people! Being surrounded by geeks is wonderful. Everyone is seemed so accepting and open. I don’t think I saw a confrontation or angry exchange the entire weekend. For that many people to be crammed into a building for that many days and be so happy is quite a spectacular feat.
- The celebrity guests! Every celebrity that I saw seemed excited to be there. They seemed genuinely eager to interact with and give back to their fans. And although their time on stage was sometimes cut short, they did their best to make every moment memorable.
- The enthusiasm! Everyone was just so dang enthusiastic! You couldn’t help but smile and soak up other people’s enthusiasm. The incident that epitomized this for me was a cosplayer I saw on the second day. They were dressed up as a knight carrying a boombox, and they were running and dancing down the hallways. I saw this cosplayer at least 5 times that day, and they were always running/dancing. At one point they had started a conga line that snaked its way through the vendor hall. I don’t know what they were cosplaying as, but I wish I had gotten a picture with them. Their enthusiasm was just so infectious!
I was reluctant to bring up anything negative because I wanted to focus on the amazing opportunities and experiences I had, but there was one issue in particular that kept popping up. For such a successful convention, I was disappointed by the organization and security. Faulty RFID wristbands, disorganized queues, panels staring late and getting cut short, zipQs not working, clueless volunteers, and more. For example, we tried to go through an east entrance on Day 2 and were told 4 different stories by volunteers in the span of 5 minutes. 1: Welcome! Come on in! 2: This entrance won’t open for another hour. 3: This entrance will open in 20 minutes. 4: Gold pass holders aren’t allowed through this entrance. Overall, I found most of the volunteers were either clueless and/or snippy and snarky. There were a few helpful, cheerful volunteers, but they were the minority. I appreciate that they’re volunteers, but SLCC either needs to invest more time in training them or hire trained employees.
When we were going through the security at Vivint Arena, our bags were barely checked and they told us the metal detectors weren’t working. I saw two armed guards near us in the arena, but one of them was on his cell phone the ENTIRE time. This continued over at the Salt Palace Convention Center for the rest of the convention. Our bags were barely searched, and one or two times there weren’t any volunteers at the entrance to search our bags at all. It left me feeling a little uncomfortable and concerned. I wish we lived in a world where security checks weren’t necessary, but the unfortunate fact is we do. I hope future conventions will bring improved security for everyone’s sake. Overall, though, I had a great time at Salt Lake Comic Con and would definitely go again.
Interested in another another review of Salt Lake Comic Con 2016? Check out my sister’s blog at www.amyberrett.wordpress.com.
Did you go to Salt Lake Comic Con? What were some of your favorite moments? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.