Article first published as Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 Smashes Attendance Records on Blogcritics.
I suppose a bar has been set when Stan Lee himself proclaims your
Comic Con — or Comic Convention if a certain West Coast city has any say
— “The best Comic Con in the world.” It was no small feat as the second
annual Salt Lake Comic Con got underway September 4–6.
full of celebrities tickling the delight of all ages, more than 120,000
attendees bombarded downtown Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace Convention
Center to browse booths and see their favorite celeb whether in person
during photo ops and signings, or on stage at a panel in one of the
Ballrooms. Even in the green room you never know who you’ll run into:
this year I got to meet Daniel Logan, a Utah transplant from New Zealand
who played young Boba Fett in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
Yes, this was the place to be last weekend with more than 90,000 people
on Saturday alone, causing the Fire Marshal to once again bar the door.
The panels I attended were more fun and far more structured than last
year with panelists now having dealt with the ins and outs of two Comic
Cons. There was also the FanXperience back in April which itself drew
more than 100,000 attendees. “The Power of Podcasting in Geek Culture”
was moderated by local morning radio sensation Kerry Jackson from X96’s
Radio from Hell (also founder of Geek Show Podcast).
Also along for the journey were fellow Geek Show members: local
comedian Jay Whittaker, Jimmy Martin (host of his own Comcast film
review show Big Movie Mouth Off
and film critic for Salt Lake’s No. 1 news show KUTV), Trent Hunsaker,
Danielle Uber Alles, Tysen Webb, and Robert Easton. Plenty was discussed
about producing your own podcast, including changes and evolution of
their own formats to what encouraged them to even jump into the world of
“John Carpenter: The Master of Horror” dissected the legendary
director with Fangoria/Rue Morgue writer Sean Smithson, Kristal Starr,
Martin, Radio from Hell’s Bill Allred, and Ben Lane Hodson. Much was
made about the highs and lows of Carpenter’s career including favorite
films and moments, and whether the director will ever make another
movie. The consensus being a big “maybe,” that is if someone can pry him
away from his video game obsession.
Among the celebrity panels I attended, the biggest was of course Stan
Lee who was very pleased to be back in Salt Lake and adores his fans. I
had the opportunity to meet Cary Elwes backstage and shake his hand
while I was with Martin preparing to moderate. There, Elwes was
presented with a print from his biggest fan, Jimmy’s wife Kat Martin —
which attendees were able to purchase at the booth she shared with
fellow artist Leigh George Kade on the exhibit floor, and online at Kat Martin Artist.
On stage, Elwes expressed his love for his adoring fans who stuck mostly to the subject of The Princess Bride during his Q&A but also reenacted a scene, discussed his love for Andre the Giant, provided his Fat Albert
impression which landed him the role of Westley, and gave hugs and
handshakes to questioners. He continuously plugged his book: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride and said his tombstone will undoubtedly consist of his most famous three words: “As you wish.”
Two badass special guests took the stage separately: Ron Perlman and
Bruce Campbell. Perlman was deadpan, dry, and hilarious — and took no
prisoners with his language. He offered a warning upfront that children
may pick up a few new words, met with thunderous laughter. He gave
insight to him not being a biker guy even while starring on Son of Anarchy and when asked if there was a chance for Ice Pirates 2, he quickly answered: “F— no.”
On the flip side, Campbell was hilariously tongue-in-cheek, poking
fun at the Utah swear slangs with lots of gosh dangs and hecks. With no
moderator, Campbell took full control of his panel, to no surprise.
Running the show like a game show host, instead of simply taking
questions from a line of attendees, he treated us to a little bit of
“Stupid Human Tricks.” Saving the best for last as Comic Con’s Director
of Business Development Jarrod Phillips took the stage and employed
Campbell into asking Phillips’ girlfriend to marry him. When Ash himself
is kneeling beside you with a microphone, of course you say yes.
The original genie in a bottle Barbara Eden, took the stage with co-star Bill Daily. The two reminisced about their time on I Dream of Genie,
including their favorite scenes. Eden also talked about her stand-in
who also doubled for Marilyn Monroe, and her time filming with Elvis
where he would sing on set in between takes. Hearing Daily use the
phrase “shitfaced” stole the whole show.
made it clear that her only regret was having Jeannie and Nelson marry.
She also mentioned that she though Stan Lee was a “rascal” and he sure
proved wily during his Q&A. Lee wowed the crowd with insights
ranging from wanting to kill Jerry Conway for killing Mary Jane Watson
in Spider-Man, admitted that he would love to collaborate with Todd McFarlane, plugged next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron by letting us know that his cameo will be the funniest thing we will ever see, and began his crusade for "comicbook" versus "comic book."
Two stars from CW’s Arrow were in the spotlight, even if not
on stage together: Stephen Amell and John Barrowman tried to bring down
the house and largely succeeded. Amell was up first, moderated by
Jackson, informing us that he has seen the first four episodes
unfinished and realized how important music is. A scene two and a half
years in the making will finally payoff this season (its third), and
that there will be plenty of crossover with the new Flash show. Episode eight in particular is set to be an “extravaganza” and will be the show’s Justice League moment.
Barrowman treated his hour like a stand-up routine. He admitted that
David Tennant is the best kisser he’s worked with and managed to make
fun of Utah’s backward liquor laws. He can’t figure out why his hotel
can’t bring a glass of wine to his room but can send up a whole
bottle. It was a good hour for the LGBT community as he took a chance
to share his point of view that there should be unconditional love from
birth by parents and that anyone who turns their back on someone’s
sexuality are the ones who should go to hell, something everyone should
take to heart.
It was another amazing whirlwind three days at 2014’s Salt Lake Comic
Con and with record-breaking numbers; I can only imagine how much
bigger it can get from here.