I’ve made no secret of my excitement for this week’s first annual Salt Lake Comic-Con, which has already sold 30,000 tickets (more are still available) and amassed an impressive roster of celebrities, authors, and artists. The convention, which is trying to be more family-friendly than others, will have no shortage of memorable events both for those who want to people-watch and those who are truly die-hard comic, science fiction, and fantasy geeks. Taking place this Thursday through Saturday (September 5-7) at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, the Con is shaping up to be one of the most ambitious events Utah has seen in years.
For your consideration, may I suggest a day-by-day, hour-by-hour list of fun things to do. Keep in mind that there are multiple events every hour and my biases skew towards film and television. There are plenty of events for comic-lovers and aspiring producers, actors, writers, authors, and artists, as well as more film/TV/celebrity events than those listed here, so you really do want to take a look at the full schedule before making your decisions. This is just a sample of things to consider. Also, make sure to visit the event floor with vendors galore. I’ll often be at the Cedar Fort Publishing and Media booth (929) signing copies of my book 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5th
2:00 pm- CTU PROVO: 5th Anniversary Screening. Part of the Con’s film festival, this feature-length action-comedy finds two Jack Bauer enthusiasts (Alan Seawright and me) teaming up with underqualified counter-terrorist agents to thwart a terrorist threat against the city of Provo. Donny Osmond appears throughout the film as a criminal mastermind, while Jimmy Chunga (The Singles Ward) and Rick Macy (The Testaments) co-star.
4:00 pm- JRR Tolkien to Peter Jackson: A Look at All Things Middle Earth. This panel explores the world of hobbits, kings, dwarves, elves, wizards, and orcs on the page and screen.
4:00 pm- Meet the 501st: The Galactic Empire Comes to Salt Lake Comic-Con. The famed real-life legion of Star Wars stormtroopers invades Utah.
5:00 pm- Q:A: Peter Mayhew and David Prowse. The actors inside the Chewbacca and Darth Vader suits in the original Star Wars trilogy discuss bringing the iconic characters to life!
6:00 pm- Ender’s Game- 30 Years of Books and Comics to the Big Screen– This panel explores the literary history and cinematic future of LDS author Orson Scott Card’s science fiction opus.
6:00 pm- The Incredible Hulk- Lou Ferrigno– The original actor who brought The Hulk to life reflects on the TV show and its legacy.
7:00 pm- Anatomy of a Fan-film- Join me and other actors/directors as we discuss the often highly-entertaining world of fans making their own passion project films.
8:00 pm- Why Fairy Tales Will Never Go Away. A look at fairy tales and their place in modern pop culture.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5th
Noon to 8:00 pm- Weta Digital. The effects team behind The Hobbit, King Kong, The Lord of the Rings, and Avatar show off their props, costumes, models and miniatures, and more.
Noon to 8:00 pm- The 501st Legion’s “Blast-a-Trooper.” Arm yourself and your kids with Nerf guns and have blaster fights with Star Wars storm-troopers. Voluntary, optional donations will go to charity.
Noon- Fablehaven and Beyond. Fantasy author (and Latter-day Saint) Brandon Mull discusses his work.
Noon- Firefly and Serenity: A Shiney Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Series and Film. Learn about Joss Whedon’s cult classic from those who actually worked on it.
Noon- Why We Love the Prequels: A Celebration of Star Wars 2.0. Fans defend George Lucas’ much derided second Star Wars trilogy.
1:00 pm- Live on Stage: Adam West and Burt Ward. The original Batman and Robin will reminisce about the show.
2:00 pm- Darth Maul: Ray Park. The acrobatic Star Wars, X-men, and G.I. Joe actor will discuss his work.
3:00 pm- From Action Comics #1 to Man of Steel: A 75th anniversary Retrospective Anniversary of Superman. I’ll be on this panel, along with several writers and comic artists, as well as Lois and Clark star Dean Cain. Come check it out!
4:00 pm- Battlestar Galactica 35th Anniversary with Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, and Noah Hathaway. Stars of the original series by Latter-day Saint Glen A. Larson reminisce on the show and discuss its legacy.
5:00 pm- The Last Mans on Earth. My favorite comedy of the last year, about two idiotic survival experts attempting to thwart a zombie apocalypse. With Ephraim’s Rescue star Darin Southam, Charan Prabhakar, Brady Bluhm, Andrea Ciliberti, and Rick Macy (The Testaments).
7:00 pm- Monsters: Should the Classic Ones be Updated? Where are the New Monsters? Discusses why the classic versions of Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and Frankenstein are still the best.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th
10:00 am- Yo Gabba Gabba and the Aquabats. If you know what this is, you’re either excited or you’re not.
11:00 am- Actor, Producer, Director, & Author Henry Winkler– “The Fonz” is back!
11:00 am- Children’s costume parade– Let your little ones strut their stuff!
12:00 pm- Mormon Culture & Comic Books– Panel discussing the similarities between LDS values and those of superheroes.
12:00 pm- Utah: Where Films are Made. A presentation of the Utah Film Commission.
1:00 pm- Cosplay Competition. The most elaborate costume competition you may ever see.
1:00 pm- MST3K and Rifftrax present Kevin Murphy Mystery Science Theater 3000 star is sure to make you laugh.
2:00 pm- 95ers: Echoes. Screening of the impressive-looking Sci-Fi Film.
2:00 pm- Utah Women in Film. Examines the growing role of women as writers, directors, producers, and actors in the state
4:00 pm- Captain James T. Kirk: William Shatner. This panel, and its star, need no introduction.
5:00 pm- Sci-Fi Speed Dating. Same as regular speed dating, except everyone is probably dressed up.
7:00 pm- The Shadow Cabal. Screening of the impressive-looking, Utah-made fantasy-action film, complete with elves, trolls, and dragons. The action, makeup, wardrobe, and effects look first rate. I’ve not seen this, but it should be fun.
8:00 pm- Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog Singalong. Billy (Neil Patrick Harris: Doogie Howser, How I Met Your Mother) is a sweet guy who also happens to be bent on world domination. He’s fallen for the girl at the laundromat, but the aspiring supervillain’s romantic and career plans are continually upset by narcissistic numbskull superhero Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion: Castle, Firefly). Watch the internet sensation and sing along with the crowd! Also with Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory).