This last weekend, the Salt Palace opened its doors to a variety of celebrities and attendees for the fourth annual Salt Lake Comic Con. With celebrities and vendors hailing from every fandom, the convention made for a delightful exploration of all things “nerd.”
Walking into the convention hall was a little like diving into a swimming pool. The sheer number of people was occasionally overwhelming, and it often seemed easier to continue moving than to stop and admire displays. Yet, despite the incredible amount of traffic, each booth’s unique and unusual items ranging from dragons worn as bracelets to leather corsets, couldn’t help but draw the eye. Artist’s Alley, the hub for all this, overflowed with various interpretations of movies and comics, side by side with original characters and zines. Artists and vendors were more than happy to answer any questions, or simply chat about their work with whoever stood at their table.
Panels gave con-goers a chance to hear directly from celebrities. Though these are usually popular events, two celebrities in particular were so much so that they had to be moved into a new space, taking up the vast majority of seating in the Vivint Smart Home Arena, instead of the Salt Palace where the rest of the convention was held. It was reported that the convention included approximately four hundred hours of panels, many with popular celebrities. Question and answer sessions allowed fans to interact directly with their favorite actors, who spoke on everything from funny events on set to character driven discussions. During Evanna Lynch’s panel, for example, the actress was more than willing to share her thoughts on staying positive, her acting method, and her history in Harry Potter.
The cosplay element of Salt Lake Comic Con certainly did not disappoint with the vast array of pop culture and creativity on display. While characters from more popular and recent franchises were abundant — there were a few groups of the Star Wars heroine Rey of varying ages — this was less a competition for the most original outfit. Instead, there was a certain strength in numbers. It was exciting to watch the energy ricochet around the convention hall — people recognizing the references and costumes of the shows they love so dearly, followed spontaneous photo ops. At one point, a young lady came and asked to share a bench, stating that I was clearly a trustworthy person because we were both decked in shirts from Supernatural. Once we found we had common ground, it was easy to strike up a conversation.
Her name was Kaitie Hutton, and this was her first convention event. When I asked her what she enjoyed about the convention, she said she loved the whole experience — panels, meeting celebrities, and seeing the cosplays. Her best advice was to prepare in advance before the event. “I don’t want to say do research, but plan. Know what panels are happening, plan to have the whole experience,” she said. Of course, it’s still difficult to compare conventions. When I asked her how this year’s event stacked up, she laughed. “Well, Chris Evans kissed me last year, so that’s pretty hard to top!” Even without the hunky celebrity kissing, this year was proving to be a successful convention. “Every experience is different,” Hutton concluded.