According to Stan Lee, creator of Marvel Comics, Salt Lake Comic Con is the “greatest comic con in the world” and after my three days there it would be hard to argue. With over 120,000 fans attending over all three days and over 90,000 on Saturday alone SLCC has solidified itself as the third largest comic con in the country. There seemed to be more Star Wars-themed panels than at April’s Salt Lake Comic Con Fax Xperience, and my wife and I attended just about every one of them.
On Thursday, we had to wait in line for about an hour and half until the doors were opened, which wasn’t bad compared to the wait some other fans had (Six hours!). When we did finally get in we decided to go check out the vendor floor before going to some panels. As soon as we got to the floor we were greeted by one of Emperor Palpatine’s Royal Guards and he was nice enough to take a picture with my wife. After getting some pictures with R2-D2 we decided to hit some panels.
The first panel we attended was the Sam Witwer panel moderated by Full of Sith’s Bryan Young. Sam talked about his roles on Battlestar Galactica, Smallville and, of course, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He talked about how he got the roles of Darth Maul in The Clone Wars and Starkiller in The Force: Unleashed video game. He also explained that he created his Darth Maul voice by listening over and over in his car to the Darth Maul trailer from The Phantom Menace. He was really appreciative of his fans and he also does a great Emperor Palpatine voice!
Next we went to the What We Know and What We Think We Know About Episode VII panel also moderated by Bryan Young. Bryan was joined on the panel by Leigh George Kade from the Geek Show Podcast and Jason Hamilton from the Far, Far Away Radio Podcast. These panels are always really good because we get different opinions from all of the panelists as well as the audience members. One of the most memorable (and funny) things to come out of this panel was Bryan Young calming the fears of those fans who are worried that Episode VII may ruin the Star Wars franchise. Bryan (who loves the Prequel Trilogy as much as anyone and is one of it’s biggest supporters) said that if The Phantom Menace didn’t ruin Star Wars then nothing will. The crowd erupted in laughter and cheers! We then went to a Breaking Bad panel and a Ghost Stories panel.
The biggest disappointment on Thursday was that we couldn’t find Han Solo frozen in carbonite. And none of the comic con volunteers had any idea where he was. I felt like Lando and Chewie at the end of The Empire Strikes Back!
On Friday the doors opened early and we were at the Salt Palace waiting. The lines weren’t as bad as Thursday so when the doors opened we got right in. Friday was when we chose to see as many vendors as we could and still catch a couple of panels. I was most interested in finding any Star Wars action figures that I wanted but didn’t already have. My wife was most interested in the clothes (even at a comic con some things don’t change). My wife began the buying by getting a vintage Han Solo t-shirt, which she actually wore to church on Sunday to rave reviews. I ended up getting Boba Fett, Han Solo in Hoth gear, and Savage Oppress action figures and a Biker Scout bobblehead for one of my sons, who happens to be named Scout.
After looking at most of the vendors we headed to the Kid Con section of SLCC. It is a section that has video games, face painting, pictures with the 501st Legion, a Star Wars landspeeder, three Batmobiles, live reptiles, a huge Lego display, and superhero training. At the superhero training kids were taught superhero moves and techniques, and at the end they were given a certificate declaring them a superhero. After we finally found Han Solo frozen in carbonite we decided to go to some panels since we were going to bring our kids on Saturday and knew they would want to spend most of their time at Kid Con.
Our first panel on Friday was the Star Wars: Rebels panel also moderated by Bryan Young. I was surprised by how many in the audience had not seen the first seven minutes of Rebels that was shown on Disney a few weeks ago. But the crowd was excited when Bryan showed it to us, as well as some other shorter clips that were recently released. It was really cool to see it on a bigger screen than my TV and the fans seemed to really love it.
Next we were off to a panel titled The Future and Legends of Star Wars Canon. (Guess who moderated.) Once again I was surprised at how many of the fans didn’t know about the current debate about the Expanded Universe being designated Legends. This was probably the most attended panel that we went to. The panelists made good points in saying that the video games, role playing games, and books in the Legends classification are still there for fans to enjoy and should be enjoyed. Jason Hamilton from the Far, Far Away Radio podcast made perhaps the best point when he said that recently he had the urge to go back and read an Expanded Universe book, which told him that everything would be ok.
Before heading home we went to Giancarlo Esposito’s Q&A, Ghost Hunters: Fact or Faked panel, and a panel with Eric Roberts and Brooke Hogan promoting their new movie LA Slasher. Saturday was going to be the last and busiest day of Salt Lake Comic Con and we were taking our kids. We had to rest up.
Saturday was even busier than we and the comic con volunteers expected. With an estimated 90,000 people attending on Saturday alone and many of them not pre-registered there was a line that wrapped around the block and showed no signs of moving. Luckily we already had our wristbands so we got right in again.
We brought our 9-year old and 6-year old sons and our 11-year old niece and they were all really excited. They had been looking forward to this for months. Our first stop was the Minecraft booth for the kids and then we headed to the wrestling ring to watch amateur professional wrestling. (I don’t know if there is a better way to describe it). The kids loved it and the stands were full of kids and adults alike. I still don’t know what wrestling has to do with a comic con, but it was really funny and entertaining.
Next we headed back to let our kids shoot Nerf bullets at some 501st Legion Scout Troopers, before all of us having our picture taken with them. The kids also had pictures taken with white, black, and red Stormtroopers, as well as R2-D2. I even arranged for my wife to kiss a Wookiee. Then we were off to see Smaug and Gollum at the Lord of the Rings stage. We then went to see the Lego Builders Club display. It was a mix of Star Wars, Avengers, DC Comics characters, Lord of the Rings, Sesame Street and many other originals, as well as the Statue of Liberty. The kids then wanted to go see the snakes. Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?
My sons held a constrictor of some kind, my niece petted a monitor lizard, and all three held a tarantula. I couldn’t get away from that booth fast enough. After fighting our way through the crowd to get lunch it was time to take the kids home so my wife and I could see a couple more panels. We were in the final few hours of SLCC 2014, but we had two more Star Wars panels to get to.
First, we attended the Star Wars Roundtable, which was mostly fans asking the panelists any questions they had about Star Wars. Many of the questions focused on Episode VII, and my wife actually admitted that she wanted to watch all six Star Wars movies again to get ready for Episode VII next year. We’re both really excited to be able to take our kids to a new Star Wars movie in theaters. None of our kids were born when Revenge of the Sith was released and this will be something they will never forget.
To finish up the con we went to the live recording of the Full of Sith podcast. Like last year, Bryan Young, Mike Pilot, and Bobby Roberts, along with their guest Elias Pate, took questions from the audience. At Bobby Robert’s request, before asking a question the fans had to say their favorite line of dialogue from a Star Wars movie. And not only did they say their favorite lines, they also tried to impersonate the character who said the line in the movie, which added to the fun of the podcast. There were even some other Coffee With Kenobi listeners in attendance. But the best thing that came out of this panel (and maybe the best thing that came from the entire comic con) was my wife telling me we need to go to Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim next year! It was as if she was trying to convince me to go when it should have been the other way around. How could I say no to that?
All in all, Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 was a lot of fun, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s. I’m hoping for more Star Wars celebrities and panels since Episode VII will only be a few months away and the excitement will be building. I really appreciate Dan and Cory letting me write my blog entries for the Coffee With Kenobi website. It made the weekend even more fun for my wife and I. Salt Lake Comic Con is the con you’re looking for, and clearly Coffee With Kenobi is the podcast you’re looking for!
Ryder Waldron: Salt Lake Comic-Con Coffee With Kenobi ContributorPowered by Sidelines