Successful movies and books breed sequels. If something makes money and creates fans the first time around then why not duplicate it? But sequels are risky. Can they live up to the hype? Can lightning strike twice? Will they delight or disappoint?
Dan Farr and his marketing group, Dan Farr Productions, responsible for the first Salt Lake Comic Con, took that risk by scheduling a Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience event just six months after organizing the first con last September. His gamble paid off as April’s FanX exceeded the first in number and excitement, and made it, per capita, the third largest Comic Con in North America. AND the largest convention in the state of Utah. By the end of the weekend 100,000 attendees had visited FanX compared to 80,000 in September.
Governor Gary Herbert kicked off the event on April 17 from a replicated set of the Starship Enterprise. He issued an official declaration declaring Salt Lake Comic Con Hero’s Day, and showing off his own action figure – a Gary Herbert bobblehead doll. He urged all Utahns, “to be a hero from this day forward, with our families, communities and state. Today is the day to become the hero for those that matter most in our life.” He also honored the real superheroes of the military, police forces and fire departments.
Dan Farr seemed as excited as the fans surrounding him. “It is not an original idea. I’ve just been able to bring everything together.” Downplaying his own role in the success, he credits the “best fans in the world right here in the Western United States.”
Everyone was there for different reasons. Some attended to show off elaborate costumes, everything from a bevy of Deadpools to giant Wookies. Zombies and creatures of the night patrolled the aisles. Some were there for the celebrities such as Sir Patrick Stewart, Karl Urban, Chandler Riggs and Nathan Fillion. Waiting in line for hours for autographs and photos, fans were happy to be up close and personal with a favorite star. Still others were there for the many artists and vendors. Local and national artists set up booths to display and sell their wares–everything from jewelry to handcrafted skateboards. A frequent Utah Stories illustrator, Chris Bodily’s booth was popular, with long lines of people viewing his art.
Kid Con focused on family entertainment and activities, including the setting of a new world record for the largest balloon sculpture by one man. Role playing activities were held and kids of all ages could stop by to see the Batmobile the the Back to the Future car.
Finally, some people were there just to take it all in, see the costumes, visit the booths, meet friends and celebrities and buy something to remember it all by.
When all was said and done it was a success. It succeeded as an event designed to let people of all ages play and leave the world behind for a time.
Now we just have to stick around for Salt Lake Comic Con, the Threequel.