If you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or listen to any of our podcasts, then you know that the Stolendroids team spent January 29-31 with 50,000 geeks and at Salt Lake Comic Con’s Fan Xperience. You also probably know that we had a great time and that, from our point of view, the convention appeared to be a huge success for Dan Farr Productions.
I could give you a moment-by-moment recap of the three days, but honestly, that’s a lot of words and my word thinker… thing… is feeling somewhat lazy at the moment. Instead, I’ll hit on what was good and what was not so good about the convention. That way, you’re not bored with details such as what I ate for dinner. For the record though, I had a $4.00 pretzel with mustard. (I only ate dinner at the convention one day.)
Being a member of the press definitely has it’s perks when it comes to these types of events. As they have always previously done, the convention organizers held a press conference to kick off the event. Historically though, the conference was always at the convention center. This time, it was at the Grand America Hotel in Downtown Salt Lake City which is about a mile from the Salt Palace where FanX was being held. While it wasn’t the most convenient of locations, I really liked this decision. The hotel is beautiful, and it gave the whole thing an air of sophistication. It was also where the Stolendroids team was mistaken for “fans” because of my awesome Batman hoodie, where Nichelle Nichols took the podium three separate times to thank everyone for being there, and where we were able to watch Steven Yeun and Emily Kinney from The Walking Dead from afar. I’m pretty sure that last one wasn’t creepy at all.
Side note: If you are a professional driver transporting both a man and a woman, stop chatting up the man and help the lady into the vehicle. I nearly went up to the giant SUV that was transporting Steven Yeun and Emily Kinney from the hotel to the Salt Palace to help Emily into the front seat while the driver chatted up Steven and helped him into the back seat. I’m sure that the driver would have probably knocked me out, but if he had been assisting the lady, it wouldn’t have been an issue.
With FanX being somewhat smaller this time around with fewer tickets sold and less floor space, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As it turns out though, these decisions from the powers that be were the correct decisions for this particular convention. The smaller number of fans, combined with a new layout that included wider aisles made for an awesome experience. Being able to walk from point A to point B as quickly, or slowly, as I needed to was extremely refreshing when compared to previous conventions where the aisles were so jam packed with people that it took 20 minutes to move 20 feet.
And speaking of moving people, the RFID wristbands used to get in and out of the convention were brilliant. From what I could tell, they drastically reduced the amount of time that people were spending in lines to get into the building which meant that people were able to see and do more once inside. Whoever it was that made the choice to use RFID ticketing deserves a raise.
When it comes to the guests, I could go on and on about how kind and gracious most of them were. Even the majority of those who didn’t grant us an interview were absolutely fantastic. (Anthony Michael Hall and Laurie Holden fall into this category. Both class acts who took the time to chat with us off camera.) Even those guests we didn’t get a chance to interact with were amazing. Just watching how appreciative they were of their fans, and how they interacted with them, was great. There were a handful of celebrity guests though that Salt Lake Comic Con needs to bring back: Brandon Routh, Jess Harnell, Rob Paulsen, and Jim Cummings. (You know Brandon Routh from Superman Returns, Chuck, and Arrow. The other three are voice actors from pretty much every cartoon of our childhood.) I say that these guests need to return based solely on how awesome they were, not only to us, but to their fans and on their panels. Each one was the epitome of class and needs to be recognized as such.
While I could go on and on about how many things Salt Lake Comic Con did right, the main highlight actually revolves around Jess Harnell, Rob Paulsen, and Jim Cummings. Over the course of the convention, these gentlemen did multiple panels; however, the best panel had to be their script read of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in an assortment of voices. In fact, this was such a highlight that an encore presentation was scheduled for Saturday in the large hall which seated 2,500 people. I missed the encore, but the first panel was pure brilliance. If the organizers learn anything from this event, I hope it’s that they need to bring more voice actors to Salt Lake City. The fans, and yours truly, could not get enough.
While I’m sure that there were some lowlights of the convention, I honestly didn’t see them. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. I did hear of some people who had various complaints, but from what I can tell, the staff did everything possible to ensure that the problems were addressed and resolved. There weren’t lines of disgruntled geeks lining the streets trying to get into the building. There weren’t people upset because they missed the one panel that they wanted to see because of long lines. And there weren’t angry mobs of press trying to get access only to be told that access was not to be had.
All in all, this was the best run convention that the Stolendroids team has attended. I guess the one bad thing though is that Dan Farr Productions set the bar pretty high for Salt Lake Comic Con in September. With the success of FanX, people are going to expect a lot. And you know what? We’ll be there to let you know how it goes.