It was my first time this weekend.
We were both naïve. We’d heard stories of how it’s supposed to go. We both thought we knew what we were doing. We’d seen videos. We’d read articles. When it happened, it was wonderfully magical and horribly awkward. It was exciting but scary, and I’m sure next time it will be a lot easier.
Yes, I attended my very first comic convention, which just happened to be the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con.
I expected an extravagant gathering of cosplayers, panels that revealed upcoming secrets, and stars and artists mingling among geeks as we spent too much money on crap we didn’t need.
For attempting such a lofty goal, the organizers receive five out of five gold-plated, diamond-encrusted comic books. Yeah, they’d be unreadable, but they’d be awesome weapons.
The Salt Palace seemed like a good idea, I’m sure. The place is huge. When I checked before heading to Salt Lake City, there were about 20,000 tickets sold.
However, sales hit 50,000 during my travel time.
The Salt Palace is a great place for a convention if you sell as many tickets as there is room, but the producers oversold. They’ll definitely need a bigger place to corral the geeks next year.
For overselling the con, I’m citing the producers with a one-week stint of being locked in a safe with three particularly ripe Trekkies.
Trust me. It’s not pleasant among wall-to-wall sweaty nerds wearing spandex and vinyl.
Spandex and Vinyl
Costumes are an integral part of a comic con. People put serious effort into making outfits that look like they were lifted straight out of the pages of a comic.
So I was reluctant to bring all my Batman costumes. What if they weren’t good enough? What if I became a laughing stock?
I went Thursday sans costume just to get a feel for the cosplayers’ prowess. What I saw was a bunch of Wal-Mart outfits.
So I donned my near-perfect Catwoman outfit on Friday, and Saturday I got my Joker on. I loved the attention. I was even asked if I was a professional cosplayer.
For making me look awesome, I’m rating the cosplayers with costumes that last a lifetime. That way, they won’t need to be replaced, and I can continue to show up my competition.
I wasn’t expecting any Chris Hemsworths or Robert Downy Juniors or Stan Lees. I was expecting local artists and writers of cable shows. And who knows? Maybe a couple of D-list stars would make an appearance.
But Lee actually did show up. So did William Shatner and one of my idols, Adam West.
It cost me $120 to get a photo and autograph with West. It was worth it when I approached him in full Catwoman attire and he looked at me and declared: “What a guy! What a guy!”
For getting off to a good celebustart, the con gets a glowing review: 10 out of 10 shining Bat signals to light the night sky above the next convention.
The Price Is Wrong
I purchased a three-day VIP pass for $150. That only got me inside the building quicker than everyone else. I didn’t get a discount on photos or autographs. I wasn’t able to get into a panel featuring Shatner and West that cost more dough (up to $500). I didn’t even get a free drink. The only additional perk I got was a T-shirt I’d never wear.
The organizers’ review for their costly event is one year of my salary. Maybe then they’ll think twice about what a nerd can afford.
Nobody had accounted for the sheer number of geeks, nerds, Trekkies, Bronies, Pegasisters, Whovians, Steampunkers and everything in between who showed up. Beverages dried up, restrooms were beyond capacity (and disgusting!), panels were overcrowded and autographs were oversold. It was chaos.
My advice for next year is to find a bigger venue, double the staff and educate them about the event. When staffers seem to know less than attendees, you know you’ve got to change something.
The final review for the organizers is to spend the next year attending every comic convention across this great nation. When they return to Utah, I expect them to be experts.