It’s a fan experience. It doesn’t matter what groups we go to, as long as there’s a lot of fans around it. If they don’t have a comic book made for that group, well, hey, they still fit in, and so it’s going to be a lot of fun. —Event co-founder Dan Farr
SALT LAKE CITY — Following overwhelming success in its Utah debut this fall, Salt Lake Comic Con will return in September 2014, event co-founder Dan Farr announced Thursday.
The second annual Salt Lake Comic Con will be held Sept. 4-6 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
But fans won’t have to wait until September to get their geek on. Farr also announced another event, FanXperience, or FanX, set for April 17-19.
Comic Con organizers will announce more guests as support for the event grows, but they teased fans with a few on Thursday. Norman Reedus and Chandler Riggs — Daryl Dixon and Carl Grimes, respectively, in the AMC hit “The Walking Dead" — are just two of the big names expected to attend FanX.
“It’s a fan experience,” Farr said. “It doesn’t matter what groups we go to, as long as there’s a lot of fans around it. If they don’t have a comic book made for that group, well, hey, they still fit in, and so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Other celebrities scheduled to attend FanX are Kelly Hu, who played Lady Deathstrike in “X2: X-Men United”; Adam Baldwin, best known as Jayne from the short-lived TV series "Firefly" and followup film "Serenity," and John Casey in NBC's “Chuck”; and Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis, who played Data and Deanna Troi, respectively, in “Star Trek: The Next Generation."
“The caliber of guests that they’re pulling in this time, I mean Norman Reedus from ‘The Walking Dead,’ he is huge. He will bring in thousands of people, just for him. That’s a pretty big accomplishment for just one year,” said Jared Bunnell, who brought his 5-year-old son, Quinn, with him to Thursday’s news conference.
Bunnell is part of the Ghostbusters of Salt Lake, and he and his son were dressed up as Ghostbusters, complete with a blow-up proton pack for Quinn. They both attended the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con in September.
“We loved it," Bunnell said. "It’s just really fun, very well-organized. To have something this huge here in Utah is such a great thing, especially when you consider what it brings into the local economy (and) the exposure to the state. I really think that the Utah culture is kind of right for this kind of thing.”
The 2013 convention was the largest first-time comic convention in North American history, with more than 75,000 attendees. The event ranks No. 4 in 2013 attendance at North American Comic Cons, Farr said.
“All they had to do was put on the con, and we come,” said Taylorsville resident Mary Capizzi, part of the "Star Wars" costuming community.
The sold-out 2013 Salt Lake Comic Con was so popular that some people couldn’t get in before the convention was over. Farr said organizers are focusing on crowd control for 2014.
“It’s really crowd management because the crowd was fantastic," he said. "And by the way, I do want to say that I got so many comments from the celebrities about the fans, and the attendees were some of the nicest people they’ve ever dealt with. But when I say crowd control, I mean getting people out of the lines and into the event."
To accommodate crowds of more than 100,000 in 2014, organizers plan to double the floor space utilized at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Tickets are already available online for FanX, which will include a “Kid Con” pavilion, longer event hours, more meet-and-greet and cosplay events.
“I think this year I’m going to enter the cosplay contest, so I’m going to start working on something soon,” said Megan Tippetts, of American Fork, who dressed up as Stitch from “Lilo & Stitch” for the news conference.
Alex Ali, of Bountiful, said he's looking forward to next year’s Salt Lake Comic Con because it’s his “yearly vacation.”
“I want to see who else they’re getting from the (Joss) Whedon-verse," he said, referencing the creator of "Firefly" and "Serenity." "I’ve heard about Adam Baldwin, but I’m excited to see who else is coming. Comic Con was the best experience I’ve had in my 5 ½ years in Utah.”