By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, entertainment critic)
This originally ran in Meridian Magazine.
In two short years the Salt Lake Comic Con has blossomed into one of Utah’s premier events and one of the most-attended fan conventions in America. It’s so popular, in fact, that an equally-popular second event, titled FanX, has been created to fill the time between the comic cons.
This year’s FanX, taking place March 24-26 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, is hosting numerous celebrities who will offer panels, autographs, and photo ops, including Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Matt Smith (Dr. Who, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Jason Isaacs (the Harry Potter films), Tom Kenny (the voice of Spongebob Squarepants), Dean Cain (Lois and Clark), and famous moonwalking astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Aside from stargazing, there’s plenty for families to do at these events. Allow me to be your guide, using photos and video from my past experiences to show why you might consider taking your family to FanX 2016. (Video courtesy of The KJZZ Movie Show; photos by C.J. Jackson and Shawn Healy).
REASON # 1: CELEBRITIES AND PANELS-
At every Comic-Con event, a host of stars turns out to mingle with the fans. A highlight is the panel discussions, where they answer fan questions directly and share insights from their work (there are also fascinating panels with industry professionals and die-hard fans). Here are some of the highlights from the last event.
Chris Evans (Captain America) and Anthony Mackie (Falcoln) from the Marvel movies.
Sebastian Stan (Bucky/The Winter Soldier) from the Captain America movies.
Anthony Daniels (C3PO) jokingly scolds a Harry Potter fan.
Christopher Gorham (The Other Side of Heaven) poses with my brother-in-law.
Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog) entertains the crowd.
Jenna Coleman (Dr. Who) charms the masses.
Thousands attend the celebrity panels.
Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings, Rudy, Goonies) is a humble fan-favorite.
Studio C left everyone in stitches…
… and met with their loyal fans.
REASON # 2: COSPLAY-
Short for “costume play,” the FanX and Comic-con events offer some of the world’s very best people-watching. It’s like the largest, most elaborate Halloween party you’ve ever attended, with many fans crafting their own home-made costumes.
The Addams Family
Batman and Commissioner Gordon
Batman villains pose with my buddy Shawn.
A dalek from Dr. Who.
Dr. Octopus from Spider-Man.
Mary Poppins and Bert.
A tiny tyke meets a raptor-wrangler.
REASON #3: EVENTS
There is an incredible amount to see and do, from numerous kid-friendly events to film screenings, live entertainment, and more. A few of my favorites:
Sitting in the original Adam West Batmobile.
A hypnotist put these geeks to sleep.
Hanging out with the Jedi.
Preparing to blast the Rebellion with a Storm Trooper.
In Twisted Toonz, voice actors from your favorite cartoons act out movie scenes (in this case Harry Potter) in the voices of their characters. A hilarious highlight.
REASON #4: VENDORS
We don’t have a lot of images on this one, but there are acres upon acres of memorabilia, comics, posters, gear, swag, and more on the vendor floor.
C3PO marked the entrance to a whole lot of toys.
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! I'M ALWAYS ON PANELS SO COME SAY HELLO. GET TICKETS AND DATES HERE.