1. A Work of Art
Salt Lake Comic Con was three days of pure, unadulterated artistic fun. With a variety of vendor booths, speakers and activities as well as hundreds of amazing cosplays, the convention felt like the best parts of Halloween came a month early.
From the most intense cosplay to the prints sold at vendor booths, the convention was oozing creativity and highlighting communication between artists and enthusiasts. Comic Con catered to every demographic, even featuring a Kid Con that made the convention fun for families. For the adult community, Comic Con was the perfect place for artists to get their work out into the public sphere.
While many of the convention events have a lot of generational crossover — everyone loves a good superhero or science fiction movie proven by the number of Batmans and Jedis wandering the convention — many of the speakers geared their speeches toward gaining a psychological understanding of something or answering fan questions. Learning about “Why we like Disney” and listening to Stephen Amell, the actor who plays Oliver Queen on the CW’s Arrow, was interesting for those over 12 years old, but it wasn’t enough to hold the attention of younger guests. Comic Con further catered to the teen and young adult demographic by offering Sci-Fi Speed Dating for singles wanting to mingle with people they may already share some common interests with.
Seasoned vendors blended with first time exhibitors to share books, art prints, jewelry, swords and much more in Artist’s Alley. While there were a variety of interesting things for children to look at or buy in each booth, this area was taken up mostly by adults. The number of people in the area and the weapons on display were factors in the number of children in the area. Volunteers were successful in drawing the younger convention-goers into more age-appropriate activities while encouraging older people into conversations with the people who made the art they were looking at.
Larry Correia, a representative from Bard’s Tower — a bookstore that travels from convention to convention — talked about the benefits and drawbacks of debuting or selling works of art at Comic Con.
“If a convention is near you and you can do that for a reasonable cost, then absolutely do it, but there are other ways to get your stuff out there and get involved that would be less costly and less burdensome than trying to travel from con to con to con,” Correia said. “I would absolutely recommend it, but be wise about it.”
Because vendors spend roughly $3,500 on booth space at the convention, they have to make that amount before they can start really making a profit from their art work.
With or without children, Salt Lake Comic Con was an awesome experience; and the level of effort cosplayers put into their costumes elevates the convention from the everyday gathering of enthusiasts to an art form.
2. A Family Affair
Movie lovers, comic collectors, artists, families, friends and more people from all walks of life came together for the love of the comic book subculture and let their unique flare shine.
Comic Con is a worthwhile experience for anyone, no matter their age. Walking around with your dad dressed up as Wreck-It Ralph, your mom as Sargent Calhoun, your little sister as Vanellope von Schweetz and you as Fix-It Felix all from the Disney movie “Wreck-It Ralph” is a memory not soon forgotten. If playing dress up with your family isn’t enough, a special Kids Con area featured ride-on push cars to race around a track, face painting, balloon artists and more.
The Leonardo Museum provided a large Lego table for children of all ages and yes, dads count, too.
“I’m not sure if last year they had such a large kid’s presence,” said Sarah Murphy, a Leonardo employee who was facilitating the Lego table. “It seems like they’ve upped the notch in kids activities that are going on, to make it a real family-friendly day and event. I really like that. I love seeing these amazing costumes that parents build with their kids. They’re awesome.”
Outside of Kid Con in the main area, cosplay groups were collecting donations for charities by offering kid-friendly fun. The group Rebel Legion had photo opportunities with realistic Jedi in front of space scenes and R2D2 robots.
“The primary goal of the Rebel Legion is for our members to have a movie accurate costume that they can wear in public,” said Jakob Tice, head of the local chapter. “We do all kinds of charity events, like for example Comic Con, [where] we get to raise money for charity. Sometimes, we do the premiers for the movies. … We get an invite to a charity event [and] if it fits what we do, we’ll go.”
This year they were raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Above the booths and crowds, a black mast of a pirate ship could be seen provided by a program called R.E.A.C.H.(Raising Education through Arts, Characters, and Heroes). According to its website, it is “an educational support [nonprofit] dedicated to improving and teaching anti-bullying, literacy, history and arts with interactive programs.” One of the founders described how the pirate ship came to be.
“I’m friends with the guy that makes these [the pirate ship], so we were joking with him if Comic Con gives us the space, would you want to send the ships,” Tice said. “He was like, ‘Oh let’s make this happen.’ And so Comic Con realized I had access to that stuff, so we brought it in the first year, fully interactive, two smaller ships.”
The group has attended every year since with a ship for kids to climb and play on at no charge, but it is always accepting donations.
Kid Con, Rebel Legion and R.E.A.C.H.’s ship are just a few of the fun activities available to children. While Comic Con 2017 has already passed, it’s already time to start planning for next year. When purchasing tickets for Comic Con, I recommend buying in advance, even as early as May.